The record of the year 1879 is not so much a chronicle of distinct and striking events as of tendencies and movements broad in their scope and enduring in their results. The brilliant and unique event no doubt has taken place at Menlo Park. The discovery and perfection of the electric light is so important, so revolutionizing and so far-reaching in its effects that we need the perspective of time fully to realize the scientific situation. It is a matter of national pride that the first discoverer of the age is an American, and the constant chronicling of his progress by the daily press denotes an interest and gives a stimulus to scientific effort which promises much for the future of science in this country.
The remark has grown a trifle trite during the last few weeks of reminiscencing that the past year has been one of unexampled prosperity. The best thing about this unexampled prosperity is that it is of the solid and possible sort which promises to be enduring. It is the prosperity of the many, and not alone of the few. With complete freedom from outside wars, the country has also been remarkably free from domestic disasters or disturbances. We can count up on the fingers of one hand all misfortunes of national magnitude. Beyond the yellow fever at Memphis and the outbreak among the Indians, there has been nothing serious. In the first instance, the city has shown a recuperative power so marvelous that scarcely a trace is left of the devastations of the plague; and the second problem, though complicated, is not unmanageable. The mineral resources of Colorado have been developed during the past year to a marvelous extent, and great business enterprises, such as the building of the Northern Pacific railroad, have felt the reviving effects of commercial prosperity. A European war and plentiful harvests at home have induced a gulfstream of trade that has left a heavy balance in our favor. To a certain extent there has been an exceptional combination of circumstances. We cannot always expect three years of plenty "hand-runnning," nor will there always, it is to be hoped, be a European war to cause high prices. But the fact has been demonstrated that in meat, feed and dairy products, this country is destined to become the base of food supplies in Europe.
There has been a healthy reaction from the centralization of capital in the cities.It has been diverted into a multitude of small enterprises and industries which must benefit the people at large. From an industrial point of view, the most important exodus of the year has been that from the East to the West, which the emigration statistics show to have trebled that of any previous year. Those who, in the enforced idleness of commercial dullness, were mere consumers have gone to the country and become producers, and the new revelation of our agricultural resources that we have obtained is, after all, the valuable discovery of the year. It may not be as brilliant as Leadville, but it is a lead of inexhaustible richness. Such events as the National dairy fairs and mammoth wool-growers' association denote that the agricultural interests of the country are at last getting their due share of attention, and in this one fact lies the promise that this unexampled prosperity will be enduring. Our material fortune has its logical effect on literature, science and art. We have more money to spend, and we are learning to spend it more intelligently than heretofore. There is a healthful tendency in favor of establishing art schools instead of buying Old Masters. Science is popularized and applied to the useful arts as never before, through an increase of available literature on the subject and through the establishment of scientific schools. And in the field of literature, if the agitation of the international copyright question results as it ought, this will be a Happy New Year to authors.