« AnteriorContinua »
rived from the building fund, but not wanted for the building, in order to anticipate in a measure some of the pressing publications which have been long on hand and which will be issued at the beginning of the pesent year; but this excess of expenditure on one side, if the Regents think proper, may hereafier be compensated by an additional expenditure on the other side. The transactions have not been kept secret. On the contrary, the facts have been fully presented to the Board. The insinuation therefore of dishonesty is an unjust aspersion of the character of the secretary, and considering the source from which it emanates, it assumes even a worse complexion.
But I deny that any obligation has existed as yet, to make an equal distribution of the income between the two classes of objects mentioned in what is called the “ compromise.” The 7th resolution of this compromise, adopted the 26th of January, 1847, reads thus :
“ Resolved, That for the purpose of carrying into effect the two principal modes of executing the act and trust pointed out in the resolutions herewith submitted, the permanent appropriations out of the aceruing interest shall, so soon as the buildings are completed, be annually as follows:
By a subsequent resolution of the Board, adopted December 21, 1847, one-half of the annual income, or $15,000, was to be devoted to the current expenses of the Institution, and out of this, by another resolution of the same date, the books to be purchased were restricted to “such valuable works of reference as the secretary or the building or executive committee may consider useful for present purposes, or otherwise likely to be immediately demanded in the prosecution of the plans of the Institution.”
The other half of the annual income was to be devoted to the building, which was not to be finished under five years from the time of its commencement. The progress of the building was, however, arrested by an accident, which has still further extended the time when the equal division of the income will be obligatory.
So far therefore from the compromise having been violated in order to favor the publications and researches, the fact is, that much more money has been expended on the library and museum, up to the present time, than they were entitled to under the resolutions of the Board. If the question be asked, why a sum much larger than was contemplated by the resolutions has been ihus expended, the answer is, that at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Jewett to come into the Institution before the time specified in his appointment, and his pressing desire to have a library under his control, which might justify the payment of his full salary, the executive committee were induced to make a more liberal appropriation for the library, and to begin before the time specified in the resolutions to carry out the division of the income.
Another cause why a larger appropriation was made for the library than was intended, was the desire of Mr. Jewett to experiment on a new stereotyping process, in the success of wbich he was deeply interested.
Professor Jewelt cannot plead ignorance of the precise language of the foregoing resolution relative to the compromise, for he h mself quotes a part of it, and yet afterwards declares that the under officers have felt that so long as these restrictions remained unrepealed they were to be
obeyed; that they could not, without guilt, connive, even for their own personal advantage, or the greater prosperity of their particular departments, in any variation from the letter and spirit of these resolutions." These remarks scarcely come with good grace from a person who, for several years past, bas been constantly importuning the secretary to allow him to expend large sums of money from the appropriation, for the collections on experiments, which belong rather to the active operations than to the formation of a library or museum. The truth is, that if any errors have occurred in the administration of the secretary, they have arisen entirely from his endeavor to gratify as far as possible the wishes of those with whom he has been associated.
In the last two reports the secretary has made suggestions with reference to the tendency of the Institution, and has stated that it would be impossible to continue, with the present income some of the most imporiant operations, and rigidly adhere to the resolutions of the Regents of 1847, viz: to devote one-half of the whole income to the library and museum, besides defraying all the expenditures still required for completing and furnishing the building; that an attempt has been made in good faith to carry out these resolutions; that the plan has not been found to work well in practice; that the income is too small to support properly more than one system of operations, and therefore the attempt to establish and sustain three departments, with separate ends and separate interests, must lead to inharınonious action, and consequently to diminished usefulness.” The secretary has also stated that "however proper such a division of the income might have been in the beginning in order to harmonize conflicting opinions, the same considerations do not now exist for its continuance, changes having since occurred which materially alter the conditions on which the resolutions were founded. The plan of active operations was not at first fully understood, even by the literary men of the country. It was considered chimerical and incapable of being continued for any length of time; and hence it was thought important to provide for the means of falling back upon a library and collections. The experience of six years has, however, established both its practicability and its importance, and it is now considered by the great majority of intelligent persons who have studied the subject, the only direct means of realizing the intention of the donor. Again, the building was to have been finished in five years, and the income after this was to be increased by the interest on the remaining surplus fund; but the Regents have found it necessary for the better security of the library and museum, to add fifty thousand dollars 10 the cost of the edifice; and ten years will have elapsed from the beginning instead of five, before the income from this suplus fund will be available. This additional expense is not incurred for the active operations, and the question may be asked, whether they ought to bear any part of this additional burden : Furthermore, at the time this division was made, it was thought obligatory on the part of the Institution to support the great museum of the exploring expedition; but the Regents have since concluded that it is not advisable to take charge of this collection; and Congress, by its appropriation for the enlargement of the Patent Office, concurred in the opinion expressed in the Senate by the Hon. Jefferson Davis, that it was a gift which ought not to be pressed upon
the Institution. The inquiry may also in this case be made, whether it is advisable in the present state of the funds and the wants of the active operations, to expend any considerable portion of the income in the reproduction of a collection of objects of nature and art. Again the active operations are procuring annually for the library by exchange a large number of valuable books, which, in time, of themselves wil. form a rare and valuable collection, and even if the division of the income is to be continued, a sum equal in amount to the price of these books ought to be charged to the library, and an equal amount credited to the active operations."
On these remarks Professor Jewett has made a series of criticisms founded on incorrect statements on postulates which cannot be granted, and a play upon words unnecessary in the support of a good cause.
He constantly introduces the sophism that the division of the income called " the compromise" is to be considered as a business transaction between different parties with different pecuniary interests at stake, while it should really be regarded as the most probable means prior to experience of attaining a desirable end with reference to the good of men.
The following “petitio principi,” to use a favorite expression of Mr. Jewett, is also apparent in his reasonings and criticisms upon the views and suggestions of the secretary, and in fact underlies the whole series of statements contained in the first twenty pages of his communication, namely that the act of Congress gives no warrant for the active operalions until a library, museum, gallery of art, &c., have been established " on a liberal scale."
Thus, in commenting on the secretary's statement relative to the smallness of the income and the want of harmony produced by attempting to sustain different departments, he remarks, " if the income is too small to properly support more than one system of operations, it is too small to support anything beyond the system required by the act of Congress ; all the income is required for the purposes provided in the act, and it is only in case that there is more money than is needed for
purposes provided in the act, that there is a shadow of authority for introducing anything not specified in the act. The only logical and legal inference then from this statement is, that the active operations are utterly illegal and should be completely displaced. If, as is abundantly manifest, the plan proposed by the secretary is permitted by the charter, only in the event of a surplus of income, an argument built upon the inadequacy of income is most singularly baseless."
The postulate on which the foregoing is based, as we have shown before, is neither granted by the Regents nor its admission warranted by the facts in the case, and hence the “logical and legal inferences deduced from it fall to the ground. First, the Regents hare made am ple provision for the distinct requirements of the law in the construction of the building; and second, they are at liberty to introduce other operations than those which relate to the mere collection of a library, museum, &c.
A library such as the Institution may collect by its exchanges and judicious purchases, and a museum of special objects of research, though not absolutely necessary to carry on the active operations, would form
one harmonious system, and could be properly supported by the present income. But to attempt to collect and support a library which shall contain copies of every scrap of printed matter issued from the teeming press of our day, and a general museum forming in any way similar to the British Museum, is wholly incompatible with the limited income of the Smithsonian bequest, particularly if these were placed under the charge of separate heads, each having a separate corps of men under him. Such an attempt does lead to inharmonious action, as is evident from the present condition of affairs, and to extravagant expenditure of the income, as will hereafter more fully be shown.
In Mr. Jewett's criticism on the secretary's remarks relative to the extra expenditure of $50,000 on the building incurred in providing for the better security of the collections, he states “ that the compromise dividing the income was enacted on the 26th and 28th of January. 1847, and the action of the Board fixing the cost of the building at $250,000 was not taken till nearly eleven months afterwards, namely, on the 21st of December, 1847." “This fact," he says, “is sufficient in reply to the argument, unless it can be shown how a transaction can be founded upon another which occurred nearly eleven months afterwards.”
As an answer to this which is set forth as a triumphant refutation of the secretary's position, the following statements will suffice:
In the settlement of the division of the income the cost of the building did enter as an essential element. It was from the first the opinion of a number of the Regents that a considerable portion of the $242,000 which had accrued in interest should be added to the principal, and it was only in consideration of an addition to the original fund that the division of the income called “the compromise" could be entertained. Before the question was settled Professor Bache had proposed his scheme of finance, as is evident from the fact that at the next day of meeting Mr. Owen offered the resolutions relative to drawing the $242,000 from the treasury of the United States and vesting it in treasury notes.
It is true at this time the cost of the building was limited by a resolution of the Board to the estimate of the architect, viz: $231,000. It is also true that nearly a year afterwards the scheme was slightly altered so as to increase the amount which might be saved from the building fund by expending for five years only one half of the current income on the operations of the Institution and devoting the other half to the building.
It was not necessary that the secretary should go into a history of this transaction in his annual report ; he merely wished to exhibit the principle, and he again asserts that the building will cost upwards of $50,000 more than was contemplated the very time of the adoption of the division in question, and that this additional cost is for the better security of the collections.
The assertion of Mr. Jewell, that “the larger and better half of that part of the building upon which the additional sum will be expended is destined to the accommodation of the department of publications, researches, and lectures, and that 10 the very great detriment of the museum,” is not correct. The same amount of space in the main
building is now devoted to the library and museum which was intended at first. The lecture room has merely been transferred from the first floor to the second story, and the rooms on either side of it are intended for the use of collections ; and such an arrangement has been made that the partition walls can at any time be removed if required, and the whole thrown into one large room. Indeed the arrangement of the whole building is now much more favorable for the accommodation of a library or a museum than it was in the first plan.
In criticising the statement of the secretary relative to the increase of the general incidental expenses, and the smallness of the sum to be devoted to the most important and, indeed, the only legitimate object of the bequest, Mr. Jewell remarks that “ by the most important and the only legitimate object of the bequest, the secretary manifestly does not mean what Congress established as such, but what he considers such, viz: the active operations, and that it does not follow that these should be more favored than the library and museum, unless it be allowed that the secretary's understanding of the will of Smithson is of more authority than that of the Board of Regents or of Congress."
The secretary assuredly thinks that the “active operations” are the most important, and of this opinion have been a large majority of the Regents from the time the compromise was adopted until the present
. Moreover, there is nothing in the law of Congress, as we think we have before shown, to prevent these operations being considered the most important.
The statement that “the increase of the incidental expenses has been principally because of necessities consequent upon the introduction of the system of active operations,” is refuted by a reference to the items which have been charged under this head in the programme of accounts.
In order to refute the position of the secretary, that the books procured in exchange ought lo be credited to the active operations, Mr. Jewelt remarks that "it should be borne in mind that, by the act of Congress, to the library, museum, gallery of art, lectures, and chemical laboratory were given all the income of the Institution, till they were all provided for on a liberal scale.” But this is a repetition of the fallacy already referred to.
The Board considered that a small annual appropriation to the library and museum would be sufficient to fill, in the course of a given number of years, any building which the funds of the Institution would permit them to erect. The statement which Mr. Jewett calls “a strong plea, was made by the executive committee at a meeting eleven months afterwards, for entirely a different purpose, and this remark also applies to the statement on page 8 of Mr. Jewett's communication.
Mr. Jewett forgets in his remarks, page 14, that the exchanges form a part of the active operations, and though a few books may be procured in return for other publications sent, yet the basis of the whole system rests on the continuous and reliable publications of the Institution. But how stands the matter as a business transaction ?" using Mr. Jewett's own illustration. Suppose a fund had been devoted to the purchase of books, and also to the establishment of a journal, one half being appropriated to each, as in the case of the compromise, theo