Imatges de pàgina

satellite in the duration and march of our glorious Union—to be the depository of all the rare productions of nature and art which centuries may gather, and to throw open halls sufficiently ample to contain the knowledge-seeking masses of our countrymen. Congress bave stamped this character upon it by prescribing and appropriating its vast interior compartments, and by other positive expressions of their will."

This view of the secretary that it comes within the attributes of his office to interpret the will of Smithson, seems to have been formed in the earliest days of his connexion with the Institution, and to have continued to exert as great influence over him as any other consideration. In the first draft of the “programme of organization” embodying, (in the language of the secretary,) " suggestions to be provisionally adopted, and to be carried into operation gradually and cautiously, with such changes, from time to time, as experience may dictate”—presented by the secretary to the Board of Regents, and subsequently “ provisionally adopted” by them—in the first printed draft of this programme, among the “ general considerations which should serve as a guide in adopting a plan of organization,the act of Congress is not once mentioned or alluded to. The deductions are entirely such as the secretary draws from his interpretation of the will of Smithson, and the proposed measures flow from his own discretion. It is proper, however, to add, that before this programme received from the Board of Regents the sanction of provisional adoption, the following was added as the 14th and last consideration :

14. “Besides the foregoing considerations deduced immediately from the will of Smithson, regard must be had to certain requirements of the act of Congress establishing the Institution. These are a library, a museum, and a gallery of art, with a building on a liberal scale to contain them."

Another argument which the secretary has repeatedly urged in support of his views, is as follows: I quote from his printed report.

" It is proper to remark that this compromise was founded upon another, namely, that the cost of the building and furniture should be limited to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But in order to the better security of the collections, the Regents have since found it necessary to add, in round numbers, fifty thousand dollars to this sum, which must, of course, diminish the income which would otherwise have been devoted to the active operations."

And in his last printed report :

“ The building was to have been furnished 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 to the cost of the edifice; and ten years will have elapsed from the beginning, instead of five, before any income from the surplus 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 the additional burden.”

Respecting these statements the following remarks may be made :

1. The original action of the Board respecting the cost of the building was founded solely upon the estimates of the architect. This action

was subsequently rescinded on the adoption of the report to which the secretary alludes as a “compromise,” limiting the cost of the building and furniture to $250,000.

On this action of the Board, the secretary states, “was founded” the compromise for the permanent division of the income.

But 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 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. But,

2. It is especially provided in the resolutions limiting the cost of the building, that nothing contained in them shall be construed to rescind or in any way impair the force of certain resolutions passed by the Board on the 26th and 28th of January last, including the following: (The compromise resolutions being then recited in full.)

3. 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 to the very great detriment of the museum, which has been deprived of the magnificent hall originally devoted to its accommodation.

4. All the objects proposed to be gained by the resolutions limiting the cost of the building to $250,000, and which are elaborately set forth in the report introducing the resolutions, namely, the saving of about $140,000 of the building fund to be added to the permanent fund, have been fully gained and exceeded. This sum has been saved. It has been saved by protracting the time for completing the building, and expending upon the building a part of the fund designed for the current purposes of the Institution. This delay was known and felt to be a temporary injury to the library and museum. As a compensation for it, the committee argued that there would be an addition [to the income) of $8,400 annually, forever; one-half of which, by the resolutions hereinafter recited, commonly called the compromise resolutions, will inure to the benefit of the library.” And again they say, “ by the operation of the present plan, it (the annual appropriation for the purchase of books) may, therefore, be considered as doubled or nearly so. The additional $4,200 added by that plan, annually, forever, to the library appropriation, is far more than an equivalent for the delay it presupposes in the accumulation of works not wanted for immediate use, or present purposes; a delay extending only to the period when suitable permanent arrangements can be made for their reception." The temporary injury to the library was felt and acknowledged by the committee; and the friends of the library were asked to acquiesce, because of promised ulterior advantages to both departments. The continued delay has been still more injurious.

But now that the long delayed day is at length near at hand, after the price has been paid by the library for saving the money, which was to have been in part returned to it in the increased income of the library “FOREVER,” the very scheme by which the library was tempo

rarily deprived of funds for this purpose, is brought forward to justify a plan of depriving the library, not only of the promised compensation for such delay, but of a further indefinite reduction of its original income. The additional expenditure paid for by the additional delay in allowing to the library the income which it would otherwise have had, is proposed as a reason for withholding still more of its income, if not all of it FOREVER.

Another argument of the secretary for his plan is as follows:

“ The income is too small to properly support more than one system of operations, and therefore the atiempt to establish and sustain three departments, with separate ends and separate interests, must lead to inharmonious action, and consequently to diminished usefulness."

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 the purposes provided in the act, that there is il 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.

As to the inharmonious action, it may be remarked that the secretary has said in the programme that the departments established by the compromise “are not incompatible with one another," and in a report he has also said, “the two plans, namely, that of publications and original research, and that of collections of objects of nature and art, are not incompatible, and may be carried on harmoniously with each other.” If they are not incompatible, they certainly do not necessarily lead to inharmonious action. The inharmonious action must be attributable to causes which can easily be corrected-some fault of the officers in charge, or some defect in the organization of the departments. If one department is allowed to encroach upon another, there will, of course, be inharmonious action.

Another argument of the secretary is thus expressed:

“ By a reference to the annual reports of the executive committee, it will be seen that the general incidental expenses have continually increased from year to year, and it is evident that they must continue to increase in a geometrical ratio, on account of the greater repairs which, in time, will be required on the building. After deducting from the income the cost of repairs, lighting and heating; of messengers, attendants and watchmen; of stationery, transportation and postage; after dividing the remainder by two, and deducting from the quotient the expense of the public lectures, the final sum to be devoted to the most important, and, indeed, the only legitimate object of the bequest, is exceedingly small."

By “the most important and indeed the only legitimate object of the bequest,” the secretary manifestly does not mean what Congress established as such, but what he considers such, namely, the “active

operations.” If the arithmetical process which the secretary indicates shows a small share of the fund applicable to the active operations,' it shows also but a small share for the library and museum; because both are injured, it does not follow that one should be increased at the expense of the other. It does not show that the "active operations" should be more favored than the library and museum, as being "the most important and indeed the only legitimate object of the bequest," 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.

It should be distinctly understood that the general expenses have increased principally because of necessities consequent upon the introduction of the system of “active operations.” A large proportion of all the sums placed under the head of general expenses, as is after careful examination believed, would not have been paid out had the system of active operations never been introduced. All items which would not have been incurred if the “ active operations” had not been introduced it would seem just to charge to the "active operations.” But it is these items principally which has swelled the amount of the general expenses. Repairs, heating, postage, watchmen, and expenses of the Regents, are perhaps the only items which cannot be fairly and easily charged to the particular department for which they are incurred. One half of the secretary's salary is, by the terms of the compromise, to be charged to one department, and the other half to the other department.

Again, the secretary says:

“ The active operations are procuring annually for the library, by exchange, a large number of valuable books, which in time will forma 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."

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 Instiiution till they were all provided for on a liberal scale.

The subsequent action of the Board of Regents, in accordance with the intention of Congress, appropriated $20,000 from the first of January, 1848, for the purchase of books.

Afterwards the is active operations” were admitted 10 a participation in the funds. A strong plea for their admission was, that the money expended on them would not all be taken from the library, but much of it would return in the shape of books procured in exchange for books published and distributed.

To some extent this expectation has been realized. The active operations have procured books for the library, but not one quarter of what the money expended on them would have procured by direct purchase.

I will not here take into account the consideration that undoubtedly many of these books received would have been sent to a large library of this kind as donations, nor the fact that the gifts which have produced these

Rep. 141-9

returns are not solely of the publications of the Institution, but of a large number of other books gratuitously furnished to the Institution for the purpose of distribution.

How then does the matter stand as a business transaction between A and B. A is in possession of $2,000 a year interest for the purpose, we will suppose, of purchasing books. B asks for this sum for the purpose of establishing a critical journal, and argues that such a journal is a better fulfilment of a trust connected with books than the purchase of them, and more useful to the public than a library. But A replies

, I hold i his fund in trust for the purchase of books. Well, rejoins B, paying for the making of books is in one sense the purchase of books; besides every critical journal attracts many gifts of books sent for review. These will go far to pay what the journal costs. Now suppose that, influenced by these or other considerations, A should agree to relinquish to B for his purpose one-half of the income. We will not ask whether be faithfully administers the trust by so doing. We are now pursuing another inquiry. Suppose that after six years had elapsed it were found that the books received for review were equal in value to what could have been bought by the whole of what had been given up to B by A, and that B should then propose that the whole worth of these books procured by the relinquishment of one-half of the fund, and thus paid for, should now be charged to the half of the fund retained by A. What would be thought of such a proposition among business men?! need not pursue the parallel further, and ask what would be said of it if the books received were worth only one quarter of what had been given up ?

The secretary says further, as a reason for giving more to the active operations:

" At the time the 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," &c.

But the taking charge of this collection, or the not taking charge of it, does not vary the amount which under the compromise would be given to the “ active operations.” I am utterly at a loss to comprehend, therefore, how this conclusion of the Regents furnishes a reason why the compromise should be broken up, unless it can be shown that for every saving which the Regents can, without injury to the "active operations,” effect for the library and museum, by refusing to accept donations to them, they are bound to bestow a positive equivalent upon the “ active operations,” or that, putting the matter in another form, if by packing up the books in boxes, thus destroying them as a library, the regents could save $2,000 a year needed for the care of them, their doing so for the sole purpose of saving money would be a reason for giving $2,000, or a part of it, to the “ active operations."

The secretary has said :

“ A promise has been made to all persons in this country.engaged in original researches, and who are capable of furnishing additions to the sum of human knowledge, that the results of their labors shall continue to be presented to the world through the Smithsonian publications."

The allegation of any such promise as may have led "all" or any

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