Imatges de pÓgina

once in three months. I cannot forbear quoting the following passage from a set of their by-laws as illustrative of the spirit and purport of them.

16. “ And it is the desire and intention of the trustees, and they do expect, that a good understanding should, as far as possible, ever subsist among all the officers belonging to the museum ; and that, as on the one hand it is necessary that a proper subordination be preserved, and a due deference be shown in everything relating to the museum) by those who bear an inferior to those who enjoy a superior office therein; so, on the other hand, each of a superior should treat those of an inferior rank, in regard to their offices, with condescension and respect; and that all of them in general should consider themselves and the other officers as gentlemen living under the same roof, and equully engaged in carrying on the same noble design, and among whom, for that, as well as for other reasons, no personal pique or animosity should ever find the least place, but the most perfect harmony, and a true spirit of benevolence ought always to be cultivated and prevail.”

These rules provide that literary and scientific men, engaged together as officers, shall, by no possibility and in no circumstances, be considered and treated as anything but gentlemen engaged in a noble cause. They furnish them with every needed protection against possible oppression or wrong. They never consider such men as mere clerks and hirelings, and they provide that no other officer shall so consider or treat them.

It is proper that I should here state, and I do it in the most emphatic and decided manner, that I have never, in any instance, refused or hesitated to obey any order or direction of any kind which has come to me through the secretary, or been given to me by the secretary; nor have I ever assumed, exercised or claimed, any power, position, privilege or honor, not directly given to me or necessarily .connected with my duties; nor so far as I know, have I ever been accused by the secretary or by any one else of so doing. It is proper for me to add, that the secretary has never persisted in requiring of me the performance of labors which I considered improper or undignified. I feel bound to state these facts in consequence of the remarks of the secretary before the Board of Regents when Mr. Meacham's resolution was presented, that if the other officers could not harmonize with him they were bound io resign, which seemed to imply, though they did not assert a different state of things as existing in the Institution somewhere.

The only cause of difference, so far as I know, between the secretary and the other officers, is the impossibility of their harmonizing with him in his views and proceedings with reference to the compromise resolutions. The under office. s have felt that as long as these resolutions 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, until such variation was distinctly ordered hy the Board of Regents.

This is, so far as I know, the only cause of the difficulties and misunderstandings which the secretary has alluded to before the Board, except the fact that the secretary has claimed and exercised an author

ity and felt a responsibility as to details in the several departments prejudicial to the most efficient management thereof. This has led, however, to the wasting of time in needless consultations and explanations, and not to any refusal to submit to decisions which have been supposed injudicious.

I have never heard in the Institution any doctrines subversive of a proper subordination among the officers, nor do I believe that any of the officers wish to be made independent of the control of a superior officer who is the chief executive head of the Institution.

I have said enough to show to the committee how strong is my conviction, that if the Institution was now first starting on its course it should be furnished with a set of by-laws, modelled upon those of similar scientific and literary institutions. Such bas from my first connexion with the Institution been my opinion, and I have repeatedly called the attention of the secretary to the subject.

Had such a set of by-laws been formed, we have every reason to believe there would have been no necessity for the meeting of this committee, and no cloud upon the pleasant intercourse of the officers with each other.

I hope that I should not be justly chargeable with presumption if I present to the committee, under their invitation, a few of the principal points to which, as it seems to me, attention should be directed in framing any set of by-laws to prevent future collisions of interests in the Institution.

1. The appropriations should be specific. In the early days of the Institution they were so made. For the last three years they have not been so made. Thus (among other considerations) the requirements of the charter that the Regents shall make an appropriation annually for the library is not complied with. An officer should know how much money he will have for his department during the year, in order to know what plans to make for expending it most judiciously,

2. The appropriations should be made early in the year. Since the introduction of the innovation of general instead of specific appropritions, the appropriation has in every instance been delayed till the last or the next to the last meeting of the Board for the year. In 1850, the expenditures from January 1 to July 5; in 1851, the expenditures from January 1 to February 27; in 1852, the expenditures from January 1 to May 1; in 1853, the expenditures from January 1 to March 12; and in 1854, from January 1 to the present time, the expenditures have been made without any authority from the Board of Regents.

3. So long as the compromise continues in force, the Board of Regents, in making the appropriation, should designate to which side of the compromise each specific appropriation is referrible.

4. A distinct account should be opened with each appropriation, and the accounts of expenditures at the end of the year should be audited with reference to the appropriations.

These recommendations with respect to the accounts are, I believe, justified by the usage of every similar institution. For that of the British Museum, I beg leave to refer the committee to the passage from the evidence of Sir Henry Ellis, principal librarian, appended to this report, and marked A.

5. A special committee should be appointed 'over each department, and these committees should be composed of different members; that is to say, no member of the Board should be placed upon one of these departmental committees who is, at the same time, a member of either of the others, or of the executive committee. The amount of labor which each committee would have to perform would then be comparatively light, and the officers in charge of the several departments would then feel that their views would be fully and impartially represented before the Board, and that there was a competent authority to protect one department from being encroached on by another.

6. These committees or the Board of Regents should appoint the expenditor in each department, and should examine his expenditures and hold him to a strict accountability. The bills would be paid through the secretary, and he should, of course, at all times have all cognizance which he thinks desirable of the expenditures in every department, but, of course, he should not be held responsible for the correctness of any account applicable to an appropriation of which he is not the expenditor.

7. The appropriations should be founded upon estimates derived (directly or indirectly) from the officers in charge of the departments. The officers in charge should, unless there is some special reason for an opposite course, be the expenditor in his department. These propositions seem so reasonable that I cannot at all comprehend how they can be controverted.

8. The details of any work authorized by the Board should, as far as possible, be left, under the committees, to the officers in charge of the department by which it is to be executed and paid for; because efficiency and promptness, and consequently a rational economy require that an officer should not be required to await, in reference to details, the decision of one not expert in the particular business, and because the means and details for executing any work should in justice be placed in the power of the officer whose literary or scientific reputation is to be affected by the result. If the officer is not to be trusted to that extent, he is not fit to be employed for that purpose. If there is any probability of peculation, fraud or extravagance, the officers may be required to give bonds. It is supposed that every officer will be inumately acquainted with his speciality, that he will be an expert therein, that he is employed on that account, and that therefore his judgment as to the particular means for accomplishing the particular object should never be interfered with, unless there is reason to suppose that there is a want of judgment or of integrity in his proceedings. His discretion should be trusted in the matters for which he is appointed until there is reason to doubt it.

To require one man to oversee, weigh, and judiciously decide upon the minute details of a library, a printing and stereotyping establishment, a department of natural history, publications, and all the ranifold objects embraced in the plan of the Smithsonian Institution, is palpably preposterous. To hold him responsible for these details would be denounced as injustice, and very properly so.

To have him attempt this would be only to paralyze action, to repress all enthusiasm on the part of the under officers, and to do them injustice by depriving

them of the control of the means necessary for producing results for which they are held responsible before the public.

To show that my views in this respect are not unimportant, that they are not suggested by fancied possibility of wrong or any feeling of jealousy, that, in short, it is a most probable supposition that the neglect to make such regulations would lead to difficulties in any similar establishment, I beg leave to refer the committee to the following passages from the report (published in 1850) of the commission appointed by the crown to examine into and report upon the condition and management of the British museum. The report and minutes of evidence make a folio volume of 1,000 pages. The report was written by the Earl of Ellesmere. Among the commissioners (twelve in number) are found also the names of Sir R. J. Murchison, Joseph Hume, Samuel Rogers, and Richard Monckton Milnes, signed to the report:

“We are compelled to add, that the mode in which the business is brought before the trustees seems in itself as objectionable as the want of notice. It is done almost invariably by written reports. Not to mention the reports of the assistants and subordinate officers, the heads of departments communicate with the Board by written reports. These reports are transmitted to the trustees by the principal librarian, who accompanies them with another report, in which he states such observations as occur to him. Neither the principal librarian nor the heads of departments are, except in extraordinary cases, admitted to the Board-room when the business of their department is under consideration. The reports themselves, from the great increase of the establishment, have become so voluminous that they cannot be read entirely at the meeting of the trustees. The Board must either rely upon the principal librarian, or upon the secretary, who selects such passages of all the reports as in his opinion require the consideration and decision of the trustees. The answer of the trustees, in the regular course of transacting business, is in the form of a resolution, communicated by the secretary to the principal librarian, and by him transmitted to the heads of departments. Even this course is not always followed, for the secretary sometimes communicates with the departments directly, and Sir H. Ellis states that, on several occasions, communications have passed between the Board of Trustees of which he has been ignorant till the business was transacted. The secretary attends all the meetings, and the officers of the establishment, generally, are perfectly aware of the extent of his influence and control over the business, while he has no direct responsibility for the control or actual state of any departmenl.

“ There may be many cases, certainly, in which it is not expected only, but necessary, that the Board should deliberate, in the absence even of the principal librarian or of the heads of departments; but these must be exceptional cases, and, considering the persons who are heads of departments, and the knowledge and ability by which they are and ought to be distinguished, it seems impossible to suppose that the trustees would not derive the greatest assistance from immediate, full, and unreserved communication with them on questions arising in the administration of their respective departments. We find, however, there is scarcely one of the highest officers of the Institution who has

not complained of systematic exclusion from the Board, when the affairs of his department are under consideration, as equally disparaging to himself and injurious to the interests of the department, giving no opportunity of explaining their reports, or meeting the objections and criticisms to which they may have been subject, and their own absence, joined to that of the principal librarian, leaves them under the painful but natural impression, where their suggestions are disallowed, ihat the interests with which they are charged have not been fully represented. We cannot but ascribe to this the unfortunate and unseemly jealousies which the evidence shows to have long existed among the principal officers of the Museum, their distrust in the security of the means by which they communicate with the Board, their misgivings as to the fulness and fairness of the consideration which their suggestions receive, and then feelings of injustice done to their own department, arising, it may be, from an over-zeal for its interests or over-estimate of its importance.'

And in reference to another subject :

“ All appointments having a permanent character, with the exception of the most subordinate employments, ought to be made in writing; and at all events by the principal trustees or majority.”

“ The evidence on this subject will be found at great length in the examination of Mr. Forshall, as connected with the different returns presented to Parliament; and in the opinion of the commissioners it exhibits a remarkable instance of the abuse to which the administration may be subject, where so much is necessarily intrusted to the hands of the secretary, not regularly controlled by an administrative body, to whose views and orders it is his duty to give effect.”

It has not been my design to mention any but those which seemed to me the most important points to be guarded in any set of by-laws for such an institution.

Notwithstanding the length of this communication, I have not been able to state in it many things which have an important bearing upon the subjects referred to the committee, and have abstained from adducing many considerations which will find appropriate place when ever a wider field of discussion shall be opened than the invitation of the committee, under which these remarks are presented, would seem to comprehend. Respectfully submitted,


221. Then the trustees decide to what particular departments the money which is voted shall be applied ? Everything is submitted to the trustees before it is paid.

222. But do the trustees decide how much of that money shall go to this department, and how much to that? No; in the parliamentary account you will find a specification of certain sums for each department; the officer of each department keeps an account of the disbursements of that sum, and whenever a fresh sum is wanted from the trustees he lays a statement of the condition of the fund appropriated to that department before the Board.

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