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WEDNESDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 21, 1855.
Committee met pursuant to adjournment.
The same witnesses as before, except Messrs. Wallach and Hope, who were discharged at last meeting.
Professor Coffin examined.
Professor Coffin.--I reside in Easton, Pennsylvania ; am a professor in Lafayette College.
Mr. Pearce.—How loug have you been engaged in making meteorological researches ? Professor C.-Something over twenty years.
Mr. Pearce.—Have you ever published works or essays on meteorology, or subjects connected with it, and state their character, and the extent to which they were circulated ?
Professor C.-I have published a good many things ; cannot now state the number. In 1838 I published a report of the regents of the State of New York. I also prepared an article on the climate of that State twelve years ago. They were published by State authority. I also commenced a periodical, which was soon suspended for want of patronage.
Mr. Pearce.—Are you acquainted with what has been done in meteorology, and what have been your means of information?
Professor C.--I have had occasion to examine meteorological records very extensively.
Mr. Pearce.-Had you any knowledge of Mr. Blodgett as a meteorologist previous to his connexion with the Smithsonian Institution?
Professor C.-I don't recollect ever to have heard of him. My researches which led me to a connexion with the works of the Smithsonian Iustitution date back some years, say six or seven years.
Mr. Pearce.--If you have examined into them, state your opinion of the amount, the value, and the completeness of Mr. Blodgett’s labors in the Institution.
Professor C.--I have examined them. There is a large amount of matter there, a great many sheets, and I regard them as valuable. As to their completeness, I think they should be revised carefully before publication, and new matter added.
Mr. Pearce.-What do you say respecting the number and importance of his omissions and errors ?
Professor C.--I hastily run over to see those places in the records 1 was familiar with. I noticed from one hundred and fifty to two hundred omissions. In that list I found many with which I am familiar. Among them I noticed the entire collection of observations taken in Pennsylvania, through a system established by aid from the State in 1838, with a single exception, one station out of some fifty. There were a number of errors pointed out to me. I examined one myself, to see that it was so. There are numerous errors in a small space. I do not know that all these errors were committed by Mr. Blodgett; they may have been copied by him from others.
Mr. Pearce.—What is your opinion of the originality and merit of his processes ?
Professor C.-I have not discovered anything new or original in them, unless it be the classification of his stations; that is, in a sense, new, and in a sense, not new. For the purposes of discussion and research, his method has often been adopted before; but, for the purpose of a published list of observations, I never saw it before, nor do I think it a proper one.
Mr. Pearce.-What do you think of his claims to authorship?
Professor C.—The peculiar character of the Institution renders it a little difficult to answer the question. Persons are employed there to be, in a sense, authors. They may have work assigned them to do, and so far they are authors. Except his discussions and deductions, I do not discover any thing but that which a clerk might do.
Mr. Pearce.-Do you know that Mr. Blodgett refused to allow his work to be examined ?
Professor C.-I do.
Mr. Pearce.—State what you consider the character and habits of the secretary as to jealousy of the scientific reputation of others, depreciation of the merits of their labors, and disinclination to give them due credit.
Professor C.-I never knew a man that was freer from anything of that kind.
Mr. Pearce.—Is it likely your work on the winds would have been published if the Smithsonian Institution had not undertaken it ?
Professor C.- The work is but an expansion of a previous one. By appointment of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, under its old organization, I prepared a report on the subject, The report, in brief form, would have been published, but the enlarged work would not.
Mr. Wells.—What is your business at this time?
Professor C.-I am now making an examination of meteorological matter in the Smithsonian Institution. I am there temporarily.
Mr. Meacham.-Do you know whether there was or was not material in the Institution to supply the omissions, to which you referred a while ago, in Mr. Blodgett's work?
Professor C.-I presume there was not.
Professor C.-I did not intend, in my answer, io imply blame. There was material in the department, but he might not have been aware of it.
Mr. Meacham.—Did you examine the work yourself ?
Professor C.-I examined it, but not with a view to that particular object.
Mr. Meacham.—By whom was your attention called to the errors or omissions ?
Professor C.-By a Mr. Debeitsch, of the Institution. He is a temporary employee there.
Mr. Meacham.- Are you familiar with Mr. Blodgett's plans ?
Professor C.-In the case pointed out, I am.
I think I am with his plans generally.
Mr. Meacham.—Are you aware of any estimate placed upon this plan by the association at Cleveland ?
Professor C.-I am not.
Mr. Meacham.—Has there ever been published in this country a chart of climate, such as he has produced ? Professor C.-I noticed several charts. I do not know to which
you refer. I have not seen anything like it produced in this country, nor do I recollect anything like it from any other country.
Mr. Meacham.-Will you tell me in what sense employees of the Institution can be authors ?
Professor C.- They may be employed to engage in specific investigations for the Institution, and so far might be said to be authors.
Mr. Meacham.-Do you consider that such employment would deprive them of their right of discovery of new principles of reducing materials?
Professor C.-In my opinion, always entertained of the organization of the Institution, it would.
Mr. Meacham-Do you know of any chart of the temperature, such as that prepared by Mr. Blodgett ?
Professor C.-I discovered no difference between that chart and others of a like character which I have seen. I have examined the chart.
Mr. Meacham.-Do you know of any such produced in this country?
Professor C.-I do not, not prepared in this country, but I know of such that embrace observations in this country. I have discovered nothing original in the plan.
Mr. Witte.—Do you regard the Institution as instrumental in producing such charts ?
Professor C.-I am certain that such things would never have been produced without such an Institution. There is in the plan of the Institution something peculiarly for the collection of such facts better than in this or any other country, I believe.
Mr. Meacham.—Were those materials all gathered by the Institution?
Professor C.-It is my belief that a very large portion of them were. The whole collected by the War Department would not amount to onetenth of those collected by the Institution. The collections made by the War Department and by the States of New York and Massachusetts are less than one-half the whole in the Institution.
Mr. Witte.—At how many points or stations in the Union are these things gathered?
Professor C.—There are some two hundred.
Mr. Meacham.—How long had the War Department been gathering before the Institution commenced?
Professor C.-I think the first publication of the department would date in 1823, some 25 years before the Institution began.
Mr. Meacham.-How long have you been in the Institution?
Mr. Pearce then read the first paragraph in Mr. Blodgett's paper marked F, and offered it as testimony. It is marked P.
Captain B. S. Alexander sworn:
Mr. Pearce.- Are you not an officer of engineers, and have you not the superintendence of the completion of the Smithsonian Institution, as architect?
Captain Alexander.— I am an officer of the engineers, and have superintended the interior finish of the Institution for the last two years.
Mr. Pearce.—Be good enough to state whether, in your opinion, the liberal accommodations for collections, according to the original plan of the building, have been diminished by the change in the plan?
Captain Alexander.—My attention was called to that the other day, and I found the room now greater than in the original plan. I ought to add, however, that the accommodations for collections are not as great as they would have been according to my original plan, but which was afterwards change
Mr. Meacham.- Is the room for the museum as large as the on originally designed for it?
Captain Alexander.—The room for the museum, in the original design, was in the second story. It was 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. The room of the first story is immediately below this, and is exactly of the same size. The accommodations are, therefore, the same.
Mr. Meacham.—Is not a portion of that room intended for a library?
Captain Alexander –When I made the plan for this finish of the building, there was a question whether the Institution should have a large library or not, and the lower room was designed, as my letter will show, peculiarly adapted, for a library or museum.
In answer to further questions on this point, Captain A. stated that one half of the present room was intended for a museum.
Mr. Meacham.-What was the original plan in regard to a library room?
Captain Alexander.— The original plan was to devote one half of the first story to a library, the other half to a lecture room. The second story was devoted to a museum. This plan was changed. The whole of the first story was thrown into one large hall, equally adapted to a library or museum. The second story, instead of being a museum, has the new lecture room in the middle of it, with two rooms 50 feet square on either side. The amount of available space by the new arrangement is not diminished.
Mr. Meacham.—Are the two rooms on each side the lecture room conveniently accessible for collections ?
Captain Alexander.—I do not think they are.
Mr. Meacham.-From whence did you derive doubt as to there being a large library ?
Captain Alexander.-I am not able to say now, except from the carrent rumor of the city. I will add, further, that when I was asked to design the interior finish of the building, I received no instruction from the Board of Regents, or from the building committee. I was only referred to the law on the subject.
Mr. Meacham.-Do you consider that part of the room designed for the library sufficient to contain 100,000 volumes ?
Captain Alexander.-I have made no calculation on the subject, but my impression is that one half of the room designed for a library or museum will not contain that number of volumes. By the present arrangement, as before stated, the available space is not diminished, so far as the accommodations of a library are concerned. The space is, however, by the present plan, differently arranged. The museum is now in three rooms, one below and two above.
Professor Henry.—What was the object of this division ?
Captain Alexander.—In the original design the lecture room was in the first story, and it was found impossible to make a good room there. After we began the work in the building, it was suggested that the lecture room might be placed up stairs,
where a larger and better room could be made. After the plans for this arrangement were drawn, the building committee examined them, with the reasons for and against the change, and decided to place the lecture room up stairs. During the discussions before the committee, it was suggested that if the museum should ever be expanded so as to require the whole of the second story, then the lecture room could be removed, and the second story thrown into one room.
Professor Henry was requested to furnish certain statements herelofore referred to.
The examination of witnesses was then closed, with the understanding that at the particular request of the parties on either side, further examinations would be had. Any additional documentary testimony the parties might desire to introduce would be received and considered.
Adjourned to meet on Saturday evening next at half-past seven, p. m.
SATURDAY EVENING, FEBRUARY 24, 1855.
Committee met pursuant to adjournment.
After some conference, it was agreed that the chairman should prepare a report, to be submitted to the committee at as early a period as possible.
THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 1855.
Committee met in the room of the Committee on Private Land Claims of the House.
Present: Messrs. Upham, Wells, and Puryear.
The chairman read a report, prepared agreeably to the understanding had at last meeting, which was approved by the members present.
Note.—Mr. Witte was prevented from attending this sitting of the committee by indisposition, and Mr. Taylor was absent from the House during the day.