« AnteriorContinua »
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 lime, 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
The following "petitio principü,” 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 operations 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 attempt. ing 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 the 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 anple 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 to 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. Jewelt 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 be 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 to be credited to the active operations, Mr. Jewett 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 Sill, 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. Jeweit 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. Jewell's communication.
Mr. Jewett forgets in bis 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 balf being appropriated to each, as in the case of the compromise, then it is manifest that the books procured by means of the journal, and transferred to the book interest, would be so much paid to that side of the account, and ought properly to be credited to the other. The fallacy of Mr. Jewett's illustration consists again in begging the question, that all the money in the first instance was given for the purchase of books. We, however, object to the application of business transactions between parties of diverse pecuniary interests as illustrations of the questions under consideration.
The argument of Mr. Jewett, “ that the taking charge of the museum of the exploring expedition, or the not taking charge of it, does not vary the amount which, under the compromise, would be given to the active operations, 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,” is based upon an incorrect statement of the case.
Ist. The saving to the Institution was not made by refusing to accept a donation to its museum, which would advance the increase or diffusion of knowledge among men, but by Congress relieving it from a part of a burden imposed upon it by its own act. The museum of the exploring expedition has not "been packed up in boxes,” but is exhibited at the expense of Congress, in the Patent Office, instead of at the expense of the Smithsonian fund, in the building of the Institution.
2d. The amount of the income which was to be allowed to the library and museum by the compromise was in part in consideration of the fact that the collections of the exploring expedition were to be supported out of this appropriation.
The question may therefore again be asked, as it was in the secretary's last report, “ 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 immediate duplication of a miscellaneous collection of objects of natural history, particularly when it is highly probable that Congress will make appropriations for the increase of its own museum.
The fallacy which enters into these statements, and pervades the whole reasoning upon them, is the one to which we have before alluded, namely, that the compromise should be considered in a business point of view as rights guarantied to parties, instead of the best probable means prior to experience for producing a desired result.
The remarks of Professor Jewelt as to the “promise made by the secretary to all persons in this country, that the results of their labors shall be presented to the world through the Smithsonian publications," do not appear to have any bearing on the questions referred to the committee, and a simple reference to page 11 of the secretary's report for 1852, will be sufficient to show that they were made in a different connexion from that in which Mr. Jewett would place them.
It may, however, be proper to notice the direct contradiction which is given to the report of the secretary in the assertion that “the library has not been favored with complete sets of the transactions of many of the oldest societies, in exchange, nor indeed of any of the oldest." This contradiction is founded on the use of the word oldest. The sec
Rep. 141- 11
retary might have used the word older, or he might insist that Mr. Jewett should use the words very oldest, without changing at all the truth intended to be conveyed. The Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Philosophical Society of Manchester, the Royal Irish Academy, and a number of others which might be named, are at least among the older societies, though they may not be entitled to the designation of rery oldest.
The answer to the statement that “the publications we have received were not sent solely in consequence of anticipated returns, but were drawn out by gifis not only of our own publications, but of other valuable works,” it may be sufficient to say that whatever books may have been obtained in this way, they are the product of the erchanges, a part of the active operations, and it is to these operations the Institution owes all the reputation it has yet obtained. Without their influence in making the Institution known, it is reasonable to conclude that scarcely a book would, up to this time, have been received from abroad, as a donation to the library. • In answer to Mr. Jewett's question, whether if the Regents had felt entirely sure that the active operations would not prove chimerical, they would have cast out library and collections entirely, I say no, they would have had no power to have done this under the act of . Congress; but had all the Regents clearly foreseen at the beginning the results wbich have been produced by the active operations, wbile they would have made provision for the library and museum, they would have hesitated to pass any resolution which might be construed to tie up forever the distribution of the income in a particular manner. In proof of this assertion, I beg leave to present a letter from Hon. Gideon Hawley, who, previous to the introduction of the proposition relative to the active operations, favored a general library, and who has no idea of the present condition of affairs.
Congresould have fast out libraperations
Copy of a letter from Hon. Gideon Hawley, to Professor Joseph Henry.
ALBANY, January 25, 1854. Dear Sir: I received a few days since the seventh annual report of the Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, (for 1852,) and have read it with a deeper interest and more pleasure than any previous report or any other document proceeding from the same source. It affords more satisfactory evidence than I ever thought I should live to see, that the Institution is now fulfilling and will finally accomplish the great and beneficial ends for which it was founded. There is now a moral certainty that the original resolution of the Regents as to the cost of their buildings and the amount of interest to be converted into principal, will be faithfully carried out and finally consummated according to its spirit if not to its exact letter. Afier the completion of a commodious edifice and supplying it with a suitable outfit, the principal of the original bequest will reinain intact with $150,000 of interest added to it, a consummation which, although desired by all, was expected by few. It has often been referred to in our legislative debates here, in terms of the bighest commendation, and it is generally viewed as an achievement very extraordinary, in these times, when the final reality in expenditures for