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William Jones Rhees.

An account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources online

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Online LibraryWilliam Jones RheesAn account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources → online text (page 4 of 10)
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the Institution an increase of labor in the way of correspondence. The ordinary
inquiries addressed to the Secretary relate to the principles of mechanics, electri-
city, magnetism, meteorology, names of specimens of plants, minerals, insects, and,
in short, to all objects or phenomena of a remarkable or unusual character.

Requests are frequently made for lists of apparatus, for information as to the
best books for the study of special subjects, hints for the organization of local
societies, &c. Applications are also made for information by persons abroad rela-
tive to particular subjects respecting this country. When an immediate reply
cannot be given to a question, the subject is referred, by letter, to some one of the
Smithsonian co-laborers, and the answer is transmitted to the inquirer, either
under the name of the person who gives the information or under that of the In-
stitution, according to the circumstances of the case. In relation to this subject
we quote from a recent report of Prof. Henry.

" There is no country on the face of the earth in which knowledge is so gener-
ally diffused as in the United States ; none in which there is more activity of
mind or freedom of thought and discussion, and in which there is less regard to
what should be considered as settled and well-established principles. It will not,
therefore, be surprising that the Institution should be called upon to answer a
great number of communications intended to subvert the present system of science,
and to establish new and visionary conceptions in its stead, and that numerous
letters should be received pertaining to such objects as the quadrature of the
circle, the trisection of the angle, the invention of self-moving machines, the
creation of power, the overthrow of the Newtonian system of gravitation, and the
establishment of new systems of the universe.

" Many of these communications are of such a character that, at first sight, it
might seem best to treat them with silent neglect ; but the rule has been adopted
to state candidly and respectfully the objections to such propositions, and to en-
deavor to convince their authors that their ground is untenable.

"Though this course is in many cases attended with no beneficial results, still
it is the only one which can be adopted with any hope of even partial' good. In
answering those who persist in declaring that the present received laws of mechan-
ical action are erroneous, and that they have discovered new and more correct
generalizations, they are requested to prove the truth of their assertions by pre-
dicting new and important phenomena, the existence of which may be immedi-
ately tested either by experiment or observation. It is not enough that the new
system explains facts which we know, for this would be merely exhibiting old
knowledge under a new form, but it should point out in the way of deduction



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION. 35

new facts which have hitherto escaped the eye of the observer or the scrutiny of
the experimenter.

" It is to be regretted that so many minds of power and originality in our
country should, from defective scientific training, be suffered to diverge so widely
from th$ narrow path which alone leads to real advance in positive knowledge.
Providence, however, seems in some measure to vindicate the equality of its dis-
tributions, by assigning to such, a double measure of hope and self-esteem, which
serves them instead of success and reputation."

"The faithful attention to the correspondence of the Institution, imposes a serious
labor on the Secretary and his assistants. Beside the correspondence above men-
tioned, there is that which relates to the reception and publication of the me-
moirs ', to the lectures ; to particular branches of research ; to the almost innu-
merable inquiries as to the character of the Institution ; to applications for its
publications ; to the printing, engraving, binding, transportation, payment of ac-
counts ; and to the exchanges of the " Contributions to Knowledge/ 7

" All the letters received are bound in volumes, and a copy of every answer is
carefully preserved, the whole thus forming a permanent record of all the trans-
actions of the Institution, as well as a history of the topics of scientific interest
which have particularly occupied the public mind during any given period. The
exposition of this labor, which has been increasing from year to year, will be a
sufficient answer to the question which is sometimes asked, as to what the ofiicers
of the Institution find to do/'



With reference to this part of the operations of the Institution, the Secretary
has presented the following views in his reports :

" Public lectures have become one of the characteristics of the day, and next to
the press perhaps tend, more than any other means of diffusing knowledge, to
influence the public mind. The liberal price paid by the Lowell Institute, and
some of the associations in our large cities, induces men of reputation to devote
themselves to the preparation of popular lectures. In some parts of the country
a number of adjacent cities or villages enter into an arrangement by which the
same lecture may be repeated, in succession, at each place ; and in this way the
amount paid becomes sufficient to call forth the best talent. Popular lectures ap-
pear better adapted to present literary and historical facts, and to give informa-
tion relative to subjects of art and of morals, than to impart a knowledge of scien-
tific principles. These require more attention and continuous thought than can
be generally expected from a promiscuous audience. Hence the scientific lecturer
frequently aims at a brilliant display of experiments, rather than to impress the
mind with general principles.

" Local lectures are too limited in their influence to meet a proper interpretation
of the will of Smithson ; yet they were ordered by Congress-, and are calculated
to do more good in this city than in any other part of the Union.



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.



" In selecting lecturers, the consideration of mere popular effect has not been re
garded. The persons chosen have been such as to give weight to the lecture, and
to reflect credit on the Institution. The object has been to give instruction rather
than amusement to improve the public taste rather than to elicit popular ap-
plause. The Institution, to be respected, must maintain a dignified character,
and seek rather to direct public opinion than to obtain popularity by an opposite
course.

" The moral effect which the lectures have on the city of Washington cannot be
otherwise than beneficial. When the weather is favorable, the room is every
evening crowded before the hour of commencement with an intelligent audience.
The lecturers have generally been persons from a distance, who have expressed
surprise to find such a large and respectful attendance in a city which is com-
monly thought to be exclusively devoted to politics and amusement. The plan of
inviting gentlemen of reputation and influence from a distance, renders the Smith-
sonian operations familiar to those best qualified to appreciate their value, and
best able to give a correct account of the character of the Institution in their own
districts of country, as well as to vindicate its claims to the confidence and
friendly regard of the public. The results of this course, and the distribution of
the volumes of Contributions to colleges and public libraries, it is hoped, will so
establish the Institution in the good opinion of the intelligent and influential part
of the community, that it may bid defiance to the assaults of those who are ignorant
of its true character, or are disappointed in not sharing its honors without the
talents or the industry to win them."



In the report of the Committee on Or-
ganization, of the first Board of Regents,
January 25, 1847, the nature of the
duties of the Secretary are set forth, and
the importance of his position duly con-
sidered. It is stated that inasmuch as
the Chancellor being a Regent, can re-
ceive no salary for his services, it results
almost necessarily that the Secretary
should become its chief executive officer.
The charter seems to have intended
that he should occupy a very responsi-
ble position ; granting as it does to the
Secretary, in conjunction with the Chan-
cellor, the power to determine the ne-
cessity and the amount of appropriations
made for the purposes of the Institution.
The Committee stated that in their opinion "upon the choice of this single




PROFESSOR HENRY.



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION. 37

officer, more probably than on any one other act of the Board, will depend the
future good name, and success, and usefulness of the Smithsonian Institution."

One of the first resolutions adopted by the Board of Regents was the following :

"Resolved, That it is essential for the advancement of the proper interests of
the trust, that the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution be a man possessing
weight of character, and a high grade of talent ; and that it is further desirable
that he possess eminent scientific and general attainments ; that he be a man
capable of advancing science and promoting letters by original research and effort,
well qualified to act as a respected channel of communication between the Insti-
tution and scientific and literary individuals and societies in this and foreign
countries : and, in a word, a man worthy to represent, before the world of science
and of letters, the Institution over which this Board presides."

It was with these feelings and opinions that the Board of Regents selected
Professor JOSEPH HENRY, of the College of New Jersey, Princeton, to fill the
office of Secretary. He accepted the appointment, entered at once upon his labo-
rious and responsible duties, and has since given to them all his time and
thoughts.

The views he held were not at first generally understood, but they are now
appreciated and concurred in by those who have examined the subject, and who
believe that Smithson did not intend to limit the influence of his bequest to one
locality or nation, but designed, as is well expressed in the words of John Quincy
Adams, " to spread the benefits to be derived from the Institution not only over
the whole surface of this Union j but throughout the CIVILIZED WORLD."



The grounds around the building were laid out by the distinguished horticul-
turist and landscape gardener, Downing, but he died while engaged in the prose-
cution of his plans.

"We are indebted to the editor of the " Rural New Yorker," for the following
remarks relative to this subject, and for the representation of the marble monu-
ment recently erected to his memory :

When the sad tidings of the death of Andrew Jackson Downing was announced,
many hearts were stricken, and many countenances saddened. Every lover of rural
life and rural taste, felt that a friend, a brother, and a leader had fallen. The homes
of hundreds, from the foundation stone to the gable point, spoke of the departed
even the trees and flowers of the garden, told a tale of sadness. The furniture in
our parlors, the books in our libraries, spoke too plainly to our wounded hearts
of the loved and lost. Scarcely a city or village in our country but presented
some monument of his skill and taste, something to remind the people how great
and irreparable was their loss cottages whose simple yet elegant adornings taught
how truly taste may be independent of wealth ; windows tempting the eye from
loveliness within, to the glorious prospect without ; stately trees that seemed to
guard like sentinels the sacred precincts of home, and village churches whose walls



38



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.



and spires spoke of religion to the heart.
It was at once proposed, in all parts
of the country, by Horticultural and
other Societies, that some suitable monu-
ment should -be erected to the memory
of Mr. Downing, and in 1852, the
American Pomological Society ap-
pointed a committee to superintend this
work. The design adopted by the com-
mittee was furnished by Calvert Vaux,
of Newburgh, N. Y., the late partner
of Mr. Downing, and the work executed
by Robert Launitz, an eminent sculptor
of New York. The monument was
erected in the grounds of the Smithson-
ian Institution, at Washington, and it is
worthy of remark, that Mr. Downing
was engaged in laying out and beautify-
ing these grounds at the time of his death.
The committee made their final report
at the Pomological meeting in Sep-
tember, 1856. The funds were supplied
by friends of Mr. Downing, in Philadel-
phia, Newburgh, Boston, Washington,
Louisville, Buffalo, and Rochester.

The principal design of the monument "
consists in a large vase resting on a ped-
estal, the whole executed of the finest
Italian marble. The pattern of the vase
is taken from an antique of the chastest

school. The vase is four feet in height, DOWNING MONUMENT.

and measures three feet in diameter on its upper rim. The body is ornamented
with rich arabesque; acanthus leaves surround the lower part. The handles
rest on heads of satyrs, (the tutelar gods of groves and woods.) The pedestal,
resting on a carved base, and being surmounted with a carved cornice, has on each
side deep panels, relieved by carved mouldings. Each of the panels contains
an inscription ; that upon the Northern Front reads as follows :

THIS VASE
Was erected by his Friends

IN MEMORY OP

ANDREW JACKSON DOWNING,
Who died July 28, 1852, aged 37 years.




He was born, and lived,
And died upon the Hudson River.



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION. 39

His life was devoted to the improvement of the national taste

in rural art,
an office for which his genius and the natural beauty amidst

which he lived had fully endowed him.
His success was as great as his genius, and for the death of few

public men,

was public grief ever more sincere.
When these grounds were proposed, he was at once

called to design them ;
but before they were completed he perished in the wreck of the

steamer Henry Clay.

His mind was singularly just, penetrating, and original.
His manners were calm, reserved, and courteous.

His personal memory
belongs to the friends who loved him ;
his fame to the country which honored and laments him.

Inscription upon the Southern Front :

" The taste of an individual,
as well as that of a nation, will be in direct proportion to the

profound sensibility
with which he perceives the beautiful in natural scenery."

" Open wide, therefore,
the doors of your libraries and picture galleries,

all ye true republicans !

Build halls where knowledge shall be freely diffused among men,
and not shut up within the narrow walls of

narrower institutions.
Plant spacious parks in your cities,

and unclose their gates as wide as the gates of morning to the
whole people."

[Downing 's Rural Essays.

Upon the Eastern Front is inscribed :

" Weep no more,

For Lycidus your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the wat'ry floor,
So sinks the day-star in the ocean bed,
And" yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky ;
So Lycidus sunk low, but mounted high
Through the dear might of Him that walked the waves."

Upon the Western Front is this Inscription :

I climb the hill from end to end,

Of all the landscape underneath

I find no place that does not breathe
Some gracious memory of my friend.



40 THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.

' Tis held that sorrow makes us -wise,
Yet how much wisdom sleeps with thee,
Which not alone had guided me,

But served the seasons that may rise ;

And doubtless unto thee is given

A life that bears immortal fruit,

In such great offices as suit
The full grown energies of Heaven.

And love will last as pure and whole

As when he loved me here in time,

And at the spiritual prime
Re-waken with the dawning soul.

On the Base of the Pedestal is the following :

THIS MEMORIAL
Was erected under a resolution passed at Philadelphia,

in Sept., 1852, by the

AMERICAN POMOLOGICAL SOCIETY,

of which Mr. Downing was one of the

original founders.

MARSHALL P. WILDER, President.

The whole monument with its granite plinth is nine feet four inches in height,
and cost $1,600.



Joboeh



From the top of the highest tower, a magnificent, and by far the finest view of
Washington and surrounding country is presented to the spectator. The city ex-
tends from northwest to southeast about four miles and a half; and from north-
east to southwest about two miles and a half. Its circumference is fourteen miles.
The avenues, streets, and open spaces, contain 3,604 acres, and the public reserva-
tions 513 acres. The city is encompassed by a fine range of hills, forming a
natural amphitheatre and covered in part with trees and underwood.

The following are the principal objects that present themselves to the view :

On the west is seen the Washington Monument, which has now reached a height
of 175 feet. Further on, is seen the National Observatory, which is two miles
from the Capitol. Georgetown, with its churches, college, &c., are seen in the
distance to the northwest, and nearer are the President's House, the Treasury
Department with its colonnade, on the right, and " Winder's building" used by
the Pension Office and by bureaus of the War and Navy Departments, to the left.

Columbia College may be seen on one of the most commanding eminences of
the hills at the north of the city, and a little to the east the marble tower of the
new U. S. Military Asylum is plainly visible. The tall and beautiful steeple of
the 5th Baptist Church, and also the spire of the Catholic Church, will be ob-
served in the north.



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION.



41



The observer will recognize the Patent office and General Post office to the
northeast.

The City Hall and Unitarian Church, both of yellow color, and Trinity Epis-
copal Church, built of red sandstone similar to that used in the Smithsonian edi-
fice, are at the northeast.

Directly east is the Capitol of the United States, its magnificent proportions and
commanding position constituting it the most prominent as it is the most inter-
esting object in the landscape.

At the southeast are seen the ship houses and tall chimneys of the Navy Yard,
and more towards the south on the neck of land at the junction of the Anacostia
or East branch with the Potomac, are the Arsenal and the Penitentiary.

The Potomac river lies along the south of the city, and adds greatly to the
beauty of the view- Alexandria, a city of 10,000 inhabitants, can be seen about
six miles to the south.

At the southwest is the Long Bridge which connects Washington with Virginia,
and on the commanding position, elevated more than 200 feet from the river is
Arlington, the residence of George Washington Parke Custis, Esq.




THE GATEWAY.



CATALOGUE

OF



WITH SKETCHES OF SCENERY, ETC.



PAINTED BY J. M. STANLEY.

The collection embraced in this Catalogue comprises accurate portraits painted
from life, of forty-three different tribes of Indians, obtained at the cost, hazard,
and inconvenience of a ten years' tour through the South-western Prairies, New
Mexico, California, and Oregon. The descriptions are by Mr. Stanley himself.

1. CO-WOCK-COO-CHEE, OR WILDCAT. (Painted Dec. 1842.)

A Seminole Chief, and one of the most celebrated of his tribe ; possessed of much vanity
and an indomitable spirit, he has won for himself an exalted name and standing among his
people.

At the outbreak of the Florida war, he was a mere boy; but he shouldered his rifle, and
fought with so much courage and desperation, that he was soon looked up to as a master-
spirit. This gathered a band of warriors about him, who adopted him as their chief leader.
At the head of this party he became a formidable enemy of the United States troops, and
gave them much trouble during that campaign, and probably would never have fallen into
the hands of the whites, had he been able to procure food and ammunition for his band :
being reduced to a state of starvation, he was obliged to surrender, and, by treaty stipula-
tions with the United States Government, was with his people removed west of the Missis-
sippi.

2. AL-LECK TUSTENUGGEE. (Painted Dec. 1842.)

This chief is at the head of the Mikasukie band, and during the Florida war was one of
the most active among the Seminoles.

3. NOKE-SUKE TUSTENUGGEE. (Painted Dec. 1842.)

A Seminole Sub-chief of the Mikasukie band. A warrior of distinction, and Al-leck Tus-
tenuggee's aid.

4. AL-LECK TUSTENUGGEE, NOKE-SUKE TUSTENUGGEE, CUDJO, and GEO. W. CLARKE.

(Painted Dec. 1842.)

Cudjo is a negro Interpreter, who served the United States during the Florida War ; an3
Geo. W. Clarke is Seminole Agent.

5. TUSTENUGGEE CHOP-KO, OR THE BIG WARRIOR. (Painted Deo 1842.)

A Seminole Mikasukie Sub-chief, and one of the most distinguished warriors of his tribe.
He is six feet three inches in height, and well proportioned, and is esteemed one of the best
ball players among his people. His countenance indicates any thing but intelligence or
shrewdness ; on the contrary, it exhibits evidence of a capacity to commit any act, however
cruel and atrocious, at the bidding of his chief.

6. CHO-CO-TE TUSTENUGGEE, (Painted Dec. 1842.)

A Sub-chief, of some note as a warrior, bnt abandoned and dissipated ; he is painted in
the costume in which he presented himself, with a bottle of "fire water" in his hand. He



THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION. 43

possesses au amiable disposition, and is passionately fond of joking, which has acquired for
him the celebrity of punster to the band.

7. HAL-BURTA-HADJO, OR ALLIGATOR. (Painted Aug., 1843.)

A Seminole Chief, celebrated for his prowess as a warrior. His name has been frequently
before the public, as the instigator and perpetrator of many atrocious murders, during the
Florida campaign. He has suffered much from sickness since his removal, and looks de-
jected and careworn.

8. COT-SA OK TIGER. (Painted Dec., 1843.)

A Seminole Warrior, and son of Alligator.

9. SEM-I-WOC-CA. (Painted Sep., 1843.)

Represented as about crossing a small stream, with a corn-basket under her arm. She is
attired in the costume peculiar to the Creek and Seminole women. Their dress consists of
calico, of a coarse, cheap kind, worked to the depth of from twelve to fifteen inches from
the bottom with different colors, in various devices.

The artist found it exceedingly difficult to get the women of this tribe to sit for their pic-
tures, owing to the opposition of their chiefs, who do not consider them worthy of such an
honor.

10. OPOETH-LE-YO-HOLO. (Painted July, 1843.)

Speaker of the Upper Creeks. This man holds the rank of principal counsellor, or
speaker of the councils, over which he presides with great dignity. His influence is so
great, that questions submitted to the council are generally decided according to his will ;
for his tribe consider him as the organ of their chief, and suppose he only speaks as he is
directed.

11. OPOETH-LE-YO-HOLO. (1843.)

Represented in the manner in which he paints himself when going to war. One would
hardly recognize this celebrated chief in this disguise. He insisted on being thus painted,
and it was with difficulty that he was afterwards induced to wash his face, and sit for a
portrait which his friends would be able to recognize. See No. 10.

12. A CREEK BUFFALO DANCE. (Painted Aug., 1843.)

This dance is enacted every year during the season of their busk, or green-corn dances ;
and the men, women, and children all take an active part in the ceremony. They invest
themselves with the scalp of the buffalo, with the horns and tail attached, and dance about
in a circle, uttering sounds in imitation of the animal they represent, with their bodies
in a half-bent position, supporting their weight upon their ball-sticks, which represent the
forelegs of the buffalo.

13. TUSTENUGGEE EMATHLA. (Painted June, 1843.)

This is a fine looking man, six feet and one inch in height, and well proportioned, of
manly and martial appearance and great physical strength, and is well calculated to com-
mand the respect of a band of savage warriors. He is generally known by the name of
Jim Boy. Tustenuggee means " warrior;" and Emathla, " next to the warrior."

He is and always has been a firm and undeviating friend of the whites : he led a party
of seven hundred and seventy-six warriors to Florida, and endeavored, first as mediator, to
induce the Seminoles to abandon the bloody and fruitless contest in which they were en-


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Online LibraryWilliam Jones RheesAn account of the Smithsonian Institution, its founder, building, operations, etc. prepared from the reports of Prof. Henry to the regents, and other authentic sources → online text (page 4 of 10)