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BALTIMORE PUBLIC LIBRARY, LECTURES, AND GALLERY OF FINE ARTS.
WE Copy the following article from the National Intelligencer. The letter of Mr. Peabody needs no further introduction, or this act of munificent liberality any words of commendation.
MUNIFICENT DONATION BY GEORGE PEABODY.
By the subjoined letter our readers will be apprised of an act no less munificent in its design than graceful in the simple and unostentatious manner of its execution. Mr. PEABODY, already illustrious for the elegant hospitality with which he delights to honor his countrymen when abroad, seems to have returned to our midst only to give new and more enduring expression to the promptings of that liberal heart which, in the language of the Holy Book, deviseth liberal things. Such a benefaction as that we are now called to record, sheds a lustre not only on the name of the donor, but also on that common humanity which it adorns. Reviving as it does the best recollections which have given to the name of Lorenzo de Medici its truest and most imperishable fame, this noble beneficence, we can not doubt, will remain, like his, a blessing to untold generations, and deserve to be cited as one of those acts which always mark and illustrate the age in which they appear.
BALTIMORE, FEBRUARY 12, 1857.
GENTLEMEN: In pursuance of a purpose long entertained by me, and which I communicated to some of you more than two years ago, I have determined, without further delay, to establish and endow an Institute in this city, which I hope may become useful toward the improvement of the moral and intellectual culture of the inhabitants of Baltimore, and collaterally to those of the State, and also toward the enlargement and diffusion of a taste for the fine arts.
My wishes in regard to the scope and character of this Institute are known to some of you through a personal communication of my purpose. In the sequel of that letter I shall further advert to this subject.
In presenting to you the object I propose, I wish you to understand that the details proper to its organization and government and its future control and conduct, I submit to your judgment and discretion; and the perpetuity of that control I confide to you and your successors, to be appointed in the manner prescribed in this letter.
I request you to accept this trust as my friends, amongst whom I hope there will ever be found the utmost harmony and concert of action in all that relates to the achievement of the good which it is my aim to secure to the city.
You and your successors will constitute forever a board of trustees, twentyfive in number, to be maintained in perpetual succession, for the accomplishment, preservation, and supervision of the purposes for which the institute is to be established. To you and your successors, therefore, I hereby give full and exclusive power to do whatsoever you may deem most advisable for the foundation, organization, and management of the proposed Institute, and to that end I give to you, and will place at your disposal, to be paid to you as you may require, for the present, three hundred thousand dollars, to be expended by you in such manner as you may determine to be most conducive to the effective and early establishment and future maintenance and support of such an Institute as you may deem best adapted to fulfill my intentions as expressed in this letter. In the general scheme and organization of the Institute I wish to provideFirst. For an extensive library, to be well furnished in every department of knowledge and of the most approved literature, which is to be maintained for the free use of all persons who may desire to consult it, and be supplied with every proper convenience for daily reference and study, within appointed hours of the week days of every year. It should consist of the best works on every subject embraced within the scope of its plan, and as completely adapted as the means at your command may allow to satisfy the researches of students who may be engaged in the pursuit of knowledge not ordinarily attainable in the
private libraries of the country. It should be guarded and preserved from abuse, and rendered efficient for the purposes I contemplate in its establishment, by such regulations as the judgment and experience of the trustees may adopt or approve. I recommend, in reference to such regulations, that it shall not be constructed upon the plan of a circulating library; and that the books shall not be allowed to be taken out of the building, except in very special cases, and in accordance with rules adapted to them as exceptional privileges.
Second. I desire that ample provision and accommodation be made for the regular periodical delivery, at the proper season in each year, of lectures by the most capable and accomplished scholars and men of science within the power of the trustees to procure. These lectures should be directed to instruction in science, art, and literature. They should be established with such regulations as, in the judgment of the trustees, shall be most effectual to secure the benefits expected from them; and should, under proper and necessary restrictions adapted to preserve good order and guard against abuse, be open to the resort of the respectable inhabitants of both sexes of the city and State: such prices of admission being required as may serve to defray a portion of the necessary expense of maintaining the lectures without impairing their usefulness to the community. In connection with this provision, I desire that the trustees, in order to encourage and reward merit, should adopt a regulation by which a number of the graduates of the public high schools of the city, not exceeding fifty of each sex, in each year, who shall have obtained by their proficiency in their studies and good behavior, certificates of merit from the commissioners or superintending authorities of the schools to which they may be attached, may, by virtue of such certificates, be entitled, as an honorary mark of distinction, to free admission to the lectures for one term or season after obtaining the certificates.
I also desire that, for the same purpose of encouraging merit, the trustees shall make suitable provisions for an annual grant of twelve hundred dollars, of which five hundred shall be distributed every year in money prizes, graduated according to merit, of sums not less than fifty dollars nor more than one hundred for each prize, to be given to such graduates of the public male high schools now existing, or which may hereafter be established, as shall in each year, upon examination and certificate of the school commissioners, or other persons having the chief superintendence of the same, be adjudged most worthy, from their fidelity to their studies, their attainments, their moral deportment, and their personal habits of cleanliness and propriety of manners; the sum of two hundred dollars to be appropriated to the purchase in every year of gold medals of two degrees, of which ten shall be of the value of ten dollars each, and twenty of the value of five dollars each, to be annually distributed to the most meritorious of the graduating classes of the public female high schools; these prizes to be adjudged for the same merit and under the like regulations as the prizes to be given to the graduates of the male high schools. The remaining five hundred dollars to be in like manner distributed in money prizes, as provided above for the graduates of the male high schools, in the same amounts respectively, to the yearly graduates in the school of design attached to the Mechanics' Institute of this city. To render this annual distribution of prizes effective to the end I have in view, I desire that the trustees shall digest, propose, and adopt all such rules and provisions, and procure the corresponding regulations on the part of the public institutions referred to, as they may deem necessary to accomplish the object.
Third. I wish, also, that the Institute shall embrace within its plan an academy of music, adapted, in the most effective manner, to diffuse and cultivate a taste for that, the most refining of all the arts. By providing a capacious and suitably furnished saloon, the facilities necessary to the best exhibitions of the art, the means of studying its principles and practising its compositions, and periodical concerts, aided by the best talent and most eminent skill within their means to procure, the trustees may promote the purpose to which I propose to devote this department of the Institute. They will make all such regulations as, in their judgment, are most likely to render the academy of music the instrument of permanent good to the society of the city. As it will necessarily incur considerable expense for its support, I desire that it may be, in part, sustained by such charges of admission to its privileges as the trustees may consider proper, and at the same time compatible with my design to render it useful to the com
munity. And I suggest for their consideration the propriety of regulating the conditions of an annual membership of the academy, as well as the terms of occasional admission to the saloon, they should consider it expedient at any time to extend the privilege of admission beyond the number of those who may be enrolled as members.
Fourth. I contemplate with great satisfaction as an auxiliary to the improvement of the taste, and through it the moral elevation of the character of the society of Baltimore, the establishment of a gallery of art in the department of painting and statuary. It is therefore my wish that such a gallery should be included in the plan of the institute, and that spacious and appropriate provision be made for it. It should be supplied to such an extent as may be practicable with the works of the best masters, and be placed under such regulations as shall secure free access to it, during stated periods of every year, by all orderly and respectable persons who may take an interest in works of this kind; and particularly that, under wholesome restraints to preserve good order and decorous deportment, it may be rendered instructive to artists in the pursuit of their peculiar studies and in affording them opportunity to make drawings and copies from the works it may contain.
As annual or periodical exhibitions of paintings and statuary are calculated, in my opinion, to afford equal gratification and instruction to the community, and may serve to supply a valuable fund for the enrichment of the gallery, I suggest to the trustees the establishment of such exhibitions, so far as they may find it practicable, from the resources within their reach.
Lastly. I desire that ample and convenient accommodation may be made in the building of the Institute for the use of the Maryland Historical Society, of which I am and have long been a member. It is my wish that that society should permanently occupy its appropriate rooms as soon as they are provided, and should, at the proper time when this can be done, be appointed by the trustees to be the guardian and protector of the property of the Institute; and that, if it accept this duty, and, in conformity to my wish, shall move into and take possession of the apartments designed for its use, it shall also be requested and empowered to assume the management and administration of the operations of the several departments, as the same shall be established and organized by the trustees; that it shall, at a proper time in every year, appoint from its own members appropriate and efficient committees, to be charged respectively with the arrangement and direction of the operations and conduct of each department in the functions assigned to each, by the trustees; that, in the performance of these duties, it shall keep in view the purposes which it is my aim to promote, give due attention to the details necessary to accomplish them, and adopt suitable measures to execute the plan of organization made by the trustees, and carry into full and useful effect my intentions as disclosed in this letter.
The trustees, after the Historical Society shall have accepted these duties, shall, nevertheless, possess a full and complete visitorial power over the proceedings of the society touching the subjects I have confided to the board. To guard against misapprehension which might lead to a conflict between these bodies, I beg it to be understood that in this arrangement I intend the power of the board to be adapted to the organization and general direction of the departments, and that of the society to their operations and conduct, in conformity with such organization and general direction. I hope that the board of trustees and the society, will always act in the discharge of the functions which I have assigned to them respectively with a liberal spirit of concert and coöperation, and with a harmonious and united determination to render the Institute an agency of enduring benefit to the community in which it is placed.
If there be any legal incapacity in the Maryland Historical Society to assume and perform the duties which it is my wish it should undertake, the trustees will be careful to wait until that impediment is removed by the grant of proper power to that end by the Legislature, before they commit these duties to that body. And if, at any time hereafter, that society shall become extinct, it will be the duty of the trustees then existing, to assume to themselves the ministration and management of the several departments of the Institute in the details I have here assigned to the care of the society.
The trustees will make such provisions out of the moneys I have now placed
at their disposal, and out of such as I may hereafter give them, as may be necessary for the purchase of the ground and the erection of the building for the Institute, and will also, in due time, make all suitable provisions for the investment of the several sums required for the repair, preservation, and insurance of the building and other property connected with it; for its fuel, lighting, and furniture; for the service of the library and apartments belonging to it; for the yearly purchase of books; for the service, management, and expense of the lecture department; for the charge and support of the academy of music; for the support, maintenance, and gradual increase of the gallery of arts; for the supply of the yearly prizes to the graduates of the high schools and the school of design; and for all proper contingent or incidental expenses of the Institute, in whatever branch the same may be needed. In the performance of this duty I wish them to make a specific designation of the fund appropriated to each department as well as of that for the general service of all, and that these several appropriations be made in such proportions as the necessity of each department may require, and the means at the disposal of the trustees may allow. And it is also my wish, in connection with this subject of the funds I have directed to be supplied, that they, as well as what I may hereafter supply, shall always be held under the control and guardianship of the trustees, in conformity with such regulations as they may adopt for their preservation, appropriation, and investment, from time to time, in the administration of the trust; and that when the Maryland Historical Society shall assume the management of the departments as I have mentioned above, the trustees shall put at its disposal, in each year, the amount they shall have appropriated for each service, as herein before required, to be disbursed by the society according to its appointed destination. These, gentlemen, are the general instructions I have to impart to you for your guidance in the laborious duties I have committed to your care. You will perceive that my design is to establish an Institute which shall in some degree administer to the benefit of every portion of the community of Baltimore; which shall supply the means of pursuing the acquirement of knowledge and the study of art to every emulous student of either sex who may be impelled by the laudable desire of improvement to seek it; which shall furnish incentives to the ambition of meritorious youth in the public schools, and in that useful school of design under the charge of the Mechanics' Institute, by providing for those who excel a reward, which I hope will be found to be not only a token of honorary distinction, but also a timely contribution toward the means of the worthy candidate who shall win it, for the commencement of a successful career in life; which shall afford opportunity to those whom fortune has blessed with leisure to cultivate those kindly liberalizing arts that embellish the character by improving the perception of the beautiful and the true, and which, by habituating the mind to the contemplation of the best works of genius, render it more friendly and generous toward the success of deserving artists in their early endeavor after fame.
For the fulfilling and preserving the trust I have confided to you, my wish is that you, gentlemen, or as many of you as may accept this appointment, will meet together at as early a day as may be convenient for you, and take such measures for your own organization and government as you may find necessary, making a record of your acceptance and of all the proceedings you may adopt; that if your full number of twenty-five should be rendered incompetent by the refusal of any of you to accept the appointment, you will, as soon as practicable, fill the same by the selection of the necessary number from a list of two hundred names from the ranks of your most worthy fellow-citizens, which I herewith furnish you, and which list I desire you to enter upon your record for future use.
I also desire and request, that if at any time hereafter, during the life of the present generation, vacancies should occur in your number of twenty-five, by death, resignation, incapacity to serve, or removal from the State, you and your successors will fill such vacancies, by judicious selections from the list above mentioned, of such person or persons therein named as may then be living and may be qualified, by capacity and good standing in the community, to perform the duties required; and when, in after times, this generation shall have passed away, I desire that your successors may be preserved by the appointment to