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Title: Handbook of the new Library of Congress

Compiler: Herbert Small

Contributor: Charles H. Caffin

Ainsworth Rand Spofford

Release date: June 27, 2019 [eBook #59821]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Donald Cummings, Adrian Mastronardi, John
Campbell and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American



Footnote anchors are denoted by [number], and the footnotes have been placed at the end of the book.

Some minor changes to the text are noted at the end of the book.














The Heintzemann Press



The intention of this Handbook is to furnish such an account of the new building of the Library of Congress as may prove of interest to the general reader, and at the same time serve as a convenient guide to actual visitors. To this latter end, a system of headings and sub-headings has been introduced, and the building has been described throughout in the order in which a visitor might naturally walk through it. Criticism has been avoided in the general description, but a brief survey of the artistic qualities of the Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting is given in Mr. Caffin’s supplementary essay.

The writer had intended at first to give rather a full account of the collections of the Library, of the Smithsonian system of exchange, of the operation of the copyright law, and of the general system under which the Library was carried on. So much of what he might have thus described, however, would have been entirely changed, and so much more considerably modified, by the new methods of administration made possible and necessary by the new building, that it was decided to pass lightly over all matters connected with the administration of the Library. Should another edition of the Handbook be called for, it is hoped that there will be an opportunity to supply this omission. In the meantime it will be found that Mr. Spofford’s paper on the Function of a National Library will serve to indicate the general scope of the institution.

The writer desires to express his great obligation, for much information and courtesy, to Mr. Bernard R. Green, in charge of the Library during the time that this book was preparing, to Mr. Edward Pearce Casey, and to Mr. Spofford. Without their assistance the book could hardly have been written. Thanks are due, also, to many of the individual artists for their courtesy in explaining the meaning and application of their work—and in particular to Mr. Elmer E. Garnsey, for a great deal of painstaking assistance.

H. S.

Copyright Notice:—In addition to the general copyright of this Handbook, which covers the text and illustrations, the engravings of the paintings in the following pages are from Copley Prints, copyright 1896 and 1897, by Curtis & Cameron, the Prints being made directly from the original paintings, copyright 1896 and 1897 by the several artists.


History of the Library2
The Burning by the British Troops2
The Acquisition of Jefferson’s Library3
Mr. Spofford’s Administration3
The Old Quarters in the Capitol4
The Agitation for a New Building4
The New Building6
The General Decoration; Mr. Garnsey and Mr. Weinert7
The General Character of the Building8
The Exterior of the Building9
The Façade10
The Entrance Pavilion11
Mr. Hinton Perry’s Fountain12
The Ethnological Heads13
The Portico Busts16
Mr. Pratt’s Spandrel Figures17
The Main Entrance18
Mr. Warner’s Bronze Doors18
Mr. Macmonnies’s Bronze Door20
Main Entrance Hall21
The Vestibule21
The Stucco Decoration of the Vestibule22
The Marble Flooring22
The Staircase Hall23
The Commemorative Arch23
Mr. Warner’s Spandrel Figures24
Mr. Martiny’s Staircase Figures24
The Ceiling of the Staircase Hall27
The Mosaic Vaults of the First Floor Corridors28
Mr. Pearce’s Paintings28
Mr. Walker’s Paintings30
Mr. Alexander’s Paintings33
Mosaic Decorations of the East Corridor33
The Librarian’s Room34
The Lobbies of the Rotunda35
Mr. Vedder’s Paintings36
The Second Floor Corridors39
The Decoration of the Vaults39
The Printers’ Marks42
Mr. Hinton Perry’s Bas-reliefs43
Mr. Shirlaw’s Paintings44
Mr. Reid’s Paintings46
Mr. Barse’s Paintings48
Mr. Benson’s Paintings50
The Decoration of the Walls51
Mr. Maynard’s Pompeiian Panels52
The Inscriptions along the Walls53
The Entrance to the Rotunda55
Mr. Van Ingen’s Paintings55
Mr. Vedder’s Mosaic Decoration56
The Rotunda57
The Importance of the Rotunda58
The General Arrangement60
The Alcoves61
The Symbolical Statues62
The Portrait Statues64
Mr. Flanagan’s Clock66
The Lighting of the Rotunda67
The Semicircular Windows68
The Dome70
The Stucco Ornamentation70
Mr. Blashfield’s Paintings71
The Rotunda Color Scheme76
Provision for Readers77
The Book-Carrying Apparatus78
Connection with the Capitol79
The Book-stacks80
Arrangement and Construction80
Ventilation and Heating82
The Shelving82
The Lantern84
The Rectangle84
Southeast Gallery86
Mr. Cox’s Paintings86
The Pavilion of the Discoverers88
Mr. Pratt’s Bas-reliefs89
Mr. Maynard’s Paintings89
The Pavilion of the Elements93
Mr. R. L. Dodge’s Paintings93
The Pavilion of the Seals94
Mr. Van Ingen’s Paintings96
Mr. Garnsey’s Ceiling Panel98
The Pavilion of Art and Science99
Mr. W. de L. Dodge’s Paintings99
The Northwest Gallery101
Mr. Melchers’s Paintings101
The Rectangle: First Floor Corridors101
Mr. McEwen’s Paintings102
The House Reading Room106
Mr. Dielman’s Mosaics107
Mr. Gutherz’s Paintings109
The Senate Reading Room110
The North Corridor111
Mr. Simmons’s Paintings111
Special Rooms112
The Basement112
The Architecture, Sculpture and Painting113
The Function of a National Library123


[Pg 1]






The Library of Congress in Washington is not the mere reference library for the legislative branch of the Government that its name would imply. It is, in effect, the library of the whole American people, directly serving the interests of the entire country. It was, it is true, founded for the use of the members of the Senate and House of Representatives; but, although the original rule still holds good that only they and certain specified Government officials may take books away from the building,[1] the institution has developed, especially during the last quarter of a century, into a library as comprehensively national as the British Museum in London, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, or the Imperial Library in Vienna. It is more freely open to the public than any of these, everyone of suitable age being permitted to use its collections without the necessity of a ticket or formal permission, while in scope it is their equal, however much it may for the time being be inferior to them in certain branches of learning. Its aim in the accumulation of books is inclusive and not exclusive, as Mr. Spofford explains elsewhere in this Handbook, in his article on The Function of a National Library.

This development amounts almost to a change of front, in spite of the fact that the original purpose of the Library as an aid to the legislation and debates[2] of Congress has been fully preserved. The change has been brought about in many ways, but principally by the exchange system of the great governmental scientific bureau, the Smithsonian Institution, and by the operation of the national copyright law.

The Smithsonian Institution issues each year a large number of scientific publications of the highest interest and importance. It distributes these throughout the world, receiving in exchange a body of scientific literature which comprehends practically everything of value issued by every scientific society of standing both in this country and abroad. With the exception of a small working library retained by the Smithsonian Institution for the immediate use of its officers, the splendid collection of material which has been gathered during the forty years in which this exchange system has been in operation is deposited in the Library of Congress, forming a scientific library unrivalled in this country.

By the operation of the copyright law, any publisher, author, or artist desiring to obtain an exclusive privilege of issuing any publication whatever, must send two copies of the publication on which a copyright is asked to the Librarian of Congress to be deposited in the Library. By this means, during the twenty-five years that the law has been in force, the Library has been enabled to accumulate approximately the entire current product of the American press, as well as an enormous number of photographs, engravings, and other works coming under the head of fine arts. The possession of this material would alone give the Library a special national character possible to no other library in the country.


The Library of Congress was founded in the year 1800, about the time that the government was first established in Washington. Five thousand dollars was the first appropriation, made April 24, 1800, while Congress was still sitting in Philadelphia. Some of the Democratic Congressmen, as strict constructionists, opposed the idea of a governmental library, but their party leader, Thomas Jefferson, then President, warmly favored it. He called it, later in life, with a sort of prophetic instinct, the “Library of the United States,” and his support of it from the very beginning was so hearty and consistent that he may perhaps be regarded in the broad sense as the real founder of the institution.

The Library was shelved from the first in a portion of the Capitol building. The first catalogue was issued in April, 1802. It appears that there were then, in accordance with the old-fashioned method of dividing books according to size, not subject, 212 folios, 164 quartos, 581 octavos, 7 duodecimos, and 9 maps.

The Burning by the British Troops.—The War of 1812 wrecked the slender accumulations of the first dozen years of the Library’s existence. The collection was entirely destroyed by fire by the British troops which entered Washington August 24, 1814. The burning is described by a writer in an old magazine. “The British,” he says, “first occupied the Capitol, only the two wings of which were finished, and connected by a wooden passageway erected where the Rotunda now stands. The leading officers entered the House of Representatives, where Admiral Cockburn of the Royal Navy (who was co-operating with General Ross), seating himself in the Speaker’s chair, called the assemblage[3] to order. ‘Gentlemen,’ shouted he, ‘the question is, Shall this harbor of Yankee democracy be burned? All in favor of burning it will say Aye!’ There was a general affirmative response. And when he added, ‘Those opposed will say Nay,’ silence reigned for a moment. ‘Light up!’ cried the bold Briton; and the order was soon repeated in all parts of the building, while soldiers and sailors vied with each other in collecting combustible material for their incendiary fires. The books on the shelves of the Library of Congress were used as kindling for the north wing; and the much admired full-length portraits of Louis XVI. and his queen, Marie Antoinette, which had been presented by that unfortunate monarch to Congress, were torn from their frames and trampled under foot. Patrick Magruder, then Clerk of the House of Representatives and Librarian of Congress, subsequently endeavored to excuse himself from not having even attempted to save the books; but it was shown that the books and papers in the departments were saved, and that the Library might have been removed to a place of safety before the arrival of the British.”

The Acquisition of Jefferson’s Library.—Jefferson was then living in retirement at Monticello. He was in some financial difficulty at the time, and he offered the Government the largest portion of his library, comprising some 6,700 volumes, for the price which he had originally paid for them—$23,700. The offer was accepted by Congress, although it met with much opposition. Among those who objected to the bill were Daniel Webster, then a Representative from New Hampshire; while Cyrus King, a Federalist member of the House from Massachusetts, “vainly endeavored to have provision made for the rejection of all books of an atheistical, irreligious, and immoral tendency”—a curious example of the many attacks of a similar nature made upon Jefferson by his political opponents.

With Jefferson’s books as a nucleus, the Library of Congress began to make substantial gains. In 1832, a law library was established as a distinct department of the collection. At present it numbers some 85,000 volumes, but for the greater convenience of the Supreme Court, which sits in the old Senate Chamber of the Capitol, it has not been removed from its former quarters in that building. It is always reckoned, however, as a portion of the collection of the Library of Congress.

In 1850, the Library contained about 55,000 volumes. December 24, 1851, a fire broke out in the rooms in which it was shelved, consuming three-fifths of the whole collection, or about 35,000 volumes. A liberal appropriation for the purchase of books in place of those destroyed was made by Congress, and from that time to the present day the growth of the Library has been unchecked.

Mr. Spofford’s Administration.—In December, 1864, the present Librarian, Mr. Ainsworth Rand Spofford, was appointed by President Lincoln[2]. The general management of the Library has always been in the hands of a joint committee of Congress; but the membership of the committee is constantly changing, so that the Librarian is practically the real head and director of the institution. During the time that Mr. Spofford has occupied his position, not only has the growth of the collection been little short of marvellous, but so[4] many changes of system have been introduced as almost completely to transform the old Library of half a century ago. The year following Mr. Spofford’s appointment, the previous copyright law was modified so as to require the deposit in the Library of Congress of a copy of every publication on which copyright was desired, the second copy required being deposited elsewhere. The administration of the law was still divided, however, in that each State had its own office for copyright—some States more than one—with the result that the volumes due the Government were sometimes received and sometimes not. There was no way to call the negligent publisher or author to account, for no single office contained the complete information necessary. Such system as existed was often invalidated by the carelessness of the officials—the Clerks of the United States District Courts—in charge in the various States. In 1870, therefore, Congress still further amended the copyright law by consolidating the entire department in the hands of the Librarian of Congress, as Registrar of Copyrights, with the provision that both copies of the publication copyrighted should go to the Library. Since then, the law has worked with perfect smoothness, and with the result of enormous additions to the Library—numbering, in the year 1896, no less than 55,906 publications of all kinds.

Naturally enough, therefore, the Library has grown in the last quarter of a century to be by far the largest in the country. In 1896 it contained, roughly estimated, 755,000 volumes of books, 250,000 pamphlets, 500,000 separate pieces of music, 25,000 maps, and 256,000 engravings, photographs, lithographs, etchings, photogravures, and pictorial illustrations in general.

The Old Quarters in the Capitol.—For many years the Library had been kept in the west front of the Capitol. Here there was provision for perhaps 350,000 volumes. With the great increase, the old quarters had long been utterly inadequate. The crypts in the basement of the Capitol afforded room for storage, but the hundreds of thousands of books, pieces of music, and engravings thus stored were for the most part entirely inaccessible to the student—a serious loss to the usefulness of the Library, in spite of the fact that, so far as the books were concerned, only duplicates and such volumes as were seldom called for were thus laid away. The copyright business could be kept up to date only by the greatest effort. The rooms regularly devoted to the Library were so small, and so over-crowded with books, that there was almost no opportunity for quiet study, while the ordinary official routine was carried on with the greatest difficulty and inconvenience. That the Library should be able to keep its doors open at all, much more that it should continue promptly to furnish books to applicants, was a sufficient cause for wonder.

The Agitation for a New Building.—In his report for 1872, Mr. Spofford first laid before Congress the necessity of a new building for the accommodation of the Library. It was fourteen years, however, before any decided action was taken in response to this appeal, annually repeated, and twenty-five years before the present building was finally ready for occupancy. During these fourteen years, to quote Mr. Spofford, “various schemes for continuing the Library within the Capitol were brought forward. One was to extend the west front of the edifice one hundred feet, to hold the books; another, to project the eastern front two hundred and fifty feet, thus making a conglomerate building out of what is now a purely classic edifice; a third, and more preposterous scheme, was to accommodate the Library growth within the great inner concave of the dome, which was to be literally honeycombed with books from the floor of the Rotunda to the[5] apex: a plan which would have given space for only twelve years’ growth of the Library, besides increasing incalculably all the difficulties of its administration. Every plan for enlarging the Capitol would have provided for less than thirty years’ increase, after which Congress would be confronted with the same problem again, and forced to erect a new building after all the cost (estimated at four millions of dollars) of such enlargement. At length a commission of architects reported against disturbing the symmetry of the Capitol, and that illusive spectre was laid to rest. Then ensued difficulties and dissensions about a site, about plans, about architects, and about cost. Some wanted to save money by planting a building in the Botanic Garden, or on the Mall, sites which have been twice under water in the last twenty years, from the overflow of the Potomac River. Some wanted a plain storehouse of brick, after the model of the Pension Building, but it was wisely concluded that one such architectural monstrosity was enough for our Government.

“At length all differences between Senate and House were harmonized; the act for a separate building received over two-thirds majority in 1886; a site of ten acres was purchased on a plateau near the Capitol for $585,000; work was begun on a large scale, but cut down in 1888 to smaller dimensions, with a limitation of ultimate cost of $4,000,000; restored in 1889 to the original size, and the limitation of cost was raised to $5,500,000, in addition to sums heretofore appropriated, thus providing for an ample and thoroughly equipped edifice, with ultimate accommodations for four and one-half millions of volumes.”




The first act of Congress providing for the construction of the building was approved April 15, 1886. Its terms adopted the plan submitted by Mr. John L. Smithmeyer; created a commission consisting of the Secretary of the Interior, the Architect of the Capitol Extension, and the Librarian of Congress, to have charge of and carry forward the work; and selected the present site. The year 1886 was occupied in appraising and taking possession of the ground; the next year in clearing the site, making the principal excavation for the foundations, and laying the drainage system; and the year 1888 in laying one half of the concrete foundation footings on the plan adopted by the act above mentioned. On October 2, 1888, a new act of Congress was approved, repealing so much of the act of April 15, 1886, as provided for a commission and the construction of the building according to the plan therein specified. This act placed the work under the sole control and management of the Chief of Engineers of the Army, Brigadier-General Thomas Lincoln Casey, requiring him to report direct to Congress annually and to prepare general plans for the entire construction of the building, subject to the approval of the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Interior, and within a total cost of $4,000,000, exclusive of appropriations previously made.

The preparation of the new design was at once entered upon, using the previous one of Mr. Smithmeyer as a basis by reducing its dimensions and otherwise considerably modifying it to bring the cost within the required limit. The new plans were completed and submitted for approval to the Secretaries on November 23, 1888, but no action was taken by them. At the same time this design, together with another modification of the original, retaining the full dimensions of the building, but modifying its ground-plan and other architectural features, within and without, in many important particulars, was placed before Congress. The cost of the building by the latter design was estimated at $6,003,140, and the time for its construction at eight years. Toward the close of the session Congress again took up the subject of plans in connection with the sundry civil appropriation bill and adopted the larger modified design by the act approved March 2, 1889, directing that the building be erected in accordance therewith, and at a total cost not to exceed $5,500,000, exclusive of appropriations previously made. The amount of the previous appropriations was $1,000,000, of which a balance of $745,567.94 remained after the expenses of operations on the old plan had all been defrayed. Thus the total limit of cost of the new plan was fixed by law at $6,245,567.94. It may be added that none of the plans, drawings, or designs made prior to General Casey’s taking charge of the work were used, all having been new and different.

In the meantime many detailed plans of stonework for the exterior walls, foundations, etc., had been prepared, and the working up of the details of design and construction in general had been actively going on in the drafting room, so that all was in readiness for the prompt and vigorous commencement of operations, which took place on the ground as soon as Congress had passed the act of March 2, 1889.

In the execution of the work General Casey had the entire responsible charge under Congress from October 2, 1888, until his death, on March 25, 1896, and he also disbursed the funds during that period. He held general supervision, gave general direction to all principal proceedings, and maintained[7] an intimate knowledge of the work at all times, while performing the duties of his more absorbing and important office of Chief of Engineers of the Army at the War Department, to which he succeeded a few months before he was placed in charge of the Library building by Congress. General Casey had been connected with some of the most important pieces of construction ever undertaken by the Government, including the erection of the State, War and Navy Building and the completion of the Washington Monument. The last was an especially difficult task, as it had been necessary to strengthen the old foundations of the shaft before it was possible to proceed with the work. In this delicate and hazardous undertaking, as well as in the erection of the State, War and Navy Building, and other works, General Casey had been assisted by Mr. Bernard R. Green, C. E., whom he now appointed to be superintendent and engineer of the construction of the new Library building, and put in full local charge of the entire work.

To aid in designing the artistic features of the architecture—that is, exclusive of arrangement, construction, utility, apparatus, and the management of the business—Mr. Paul J. Pelz was employed under the immediate direction of General Casey and Mr. Green. Mr. Pelz had been in partnership with Mr. Smithmeyer in the production of the original general plan and design. In this way the design of the building, as it now appears in the main in the exterior and court walls, the dome, the approaches to the west front, was evolved, Mr. Pelz thereby fixing the plan and main proportions of the building. In the spring of 1892 Mr. Pelz’s connection with the work ceased. At that time the building had reached but little more than one-half its height.

In the fall of that year Mr. Edward Pearce Casey, of New York City, was employed as architect and also as adviser and supervisor in matters of art. His designs principally include all of the most important interior architecture and enrichment in relief and color. Mr. Casey continued as architect until the completion of the building. On the death of General Casey, in March, 1896, he was immediately succeeded by Mr. Green, under whose charge the building was completed, in February, 1897, within the limit of time set by Congress in 1888, and about $140,000 below the limit of cost—or, in round numbers, for $6,360,000.

General Decoration: Mr. Garnsey and Mr. Weinert.—In addition to those whose work has been described in the preceding paragraphs, two other men remain to be mentioned in giving any general account of the construction of the new building: Mr. Elmer E. Garnsey, who was in charge, under the general supervision of the architect, of the conventional color decoration of the interior, and Mr. Albert Weinert, who, in the same way, was in charge of the stucco ornamentation. Mr. Weinert was put at the head of a staff of modellers, who executed on the spot the great variety of relief arabesque and minor sculpture required in the comprehensive scheme of stucco ornament adopted by Mr. Casey as a chief factor in the decoration of the main halls and galleries throughout the building. For the general color decoration of the building—which extends into every room in the building, and includes the many elaborate and beautiful arabesques which decorate the vaulting of the main halls—Mr. Elmer E. Garnsey, who had been concerned in similar work at the World’s Fair, the Boston Public Library, and the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, was engaged. A large studio was fitted up in the building and a staff of designers and fresco-painters was organized. Mr. Edward J. Holslag was appointed foreman; Mr.[8] William A. Mackay and Mr. Frederick C. Martin were employed to carry out on the walls the finer portions of the designs; and Mr. W. Mills Thompson and Mr. Charles Caffin to make the finished cartoons from the original sketches for the use of the fresco-painters. The latter numbered about twenty-five, and the larger portion of them were kept constantly busy for nearly a year and a half.

The General Character of the Building.—Of the splendid and monumental building itself, it may be stated, before entering upon a detailed description—and stated, too, with hardly any fear of contradiction—that it is the most perfectly adapted for the convenient use and storage of books of any large library in the world. It is the largest, the costliest, and the safest. It is absolutely fire-proof, not through any ingenious arrangement or contrivance, but by the very quality of the materials of which it is built—granite, brick, marble, iron, steel, and terra-cotta. Wood floors are used in many of the rooms, but they are merely a carpet of boards laid upon terra-cotta or brick vaults. It would be impossible for the Library to burn down; a fire would nowhere have an opportunity to spread. The great size of the building is perhaps best appreciated from a statement of the amount of some of the materials used in it: 409,000 cubic feet of granite, 500,000 enamelled brick, 22,000,000 red brick, 3,800 tons of steel and iron, and 73,000 barrels of cement. The draughting office turned out, during the eight years that the Library was under construction, 1,600 plans and drawings. Exclusive of the cellar, the total floor-space is 326,195 square feet, or nearly eight acres; and the whole number of windows is about 2,165.

As a matter of “library economy,” the arrangement of the building is of great interest. The problems to be solved were mostly new ones. In a paper on the Library, read before the American Library Association, Mr. Green said: “Its design was preceded by few or no good examples of library architecture, and was therefore the outcome of theory and deduction rather than the application of established principles.” This task was not undertaken in any dogmatic way, however; “the effort was,” as Mr. Green went on to say, “to plan on general rather than particular principles, and afford the largest latitude for expansion and re-arrangement in the use of the spaces.”

So far, however, as general interest is concerned, it is the magnificent series of mural and sculptural decorations with which the architecture is enriched that has contributed most to give the Library its notable position among American public buildings. Although a similarly comprehensive scheme of decoration was carried out at the World’s Fair in Chicago, and afterwards in the new Public Library in Boston, the Government itself had never before called upon a representative number of American painters and sculptors to help decorate, broadly and thoroughly, one of its great public monuments. Commissions were here given to nearly fifty sculptors and painters—all Americans—and their work, as shown throughout the building, forms the most interesting record possible of the scope and capabilities of American art.

It may be noted here, also, that, both inside and out, the Library is, in the main, in the style of the Italian Renaissance—derived, that is to say, from the architecture of the buildings erected in Italy during the period (roughly speaking, the fifteenth century or earlier) when the elements of classic art were revived and re-combined in a Renascence, or New Birth, of the long-neglected models of Greece and Rome.



The site of the Library originally comprised two city blocks, containing seventy houses, with an extent, as has been said, of ten acres. It is bounded by First, East Capitol, Second, and B Streets, and forms a partial continuation of the band of parks which stretches east from the Washington Monument, including the Agricultural Grounds, the Smithsonian Grounds, Armory Square, the Public Gardens, the Botanic Garden, and the Capitol Grounds. The general effect of the grounds enclosing the Library is that of an extension of the Capitol Grounds, the street separating the two, for example, being treated, so far as possible, as a driveway through a park, and both being enclosed by low or “dwarf” walls of the same height and design.


The Library faces exactly west. It is four hundred and seventy feet long (from north to south), and three hundred and forty deep (from west to east). It occupies, exclusive of approaches, three and three-quarters acres.

The general disposition of the building may best be seen by a glance at the ground plan given on the present page. The exterior walls are thus seen to belong to a great rectangle, which encloses a cross dividing the open space within into four courts, each one hundred and fifty feet long by seventy-five or one hundred feet wide. At the intersection of the arms of the cross is an octagon, serving as the main reading room, and conspicuous by reason of its dome and lantern, which, rising well above the walls of the Rectangle, are the first feature of the building to attract the attention of the visitor. The lantern is surmounted by a great blazing torch with a gilded flame—the emblematic[10] Torch of Learning—which marks the centre and apex of the building, a hundred and ninety-five feet above the ground. The dome and the domed roof of the lantern are sheathed with copper, over which, with the exception of the ribs of the dome, left dark to indicate their structural importance, is laid a coating of gold leaf, twenty-three carats fine. The surface covered is so large that one’s first thought is apt to be of the expense. As a matter of fact, however, the total cost—including the gilding for the flame of the torch—was less than $3,800. Since it will require to be renewed much less frequently its use was considerably more economical than painting.

The Façades.—The exterior walls of the Library are constructed wholly of granite, quarried in Concord, New Hampshire. The stone is a close-grained variety, so even and light in tone that when the sun is shining upon it the effect is almost as brilliant as if a white marble had been used. The massive buttresses which support the Octagon at each of its eight corners, and so much of the Octagon wall as is visible from the outside, are also granite, but of a different quality, slightly darker in hue, and coming from quarries in Maryland.


The Library is in three stories: the basement story of fourteen feet; the first story, or main library floor, of twenty-one feet; and the second story of twenty-nine feet-making a height of sixty-four feet for the three stories at the lowest point. Adding to this the base at ground level, and the simply designed balustrade which surmounts the whole, the total height is seventy-two feet above the ground. Beneath the entire structure is a cellar, below the level of the ground outside, but within opening upon the interior courts. The granite of which the walls are constructed is rough, or “rock-faced,” in the basement story; much more finely dressed in the story above; and in the second story brought down to a perfectly smooth surface. The windows in the basement are square-headed, as also on the library floor, except along the west front, where they are arched, with ornamental keystones. Throughout the second story they are again square-headed, but with casings in relief, surmounted by pediments alternately rounded and triangular, and, along the west front, railed in at the bottom by false balustrades.

To prevent the monotony incident to a long, unrelieved facade, the walls are projected at each of the four corners and in the centre of the east and west sides, into pavilions, which, in addition to being slightly higher than the rest of the rectangle—thus allowing space for a low attic-story—are treated with[11] greater richness and elaboration of ornamental detail. The corners are set with vermiculated granite blocks—blocks whose surface is worked into “vermiculations” or “wormings.” The keystones of the window-arches in the first story are sculptured with a series of heads illustrating the chief ethnological types of mankind. Along the second-story front runs a portico supported upon a row of twin columns, each a single piece of granite, with finely carved Corinthian capitals. The pedestals which support the columns are connected by granite balustrades, so that the portico forms a single long balcony, with an entrance through the windows which look out upon it.



Of all these pavilions the West, or Main Entrance, Pavilion, is by far the largest as well as by far the most ornate. It is one hundred and forty feet long, or almost a third the total length of the building, and about seven feet higher than either of the other five pavilions. At either end it is itself projected, or pavilioned. The Main Entrance is through a porch of three arches, on the main library floor. The approaches are extensive and imposing. A flight of steps, constructed of granite from Troy, New Hampshire, ascends from either side to a central landing, laid with flags of red Missouri granite. Thence the stairway leads in a single flight to the Entrance Porch, with space underneath for a porte cochère in front of the doors admitting to the basement. The central landing just spoken of is protected by a high retaining wall which forms the background for a splendid fountain by Mr. Roland Hinton Perry, ornamented with a profusion of allegorical figures in bronze—the chief figure representing Neptune enthroned in front of a grotto of the sea.

The posts of the granite railing of the steps support elaborate bronze candelabra, bearing clusters of electric lamps for illumination at night. The spandrels of the Entrance Porch—the approximately triangular spaces flanking the three arches—are ornamented with female figures sculptured in high relief in granite, representing Literature, Science, and Art. They were modelled by Mr. Bela L. Pratt. Above the main windows of the library floor is a series of smaller, circular windows, which serve as a background for a series of granite busts (the pedestals of which rest in the pediments below) of men eminent in literature. There[12] are nine in all, seven along the front, and one at each end of the pavilion. They are flanked by boldly sculptured figures of children, reclining upon the sloping pediments, or, alternately, by massive garlands of fruits. The keystones of the circular windows each support the standing figure of a winged cherub, or genius, all sculptured from a single design, and introduced as the accentuating feature of a frieze of foliated ornament extending along the three sides of the pavilion. Like the garlands and figures on the pediments, they were modelled by Mr. William Boyd. At either end of the attic story Mr. Boyd’s hand appears again in the sculptural embellishment of the little porch—as one may perhaps call it—which looks out upon the balcony formed by the granite railing. The rounded pediment contains a group in granite consisting of the American eagle flanked by two seated children. Each pediment is supported on the shoulders of two conventional Atlases—“Atlantides” is the technical name—figures of gigantic strength, so called because in the Greek and Roman mythology Atlas was fabled as a giant supporting the vault of heaven by his unaided strength.


A more particular description is required of the fountain, the ethnological heads, the series of busts in the portico of the Entrance Pavilion, and the spandrel figures ornamenting the Entrance Porch.

Mr. Hinton Perry’s Fountain.—Of Mr. Perry’s fountain, it may be said at once that it is the most lavishly ornamental of any in the country. It occupies a semicircular basin fifty feet broad, containing a dozen bronze figures disposed to represent a scene—so one may take it—in the court of Neptune, the classic god of the sea. The granite wall of the terrace against which the fountain is placed contains three deep niches, in the spandrels of which are four dolphins sculptured in relief from models by Mr. Albert Weinert. The niches themselves are treated with an evident suggestion of a grotto worn by the sea, with a hint, also, at the formation of stalactites by the constant dripping of water. In front of the central niche Neptune is seated in a majestic attitude on a bank of rocks. He is represented as an old man with a long flowing beard, but the lines of his naked figure indicate the energy and great muscular strength befitting the Ruler of the Deep. The figure is of colossal size; it would be, that is, if standing, about twelve feet in height. On either side of the bank lolls a figure of Triton, one of the minor sea-gods, blowing a conch shell to summon the water-deities to the throne of their sovereign. In front of each of the niches at the side is a sea-nymph triumphantly bestriding an infuriated sea-horse, his ears laid back and his fish’s tail writhing with anger on[13] account of a jet of water constantly thrown against his head. The basin is crossed and re-crossed by similar jets, which furnish the whole flow of water, and proceed from the mouths of sea-monsters in various places throughout the fountain. There are seven of them in all. The first is a serpent just showing itself above the water in front of the bank on which Neptune is seated. Higher up, to the right and left, two gigantic frogs lurk in crevices of the rocks; and floating along the outer edge of the basin are four huge Florida turtles, their heads raised a little above the water and their long fins making as if swimming.


The Ethnological Heads.—The ethnological heads ornamenting the keystones of the first-story pavilion windows offer as interesting material for study as any of the decorations of the Library. The series is unique in that it is the first instance of a comprehensive attempt to make ethnological science contribute to the architectural decoration of an important public building. It was at first proposed to employ a more conventional kind of ornament, such as the familiar Gorgons’ heads so often found in connection with Renaissance architecture. The present idea was carried out with the assistance of Professor Otis T. Mason, the Curator of the Department of Ethnology in the National Museum for the last twelve years. The heads, thirty-three in number, are about a foot and a half in height, and were modelled, some by Mr. Boyd and others by Mr. Henry J. Ellicott, after data accumulated by Professor Mason as the result of some six months’ special study of the ethnological collections in the possession of the National Museum—which contains, indeed, practically all the material (books, photographs, carefully verified measurements) necessary for[14] such an undertaking. The large collection of authentic, life-size models, chiefly of savage and barbarous peoples, which the visitor may see in its exhibition halls, is the most extensive in the country, and many of the heads on the Library keystones are taken directly from these.


Taking into consideration the difficulty of obtaining the more delicate differentiation of the features in a medium so unsatisfactory, from its coarseness of texture, as granite, the result of Professor Mason’s work is one of the most scientifically accurate series of racial models ever made. Still another difficulty, it may be added, lay in the fact that each head had to be made to fit the keystone. Besides the necessity of uniform size, the architect demanded also, as far as possible, a generally uniform shape, which it was often very hard to give and still preserve the correct proportions of the racial type. The face had to be more or less in line with the block it ornamented, and, especially, the top of the head had to follow, at least roughly, a certain specified curve. This last point was met either by using or not using a head-dress, whichever best met the difficulty. In one case the problem was a little puzzling—that of the Plains Indian, with his upright circlet of eagle’s feathers, which were bound to exceed the line, if accurately copied. The difficulty was frankly met by laying the feathers down nearly flat upon the head.


In preparing the models, accuracy was the chief thing considered. Any attempt at dramatic or picturesque effect, except what was natural to the type portrayed, was felt to be out of place. Each head was subjected to the strict test of measurement—such as the ratio of breadth to length and height, and the distance between the eyes and between the cheek bones—this being the[15] most valuable criterion of racial differences. All portraiture was avoided, both as being somewhat invidious and unscientifically personal, and, more especially, because no one man can ever exemplify all the average physical characteristics of his race. On the other hand, the heads were never permitted to become merely ideal. It will be noticed that all are those of men in the prime of life.


The list of the races, beginning at the north end of the Entrance Pavilion, and thence continuing south and round the building to the Northwest Pavilion, is as follows, each head being numbered for convenience in following the order in which they occur: 1, Russian Slav; 2, Blonde European; 3, Brunette European; 4, Modern Greek; 5, Persian (Iranian); 6, Circassian; 7, Hindoo; 8, Hungarian (Magyar); 9, Semite, or Jew; 10, Arab (Bedouin); 11, Turk; 12, Modern Egyptian (Hamite); 13, Abyssinian; 14, Malay; 15, Polynesian; 16, Australian; 17, Negrito (from Indian Archipelago); 18, Zulu (Bantu); 19, Papuan (New Guinea); 20, Soudan Negro; 21, Akka (Dwarf African Negro); 22, Fuegian; 23, Botocudo (from South America); 24, Pueblo Indian (as the Zuñis of New Mexico); 25, Esquimaux; 26, Plains Indian (Sioux, Cheyenne, Comanche); 27, Samoyede (Finnish inhabitant of Northern Russia); 28, Corean; 29, Japanese; 30, Aino (from Northern Japan); 31, Burmese; 32, Thibetan; 33, Chinese.


It will be seen that the various races are grouped so far as possible according to kinship. There is not, however, space—and this is hardly the place—in which to explain the many points which might be brought up in connection with this interesting series of heads. For such information the reader is referred[16] to any good text-book on ethnology.[3] One or two special details, however, may properly be mentioned. The selection of the Pueblo Indian, for example, was a second choice. Professor Mason would have preferred one of the ancient Peruvian Incas, but no satisfactory portrait could be found to work on. The Thibetan is a Buddhist priest, as indicated by his elaborate turban. The Chinese belongs to the learned, or Mandarin class. The Russian with his fur cap is the typical Slavic peasant. The Blonde European is of the educated German type, dolichocephalic, or long-headed; the Brunette European is the Roman type, brachycephalic, or broad-headed. The architect has introduced a Greek fret on the turban of the Greek to symbolize the importance of ancient Greek art. The Egyptian is the typical Cairo camel-driver. The Corean wears the dress and hat of the courtier, and the Turk also is depicted as a member of the upper classes. The Hungarian wears the astrachan or lambswool cap of the peasant. Many of the heads of savage or barbarous races are shown with their peculiar ornaments—the Malay with his earrings, the Papuan with his nose-plug, the Botocudo with studs of wood in his ears and lower lip, and the Esquimaux with the labret or lip-plug of walrus ivory. The face of the Polynesian, finally, is delicately incised with lines, copied from a specimen of Maori (New Zealand) tattooing.


The Portico Busts.—The list of the men commemorated by the nine busts in the portico is as follows: Demosthenes, Emerson, Irving, Goethe, Franklin, Macaulay, Hawthorne, Scott, and Dante. The Demosthenes, Scott, and Dante[17] were modelled by Mr. Herbert Adams; the Emerson, Irving, and Hawthorne by Mr. J. Scott Hartley; and the Goethe, Franklin, and Macaulay by Mr. F. Wellington Ruckstuhl. The reader will see that so far as possible with an odd number, the work of each sculptor is, so to say, in balance—Mr. Ruckstuhl’s in the centre, flanked by Mr. Hartley’s, and Mr. Adams’s at either end—thus avoiding any possible confusion of style, and giving the artist all the advantage which comes from a symmetrical disposition of his productions. There is, as a matter of fact, very little diversity in the present series. Each bust is of uniform height—about three feet, not reckoning the pedestal—with a uniform background. The statue of Franklin, coming in the centre, has, intentionally, a certain effect of pre-eminence. The sculptor conceived him “as one of the greatest men of this country, and as a writer and philosopher the patriarch, and therefore aimed to make him dominate the rest.” A word should be said regarding the background of the busts—the glass enclosed in the framing of the circular windows. The effect, as always of a window, is dark, as granite would not have been, thus throwing the busts, which are of the same material as the walls, into sharp, strong relief.


Mr. Pratt’s Spandrel Figures.—The beautiful spandrel figures of the Entrance Porch modelled by Mr. Bela L. Pratt are six in number.[4] All are about life-size, and are shown leaning gracefully against the curve of the arches. After what has been said of the intractability of granite as a medium for any[18] but the bolder sorts of sculpture, it is not out of place to call attention to the exceptional delicacy and refinement with which these figures have been chiselled. They represent, as has been said, Literature (the left hand arch), Science (in the centre), and Art (to the right). In the background of each spandrel the sculptor has introduced a branch of walnut, oak, laurel, or maple leaves. Of the figures themselves, the two to the left stand respectively for the contemplative and the productive sides of Literature—reflection and composition. The one is writing upon a tablet, although for a moment she turns aside as if in search of the fitting phrase; while the other, at the right, with a hood over her head and a book held idly in her hand, gazes out dreamily into the distance. Of the figures of Science, the first holds the torch of knowledge, and the second, with the celestial globe encircled by the signs of the zodiac in her arm, looks upward, as if to observe the courses of the stars. Here, also, it will be seen that something of the same distinction as in the first arch is drawn between the abstract and the practical. In the third group, the figure to the left represents Sculpture, and that to the right, Painting. The latter busies herself with the palette and brush. Sculpture, with a mallet in her hand, is studying a block of marble in which she has already blocked out the head and features of a bust—that of the poet Dante.


The three deep arches of the Entrance Porch terminate with three massive bronze doors, covered with a design of rich sculptural ornament in relief. Each is fourteen feet high to the top of the arch, with an extreme width, including the framing, of seven and a half feet, and a total weight of about three and a half tons. The subject of the decoration is, in the central door, The Art of Printing, modelled by Mr. Frederick Macmonnies; in the door to the left, Tradition, by the late Olin L. Warner; and to the right, Writing, begun by Mr. Warner, but left unfinished at his death (in August, 1896), and completed by Mr. Herbert Adams. The three thus indicate in a regular series—the sequence of which, of course, is Tradition, Writing, and Printing—the successive and gradually more perfect ways in which mankind has preserved its religion, history, literature, and science. Each of the doors is double, with a tympanum at the top closing the arch. The various portions of the design are comprised in a high and rather narrow panel in each leaf, with small panels above and below, and finally the large semicircular panel occupying the tympanum above.

Mr. Warner’s Bronze Doors.—Mr. Warner’s first door, Tradition, illustrates the method by which all knowledge was originally handed down from generation to generation. The background of the panel in the larger tympanum is a mountainous and cloudy landscape, conveying admirably, says one critic[5], “a sense of prehistoric vastness and solitude.” In the centre is a woman, the embodiment of the subject, seated on a throne. Against her knee leans a little boy, whom she is instructing in the deeds and worship of his fathers. The visitor will not fail to notice the unusual expressiveness of the group—the boy with eager, attentive face, and the woman holding his hand in one of hers, and raising the other in a gesture of quiet but noble emphasis. Seated on the ground, two on either side, and listening intently to her words, are an American Indian, holding a couple of arrows in his hand; a Norseman,[19] with his winged steel cap; a prehistoric man, with a stone axe lying by his side; and a shepherd with his crook, standing for the nomadic, pastoral races. The four are typical representatives of the primitive peoples whose entire lore was kept alive by oral tradition. The face of the Indian is understood to be a portrait of Chief Joseph, of the Nez Percés tribe, from a sketch made from life by Mr. Warner in 1889.

Of the panels below, that to the left contains the figure of a woman holding a lyre, and the other the figure of a warrior’s widow clasping the helmet and sword of her dead husband to her breast. The first represents Imagination, and the second Memory, the former being the chief quality which distinguishes the nobler sorts of traditional literature, as exemplified in the true epics, springing from the folk-tales of the people, and the latter standing for that heroic past with which it so constantly deals.


The same general arrangement of figures is followed in the second door—the one representing Writing—as in the first. In the tympanum of the door, a female figure is seated in the centre, holding a pen in her hand and with a scroll spread open in her lap. Beside her stand two little children, whom she is teaching to read or write. To the right and left are four figures representing the peoples who have had the most influence on the world through their written memorials and literature—the Egyptian and the Jew to the right, and the Christian and Greek to the left. The Jew and the Christian are represented as kneeling, in allusion to the religious influence which they have exerted. The former holds a staff in his hand, and may be taken as one of the ancient Jewish patriarchs; the latter bears a cross. The Greek has a lyre, for Poetry, and the Egyptian holds a stylus in his hand.

The standing figures in the door proper are of women, and represent Truth (on the right) and Research (on the left). Research holds the torch of knowledge or learning, and Truth a mirror and a serpent, the two signifying that in all literature, wisdom (of which the serpent is the emblem) and careful observation (typified by the mirror, with its accurate reflection of external objects) must be joined in order to produce a consistent and truthful impression upon the reader. The smaller panels below contain a design of conventional ornament with cherubs or geniuses supporting a cartouche, on which the mirror or serpent of the larger panels is repeated.


Mr. Macmonnies’s Bronze Door.—In Mr. Macmonnies’s design the tympanum is occupied by a composition which he has entitled, Minerva Diffusing the Products of Typographical Art. The Goddess of Learning and Wisdom—a fit guardian to preside at the main portal of a great library—is seated in the centre upon a low bench. On either side is a winged genius, the messengers of the goddess, each carrying a load of ponderous folios which she is dispatching as her gift to mankind. To the right is her owl, perched solemnly on the bench on which she is sitting. She wears the conventional helmet and breastplate—the latter the Ægis, with its Medusa’s Head—of ancient art, but in her wide, full skirt, with its leaf-figure pattern, the artist has adopted a more modern motive. The Latin title of Mr. Macmonnies’s subject, Ars Typographica, and various symbolical ornaments are introduced in the background. To the left and right, enclosed in a laurel wreath, are a Pegasus and a stork. The former stands, of course, for the poetic inspiration which gives value to literature. The stork, commonly symbolizing filial piety, may be taken here, if one chooses, as typifying the faithful care of the inventors of printing and their disciples in multiplying the product of that inspiration. To the left, also, are an hour-glass, an inking-ball, and a printer’s stick; and on the other side of the panel, an ancient printing-press.


Each of the small panels in the upper portion of the doors below is in the shape of a tympanum, and is occupied by a conventionally decorative design composed of a wreath with floating ribbons, enclosing a cartouche on which are inscribed the words “Honor to Gutenberg”—the Inventor of Printing. Each of the upright panels contains the figure of a young and beautiful woman, clad in a robe of the same design as that worn by Minerva, and carrying two tall flaming torches. The figure in the left-hand leaf represents The Humanities, the soft contours of her face expressing the gentle and generous liberalities of learning. Her companion stands for Intellect, and the lines of her face are of a bolder and severer character.





Entering by either of these three bronze doors, one passes immediately through a deep arch into the Main Entrance Hall. It is constructed of gleaming white Italian marble, and occupies very nearly the whole of the Entrance Pavilion. By reason of a partial division of the hall into stories and open corridors, and on account of the splendor and variety of the decoration everywhere so liberally applied, the eye is attracted to a number of points of interest at once. The arrangement, however, is really simple and well defined, as may be seen by looking at the plan on page 9. With the exception of a portion of the attic story and of two or three small rooms partitioned off in the southeast and northeast corners of the first floor, the entire pavilion serves as a single lofty and imposing hall. In the centre is a great well, the height of the pavilion—seventy-five feet—enclosed in an arcade of two stories, the arches of the first supported on heavy piers and of the second on paired columns. The centre of the well is left clear; on either side, north and south, is a massive marble staircase, richly ornamented with sculpture. On the east side of the pavilion a broad passageway, treated as a part of the general architectural scheme of the Entrance Hall—though really an arm of the interior cross already referred to—connects it with the Main Reading Room.

The Vestibule.—The arcades surrounding the well, or Staircase Hall, as it would better be called, screen two stories of corridors. The corridor which the visitor has now entered—the West Corridor, on the library floor—serves as the general vestibule of the building, and appropriately, therefore, is more sumptuously decorated than any of the others. The most striking feature is a heavily panelled ceiling, finished in white and gold—perhaps as fine an example of gold ornamentation on a large scale as can be found in the country. It is impressively rich and elegant without in the least overstepping the line of modesty and good taste.

The corridor is bounded by piers of Italian marble ornamented with pilasters. There are five piers on each side, those on the west terminating the deep arches of the doors and windows, and one at either end. It will be noticed that these piers, like all the others on this floor, are wider than they are deep, so that the arches they support are of varying depth—the narrow ones running from north[22] to south, and the deeper ones from east to west, invariably. This difference of depth, both of the piers and of the arches, is apt to be somewhat bewildering until one perceives the system on which it is based, so that it may be well to add in this connection that the same rule of broad and narrow, and the direction in which each kind runs, holds good, also, of the corridors on the second floor, the only variation being that paired columns, as has already been pointed out, are substituted for piers.

The Stucco Decoration of the Vestibule.—Above the marble arches of the Vestibule the wall with its ornamentation, and the whole of the panelled ceiling, are of stucco. By the use of this material, especially in connection with the gold, the architect has succeeded in obtaining a warmer and softer tone of white than would have been possible in marble.


Above each of the side piers are two white-and-gold consoles, or brackets, which support the panelled and gilded beams of the ceiling. In front of every console—and almost, but not quite, detached from it—springs a figure of Minerva, left the natural white of the stucco. The figures are about three feet in height, and were executed from two different models, each the work of Mr. Herbert Adams. They are skilfully composed in pairs: the first (the Minerva of War) carrying in one hand a falchion or short, stout sword, and in the other holding aloft the torch of learning; and the second (the Minerva of Peace) bearing a globe and scroll—the former significant of the universal scope of knowledge. Although thus differing, the figures are of the same type; both wear the Ægis and the same kind of casque, and both are clad in the same floating classic drapery.

Modelled in relief upon the wall between the two Minervas is a splendid white-and-gold Greek altar, used as an electric light standard. The bowl is lined with a circle of large leaves, from which springs a group of nine lamps, suggesting, when lighted, a cluster of some brilliant kind of fruit. Above the piers at either end of the corridor is another altar, somewhat narrower and of a different design, but used for the same purpose.

It should be noted that, for the most part, both in the ceiling and on the walls, the gold has been dulled or softened in tone in order to avoid any unpleasing glare or contrast with the white. This effect, however, is regularly relieved by burnishing the accentuating points in certain of the mouldings.

The Marble Flooring.—Before leaving the Vestibule, the visitor may be interested to notice the design of the marble flooring. The body of it is white Italian, with bands and geometric patterns of brown Tennessee, and edgings of yellow mosaic. It will be seen at once that the design is harmonious with the lines of the arcade and the ceiling. These are not slavishly mimicked, but are developed, varied, and extended. Sometimes a circle is used to[23] draw together two opposite arches; sometimes a square echoes the pattern of the ceiling; lines of beaming—as they may be called in an easy metaphor—connect opposite piers; and finally the boundaries of the corridor are outlined in a broad border enclosing the whole. It has been said that in hardly any other building in the country has so much pains been taken by the architect to make the lines of his floor designs consistent with those of the architecture and the general decorative scheme. Throughout the Library, wherever marble or mosaic is used for this purpose, the visitor will find this phase of the ornamentation of the building of the highest interest and importance.


The Staircase Hall.—The floor of the Staircase Hall, into which one passes next, is an excellent example of this point. Besides the marble, the pattern contains a number of modelled and incised brass inlays. The one in the centre is a large rayed disc, or conventional sun, on which are noted the four cardinal points of the compass, which coincide with the direction of the main axes of the Library. The disc thus performs the same service for the building—only more picturesquely and vividly—as an arrow-head cross for a chart or plan. From the sun as a centre proceeds a great circular glory—or “scale pattern,” as it is technically, and more descriptively, called—of alternate red and yellow Italian marble, the former from Verona and the latter from Sienna. Other inlays are arranged in a hollow square, enclosing the sun as a centrepiece. Twelve represent the signs of the zodiac; the others are in the form of rosettes, in two patterns. They are embedded in blocks of dark red, richly mottled, French marble, around which are borders of pure white Italian marble.

The Commemorative Arch.—On the easterly side of the Staircase Hall, on the way to the Reading Room, the regularity of the arcade is interrupted by a portico of equal height, which does duty as a sort of miniature triumphal arch, commemorating the erection of the Library. The spandrels contain two sculptured figures in marble by the late Olin L. Warner, the sculptor of the bronze doors previously described. Along the frieze are[24] the words LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, inscribed in tall gilt letters. A second inscription, giving the names of those concerned in the erection of the Library, is cut upon the marble tablet which forms part of the parapet above. It is flanked by lictors’ axes and eagles, sculptured in marble, and reads as follows:

APRIL 15 1886 OCTOBER 2 1888 AND MARCH 2 1889 BY


Mr. Warner’s Spandrel Figures.—Mr. Warner’s figures in the spandrels of this commemorative arch are life-size, and are entitled The Students. Both figures—one in either spandrel—are represented in an easy, but dignified and sculptural attitude, leaning on one arm against the curve of the arch. That to the left is of a young man seeking to acquire from books a knowledge of the experience of the past. That to the right is an old man with flowing beard, absorbed in meditation. He is no longer concerned so much with books as with observation of life and with original reflection and thought. The sculptor has thus naturally indicated the development of a scholar’s mind, from youth to old age. As an ornament of the approach to the Reading Room, the appropriateness of the figures is obvious.


Within the arch, the pier on either side is decorated with a bit of relief work, consisting of the seal of the United States flanked by sea-horses, by Mr. Philip Martiny. It is Mr. Martiny’s sculpture, also, which ornaments the staircase, the coved ceiling, and the lower spandrels of the Staircase Hall. With the exception of Mr. Warner’s figures, just described, and of a series of cartouches and corner eagles which occupy the spandrels of the second-story arcade—the work of Mr. Weinert—Mr. Martiny has this central hall to himself, so far as the sculpture is concerned.

Mr. Martiny’s Staircase Figures.—The spandrels in the first story are unusually delicate and pretty. The design comprises wreaths of roses and oak and laurel leaves, with oak or palm for a background. It is in the staircases, however, that Mr. Martiny’s work is most varied and elaborate. On the piers between which they descend into the hall, he has sculptured a striking female head of the classic type, with a garland below and a kind of foliated arabesque on either side. Upon the newel post which terminates the railing[25] of each staircase is placed a bronze female figure upholding a torch for electric lights. The two figures are somewhat taller than life, measuring six and a half feet, or eight feet to the top of the torch, and ten feet including the rounded bronze base on which they stand. Each has a laurel wreath about her head, and is clad in classic drapery.


Halfway up the staircase is a sort of buttress, which serves as a pedestal for a group representing, on the south side of the hall, Africa and America, and on the other side, Europe and Asia. The four continents are typified, very delightfully, by little boys, about three feet high, seated by the side of a large marble globe, on which appear the portions of the earth’s surface which they are intended to personify. America is an Indian, with a tall headdress of feathers, a bow and arrow, and a wampum necklace. With one hand he shades his eyes while he gazes intently into the distance, awaiting, one may fancy, the coming of his conqueror, the white man. Africa is a little negro, with a war-club and his savage necklace of wild beasts’ claws. Asia is a Mongolian, dressed in flowing silk robes, the texture of which, as the visitor will notice, is very perfectly indicated by arranging the folds of the marble so that they receive the proper play of light and shade. In the background is a sort of dragon-shaped jar of porcelain. Europe is clad in the conventional classic costume, and has a lyre and a book; and a Doric column is introduced beside him—the three objects symbolizing, specifically, Music, Literature, and Architecture, and, more broadly, the pre-eminence of the Caucasian races in the arts of civilization generally, just as the dragon-jar on the other side of the globe stands for the admirable ceramic art of China and Japan; and, also, as the wampum and bow of the Indian indicate his advance in culture over the stage of evolution typified by the rude war-club and savage necklace of the negro.

The balustrade of the top landing on either side is ornamented with the figures of three children in relief representing certain of the Fine Arts. In the south staircase, beginning at the left as one looks up from the floor, are Comedy, Poetry, and Tragedy. The first has a comic mask and the thyrsus or ivy-wreathed[26] wand of Bacchus, to whom the first comedies were dedicated. Poetry has a scroll, and Tragedy the tragic mask. Opposite, the figures, taking them again from left to right, represent Painting, with palette and brushes; Architecture, with compasses and a scroll, and behind him the pediment of a Greek temple; and Sculpture, modelling a statuette.


In the ascending railing of each staircase Mr. Martiny has introduced a series of eight marble figures in high relief. These, also, are of little boys, and represent various occupations, habits and pursuits of modern life. The procession is bound together by a garland hanging in heavy festoons, and beneath is a heavy laurel roll. In the centre the series is interrupted by the group on the buttress just described. At the bottom it begins quaintly with the figure of a stork. Thence, on the south side of the hall, the list of subjects is as follows: A Mechanician, with a cog-wheel, a pair of pincers, and a crown of laurel, signifying the triumphs of invention; a Hunter, with his gun, holding up by the ears a rabbit which he has just shot; an infant Bacchanalian, with Bacchus’s ivy and panther skin, hilariously holding a champagne glass in one hand; a Farmer, with a sickle and a sheaf of wheat; a Fisherman, with rod and reel, taking from his hook a fish which he has landed; a little Mars, polishing a helmet; a Chemist, with a blow-pipe; and a Cook, with a pot smoking hot from the fire.

In the north staircase are: A Gardener, with spade and rake; an Entomologist, with a specimen-box slung over his shoulder, running to catch a butterfly in his net; a Student, with a book in his hand and a mortar-board cap on his head; a Printer, with types, a press, and a type-case; a Musician, with a lyre by his side, studying the pages of a music book; a Physician, grinding drugs[27] in a mortar, with a retort beside him, and the serpent sacred to medicine; an Electrician, with a star of electric rays shining on his brow and a telephone receiver at his ear; and lastly, an Astronomer, with a telescope, and a globe encircled by the signs of the zodiac which he is measuring by the aid of a pair of compasses.


The Ceiling of the Staircase Hall.—Beneath the second-story cartouches on the east and west sides of the hall are tablets inscribed in gilt letters with the names of the following authors: Longfellow, Tennyson, Gibbon, Cooper, Scott, Hugo, Cervantes. A single moulding in the marble cornice above is touched with gold, as an introduction to the rich coloring and profuse use of gilding in the coved ceiling which it supports. The cove itself is of stucco, and is painted blue—the color of the sky, which it is intended to suggest—with yellow penetrations. These penetrations are outlined by a heavy gilt moulding, and give space for ten semicircular latticed windows opening into the rooms of the attic story. In the centre of each penetration is painted a white tablet supported by dolphins, and bearing the name of some illustrious author—Dante, Homer, Milton, Bacon, Aristotle, Goethe, Shakespeare, Molière, Moses, and Herodotus. In each corner of the cove are two female half-figures, as they are called, supporting a cartouche, on which are a lamp and a book, the conventional symbols of learning. The figures and cartouche are of stucco, and were modelled by Mr. Martiny. Around them the cove is sprinkled with stars. Higher up are the figures of flying geniuses, two in each corner, painted by Mr. Frederick C. Martin, of Mr. Garnsey’s staff.

Between the penetrations, the curve of the cove is carried upon heavy gilt ribs, richly ornamented with bands of fruit. In the spandrel-shaped spaces thus formed on either side, Mr. Martin has painted another series of geniuses, which, by reason of the symbolical objects which accompany them, reflect very pleasantly the intention of Mr. Martiny’s sculpture in the staircases below. The significance of most of the things they bear is obvious. Beginning at the southwest corner, and going to the right, the list is as follows: a pair of Pan’s pipes; a pair of cymbals; a caduceus, or Mercury’s staff; a bow and arrows; a shepherd’s crook and pipes; a tambourine; a palette and brushes; a torch; a clay statuette and a sculptor’s tool; a bundle of books; a triangle; a second pair of pipes; a lyre; a palm branch and wreath (the rewards of success); a trumpet; a guitar; a compass and block of paper (for Architecture); a censer[28] (for Religion); another torch; and a scythe and hour-glass—the attributes of Father Time.

The ceiling proper rests upon a white stylobate supported on the cove. It is divided by heavy beams, elaborately panelled, and ornamented with a profusion of gilding, and contains six large skylights, the design of which is a scale pattern, chiefly in blues and yellows, recalling the arrangement in the marble flooring beneath.

First Floor Corridors: the Mosaic Vaults.—The North, South, and East Corridors on the first floor of the Entrance Hall are panelled in Italian marble to the height of eleven feet, and have floors of white, blue, and brown (Italian, Vermont, and Tennessee) marble, and beautiful vaulted ceilings of marble mosaic. These last will immediately attract the attention of the visitor. The working cartoons were made by Mr. Herman T. Schladermundt from preliminary designs by Mr. Casey as architect. The body of the design is in a light, warm grayish tone, relieved by richly ornamental bands of brown which follow pretty closely the architectural lines of the vaulting—springing from pier to pier or outlining the penetrations and pendentives. In all three corridors tablets bearing the names of distinguished men are introduced as a part of the ornament, and in the East Corridor are a number of discs, about eighteen inches in diameter, on which are depicted “trophies,” as they are called, emblematic of various arts and sciences, each being made up of a group of representative objects such as the visitor has seen used to distinguish the subjects of Mr. Martiny’s staircase figures.

The method of making and setting such a mosaic ceiling is interesting enough to be described. The artist’s cartoon is made full size and in the exact colors desired. The design, color and all, is carefully transferred by sections to thicker paper, which is then covered with a coating of thin glue. On this the workman carefully fits his material, laying each stone smooth side down. The ceiling itself is covered with a layer of cement, to which the mosaic is applied. The paper is then soaked off, and the design pounded in as evenly as possible, pointed off, and oiled. As the visitor may see, however, it is not polished, like a mosaic floor, but is left a little rough in order to give full value to the texture of the stone.

At the east end of the North and South Corridors is a large semi-elliptical tympanum, twenty-two feet long. Along the walls are smaller tympanums, below the penetrations of the vault. At the west end, over the arch of the window, is a semicircular border. These spaces are occupied by a series of paintings—in the North Corridor by Mr. Charles Sprague Pearce, and in the South Corridor by Mr. H. O. Walker. Like most of the special mural decorations in the Library, they are executed in oils on canvas, which is afterwards affixed to the wall by a composition of whitelead.

Mr. Pearce’s Paintings.—Mr. Pearce’s decorations are seven in number. The subject of the large tympanum at the east end is The Family.[6] The smaller panels along the north wall, taking them from left to right, are entitled Religion, Labor, Study, and Recreation. The single painting on the south side of the corridor, occurring opposite the panel of Recreation, represents Rest. The broad, arched border at the west end contains two female figures floating[29] in the air and holding between them a large scroll on which is inscribed the sentence, from Confucius: “Give instruction unto those who cannot procure it for themselves.”


The series, as seen by the list of titles just given, illustrates the main phases of a pleasant and well-ordered life. The whole represents the kind of idyllic existence so often imagined by the poets—showing a people living in an Arcadian country in a state of primitive simplicity, but possessing the arts and habits of a refined cultivation. This life is very well summed up in the first of Mr. Pearce’s paintings—that representing The Family. The subject is the return of the head of the household to his family, after a day spent in hunting. He stands in the centre, his bow not yet unstrung, receiving a welcome home. His aged mother, with her hands clasped over the head of her staff, looks up from the rock on which she is sitting, and the gray-bearded father lays aside the scroll in which he has been reading. The hunter’s little girl has hold of his garment, and his wife holds out his baby son. An older daughter leans her elbow against a tree. The scene is in the open air, at the mouth of a cave, with a view beyond into a wooded valley bounded by high mountains.

The smaller tympanums illustrate the simple occupations and relaxations of such an existence as is here depicted. Recreation shows two girls in a glade of the forest playing upon a pipe and a tambourine. In the panel of Study, a girl, sitting with her younger companion on a great rock, is instructing her with the aid of a book and compasses and paper. Labor is represented by two young men working in the fields. One is removing the stump of a tree, and the other is turning over the newly cleared soil to fit it for planting. In Religion, a young man and a girl are kneeling before a blazing altar constructed of two stones, one set upon the other. In Rest, two young women are sitting quietly beside a pool, where they have come with their earthen jars for water.


The penetrations in the vault of Mr. Pearce’s corridor contain the names of men distinguished for their work in furthering the cause of education: Froebel, Pestalozzi, Comenius, Ascham, Howe, Gallaudet, Mann, Arnold, Spencer. It is of some interest to note that among the hundreds of names inscribed in the Library only three are those of men still living. Herbert Spencer, the last-named in the list just given, is one, and the other two are Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Edison.


Mr. Walker’s Paintings.—The general subject of Mr. Walker’s decorations is Lyric Poetry. Like Mr. Pearce’s, in the corresponding position, the painting in the large tympanum at the east end of the corridor sums up in a general way the subject of the whole series. The scene is a wood, with a vista beyond into a wide and open champagne. Down the centre a brook comes tumbling and splashing over its rocky bed. Although wild, and thus suggestive, perhaps, of the inspiration of poetry, the landscape purposely has, as a whole, a touch of artfulness, hinting therefore at the formalities of metre and rhyme. The titles of the figures which enter into the composition—all, with one exception, those of women—are named in the conventional border with which the artist has enclosed his painting. The figure standing boldly forward in the centre represents Lyric Poetry. She is crowned with a wreath of laurel, and is touching the strings of a lyre. The feelings which most commonly inspire her song are personified on either side. To her left are Pathos, looking upward, as if calling on Heaven to allay her grief; Truth, a beautiful nude woman (the Naked Truth) standing securely upright, and seeming by her gesture to exhort the central figure not to exceed the bounds of natural feeling; and in the corner of the tympanum, Devotion, sitting absorbed in contemplation. On the other side of the panel are Passion, with an eager look, and her arms thrown out in a movement at once graceful and enraptured; Beauty, sitting calmly self-contained; and Mirth, the naked figure of a little boy, inviting her to join his play.


For the smaller tympanums, Mr. Walker has taken single youthful male figures suggested by various poems by English and American poets—on the south side of the corridor, Tennyson, Keats, Wordsworth, and Emerson, and on the north side, Milton and Shakespeare. Although not always from lyrics, the general spirit of the scene selected is invariably lyrical. The first painting shows Ganymede upon the back of the eagle—the form taken by Jupiter when he brought the boy from his earthly home to be the cup-bearer of the gods. The lines referred to are in Tennyson’s Palace of Art:—

Flushed Ganymede, his rosy thigh

Half-buried in the Eagle’s down,

Sole as a flying star shot thro’ the sky

Above the pillar’d town.

The next panel represents Endymion, in Keats’s poem of that name, lying asleep on Mount Latmos, with his lover, Diana, the Moon, shining down upon him. The painter, however, had no special passage of the poem in mind.


The third panel is based on Wordsworth’s lines beginning, “There was a Boy.” A boy is seated by the side of a lake the surface of which reflects the stars:—

There was a Boy; ye knew him well, ye cliffs

And islands of Winander!—many a time,

At evening, when the earliest stars began

To move along the edges of the hills,

Rising or setting, would he stand alone,

Beneath the trees, or by the glimmering lake;

And there, with fingers interwoven, both hands

Pressed closely palm to palm and to his mouth

Uplifted, he, as through an instrument,

Blew mimic hootings to the silent owls,

That they might answer him....


Then, sometimes, in that silence, while he hung

Listening, a gentle shock of mild surprise

Has carried far into his heart the voice

Of mountain-torrents; or the visible scene

Would enter unawares into his mind

With all its solemn imagery, its rocks,

Its woods, and that uncertain heaven received

Into the bosom of the steady lake.

For Emerson, Mr. Walker has selected the poem of Uriel, representing the angel retired in scorn from his companions, on account of the anger with which they have received his proposition:—

Line in nature is not found;

Unit and universe are round;

In vain produced, all rays return;

Evil will bless, and ice will burn.


In the selection of this subject, Mr. Walker has commemorated Emerson in a very interesting personal way—for the poem was written soon after the famous Phi Beta Kappa oration of 1838, and is understood to voice Emerson’s feelings regarding the storm of opposition which that address had called forth.

Milton is represented by a scene out of the masque of Comus—the vile enchanter Comus (in the guise of a shepherd) entranced at hearing the song of the Lady. The words which he speaks in the poem, and which Mr. Walker seeks to illustrate in his painting, are as follows:—

Can any mortal mixture of earth’s mould

Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment?

In Shakespeare, the artist has gone to Venus and Adonis, showing the dead body of Adonis, killed by the boar, lying naked in the forest. The painting refers to no particular lines in the poem.

The broad border at the west end is occupied by an idyllic summer landscape containing three seated female figures and a youth—the two figures to the left, one of them caressing a lamb, representing the more joyful moods of lyric poetry, and the other two its more solemn feelings. At the top is a streamer, with the words, from Wordsworth:—

The Poets, who on earth have made us heirs

Of truth and pure delight by heavenly lays!

In the mosaic of the vault are the names of lyric poets, six Americans occupying the penetrations on the north side: Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, Bryant, Whitman, Poe; and the following English and foreign or ancient[33] lyrists along the centre of the vault and in the south penetrations: Browning, Shelley, Byron, Musset, Hugo, Heine, Theocritus, Pindar, Anacreon, Sappho, Catullus, Horace, Petrarch, Ronsard.


Mr. Alexander’s Paintings.—In the East Corridor are six tympanums of the same size as the smaller panels of Mr. Walker and Mr. Pearce, by Mr. John W. Alexander, illustrating The Evolution of the Book. The subjects are, at the south end, The Cairn, Oral Tradition, and Egyptian Hieroglyphics; and at the north end, Picture Writing, The Manuscript Book, and The Printing Press. In the first of these, a company of primitive men, clad in skins, are raising a heap of stones on the seashore, perhaps as a memorial of some dead comrade, or to commemorate some fortunate event, or, perhaps, merely as a record to let others know the stages of their journey. In the second panel, an Arabian story-teller stands relating his marvellous tales in the centre of a circle of seated Arabs. The third shows a scaffolding swung in front of the portal of a newly erected Egyptian temple. A young Egyptian workman is cutting a hieroglyphic inscription over the door, while an Egyptian girl, his sweetheart, sits watching the work beside him. Picture Writing represents a young American Indian, with a rudely shaped saucer of red paint beside him, depicting some favorite story of his tribe upon a dressed and smoothed deer-skin. An Indian girl lies near him, attentively following every stroke of his brush. The next panel gives the interior of a convent cell, with a monk, seated in the feeble light of a small window, laboriously illuminating in bright colors the pages of a great folio book. The last of the series shows Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, in his office: the master, with his assistant beside him, examining a proof-sheet, and discussing the principle of his great invention. To the right is an apprentice, swaying upon the handle-bar of the rude press.

Mosaic Decorations of the East Corridor.—The various trophies already spoken of as ornamenting the mosaic of the vault of the East Corridor are ten in number, each occurring in one of the pendentives, at the ends and along the sides. Below each are the names of two Americans (only those actually born in the United States being included) eminent in the art or science typified. The list of trophies, with the names, is as follows: Architecture (the[34] capital of an Ionic column, with a mallet and chisel), Latrobe and Walter; Natural Philosophy (a crucible and pair of balances, etc.), Cooke and Silliman; Music (a lyre, flute, horn, and music-sheet), Mason and Gottschalk; Painting (a sketch-book, palette, and brushes), Stuart and Allston; Sculpture (the torso of a statue), Powers and Crawford; Astronomy (a celestial globe), Bond and Rittenhouse; Engineering (including an anchor, protractor, level, etc.), Francis and Stevens; Poetry (a youth bestriding Pegasus), Emerson and Holmes; Natural Science (a microscope and a sea-horse), Say and Dana; Mathematics (a compass and counting-frame), Peirce and Bowditch. In the vault proper is inscribed a list of names of Americans distinguished in the three learned professions: under Medicine, Cross, Wood, McDowell, Rush, Warren; under Theology, Brooks, Edwards, Mather, Channing, Beecher; and under Law, Curtis, Webster, Hamilton, Kent, Pinkney, Shaw, Taney, Marshall, Story, and Gibson.


From the East Corridor, entrance to the basement may be had through a little lobby with a domed mosaic ceiling under either of the main staircases. At the north end of the corridor is the Librarian’s Room, and at the south end are a toilet-room for ladies and a cloak-room. The little lobby of the latter is especially bright and attractive, with deep, velvety red walls, a high arabesque frieze, and ceiling decorations of lyres and a disc containing a large honeysuckle ornament.

The Librarian’s Room.—The Librarian’s Room is one of the most beautifully finished of any in the Library. It is divided into two by a broad, open arch, leaving the office proper on one side, and a smaller, more private office, with a gallery above, on the other. The fittings are in oak, with oak bookcases. The windows look out upon the Northwest Court. The gallery has a groined ceiling, and over the main office is a shallow dome, with stucco ornamentation in low relief by Mr. Weinert. Standing in a ring around a central disc are the figures of Grecian girls, from two slightly differing models,[35] holding a continuous garland. Other ornaments are gilded tablets and square or hexagonal panels, bearing an owl, a book, or an antique lamp. The central disc is occupied by a painting by Mr. Edward J. Holslag, already spoken of as the foreman of Mr. Garnsey’s staff, representing Letters—the seated figure of a beautiful woman holding a scroll in her hand and accompanied by a child with a torch. The following Latin sentence is inscribed in a streamer: Litera scripta manet.


In the pendentives of the dome, Mr. Weinert has modelled a figure, about two feet in height, of a boy holding a palm-branch and blowing a trumpet. Like the ring of girls in the dome, the figures are of an alternating design. Above each is a circular panel with the half-length figure of a woman, painted by Mr. Holslag. The four decorations are intended to supplement, in a general way, the idea of Mr. Holslag’s ceiling disc; one of the figures, for example, holds a book, another a lute (for the musical quality of literature), and so on. Each painting contains a Latin inscription, as follows:—Liber dilectatio animae; Efficiunt clarum studio; Dulces ante omnia Musae; In tenebris lux.

The color scheme adopted for the room is chiefly green. A green tinge is used in the dome to emphasize the outline of the ornament, and green, on a blue ground, predominates in the arabesques contained in the tympanums below. The design of these last—where complete, that is, for the tympanums are variously intercepted by door- and window-arches—is a pleasant little study of the evolution of the poet. At the bottom, a little boy is playing a pastoral tune on his oaten pipe; above, two little trumpeters blare at him to join them in the joy of battle; and at the top, a fourth child, the full-fledged bard, sits astride his modern hobby-horse. The centre of the decoration shows either a Pegasus or a Pandora, the latter opening the famous box containing all the ills which plague mankind, and only Hope for a blessing.

The Lobbies of the Rotunda.—Beyond the East Corridor, and separated from it by an arcade, is the broad passageway leading to the Reading[36] Room. The entrance for visitors, however, is by way of the second story, the doors on the library floor being open only to those desiring to consult books. The passageway is divided by a second arcade into two transverse lobbies. The ceiling of each is vaulted, with a mosaic design of much the same pattern as those in the corridors already described.

The second lobby is the immediate vestibule of the Reading Room, and contains the two main passenger elevators, one at either end. They start at the basement and ascend to the attic story, where, among other rooms, are a commodious and well-equipped kitchen and restaurant for the use of visitors and students, and the attendants in the Library.

Mr. Vedder’s Paintings.—The lobby contains five tympanums, of the same size as Mr. Alexander’s, which are filled by a series of paintings by Mr. Elihu Vedder, illustrating, in a single word, Government. Small as it is, the little lobby offers the painter one of the most significant opportunities in the whole interior; work here placed, in an apartment of the Library which serves at once as elevator-hall and as vestibule to the Main Reading Room, can hardly fail to attract the attention of everyone passing through the building. It could not be more conspicuous anywhere outside the central Reading Room, and the selection of such a subject as Government is therefore peculiarly appropriate. In every sort of library the fundamental thing is the advancement of learning—illustrated in the Reading Room dome, as the visitor will see later—but in a library supported by the nation the idea of government certainly comes next in importance.


The painting in the central tympanum, over the door leading into the Reading Room, is entitled simply Government. It represents the abstract conception of a republic as the ideal state, ideally presented. The other tympanums explain the practical working of government, and the results which follow a corrupt or a virtuous rule. The figures in these four tympanums are therefore appropriately conceived somewhat more realistically. The decoration to the left of the central tympanum illustrates Corrupt Legislation, leading to Anarchy, as shown in the tympanum at the end of the lobby, over the elevator. Similarly, on the other side, Good Administration leads to Peace and Prosperity. In all five, the composition consists of a central female figure, representing the essential idea of the design, attended by two other figures which supplement and confirm this idea.

In the first painting, Government, the central figure is that of a grave and mature woman sitting on a marble seat or throne, which is supported on posts whose shape is intended to recall the antique voting-urn—a symbol which recurs, either by suggestion or actually, in each of the other four tympanums. The meaning is, of course, that a democratic form of government depends for its safety upon the maintenance of a pure and inviolate ballot. The throne is extended on either side into a bench, which rests, at each end, upon a couchant lion, with a mooring-ring in his mouth, signifying that the ship of state must be moored to strength. The goddess—for so, perhaps, she is to be[37] considered—is crowned with a wreath, and holds in her left hand a golden sceptre (the Golden Rule), by which the artist means to point out that no permanent good can accrue to a government by injuring another. With her right hand she supports a tablet inscribed with the words, from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, “A government of the people, by the people, for the people.” To the right and left stand winged youths or geniuses, the first holding a bridle, which stands for the restraining influence of order, and the other with a sword with which to defend the State in time of danger, or, if one chooses, the sword of justice—it may be taken either way. The background of the group is the thick foliage of an oak tree, emblematic of strength and stability.


In the second panel, Corrupt Legislation is represented by a woman with a beautiful but depraved face sitting in an abandoned attitude on a throne the arms of which are cornucopias overflowing with the coin which is the revenue of the State. But this revenue is represented not as flowing outward, for the use and good of the people, but all directed toward the woman herself. The artist’s idea was that when revenue is so abundant, as here depicted, that it greatly exceeds the needs of government, then government becomes a temptation to all kinds of corrupt practices. The path in front of the throne is disused and overgrown with weeds, showing that under such a corrupt government the people have abandoned a direct approach to Justice. With her right hand, the woman waves away, with a contemptuous gesture, a poorly clad girl—representing Labor—who comes, showing her empty distaff and spindle, in search of the work which should be hers by right, but which she cannot obtain under a government inattentive to the wrongs of the people. In her left hand the woman holds a sliding scale—used as being more easily susceptible of fraud than a pair of balances, and the proper emblem therefore of the sort of justice in which she deals. A rich man is placing in it a bag of gold; he sits confidently beside her, secure of her favors in return for his bribe. At his feet are other bags of gold and a strong box, together with an overturned voting-urn filled with ballots, signifying his corrupt control of the very sources of power. In his lap he holds the book of Law, which he is skilled to pervert to his own ends. In the background are his factories, the smoke of their chimneys testifying to his prosperity. On the other side the factories are smokeless and idle, showing a strike or shut-down; and the earthen jar in which the savings of Labor have been hoarded lies broken at her feet.

The logical conclusion of such government is Anarchy. She is represented entirely nude, raving upon the ruins of the civilization she has destroyed. In one hand she holds the wine cup which makes mad, and in the other the incendiary torch, formed of the scroll of learning. Serpents twist in her dishevelled[38] hair, and she tramples upon a scroll, a lyre, a Bible, and a book—the symbols, respectively, of Learning, Art, Religion, and Law. Beneath her feet are the dislocated portions of an arch. To the right, Violence, his eyes turned to gaze upon the cup of madness, is prying out the corner-stone of a temple. To the left, Ignorance, a female figure, with dull, brutish face, is using a surveyor’s staff to precipitate the wreckage of civilization into the chasm which opens in the foreground. Beyond, lying in an uncultivated field, are a broken mill-wheel and a millstone. But the end of such violence is clearly indicated; no sooner shall the corner-stone be pried from the wall than the temple will fall and crush the destroyers; and beside the great block on which Anarchy has placed her foot lies a bomb, with a lighted fuse attached. Such a condition, says the painting, must inevitably contain the seeds of its own destruction.


On the other side of the central tympanum, Good Administration sits holding in her right hand a pair of scales evenly poised, and with her left laid upon a shield, quartered to represent the even balance of parties and classes which should obtain in a well ordered democracy; on this shield are emblazoned, as emblems of a just government, the weight, scales, and rule. The frame of her chair is an arch, a form of construction in which every stone performs an equal service—in which no shirking can exist—and therefore peculiarly appropriate to typify the equal part which all should take in a democratic form of government. On the right is a youth who casts his ballot into an urn. He carries some books under his arm, showing that education should be the basis of the suffrage. To the left is another voting-urn, into which a young girl is winnowing wheat, so that the good grains fall into its mouth while the chaff is scattered by the wind—an action symbolical of the care with which a people should choose its public servants. In the background is a field of wheat, a last touch in this picture of intelligence and virtue, and, in itself, symbolical of prosperous and careful toil.


In the last panel, that of Peace and Prosperity, the central figure is crowned with olive, the emblem of peace, and holds in her hands olive-wreaths to be bestowed as the reward of excellence. On either side is a youth, the one to her right typifying the Arts, and the other, Agriculture. The former sits upon an amphora or jar, and is engaged in decorating a piece of pottery; behind him is a lyre, for Music, and in the distance a little Grecian temple, for Architecture. The other is planting a sapling,—an act suggestive of a tranquil, just, and permanent government, under which alone one could plant with any hope of enjoying the shade and fruit of after years. The background of the picture is a well-wooded and fertile landscape, introduced for much the same purpose as the wheat-field in the preceding tympanum.


Still another piece of symbolism is expressed in this interesting series of pictures by the trees, their foliage forming the background against which the central figure is placed. The oak in the central panel has been spoken of. In the design representing Peace and Prosperity, an olive-tree typifies not only Peace but Spring; in the next panel, that of Good Administration, the tree is the fig, and the season summer; in that of Corrupt Legislation, the autumnal vine, hinting at a too abundant luxury, and with its falling leaves presaging decay; and in that of Anarchy, bare branches and Winter.

The Second Floor Corridors.—Returning again to the Entrance Hall proper, the visitor may most conveniently continue his tour of the Library by ascending the Grand Staircase to the beautifully decorated corridors of the second-story arcade, on his way to the public galleries of the Main Reading Room. The corridors are arranged like those which the visitor has already passed through on the first floor, but their greater height and the brighter tone of the decoration give an effect of considerably greater spaciousness.

The Decoration of the Vaults.—The floors of the corridors are laid in mosaic of varying patterns. The ceilings are uniformly a barrel vault, with[40] pendentives—the same, that is, as those of the North, East, and South Corridors below. The vaults are covered with a painted decoration of Renaissance ornament which for variety and interest is hardly surpassed anywhere else in the building. The decorative scheme which has been adopted was planned throughout by Mr. Casey, and elaborated, especially in the matter of color, and carried into effect, by Mr. Garnsey, working under Mr. Casey’s direction. In addition, each corridor contains, as a distinctive accent of color and design, a series of paintings by a specially commissioned artist—in the West Corridor by Mr. Walter Shirlaw, in the North Corridor by Mr. Robert Reid, in the East Corridor by Mr. George R. Barse, Jr., and in the South Corridor by Mr. Frank W. Benson. In the side corridors, also, at the west end, the arch of the vault is spanned by a broad band of stucco ornament containing a series of octagonal coffers, ornamented in relief by Mr. Hinton Perry.

The decoration is varied, of course, from corridor to corridor, in order to prevent any monotony of impression, but the main principles on which it is based are everywhere the same. Thus the color scheme—which was suggested in part by the beautiful Library in Sienna—comprises in every corridor blue in the pendentives, golden yellow in the penetrations, and a grayish white in the body of the vault. The only exception to this rule is in the West and East Corridors, which are terminated by double arches instead of ending directly upon a wall. Here the end penetrations are red and the pendentive yellow. The others remain as before. The delineation of the spaces is at bottom very simple, and though more elaborate, a good deal like that already noted in describing the mosaic in the lower corridors. The penetrations are outlined by a bright colored border, on which, where the lines converge to a point at the top, rests a border of greater width, enclosing the entire vault in a single great rectangle. This, in turn, is divided into compartments by bands of ornament, varying in number according to the requirements of the decoration, but always occurring immediately over the columns of the arcade. These bands, coming where they do, perform a vital service for the decoration in continually reminding the visitor, if only by a painted arabesque, of the importance of the arch in such a piece of construction as a vault. In the spaces between them are garlands and wreaths, and panels for paintings and inscriptions—the whole making part of one great arabesque, which is as easily intelligible and coherent as it is various, but which would have been bewildering in its wealth of ornament and color if it had not been for the fundamental service performed by these various bands and borders and broad masses of color.

The penetrations and pendentives are richly embellished with a great variety of ornament, both conventional and otherwise. The treatment differs in different corridors, however, on account of the varying relative position of the paired columns which support the arcade—from which results first a series of wide and then a series of narrow pendentives. Where the former occur—in the West and East Corridors—they are ornamented with the decorations of Mr. Shirlaw and Mr. Barse; while the narrower pendentives on the north and south carry simple medallions and tablets, and Mr. Reid’s and Mr. Benson’s paintings find place in the arabesque of the ceiling vault and in circular frames along the wall beneath. The balance is restored, however, by introducing a series of medallions, corresponding to Mr. Benson’s and Mr. Reid’s, though smaller and of less importance, in the vaults east and west, and by ornamenting the penetrations in the side corridors with greater richness and elaboration.




The Printers’ Marks.—The most interesting decoration of the penetrations, however, is a series of “Printers’ Marks” which is continued through all four corridors. Altogether there are fifty-six of them—sixteen in each of the side corridors, ten in the West Corridor, and fourteen in the East Corridor. They are painted in black outline, and are of a sufficient size, averaging about a foot and a half in height, to be easily made out from the floor. By a printer’s mark, it should be explained, is meant the engraved device which the old printers used in the title-page or colophon of their books, partly as a kind of informal trade-mark guarding against counterfeited editions, and partly as a personal emblem, such as a publisher of good standing would like to see on a long list of worthy books. For this latter reason, and in order to be able to add an interesting piece of ornament to the title-page, the mark has been revived of late years by a considerable number of modern publishing and printing houses.

Very often, as the visitor will see, the printer’s mark is, in its way, a really beautiful piece of design; many have an interest as being associated with the reputation of a famous printer like Caxton, or Aldus, or Elzevir; while others depend mainly for their point upon some special symbolical meaning, very frequently taking the form of an illustrated pun. Thus, in the West Corridor, the mark of Lotter—which means “vagrant” in German—is a mendicant supplicating alms. In the South Corridor, the mark of Geoffroy Tory commemorates the death of his little daughter—the broken vase, with a book symbolizing the literary studies of which she had been fond.

There is no necessity, however, of describing the marks in detail, for, with the exception of two or three American examples, they were all taken from Mr. William Roberts’s Printers’ Marks (London, 1893), in which they are illustrated and explained. Those thought best adapted for decorative effect were chosen throughout, although the marks of as many of the better known printers as possible were included. Occasionally a border or a motto was omitted, but in the main Mr. Roberts’s engravings were pretty exactly copied. In the West Corridor the marks are mostly those of German printers; in the South Corridor, French; in the East Corridor, Italian and Spanish; in the North Corridor, English and Scottish and American.[7]


Mr. Hinton Perry’s Bas-Reliefs.—Mr. Perry’s bas-reliefs, at the west end of the north and south vaults, have already been referred to. They are four in number, and measure three feet eight inches from one side to another. Taken as a series they represent what may be called, for lack of a better title, Ancient Prophetic Inspiration. The chief figure in each is a sibyl or priestess—Greek, Roman, Persian, Scandinavian—in the act of delivering the prophetic warnings which have been revealed to her in the rapture of a divine frenzy. She is regarded as the mouthpiece of the god, and therefore as the fountain of religion, wisdom, literature, art, and success in war—all of which are typified, in one panel or another, in the figures of her auditors.


Beginning in the South Corridor, the first panel shows the Cumæan or Roman Sibyl. She is represented, in accordance with the ancient histories, as an old and withered hag, whose inspiration comes from an infernal, rather than a celestial source. Two figures, as in all the panels, complete Mr. Perry’s group, one male and the other female. The first is clad in the splendid armor of a Roman general; the woman is nude, and stands for Roman Art and Literature. At her feet is a box of manuscripts, and she takes in one hand an end of the long scroll (representing one of the Sibylline Books, so famous in Roman history) which the Priestess holds in her lap. The panel on the other side of the arch represents a Scandinavian Vala or Wise Woman, with streaming hair and a wolf-skin over her head and shoulders. She typifies, in her bold gesture and excited gaze, the barbaric inspiration of the Northern nations. To the left is the figure of a Norse warrior, and to the right a naked woman lies stretched upon the ground, personifying the vigorous life and fecundity of genius of the North.

In the North Corridor, the subjects of Mr. Perry’s two decorations are Greek and Persian Inspiration. The former is represented by the Priestess of the world-renowned Oracle of Apollo at Delphi. She is seated upon a tripod, placed above a mysterious opening in the earth, from which the sacred fumes rise to intoxicate the Priestess, and fill her with the spirit of prophecy. On one side of the panel, an old man, standing for Greek science and philosophy, takes down her words on a tablet; on the other is a nude female figure, personifying Greek art and literature. In the second panel, that of Persia, the face of the Sibyl is veiled, to signify the occult wisdom of the East. A man[44] prostrates himself at her feet in a fervor of religious devotion, and a woman, nearly nude, stands listening in the background. With her voluptuous figure and her ornaments of pearl and gold—a fillet, anklets, armlets, and necklace—she represents the luxuriance and sensuousness of Eastern art and poetry.


Mr. Shirlaw’s Paintings.—The subjects of Mr. Shirlaw’s figures in the vault of the West Corridor are, on the west, beginning at the left: Zoölogy, Physics, Mathematics, and Geology; and on the east, again beginning at the left: Archæology, Botany, Astronomy, and Chemistry. Each science is represented by a female figure about seven and a half feet in height. The figures are especially interesting, aside from their artistic merit, for the variety of symbolism by which every science is distinguished from the others, and for the subtlety with which much of this symbolism is expressed. Not only is each accompanied by various appropriate objects, but the lines of the drapery, the expression of the face and body, and the color itself are, wherever practicable, made to subserve the idea of the science represented. Thus the predominant colors used in the figure of Chemistry—purple, blue, and red—are the ones which occur most often in chemical experimenting. In the pendentive of Geology, Mr. Shirlaw employs principally purple and orange; the former is the ruling color in many of the more common rock formations when seen in the mass and naturally; and the latter is the color of the ordinary lichens one finds on boulders and ledges. In the matter of line, again, the visitor will notice a very marked difference between the abrupt, broken line used in the drapery of Archæology, and the moving, flowing line in that of Physics. In both cases it will be found that the line is in very complete sympathy with the character of the science depicted. The method of archæology is largely excavation carried on among sculptural and architectural fragments. The swirling drapery of Physics is suggestive of flame and heat.

Zoölogy is represented with a lion seated beside her, her hands clasping his mane. She is the huntress and student of wild life, and her body is powerfully developed, like an Amazon’s. She is clad in the pelt of an animal, the head forming her cap, and in buskins of skin. She stands on a rocky piece of ground, like a desert. The chief colors employed in the pendentive are the typical animal colors, browns and yellows.

Physics stands on an electric globe, from which emanate rays of light. She carries a torch in her left hand, and she holds up an end of her drapery in her right in such a way that it seems to start from the flame and flow in sympathy with it over her whole body, so that it conveys the idea of the unceasing motion of fire. The same colors as those used in the pendentive of Geology, purple and orange, are used here also, but in this case standing, of course, for the colors of flame.



Mathematics, the exact science, is represented as almost entirely nude,—like “the Naked Truth” of Mr. Walker’s tympanum on the floor below. Her right foot is on a stone block inscribed with the conic sections, and on a shield which she holds are various geometrical figures. Her scanty drapery is appropriately disposed in the severest lines.

Geology, a sculpturesque figure, stands squarely and firmly upon a mountain top, beyond which is seen the setting sun. A fold of her drapery forms a receptacle for the specimens she has gathered. In her left hand is a globe, and in her right a fossil shell. Her hair is confined by a head-dress of bars of silver and gold. The embroidered pattern of her garment has a suggestion of fossil forms and of the little lizards which are found among the rocks.

Archæology is clad in the Roman costume, and wears the helmet of Minerva; the helmet is wreathed with olive, the emblem of peace, which was sacred to Minerva, and is here used with special reference to the peaceful character of the science, which can pursue its labors only in an orderly society. The figure stands on a block of stone, the surface of which is carved to represent a scroll, the ancient form of book. A vase, copied from the manufacture of the Zuñi Indians of New Mexico, stands beside her. In her right hand she holds a large book, the pages of which she examines with the aid of a magnifying glass in order to spell out its half obliterated text. Around her neck is coiled a chameleon, whose changing hues are intended to symbolize the varying nature of the theories she propounds.

The countenance of Botany is expressive of a joyous sympathy with nature. She stands on the pad of a water-lily, engaged in analyzing its flower, the long stem of which coils gracefully about her body to the water. Her drapery flows and breaks as a half-opened flower might arrange itself.

Astronomy holds a lens, such as is used in a telescope, in her right hand, and in her left the globe of Saturn surrounded by its rings—selected as being perhaps the best known and most easily distinguished of all the planets. She stands on the sphere of the earth, beyond which, to the left, is the quarter moon. The lines of her drapery with their slow curves are suggestive, in a way, of the orbits of the heavenly bodies. They flow in long lines, enveloping her figure in the strength which proceeds from complete harmony.

Chemistry is shown with her left foot placed upon a piece of chemical apparatus and holding in her right hand a glass retort, in which she is distilling a liquid. The necessary heat, manifested by the ascending vapor which curls about the vessel, is from the mouth of the serpent—the emblem of fecundity and life, breathing the element of life, fire. The serpent is coiled about an hour-glass, which is significant of the exact measurement of time necessary in chemical experiments. The face of the figure is more worn, on account of the anxious nature of her employment, than would comport with the character of[46] an out-of-door science like Botany or Zoölogy. She is draped somewhat in the eastern manner, like a sibyl, thus recalling the occult character ascribed to the science during the Middle Ages—when it was called alchemy—and, for that matter, the marvellousness of its results in the laboratories of to-day. A snake wound as a fillet about her hair still further emphasizes this mystic quality.

At either end of the corridor is a tablet bearing a list of names of men distinguished in the sciences which Mr. Shirlaw has depicted; at the north end: Cuvier, the Zoölogist; Linnæus, the Botanist; Schliemann, the Archæologist; and Copernicus, the Astronomer; at the south end: La Grange, the Mathematician; Lavoisier, the Chemist; Rumford, the Physicist; and Lyell, the Geologist. In the penetrations on either side of these two lists of names are the following appropriate inscriptions:—

The first creature of God was the light of sense; the last was the light of reason.


The Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth not.

John 1, 5.

All are but parts of one stupendous whole,

Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.


In nature all is useful, all is beautiful.


Along the centre of the vault, three medallions by Mr. William B. Van Ingen represent respectively Sculpture, Architecture, and Painting. In each the art is represented by a female figure engaged either in chiselling the features of a bust (that of Washington), drawing the plan of a building, or painting at an easel.


Mr. Reid’s Paintings.—Passing to the North Corridor, the attention is at once attracted to the brilliant coloring of Mr. Reid’s decorations in the vault and along the north wall. The former are five in number, and represent the Five Senses. They are octagonal in form, measuring within an inch of six feet and a half across. The order of the subjects, beginning at the westerly end, is Taste, Sight, Smell, Hearing, Touch. In each the sense suggested is represented by a beautiful young woman, more of the modern than the antique type of beauty, and clad in drapery which recalls contemporary fashions rather than the classic conventions which are usually followed by artists in their treatment of ideal subjects. Being painted upon a ceiling, so that the visitor is required to look directly upward in order to study them, the figures, though, in a sense, represented as seated, are rather to be imagined as poised in the air, without any special reference to the law of gravitation. They are shown as supported upon cloud-banks, and the backgrounds of the panels are sky and clouds.

The suggestion of the subject is as simply as it is ingeniously and unconventionally conveyed. A large portion of this suggestion must be looked for, of course, in the expression of the face and the attitude as well as in the action of the figures. Taste is shown drinking from a shell. She is surrounded by[47] foliage, and a vine grows beside her laden with bunches of ripe grapes. She wears flowers in her hair, and the idea throughout may perhaps be taken as that of the autumnal feast of the wine-press. Sight is looking at her reflection in a handglass, and smiling with pleasure at the evidence of her beauty. A splendid peacock, the emblem of beauty and pride in beauty, is introduced beside her. Smell is represented seated beside a bank of lilies and roses. From this mass of flowers she has selected a great white rose, which she presses to her nose. Hearing holds a large sea-shell to her ear, and dreamily listens to its roaring. Touch is delightedly observing a butterfly which has alighted on her bare outstretched arm—the touch of its tiny feet as it walks over her flesh imparting an unaccustomed sensation to her nerves. A setter dog, which she has just ceased from caressing, lies asleep behind her.

Mr. Reid’s subjects in the four circular panels along the wall are entitled, in order from left to right: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, and Philosophy. Each is represented by a half-length seated female figure—more solidly painted, but of much the same type as the figures representing The Senses—holding a scroll, book, or tablet. In the panel of Philosophy, a Greek temple is seen in the background, emblematic of the Greek origin of philosophy.


Alternating with Mr. Reid’s ceiling paintings, is a series of rectangular panels, in which are depicted, in low tones of color and in a style somewhat suggestive of a classic bas-relief, a number of ancient out-door athletic contests. Beginning at the west end of the vault, the first of these represents a group of young men throwing the discus. Then come Wrestling and Running. In the fourth panel, the athletes are being rubbed down by attendants, to clear them of the sweat and heat of the conflict; and in the fifth, the successful contestants are kneeling to receive the crown of victory at the hands of a woman seated on a dais. The last picture represents the return home, a tripping company of youths and maidens crowned with garlands.

The visitor will remember what was said concerning the special enrichment of the penetrations in the side corridors for the sake of compensating in a way for the absence of such decorations as Mr. Shirlaw’s in the pendentives. In the present instance, this enrichment takes the form of dragons and swans, which serve as “supporters” of the panels containing the printers’ marks.

In the pendentives, tablets for inscriptions alternate with medallions containing trophies of various trades and sciences. The list of the latter, beginning at the left over the north wall, is as follows: Geometry, represented by a compass, a protractor, and a scroll, cone, and cylinder; Meteorology, the barometer, thermometer, and anemometer; Forestry, a growing tree, and an axe and pruning-knife; Navigation, the chronometer, log, rope, rudder, and compass; Mechanics, the lever, wedge, and pulley-block; and Transportation, with a piston, propeller, driving-wheel, and locomotive head-light.


The inscriptions are from Adelaide A. Procter’s poem, Unexpressed, and are as follows:—

Dwells within the soul of every Artist

More than all his effort can express.

No great Thinker ever lived and taught you

All the wonder that his soul received.

No true painter ever set on canvas

All the glorious vision he conceived.

No musician....

But be sure he heard, and strove to render,

Feeble echoes of celestial strains.

Love and Art united

Are twin mysteries, different yet the same.

Love may strive, but vain is the endeavor

All its boundless riches to unfold.

Art and Love speak; and their words must be

Like sighings of illimitable forests.

The only other decoration which there is space to mention is the broad, semicircular border which follows the line of the vault on the wall at either end of the corridor. At the east end, this border is ornamented with a bright-colored arabesque, mainly in violet and greens, with a medallion in the centre bearing a map of the Western Hemisphere. At the west end, the border is plainer, with five semicircular or circular tablets, two of which are ornamented with the obverse and reverse respectively of the Great Seal of the United States. The other three carry the following inscriptions:—

Order is Heaven’s first law.


Memory is the treasurer and guardian of all things.


Beauty is the creator of the universe.


Mr. Barse’s Paintings.—In the East Corridor, the pendentive figures of Mr. Barse represent, beginning on the east side, at the north end: Lyric Poetry (entitled by the artist, Lyrica), Tragedy, Comedy, and History; and on the west, again beginning at the north, Love Poetry (Erotica), Tradition, Fancy, and Romance. The subject of the entire series, therefore, may be called simply Literature. The figures, as the visitor will perceive, need but little explanation. All are those of women clad in graceful, classic robes, represented throughout as seated, and depicted with little attempt at dramatic expression or action. Lyric Poetry is playing on the lyre. Tragedy and Comedy have a tragic and comic mask respectively, and Comedy a tambourine.[49] History has a scroll and palm-branch, and an ancient book-box for scrolls, such as was used by the Romans, is set at her feet. Romance has a pen and a scroll. Fancy clasps her hands, and gazes upward with a rapt expression on her face. Tradition wears the Ægis, and holds a statue of the winged goddess of Victory in her hand—both introduced as symbols of antiquity. Erotica is writing on a tablet.

Along the centre of the vault, occupying a similar position to the medallions in the opposite corridor, is another series of three paintings, executed by Mr. William A. Mackay, which represent The Life of Man. One will best understand the meaning of the paintings by first reading the inscriptions which are placed immediately above and below each medallion. On one side they refer to the ancient allegory of the Three Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos—the first of whom spun, the second wove, and the third cut, the Thread of Life—and are as follows:—

For a web begun God sends thread.

Old Proverb.

The web of life ... is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.

All’s Well that Ends Well.

Comes the blind Fury with th’ abhorred shears

And slits the thin-spun life.


On the other side the inscriptions, which compare the life of a man to the life of a tree, are taken from Cardinal Wolsey’s speech in Henry VIII:—

This is the state of man: to-day he puts forth

The tender leaves of hopes.


To-morrow blossoms.

And bears his blushing honors thick upon him.


The third day comes a frost, ...

And ... nips his root,

And then he falls.

Accordingly, in the present series, the first medallion shows a woman (Clotho) with her distaff and a baby lying in her lap. The sun is rising above the horizon, a sapling begins to put out its branches, and near by is a little spring. In the next picture, Lachesis has a loom and shuttle. The spring has grown into a river, and the mature man bears in his hand a basket of fruit gathered from the abundance of the full-grown tree, while the sun in the heavens marks the high noon of life. In the last medallion the sun is setting, the tree has fallen in ruin on the ground, and the stream has dried up. The man, grown old and crippled, faints by the roadside, and Atropos opens her fatal shears to sever the thread of his existence.

At each end of the corridor is a tablet containing the names of eminent American printers, and men who have contributed to the improvement of American printing machinery. At the north these names are: Green, Daye, Franklin, Thomas, Bradford; and at the south, Clymer, Adams, Gordon, Hoe, Bruce.


Mr. Benson’s Paintings.—Mr. Benson’s decorations in the vault of the South Corridor and along the wall below are of the same size and shape as those of Mr. Reid in the North Corridor. The arabesque ornament of the ceiling is so arranged, however, as to allow space for only three instead of five of these hexagonal panels. The subject of the paintings they contain is The Graces—Aglaia (at the east), Thalia (in the centre) and Euphrosyne (at the north).


The three figures are almost invariably represented in a group, in both ancient and modern art. Taken together, they stand, of course, for beauty and graciousness, and typify, also, the agreeable arts and occupations. In separating them, Mr. Benson has considered Aglaia as the patroness of Husbandry; Thalia as representing Music; and Euphrosyne, Beauty. The first, therefore, has a shepherd’s crook, the second a lyre, and the last is looking at her reflection in a hand-mirror. All are shown sitting in the midst of a pleasant summer landscape, with trees and water and fertile meadows.

For the four circular panels Mr. Benson has chosen as his subject The Seasons. Each is represented by a beautiful half-length figure of a young woman, with no attempt, however, at any elaborate symbolism to distinguish the season which she typifies. Such distinction as the painter has chosen to indicate is to be sought rather in the character of the faces, or in the warmer or colder coloring of the whole panel—in a word, in the general artistic treatment.

At either end of the vault is a rectangular panel painted in the same style as those depicting the ancient games in the North Corridor, but in this case representing the modern sports of Football and Baseball. The former, occurring at the east end of the vault, is a more or less realistic picture of a “scrimmage.” The latter is more conventionalized, showing single figures, like the pitcher and catcher, in the attitude of play, and others with bats, masks, and gloves.

Instead of the swans and dragons of the North Corridor, the printers’ marks in the penetrations of the present corridor are supported between the figures of mermen and fauns, and mermaids and nymphs, the male figures, with their suggestion of greater decorative strength, occurring at the ends of the corridor, and the nymphs and mermaids alternating between. Altogether there are thirty-two figures, each painted by Mr. Frederick C. Martin.

On the pendentives, the series of trophies begun in the North Corridor is continued, giving place, as before, in every other pendentive, to a tablet bearing an inscription. Beginning on the south side, at the east end, the trophies are as follows: Printing, with a stick, inking-ball, and type-case; Pottery, three jugs of different kinds of clay; Glass-making, three glass vases of different[51] shapes; Carpentry, a saw, bit, hammer, and right angle; Smithery, the anvil, pincers, hammer, bolt, and nut; Masonry, a trowel, square, plumb, and mortar-board.

The following are the eight inscriptions:—

Studies perfect nature and are perfected by experience.


Dreams, books, are each a world; and books, we know,

Are a substantial world, both pure and good.


Learning is but an adjunct to ourself.

Love’s Labor’s Lost.

A little learning is a dangerous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.


The universal cause

Acts to one end, but acts by various laws.


Vain, very vain, [the] weary search to find

That bliss which only centres in the mind.


Creation’s heir, the world, the world is mine!


The fault ... is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Shakespeare (Julius Cæsar).

The semicircular borders at either end are practically the same in color and design as in the North Corridor. At the east end, the Eastern is substituted for the Western Hemisphere, and at the west end, a caduceus and a lictor’s axe for the United States Seal. The accompanying inscriptions are as follows:

Man raises but time weighs.  

Modern Greek Proverb.

Beneath the rule of men entirely great,

The pen is mightier than the sword.

Bulwer Lytton.

The noblest motive is the public good.


The Decoration of the Walls.—The decoration of the vaults of the four corridors is distinctly Renaissance in character; the walls beneath, however, are colored and decorated in accordance with a Pompeiian motive. It may seem at first thought illogical thus to join two styles so remote from each other in point of time, but it must be remembered that, in both art and literature, the Renaissance was literally, as has been pointed out, the new birth of[52] Greek and Roman forms, in the course of which the Italian painters adapted to their use and subdued to their style the sort of wall decoration which we know as Pompeiian, from the discovery of so many examples of it in the excavations at Pompeii. The two styles, as used in conjunction in the Library of Congress, not only in these corridors but throughout the building, are perfectly harmonious in color and design; from the explanation just given the visitor will see that they have long ago been brought into a historical unity as well, through the conventions established by the great and authoritative school of the Renaissance artists.


Mr. Maynard’s Pompeiian Panels.—The frequent occurrence of windows, doors, and pilasters cuts the wall into narrow spaces, which, at the north and south, are colored a plain olive, and at the east and west the familiar rich Pompeiian red, ornamented with simple arabesques and, at the ends, with female figures representing The Virtues, by Mr. George Willoughby Maynard. There are eight of these figures in all, two in each corner of the hall. Each figure is about five and a half feet high, clad in floating classic drapery, and represented to the spectator as appearing before him in the air, without a support or background other than the deep red of the wall. The style of the paintings is Pompeiian; the general tone is somewhat like that of marble, although touched with color so as to remove any comparison with the marble framing.

Beginning at the left in each case, the names and order of the Virtues are as follows: At the northeast corner, Fortitude and Justice; at the southeast corner, Patriotism and Courage; at the southwest corner, Temperance and Prudence; at the northwest corner, Industry and Concord. The number of virtues to be represented was determined beforehand, of course, by the number of spaces at the disposal of the painter. The selection, therefore, was necessarily somewhat arbitrary.

Each figure is shown with certain characteristic attributes. In the case of Industry, Courage, and Patriotism, Mr. Maynard has himself selected these attributes; in the other five figures he has followed the usual conventions.


Fortitude is shown fully armed—the mace in her right hand and the buckler on her arm, and protected by cuirass, casque, and greaves. She is thus represented as ready for any emergency—living in continual expectation of danger,[53] and constantly prepared to meet it. Justice holds the globe in her right hand, signifying the extent of her sway. She holds a naked sword upright, signifying the terribleness of her punishment. Patriotism is feeding an eagle, the emblem of America, from a golden bowl—an action which symbolizes the high nourishment with which the Virtue sustains the spirit of the country. Courage is represented as armed hastily with the buckler, casque, and sword—not, like Fortitude, continually on guard, but snatching up her arms in the presence of an unforeseen danger. Temperance—figured as the classic rather than the modern virtue—holds an antique pitcher in her right hand, from which a stream of some liquor, whether wine or water, descends into the bowl she holds in her left. Her buoyancy and air of health betoken her moderation of living. Prudence looks in a hand-glass to discover any danger which may assail her from behind. In her right hand she holds a serpent—the emblem of wisdom. Industry draws the flax from a distaff, the end of which is stuck in her girdle, and twists it into thread, to be wound upon the spindle which hangs at her side. Concord—the Roman goddess Concordia—illustrates the blessings of peace. In her right hand she bears an olive-branch, and in her left she carries a cornucopia filled with wheat.

The Inscriptions along the Walls.—Before taking leave of the corridors of the Entrance Hall, one more feature of the decoration requires notice, namely the twenty-nine inscriptions occupying the gilt tablets below the stucco frames which surround the circular windows and the wall-paintings of Mr. Benson and Mr. Reid. They are as follows:—

Too low they build who build beneath the stars.


There is but one temple in the Universe and that is the Body of Man.


Beholding the bright countenance of Truth in the quiet and still air of delightful



The true university of these days is a collection of books.


Nature is the art of God.  

Sir Thomas Browne.

There is no work of genius which has not been the delight of mankind.


It is the mind that makes the man, and our vigor is in our immortal soul.


They are never alone that are accompanied by noble thoughts.


Man is one world and has

Another to attend him.


Tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,

Sermons in stones, and good in everything.

As You Like It.


The true Shekinah is man.  


Only the actions of the just

Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.


Art is long, and Time is fleeting.


The history of the world is the biography of great men.


Books will speak plain when counsellors blanch.


Glory is acquired by virtue but preserved by letters.


The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.


The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.

Dr. Johnson.

There is only one good, namely knowledge, and one only evil, namely ignorance.

Diogenes Laertius.

Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.


Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs iv, 7.

Ignorance is the curse of God,

Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.

2 Henry IV.

How charming is divine Philosophy!


Books must follow sciences and not sciences books.


In books lies the Soul of the whole past time.


Words are also actions and actions are a kind of words.


Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man.


Science is organized knowledge.  

Herbert Spencer.

Beauty is truth, truth beauty.  




The vaulting of the broad passageway leading to the Reading Room consists of a series of six small domes, the ornamentation of which is similar, in its more modest way, to that of the vaulted corridors which the visitor has just left. The colors are light and bright, and the three different patterns employed consist mainly of garlands and ribbons, and of simple bands of color radiating from a central medallion. Swans, eagles, or owls are introduced both in the domes and as the ornament of the pendentives, and eagles occur between the double consoles which receive the weight of the domes upon the east wall. In the medallions just referred to are various objects symbolizing the Fine Arts—tragic and comic masks, for Acting; a lyre, for Music; a block of marble, half shaped into a bust, and sculptors’ tools, for Sculpture; a lamp, scrolls, and an open book, for Literature; and the capital of an Ionic column, a triangle, and some sheets of parchment, for Architecture.


The trophies of Sculpture and Architecture, it should be added, are accompanied by appropriate names—comprising those of cities, statues, and buildings—inscribed both in the arabesques and in the pendentives of certain of the domes. For Architecture, the buildings commemorated are the Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, and the Pyramids; while the cities are those with whose fame these four great monuments are connected—Rome, Agra, Athens, and Gizeh. The sculptures are the Farnese Bull, the Laocoön, the Niobe, and the Parthenon Pediment, and in the bordering arabesques are the names of the four divinities often taken as the subject of ancient statuary—Venus, Apollo, Hercules, and Zeus.

Mr. Van Ingen’s Paintings.—In the centre of the passage a marble staircase, dividing to the right and left at a landing halfway up, leads to the gallery of the Reading Room. Beneath, on either side, is a little bay, giving access to the elevators. In the decoration of the ceiling the effect aimed at is that of an arbor, with a vine, climbing over a trellis, painted against a sunny yellow background. Each contains a small tympanum, in which Mr. Van Ingen has suggested the subjects of Milton’s well-known companion poems, L’Allegro and Il Penseroso—Mirth, and Melancholy or Thoughtfulness. The decorations are not illustrations, as the word is usually understood, like some of Mr. Walker’s panels, already described; they have no reference to any particular scene or incident in the poems, but are intended as an interpretation of their general[56] spirit and meaning. In the first, Il Penseroso, the time of year is autumn; in the other it is spring. Similarly, in L’Allegro the landscape is shown in morning light, while in Il Penseroso the time is evening. The latter panel is in the bay to the north of the staircase. A single figure, that of a beautiful woman with dark hair and soft, pensive eyes, is shown at half length, leaning her head upon her hand in an attitude and with an expression of deep contemplation. L’Allegro is represented by a young woman, light-haired and sparkling with laughter, who is playing under the trees with two little children.

In the pendentives of the bays are inscribed portions of the two poems illustrated. The lines from L’Allegro are as follows:—

... Come, thou Goddess fair and free,

In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,

And by men heart-easing Mirth;

Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee

Jest, and youthful Jollity,

Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,

Nods and becks and wreathèd smiles,

Such as hang on Hebe’s cheek,

And love to live in dimple sleek.

The lines from Il Penseroso are:—

Hail! thou Goddess, sage and holy!

Hail, divinest Melancholy!

Come; but keep thy wonted state,

With even step, and musing gait,

And looks commercing with the skies,

Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:

There, held in holy passion still,

Forget thyself to marble....


Mr. Vedder’s Mosaic Decoration.—The wall of the landing of the staircase is occupied by an arched panel, fifteen and a half feet high and nine feet wide, containing a marble mosaic by Mr. Elihu Vedder.[8] The artist has chosen for his subject Minerva, her armor partly laid aside, appearing as the guardian of civilization. She is the Minerva of Peace, but Mr. Vedder indicates that the prosperity which she now cherishes has been attained only through just and righteous war, whether waged against a foreign enemy or against the forces of disorder and corruption within. Beside her is a little statue of Victory, such as the Greeks were accustomed to erect in commemoration of their success in battle. The figure is that of a winged woman standing on a globe, and holding out the laurel-wreath and palm-branch to the victors. In the sky the clouds of disaster and discouragement are rolled away and about to disappear, while the sun of reappearing prosperity sends its rays into every quarter of the land. Although her shield and helmet have been laid upon the ground, the Goddess[57] still retains the Ægis, and holds, in one hand, like a staff, her long, two-headed spear, showing that she never relaxes her vigilance against the enemies of the country which she protects. For the present, however, her attention is all directed to an unfolded scroll which she holds in her left hand. On this is written a list of various departments of learning, science, and art, such as Law, Statistics, Sociology, Botany, Bibliography, Mechanics, Philosophy, Zoölogy, etc. To the left of Minerva is the owl, perched upon the post of a low parapet. Olive trees, symbolizing peace, grow in the field beyond. The armor of the Goddess is carefully studied from ancient sculptures. The character of the Ægis can here be more easily made out than in any of the other representations of Minerva to be found in the building. Traditionally a cape of goat-skin, the Greek artists finally came to overlay it with metal scales, like scale-armor. The border is composed of twisting serpents. The head of the Gorgon Medusa, which forms the central ornament, is used also as the decoration of the large shield lying in the foreground of the picture. The helmet is decorated with a pair of rams’ heads. Mr. Vedder’s whole design is surrounded by a border containing, on either side, a conventionalized laurel-tree displayed like a vine.



Entering by either of the doors at the head of the staircase, the visitor at once steps out upon an embayed gallery, affording a spacious and uninterrupted view of the great domed Reading Room, or Rotunda, which, in every sense, is the central and most important portion of the Library. As such, it is marked by a magnificence of architecture and decoration nowhere else to be found in the building. Outside, from whatever direction one approaches, the gilded dome which forms its outer shell is the first thing to catch the eye; and the golden flame of the torch which surmounts the lantern indicates to the passer-by[58] at once the central and the highest point of the whole structure. Within, richer materials have been used, and decoration has been more freely employed than in any other part of the Library. Sculpture and paintings, rare marbles, and a broad scheme of color and of ornamentation in stucco relief unite with a lofty architectural design to form what is one of the most notable interiors in the country.

The Importance of the Rotunda.—The detailed description of the Rotunda may be deferred a little, however, in order to explain its relation to the rest of the building, and, especially, the reason for its central position. Besides accumulating books and providing the student with proper accommodations for his work—such as good light and convenient chairs and tables—it is the business of every well managed library to supply its readers with the books they desire in the shortest possible time and with the least possible amount of friction. A well digested catalogue is the first requisite; the second is that the books should be stored in a place as closely accessible to the reading room as may be. In a small library this is a simple matter; the same room will be sufficient for both books and readers. When the number of volumes increases it is necessary to shelve them in a compact system of bookcases called a “stack”—or, as in the Library of Congress, in a series of stacks—which must occupy a portion of the building by itself. The reading room and the stacks being thus separated, it is still the aim of the architect to place them in such a way as to retain as far as possible the practical convenience of the smaller library, where every reader is almost within reaching distance of every book. This end is most easily attained by adopting what is called the “central system” of library construction, which is the system followed in the Library of Congress. It has already been seen that the building is in the form of a cross enclosed within a rectangle, thus allowing space for four courts for light and air. At the intersections of the arms of the cross is the Rotunda, the main entrance to which is through the west arm of the cross. The other three arms are occupied by the stacks; the East Stack, directly opposite, is the second short arm; the North and South Stacks, each the same length, are the two long arms. It is obvious that by this arrangement the books can be more easily reached than in any other way. The axes of the stacks are continued radii of the Rotunda, and, so far as the ground plan is concerned, the shortest way from any part of the cross to the Distributing Desk which the visitor sees below in the centre of the room is always along a straight line. This Distributing Desk, of course, being in the exact centre of everything, is the vital point, the kernel, of the whole arrangement. No part of the stack, it will be noted, is far enough away from it to delay the transmission of a book unreasonably, as might very well be the case if the three stacks were in one. Moreover, by the use of a mechanical contrivance, which will be explained later, even this distance is in effect very greatly reduced.



Another thing may well be noted in this connection although it has already been referred to in the preliminary description of the building—and that is, the comparative unimportance, from the standpoint of the real requirements of the Library, of the great Rectangle which encloses the stacks and the Rotunda, and necessarily appears from the street to be the main portion of the building. It contains rooms which, at present, are very convenient for clerical work or as art galleries and special reading rooms, and which may in time be necessary to accommodate an overflow of books; but it must steadily be borne in mind that[60] the Rotunda and the stacks contain the real life of the institution. They are the only really essential and vital portion of the building; without them, there could hardly be a library; and by themselves they would be sufficient for almost every present need.

The General Arrangement.—The character of the Rotunda is warm and rich in ornament as befits a room where people remain to read. It is naturally not so formal as the Rotunda of the Capitol. The height of the room from the floor to the top of the dome, where it converges upon the lantern, is one hundred and twenty-five feet, and from the floor to the crown of the domed ceiling of the lantern itself, one hundred and sixty feet. This latter point, however, is quite shut off from the view of a person standing in the gallery and can be seen only from a position near the centre of the room. The ground plan of the room is octagonal in shape, measuring one hundred feet from one side to another. Eight massive clustered piers, each set some ten feet forward from a corner of the octagon, support a series of heavy arches running entirely round the room. These piers serve, as it were, to stake out the limit of the Reading Room proper; between them are marble screens arcaded in two stories, and behind they are connected with the outer wall by partitions which divide the octagon into eight bays or alcoves, each fourteen feet deep and thirty wide. In each alcove, at the height of the screen, is a gallery like that which the visitor has already entered, one connecting with another, through doors pierced in the partition walls, so as to form a continuous promenade—as it may be called, considering its purpose—in which the sightseer may walk without fear of disturbing the readers below.


The alcoves are arched and enclose great semi-circular windows filled with stained glass, which furnish the greater part of the light needed for the room. The arches springing from the piers support a heavy circular entablature, immediately above which is the dome, arched in the line of an exact circle and supported upon eight ribs dividing it into eight sections or compartments. The ribs are the essential feature of the dome construction, and continue naturally the line of support of the great piers which are the ultimate support of the whole interior—a fact which is more clearly brought out to the eye by paired consoles or brackets introduced in the entablature between the two and seeming to carry the weight from one to the other.

The surface of the dome is of stucco, attached to a framework of iron and steel filled in with terra cotta, and richly ornamented with coffers and with a very elaborate arabesque of figures in relief. At the top, where the dome prepares to join the lantern, the ribs terminate against a broad circular “collar,” so called, containing a painted decoration by Mr. Edwin Howland Blashfield.[61] Finally comes the lantern, thirty-five feet in height, and pierced by eight windows, recalling the octagonal arrangement with which the construction began. The shallow dome which covers the lantern is ornamented with a second painting by Mr. Blashfield, summing up the idea of his decoration in the collar.

At the risk of some tediousness, perhaps, but thinking that afterwards the connection between the decoration and the architecture would be more clearly understood, the writer has given this general description of the Rotunda, in order that the visitor might immediately see what portion of the whole was essential and what not essential; what was “structural” and vital, in other words, and what not. It will have been observed that we have, on the outside, an octagon supporting a shallow dome, on which rests the lantern. Well within this is an octagonal arrangement of piers carrying a much steeper dome. Alcoves occupy the space between the inner and outer octagons. Between the two domes—the inner shell and the outer—is vacancy. The whole exterior—walls, dome, and lantern—the partitions back of the piers, and the connecting screens: all could be torn away and the inner dome still remain secure on its eight massive piers.


The piers are constructed of brick, veneered with marble from Numidia in Africa, curiously mottled and in color a sort of dusky red. The high base on which the pier rests is sheathed with a chocolate brown variety of the familiar close-grained Tennessee marble. The height of the piers, including base and capital, is forty-four feet.

The screens are built solidly of marble from Sienna, Italy, which encloses in its rich black veining almost every variety of yellow, from cream color to dark topaz. Like the piers, the screens are erected upon a Tennessee marble base, in this case, however, very much lower—four feet to the other’s eleven. The arcading of the screens is in two stories, the first of three and the second of seven arches. At the top of each screen the gallery is railed in by a heavy balustrade—still of the same Sienna marble—connected with which are two marble pedestals which bear bronze statues of illustrious men. The screens are alike on every side of the octagon but two, the west and the east—the former the entrance from the Staircase Hall, and the latter affording a way through to the east side of the building. In both instances, therefore, the central arch is accentuated by free standing columns. In the second story of the west screen, also, still another modification has been made in order to allow space for a large clock—the three middle arches giving place to a rich architectural setting ornamented with bronze statuary.

The Alcoves.—The alcoves behind the screens are in two stories, like the arcading, and are intended to contain a collection of the most necessary standard books on all important topics. The entrance from the floor of the[62] Reading Room is through the central arch of the screen. One may pass through doors in the partitions from one alcove to another, on either floor; and by means of a winding staircase inside each of the piers one may go up or down, not only from story to story, but, on the one hand, into the basement below, and, on the other, to the space between the inner and the outer dome above.

Altogether, the alcoves have a capacity, with their present shelving, of 130,000 volumes. The cases are of iron, and similar in a general way to those in the large stacks, to be described later; but they are built against the walls, according to the older method of library arrangement, and with very little attempt to combine them in a real stack system, properly so called. The upper shelves in the lower story are reached from a small iron gallery; in the second story a step-ladder must be used—the only instance in the whole building where a book-shelf cannot be reached by a person standing on the floor.


In front of each of the great piers of the Rotunda is an engaged column, so called because it is not quite clear of the mass behind it, which serves as the ultimate support of a statue placed between the arches upholding the dome. In height, base, and capital, it is the same as the pier with which it is connected, and, like it, is sheathed in Numidian marble, but not so dark in tone, since the burden resting on the column includes no part of the dome, and is therefore much lighter than that borne by the pier.

The engaged columns, however, join with the piers to carry an elaborate entablature some seven feet in height, which, finding its way in and out of the alcoves from pier to pier, completely encompasses the room. The color of the entablature, which is entirely of stucco, is a cream or ivory white, like the dome, touched sparingly with gold. The mouldings, which are of the usual Greek patterns employed in Renaissance architecture, are very rich and heavy. The topmost member of the cornice is boldly projected upon a series of modillions, the soffits between being ornamented with rosetted coffers—gilt on a blue ground. The frieze is enriched with an arabesque of Renaissance ornament in relief, including antique urns and lamps; garlands enclosing tablets; and winged half-figures. The general design of the frieze, as of all such work in the Library, is by Mr. Casey as architect; the individual figures, however, were modelled by Mr. Weinert.

The Symbolical Statues.—The eight statues set upon the entablature over the engaged columns represent eight characteristic features of civilized life and thought. From the floor to the plinth or base on which they stand is a distance of fifty-eight feet; each is ten and a half feet, or, including the plinth, eleven feet high. All are of plaster, toned an ivory white to match the general tone of the stucco decoration throughout the room, and are effectively placed against the plain red pendentives of the dome as a background. The title of each is inscribed in gilt letters in a tablet in the frieze below. Beginning[63] with the figure directly to the right as one enters the west gallery of the Rotunda, the order is as follows: Religion, modelled by Mr. Theodore Baur; Commerce, by Mr. John Flanagan; History, by Mr. Daniel C. French; Art, by a French artist, Mr. Dozzi, after sketches by Mr. Augustus St. Gaudens; Philosophy, by Mr. Bela L. Pratt, who modelled the granite spandrels of the Main Entrance; Poetry, by Mr. J. Q. A. Ward; Law, by Mr. Paul W. Bartlett; and Science, by Mr. John Donoghue.


Nearly all bear some appropriate and distinguishing object. Religion holds a flower in her hand, seeming to draw from it the lesson of a God revealed in Nature. Commerce, crowned with a wreath of the peaceful olive, holds in her right hand a model of a Yankee schooner, and in her left a miniature locomotive. History has a book in her hand, and with an obvious symbolism holds up a hand-glass so that it will reflect things behind her. Art is unlike the other figures in being represented as nearly nude. She is crowned with laurel, and bears a model of the Parthenon. Beside her is a low tree, in the branches of which are hung a sculptor’s mallet and the palette and brush of the painter. Philosophy is a grave figure with downcast eyes, carrying a book in her hand. The garment of Poetry falls in severe lines, which suggest the epic and the more serious forms of the drama, rather than the lighter aspects of the Muse. Law has a scroll in her hand; a fold of her robe is drawn over her head to signify the solemnity of her mission; and beside her is the stone Tablet of the Law. Science holds in her left hand a globe of the earth, surmounted by a triangle. In her right hand is a mirror, not, like History’s, turned backward, but held forward so that all may perceive the image of Truth.

Above each statue the pendentive of the dome is occupied by a group in plaster, sculptured by Mr. Martiny, consisting of two winged geniuses, modelled as if half flying, half supported on the curve of the arches, and holding between them a large tablet carrying an inscription in gilt letters. Above the tablet is a pair of crossed palm-branches (meaning peace), and below are the lamp and open book symbolical of learning, these last being surrounded by an oak-wreath, typifying strength—the whole group thus signifying the power and beneficence of wisdom.

The inscriptions were selected by President Eliot of Harvard University, who several years before had furnished the memorable sentences carved upon the Water Gate at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Each is appropriate to the subject of the statue below it.


Thus, above the figure of Religion are the words:—

What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love

mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah vi, 8.

Above the figure of Commerce:—

We taste the spices of Arabia yet never feel the scorching sun

which brings them forth.


Above the figure of History:—

One God, one law, one element,

And one far-off divine event,

To which the whole creation moves.


Above the figure of Art:—

As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,

So nobleness enkindleth nobleness.


Above the figure of Philosophy:—

The inquiry, knowledge, and belief of truth is the sovereign good of

human nature.


Above the figure of Poetry:—

Hither, as to their fountain, other stars

Repairing, in their golden urns draw light.


Above the figure of Law:—

Of law there can be no less acknowledged than that her voice is the

harmony of the world.


Above the figure of Science:—

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth

his handiwork.

Psalms xix, 1.

The Portrait Statues.—The sixteen bronze statues set along the balustrade of the galleries represent men illustrious in the various forms of thought and activity typified in the figures just described. The arrangement of the statues is in pairs, each pair flanking one of the eight great piers of the Rotunda. The list of those who have been thus selected to stand as typical representatives of human development and civilization is as follows: Under Religion, Moses and St. Paul; Commerce, Columbus and Robert Fulton; History, Herodotus and Gibbon; Art, Michael Angelo (a single figure, but standing at once for Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting) and Beethoven; Philosophy, Plato and Lord Bacon; Poetry, Homer and Shakespeare; Law, Solon and Chancellor Kent (the author of the well-known Commentaries); Science, Newton and Professor Joseph Henry. The sculptors were: of the Moses and Gibbon, Mr. Charles H. Niehaus; St. Paul, Mr. John Donoghue (the sculptor of the figure of Science); Columbus and Michael Angelo, Mr. Paul W. Bartlett (who modelled the figure of Law); Fulton, Mr. Edward C. Potter; Herodotus, Mr. Daniel C. French (History); Beethoven, Mr. Theodore Baur (Religion); Plato and Bacon, Mr. John J. Boyle; Homer, Mr. Louis St. Gaudens; Shakespeare, Mr. Frederick Macmonnies (who did the central doors at the Main Entrance);[65] Solon, Mr. F. Wellington Ruckstuhl (the sculptor of the busts of Goethe, Macaulay, and Franklin, in the Entrance Portico); Kent, Mr. George Bissell; Newton, Mr. C. E. Dallin; and Henry, Mr. Herbert Adams, whom the visitor already knows for his work in connection with Mr. Warner on the bronze entrance doors, as well as for his little figures of Minerva in the Main Vestibule.

Of these figures, two, the Moses and St. Paul, are ideal, though modelled, in a general way, according to conventions long established in Christian art. The Solon is an original study, although, of course, aiming to be entirely Greek in spirit and costume. The Homer follows an ancient ideal bust. The Herodotus and Plato are studied from original Greek sculptures. The features of the other ten are taken from portraits from life, and the costumes are accurately copied from contemporary fashions.


The Moses of Mr. Niehaus holds the Table of the Law, and, like Michael Angelo’s famous figure, is horned—a curious convention which crept into art from an ancient mistranslation of a passage in Exodus. The St. Paul is a bearded figure, one hand on the hilt of a great two-edged sword, and the other holding a scroll. Mr. Ruckstuhl has conceived his Solon as the typical law-giver of the ancient world. He is represented as stepping forward, clothed in all the power of the state, to announce at a solemn gathering of the people the supremacy of Law over Force. A fold of his garment is drawn over his head with a certain priestly suggestion, as if the laws he proclaimed were of divine origin. He holds aloft, in his left hand, a scroll bearing the Greek words OI NOMOI, which, though meaning simply “The Law,” were understood as referring especially to Solon’s enactments. His right hand rests upon a sheathed and inverted sword, which is wreathed with laurel. The idea is that law has supplanted force, but that force is always ready to carry out the mandates of the law. Homer is represented with a staff in his hand and a wreath of laurel crowning his head. Mr. French represents Herodotus as a traveller, searching the known world for the materials of his histories. His garments are girt up, he bears a long staff in one hand, and shades his eyes with a scroll as he gazes into the distance to discover his destination. The Fulton carries a model of a steamboat, and the Henry an electro-magnet, for discoveries in electrical science. The Beethoven shows the composer with his hand uplifted as if to beat the measure of the harmony which has suddenly come into his mind—so suddenly that in the eagerness of his movement he has pulled the pocket of his greatcoat inside out. Mr. Macmonnies’s Shakespeare is a somewhat novel study, so far as the head is concerned; it is a composite of the portrait in the first collected edition of the Plays and of the Stratford bust. The figure of Kent wears the judicial ermine; he carries in one hand the manuscript[66] of his Commentaries, and holds a pen in the other. Of the other figures, some, like the Gibbon, carry a book or pen; but in most instances the sculptor has sought merely to give his subject an appropriately noble and contemplative attitude and expression, without trying to introduce any special symbol of his work.

Mr. Flanagan’s Clock. [10]—Still another piece of sculpture—the group ornamenting the great clock over the entrance to the Rotunda—remains to be spoken of before passing on to a description of the dome and Mr. Blashfield’s decorations. It is the work of Mr. John Flanagan, the sculptor of the figure of Commerce, and, taken altogether, is one of the most sumptuous and magnificent pieces of decoration in the Library. The clock itself is constructed of various brilliantly colored precious marbles, and is set against a background of mosaic, on which are displayed, encircling the clock, the signs of the zodiac, in bronze. Above is a life-size figure, executed in high relief in bronze, of Father Time, striding forward scythe in hand. To the left and right are the figures of maidens with children, also in bronze, representing the Seasons. The dial of the clock is about four feet in diameter; in the centre is a gilt glory, or “sunburst.” The hands, which are also gilded, are jewelled with semi-precious stones.


Including, of course, Mr. Weinert’s and Mr. Martiny’s work, it will be seen that no less than nineteen American sculptors have contributed to the decoration of the Rotunda. Considering the room—just for the moment, and for the sake of the special point of view—merely as a Gallery of Statuary, it will be seen how important and representative a collection of American sculpture has been brought together. The choosing of the sculptors to be commissioned, and of the work to be assigned to each—not only here but throughout the Library—were necessarily matters of very careful consideration. To aid in this work, General Casey secured the advice of the President of the National Sculpture Society (the authoritative organization in such matters), then as now Mr. J. Q. A. Ward, who associated with him as a committee two others of the most prominent members of the Society. This committee went into the question very thoroughly, and as a result recommended the sculptors for the Entrance Portico, the bronze entrance doors, the Commemorative Arch in the Staircase Hall, and the Rotunda. Their advice was accepted in toto, with the result, barring a few changes made necessary by subsequent circumstances, that the visitor has now seen.



The Lighting of the Rotunda.—The soffits of the arches upholding the dome are ornamented with a row of plain coffers; the larger arches which roof the alcoves within, carry a triple row of more elaborate coffers, each with a gilt rosette. The windows of stained glass, already spoken of as enclosed by these arches, are semicircular in form and measure thirty-two feet across at the base. They furnish the greater part of the light needed for the illumination of the room. No shadows are cast in any direction. Being so high above the floor, the light from them is much more effective than if they were nearer the level of the reader’s eye. They are better even than skylights, and with none of the disadvantages of skylights. Other sources of light are the various[68] little windows pierced in the four walls of the Octagon which face the interior courts; and, above, the eight windows of the Lantern. It has been said that no reading room in the world is so well lighted—so steadily, abundantly and uniformly, whether on the brightest or the darkest day. Mr. Blashfield’s paintings in the dome, for example, can hardly be said to receive direct light from a single window in the room, but for all that, so perfectly is the light diffused, they are as easily made out as any decorations in the building.

In the evening, the light, which is furnished entirely by electric lamps, is quite as perfect in its way as in the daytime. In the second story of the arcading of the marble screens, a brass rod runs between the capitals of each arch, supporting in the centre a brass star of eight points, each point an electric lamp of thirty-two-candle power. With seven of these in each screen (except the west, where Mr. Flanagan’s clock leaves room for only four), and eight screens, one has a total of four hundred and twenty-four lamps thus used. Above the cornice of the second entablature is a great ring containing three hundred and eight more. Similarly, a line of fifty lamps occurs at the bottom of each of the semicircular windows, making four hundred in all; and in the eye of the lantern, so placed, however, that the lamps themselves are invisible, is a second ring numbering forty-six. On the floor, the reading desks are equipped, altogether, with sixty-eight bronze standards, each bearing three lamps, or two hundred and four in all. Add the number, seventy-six, which serve to light the Distributing Desk and the lower story of the alcoves, and the result is a grand total of fourteen hundred and fifty-eight, and a total candle-power of upwards of forty thousand. When the current is turned on and all these lamps are lit, the Rotunda presents a spectacle of light and shadow worth going far to see.


The Semicircular Windows.—It is calculated that, by putting stained glass in the eight semicircular windows, the amount of light admitted has been diminished almost exactly one-eighth; in other words, the result is the same as if one of the eight had been quite closed up. The loss, of course, is hardly appreciated in a room sufficiently supplied with light from such a number of sources.

The windows are double, with about four inches between the two sashes. The glass used for the outside is plain, but of different degrees of translucency, according as it is necessary to prevent the entrance of direct sunshine, which,[69] if admitted, would be disagreeable to the occupant of the room and would distort the desirable even effect of the stained glass within. Thus, in the east and west, ribbed skylight glass is used; in the southeast, south, and southwest, ribbed and ground glass; while on the other three sides, where the sun never comes, the glass is left perfectly clear.

The cartoons for the stained glass were made by Mr. Schladermundt, after designs prepared by the architect, Mr. Casey. The ground is a crackled white, leaded throughout into small, square panes. In order to give an effect of boldness and strength, the windows are divided vertically by heavy iron bars. The design is surrounded by a richly colored border of laurel, combined with rosettes and Roman fasces. At the top, in the middle of each window, is the great seal of the United States, four feet high, surmounted by the American eagle, whose outstretched wings measure eight feet from tip to tip. To the right and left, following the curve of the window, are the seals of the States and Territories, three on a side, or six in each window, so that forty-eight—excluding only Alaska and Indian Territory—are contained in the eight windows. Torches alternate with the seals, and the fasces are introduced at the bottom.

The name of the State or Territory is inscribed above each seal, with the date of the year in which it was admitted to the Union, or organized under a territorial form of government. The seals occur in the order of their dates, the series beginning with the Thirteen Original States—which start in the easterly window in the order in which they signed the Constitution—and continuing around the room to the three Territories of New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma. Taken all in all they form one of the most interesting decorations in the Library, for the reason that the artist has succeeded in making a harmonious whole out of a very heterogeneous collection of designs. The originals, of course, were separately drawn, often by persons unacquainted with heraldry, and never with any particular thought of fitting them into a single series like the present. The result is that these originals show the greatest diversity of treatment. The key, so to speak, is continually changing. Sometimes, for example, a figure introduced in the foreground is dwarfed by an altogether disproportionate background, while in other cases the figure overpowers everything else; copied exactly, any heraldic or artistic unity of effect would be entirely lacking. Accordingly, after getting together a complete collection of the seals—in every instance an authentic impression of the original obtained from the State secretary—Mr. Schladermundt re-drew, and often almost redesigned his material to bring it into accordance with his decorative scheme. Just what it was that Mr. Schladermundt undertook to do may best be seen in the accompanying engravings of the Seal of Kansas, the first giving the seal as used on official papers, the second copied from Mr. Schladermundt’s cartoon. It will be seen that the spirit of the seal and its heraldic intention are the same in both. The only difference is that in Mr. Schladermundt’s design certain changes of proportion have been made to make the seal harmonize with the style to which the artist wished to have all his designs adhere. In many cases, particularly in the seals of the Thirteen Original States, the original has hardly been changed at all. In the seal of the State of Washington, indeed, which consists merely of a portrait of Washington himself, Mr. Schladermundt has unobtrusively added the Washington arms in the upper corner of the design, in order to suggest the desirable heraldic conventionality more fully; occasionally,[70] too, it has been necessary to omit certain minor details as being unsuited to the breadth of treatment necessary in stained glass—but, as a rule, Mr. Schladermundt has followed very carefully the specifications contained in the authoritative legislative enactments.


The Dome.—A vertical section of the dome of the Rotunda would show an exact half circle, with a diameter of one hundred feet. As has been said before, the dome is of stucco, applied to a framework of iron and steel, filled in with terra cotta. Although, as previously described, it appears to rest upon the deep upper entablature, it really springs immediately from the eight arches resting upon the great piers. The entablature, as will be seen on a close inspection, bears no part in the construction. It is projected so far forward from the dome that one may easily walk between the two.

The entablature is about seven feet high, with a richly moulded architrave and a heavy projecting cornice. The ground of the frieze is gilt, with a relief ornament in white of eagles standing upon hemispheres and holding in their beaks a heavy garland of laurel. Over the north, south, east, and west arches, are two female figures—the work of Mr. Philip Martiny—represented as seated upon the architrave moulding and supporting a heavy cartouche—another instance of the emphasis which the architect has so often placed upon the four main axes of the building.


The Stucco Ornamentation.—The dome is so simply planned that a description of its main features may be given in a very brief space. The surface is filled with a system of square coffers. The ornamentation of the body of the dome is in arabesque. The eight ribs which mark off the dome into compartments are each divided into two by a band of gilded ornament resembling a guilloche. The coffers diminish in size from four and a half feet square at the bottom to two and a half feet at the top. The total number of coffers is three hundred and twenty—or forty in each compartment, and also in each horizontal row, and eight in each vertical row. The ground of the coffers is blue, the sky-color, as if one were really looking out into the open air—and therefore the color traditionally used in coffering. To give sparkle and brilliancy, many shades and kinds of blue are used, the darker and heavier at the bottom, and the lighter and airier toward the top. The transition is so gradual and natural that the eye does not perceive any definite change, but only a generally increased vividness. The border mouldings of the coffers are cream-colored—old ivory is the usual term—strongly touched with gold, and in the centre of each is a great gold rosette.


Although the purpose of the dome arabesque is primarily to give an agreeable impression of light and shade, the individual figures of which it is composed are nearly as interesting a study as the general effect of the whole. The variety of the figures is almost bewildering—lions’ heads, sea-horses, dolphins, urns, cartouches, griffins, shells, storks, caryatides, tridents, eagles, cherubs, half-figures, geniuses—altogether something like forty-five principal type-designs, interwoven with very many smaller but no less beautiful pieces of ornament. All are adapted from Renaissance models of the best and purest period, and are combined with the utmost spirit and harmony in an arabesque whose every portion has equal artistic value. No single figure catches the eye; broad horizontal and vertical bands of decoration, gradually diminishing as they approach the top, encircle and ascend the dome, each with its particular “note” of arrangement and design, but all cunningly united to form an indisputable whole, everywhere balanced and restrained.


It may be of interest to the visitor to learn that one of the most novel and ingenious pieces of engineering connected with the construction of the Library was a so-called “travelling” or rotary scaffold, devised by Mr. Green for the use of the workmen employed on the stucco decorations of the dome. It may be likened to a huge pair of steps, ascending from the upper entablature to the lantern. Its upper end thrust against an iron pintle secured to beams laid across the eye of the lantern, and was steadied at the bottom by a pair of flanged wheels, which travelled on a track in the entablature, so that the whole apparatus could be traversed entirely round the room. The various stages or landings were adjusted to fit the concave of the dome, with the result that the accuracy of the curve could be tested with almost mathematical exactness. At one time two of these scaffolds were swung to the same pintle.

Mr. Blashfield’s Paintings.—The position of Mr. Blashfield’s decorations in the Collar and Lantern of the dome is the noblest and most inspiring in the Library. They are literally and obviously the crowning glory of the building, and put the final touch of completion on the whole decorative scheme of the interior. The visitor will see how, without them, not a painting in the building would seem to remain solidly and easily in its place, for they occupy not only the highest, but the exact central point of the Library, to which, in a sense, every other is merely relative.

As was hinted in the description of Mr. Vedder’s paintings, Mr. Blashfield was almost necessarily drawn to select some such subject as he has here chosen—the Evolution of Civilization, the records of which it is the function of a great library to gather and preserve.

The ceiling of the Lantern is sky and air, against which, as a background, floats the beautiful female figure representing the Human Understanding,[72] lifting her veil and looking upward from Finite Intellectual Achievement (typified in the circle of figures in the collar) to that which is beyond; in a word, Intellectual Progress looking upward and forward. She is attended by two cherubs, or geniuses; one holds the book of wisdom and knowledge, the other seems, by his gesture, to be encouraging those beneath to persist in their struggle towards perfection.

The decoration of the collar consists of a ring of twelve seated figures, male and female, ranged against a wall of mosaic patterning. They are of colossal size, measuring, as they sit, about ten feet in height. They represent the twelve countries, or epochs, which have contributed most to the development of present-day civilization in this country. Beside each is a tablet, decorated with palms, on which is inscribed the name of the country typified, and below this, on a continuous banderole or streamer, is the name of some chief or typical contribution of that country to the sum of human excellence. The figures follow each other in chronological order, beginning, appropriately enough, at the East, the East being the cradle of civilization. The list is as follows: Egypt, typifying Written Records; Judea, Religion; Greece, Philosophy; Rome, Administration; Islam, Physics; The Middle Ages, Modern Languages; Italy, the Fine Arts; Germany, the Art of Printing; Spain, Discovery; England, Literature; France, Emancipation; and America, Science.


Each figure is winged, as representing an ideal, but the wings, which overlap each other regularly throughout, serve mainly to unite the composition in a continuous whole, and in no case have been allowed to hamper the artist in his effort to make each figure the picture of a living, breathing man or woman. Four of the twelve figures, it will be observed, stand out more conspicuously than the rest on account of the lighter tone of their drapery—Egypt, Rome, Italy, and England. They occupy respectively the east, south, west, and north points in the decoration, and furnish another instance of the stress that has been laid, throughout the Library, upon the four cardinal points of the compass which govern the axial lines of the building, and which in turn have been enriched and dignified in the final decorative scheme of the interior. Each of these axial figures is painted in a more rigid attitude than those beside it, and forms, as will be noticed, the centre of a triad, or group of three, each of the flanking figures leaning more or less obviously toward it. It should be noted that there was no intention on the part of the painter to magnify the importance of the four figures thus represented over any of the others. The emphasis of color is solely for decorative purposes. The arrangement being chronological, Mr. Blashfield was unable to exercise much control over the order in which each figure should occur, and still retain his original selection of countries.

Egypt is represented by a male figure clad in the waistcloth and cap with lappets so familiar in the ancient monuments. The idea of Written Records[73] is brought out by the tablet he supports with his left hand, on which is inscribed in hieroglyphics the cartouche or personal seal of Mena, the first recorded Egyptian king; and by the case of books at his feet, which is filled with manuscript rolls of papyrus, the Egyptian paper. Besides the idea of Writing and Recording, Mr. Blashfield brings out the fact that the Egyptians were among the first who held the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. The figure holds in the right hand the Tau, or cross with a ring head, the emblem of life both in this world and beyond it; and on the tablet behind his feet is the winged ball, the more familiar symbol of the same idea.

Judea is shown as a woman lifting her hands in an ecstatic prayer to Jehovah. The over-garment which she wears falls partly away, and discloses the ephod, which was a vestment worn by the high priests, ornamented with a jewelled breastplate and with onyx shoulder clasps set in gold, on which were engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. On the face of a stone pillar set beside her is inscribed, in Hebrew characters, the injunction, as found in Leviticus, xix, 18: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself—a sentence selected as being perhaps the noblest single text contributed by the Jewish race to the system of modern morality. In her lap is a scroll, containing, presumably, a portion of the Scriptures; and at her feet is a censer, typical of the Hebrew ritualism.


The figure of Greece is distinctly suggestive, so far as attitude and drapery are concerned, of one of the beautiful little Tanagra figures of terra-cotta—so called from the ancient Greek town in which they were first discovered—which are so familiar to students of Greek art. A bronze lamp is set beside her, and in her lap is a scroll—the emblems of wisdom. Her head is crowned with a diadem—possibly with a reference to the City of the Violet Crown, Athens, the Mother of Philosophy.

Rome, the second axial figure, wears the armor of a centurion, or captain in a legion. A lion’s skin, the mark of a standard-bearer, is thrown over him, the head covering the top of his casque. The whole conception is that of the just but inexorable administration of Rome founded upon the power of its arms. One foot is planted upon the lower drum of a marble column, signifying stability. His right arm rests upon the fasces, or bundle of rods, the typical emblem of the Roman power and rule. In his right hand he holds the baton of command.


Islam is an Arab, standing for the Moorish race which introduced into Europe not only an improved science of Physics, as here used by Mr. Blashfield in its older and less restricted sense—but of mathematics and astronomy also. His foots rests upon a glass retort, and he is turning over the leaves of a book of mathematical calculations.

By the term Middle Ages, represented by the female figure which comes next in the decoration, is usually understood the epoch beginning with the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire in 455 and ending with the discovery of America in 1492. No single country is here indicated, for Europe was throughout that period in a state of flux, so to say, in the movement of which the principal modern languages were finally evolved from the Latin and Teutonic tongues. But it was an epoch notable for many other things, also. The figure typifying the epoch is distinguished by an expression at once grave and passionate, and has a sword, casque and cuirass, emblematic of the great institution of Chivalry; a model of a cathedral, standing for Gothic Architecture, which was brought to its greatest perfection in these thousand years; and a papal tiara and the keys of St. Peter, signifying mediæval devotion and the power of the Church.


The next figure, Italy—the Italy of the Renaissance—is shown with symbols of four of the Fine Arts which she represents—Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Music. She holds a palette in her left hand, and with the brush in her right seems about to lay another stroke of color on her canvas. To her left is a statuette after Michael Angelo’s celebrated David, in Florence. At her feet is a Renaissance capital; and leaning against the wall a violin, at once the typical musical instrument and that in the manufacture of which the Italians peculiarly excelled.

Germany is the printer, turning from his press—a hand-press, accurately copied from early models—to examine the proof-sheet he has just pulled. His right foot is placed upon a pile of sheets already corrected, and a roller for inking lies convenient to his hand.


Spain is the sixteenth century Spanish adventurer. He wears a steel morion on his head, and is clad in a leathern jerkin. Holding the tiller of a ship in his right hand, he seems to be watching for land to appear in the sea. Beside him is a globe of the earth, and at his feet a model of a caravel, the sort of ship in which Columbus sailed on his voyages, is introduced.

England wears the ruff and full sleeves of the time of Elizabeth—the era when English Literature, both poetry and prose, was at its highest. She is crowned with laurel—the reward of literature—and bears in her lap an open book of Shakespeare’s Plays—the right-hand page with a facsimile of the title-page of the first edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, dated 1600.


France, standing for Emancipation and the great revolutionary upheaval of the eighteenth century, is dressed in a characteristic garb of the First Republic—a jacket with lapels, a tricolor scarf, and a liberty-cap with a tricolor cockade. She sits on a cannon and carries a drum, a bugle, and a sword—emblems of her military crusade in behalf of liberty. In her left hand she displays a scroll bearing the words “Les Droits de l’Homme,” the famous Declaration of the Rights of Man adopted by the French Assembly in 1789.

The twelfth and last figure, bringing us once more round to the east, is that of America—represented as an engineer, in the garb of the machine-shop, sitting lost in thought over a problem of mechanics he has encountered. He leans his chin upon the palm of one hand, while the other holds the scientific book which he has been consulting. In front of him is an electric dynamo—recalling the part which the United States has taken in the advancement of electrical science.

On the base of the dynamo, Mr. Blashfield has signed his work in an inscription which recalls also the name of the artist who assisted him in laying it upon the plaster: “These decorations were designed and executed by Edwin Howland Blashfield, assisted by Arthur Reginald Willett, A. D. MDCCCLXXXXVI.”


The visitor will perhaps have been a little perplexed by the familiar appearance of some of the faces in Mr. Blashfield’s decoration. It is an interesting fact that in several cases Mr. Blashfield has introduced a resemblance, more or less distinct, to the features of some real person in order to give greater variety, and, above all, greater vitality to his figures. The persons chosen were selected because the character of their features seemed to him peculiarly suited to the type which he wished to represent. In the case of Abraham Lincoln—the figure of America—and of General Casey—the Germany—the choice was fitting for other reasons. Among the female figures, The Middle Ages is Mrs. De Navarro (Mary Anderson), and England, Miss Ellen Terry. The faces of Italy and Spain are from sketches made from Miss Amy Rose, a young sculptor in New York, and Mr. William Bailey Faxon, the painter, respectively. France suggests the features of the artist’s wife. Throughout, however, it must be remembered that, to use Mr. Blashfield’s own words, “no portraiture has been attempted, but only characterization.”


The Rotunda Color Scheme.—One can hardly leave this description of the decoration of the Rotunda without a word respecting the general color scheme. Beginning with the brown, red, and yellow marbles at the base, one ends with the pure whites and bright greens and violets of Mr. Blashfield’s final decoration. The difference between these two extremes has been bridged over by the use of harmonizing colors on the walls and in the dome. The Pompeiian red of the alcove walls and the pendentives is suggested by the Numidian marble of the piers. A touch of brown on the wall below the semicircular windows echoes the brown Tennessee base, and the yellow predominant in the alcove arches above derives from the Sienna screens. These last, again, in their lightest portions, strike the key for the “old ivory”—the delicate gray yellow—which, either deeper or lighter, is always the ruling tone of the entablature, the dome, and the sculptural figures in plaster. The coffers of the dome, one will notice by looking closely, are defined by a narrow band of yellow or red—yellow throughout one whole compartment, and red in the next. The former carries up (more markedly than in the ivory-toned stucco) the color of the screens; the latter the color of the piers. The blue ground, moreover, and the yellow stripe create together, whether one will or not, an impression of green upon the eye, because green is compounded of blue and yellow; and the blue and the red, in turn, create an impression of violet, for a similar reason. Thus, the visitor, glancing up to the decorations of the collar, is already prepared for Mr. Blashfield’s two dominating tones. The white is expected as the natural result of a color scheme which has been steadily growing lighter from the beginning, and, after being used in Mr. Blashfield’s painting, it is at last appropriately employed almost[77] solely in the lantern which crowns the whole Rotunda. Finally, considering the room as a whole, it will be noted that the profuse use of gold throughout the dome and lantern is not only legitimately suggested by the Sienna marble, but of itself helps to keep the various colors—in marble or stucco—in what may be called a more complete “state of solution” than would otherwise have been possible. By attracting attention to itself, it softens the contrasts between the other colors.

The floor of the Rotunda is a kind of mosaic, known as terrazzo, ornamented with great concentric bands of Tennessee marble. Terrazzo, sometimes called “chip mosaic” or “granito,” is made by sprinkling a layer of small pieces of marble upon a bed of Portland cement, rolling it all down so that the pieces are thoroughly embedded, and, after it is dry, rubbing it down smooth with sandstone. When carefully prepared, it makes an especially durable floor.


Provision for Readers.—The reading desks are arranged in three circles, surrounding the Distributing Desk as a centre. Each row contains eight desks, leaving room between for aisles radiating from the central desk. They are constructed of dark, heavy mahogany, and are supported on iron standards with gratings admitting warm or fresh air, for heating and ventilation. The inmost row is a combination of reading-tables, settees, and standing writing-desks, with shelves for reference books,—encyclopædias, dictionaries, directories, atlases, etc.,—of which there is a very full selection. The outer rows are double-faced, and arranged exclusively for persons reading and studying. Allowing each a space of four feet, the desks are capable of seating altogether two hundred and forty-six readers. Including the alcoves, which, on account of the number of separate spaces they contain, are well adapted to the use of special students, particularly those desiring to turn over a large number of books at one time, the total number of readers that can be accommodated in the Rotunda is two hundred and eighty-nine.

The Distributing Desk is surrounded by a circular counter for attendants, and for delivering and receiving books, and cases containing a card catalogue of the Library, arranged alphabetically in shallow drawers according to the subject, author, and title. It has been the policy of the Library from the beginning, moreover, to issue its catalogue in printed volumes, new editions being prepared as the old ones became obsolete on account of fresh accessions. Of late years, however, the Library has grown so enormously that the annual appropriations of Congress have not been sufficient to warrant this undertaking.[78] The latest volumes were published in 1881, and carried the catalogue only through the letter “C.”

Within the enclosures formed by these various desks and cabinets is a small elevator for bringing books by the truck-load from the basement story. The Distributing Desk itself is built of mahogany, ornamented with panelling and carving. On the east side it consists of a high station for the use of the Superintendent—the officer in charge in the Rotunda—who is thus able to keep in touch with everything doing in the room. On the other side is a cabinet containing the terminus of the system of book-carrying apparatus connecting the Reading Room and Stacks, and in the centre is a stairway leading to the basement. Along the front of the desk, also, is a row of twenty-four pneumatic tubes for the transmission of messages, either in cylindrical pouches, as in the case of the written applications which those desiring to draw books are required to make out, or verbally, by means of a mouth-piece with which each tube is equipped. Nine tubes go to the North Stack and nine to the South Stack, or one for every floor. Four go to the East Stack, or one to every other floor. An attendant for any portion of the stack system can thus be reached at a moment’s notice. Of the other two tubes, one goes to the Librarian’s Room and the other connects with the Capitol.

Each tube is numbered, and is operated by pressing a button, the action of which indicates, also, when the pouch is delivered at the other end. Each tube terminates in a separate bronze case or box, which is heavily cushioned, and closed by self-shutting glass doors in order to prevent noise. The tube enters at the bottom, and the pouch is thrown against a curved “hood,” so called, which guides it to one side so that it may not fall back into the mouth of the tube.


The Book-Carrying Apparatus.—The main features of the book-carrying apparatus were suggested by Mr. Green, although worked out with the assistance of ingenious mechanics. The apparatus is in two parts, each separately operated, the first of which connects with the North Stack and the second with the South Stack. The East Stack is so much less extensive than the other two that it was thought more economical to rely solely upon the services of the attendants for the delivery and return of the books it contained. Each section of the apparatus (north or south) consists of a pair of endless chains kept continuously in motion, at the rate of about one hundred feet a minute, by means of power furnished by an electric dynamo. These two chains run from the terminal cabinet to the basement; thence on a level to the stacks; and from there directly up a small well to the top floor, where they turn and descend.

The cable carries eighteen trays, distributed at regular intervals. Each tray is capable of carrying a volume the size of the ordinary quarto, (say eleven[79] inches by ten, and four inches thick), or its equivalent in smaller volumes. Larger books must be carried by hand down the elevator with which each stack is provided. The tray is of brass, made in the form of a hooked comb, the ends of the teeth being left free. The terminal cabinet and all the stack stories are provided with toothed slides, the teeth of which engage with those of the trays, and rake off or deliver the books, as the case may be. If one bends and slightly opens the fingers of both hands, and then draws the fingers of one through those of the other, the general principle of the arrangement will immediately be seen. The tray, however, can receive books only when going up, and can deliver them only when coming down. When a book is received by a slide it falls into a padded basket, ready to be taken to its place on the shelves or delivered to the reader. When the attendant desires to deliver a book to the Rotunda, he places it on the slide, and sets the latter so that it will be ready to meet the first tray which arrives. In returning books, the officer at the Distributing Desk must set a little lever on a dial at the number of the stack for which the book is intended. When the tray approaches the proper floor, the slide is automatically pushed out to receive the load.


Connection with the Capitol.—It is calculated that, by means of the pneumatic tubes and the book-carrying apparatus, it will require no more than six or seven minutes to bring a book from the stacks, from the time it is first called for. Valuable, however, as is the use of machinery in connecting widely distant portions of the Library, it is even more important as a factor in bringing together the Library itself and the Capitol, where hardly an hour passes, during a session of Congress, but some member desires to draw books for immediate use in debate or committee work. The distance between the two buildings is about a quarter of a mile (twelve hundred and seventy-five feet). This is covered by a tunnel having at one end a terminus in the basement almost immediately beneath the Distributing Desk, and at the other end in a room in the Capitol about midway between the Senate and House of Representatives. The tunnel is built of brick, is perfectly dry, and about six feet high and four feet wide, or just large enough for a man to enter and make any needed repairs. An endless cable, kept moving by a similar force to that which supplies the apparatus connecting with the stacks, carries two trays back and forth between the terminals, receiving and delivering books by the same arrangement of teeth as has just been described. The trays are much larger, however, than the others, and are capable of containing the largest volumes, such as bound volumes of newspapers. The speed at which the cable runs is about six hundred feet a minute, delivering a book at the Capitol within three minutes after it has left the Library. In addition to the book-carrier, the tunnel contains the pneumatic tube already spoken of, and the wires of private telephones connecting the two Houses of Congress with the Distributing Desk. So quickly can a[80] message be sent and a book returned, that it is said that a Congressman can get the volumes he desires in less time than it would have taken him when the Library occupied its old quarters in the Capitol itself.


From the point of view of library equipment and management, however, the three great book-stacks radiating from the Rotunda are the most interesting and remarkable feature of the building. They were entirely planned by Mr. Bernard R. Green, the engineer in charge of the construction of the Library. The word “planned,” indeed, is hardly adequate; “invented” would be nearer the exact fact. The idea of a book-stack, as distinguished from a mere arrangement of bookcases, is so new that such examples as were in existence when Mr. Green entered upon the work were imperfect in many very important points.


The root purpose of a book-stack, of course, is to make it capable of holding the greatest number of volumes in the smallest possible space—always, however, bearing in mind that every book must be perfectly accessible and so placed that it can be easily and quickly handled. The space being limited and the number of volumes large, the old way of arranging cases along the walls, even when the wall space is materially increased by dividing a room into alcoves, has to be abandoned in favor of a more compact system. The modern substitute is to erect the cases in stories, or tiers, with corridors and passages only large enough to give convenient access to the books. Throughout, the aim of the builder is to dispose of every inch of space as economically as possible. Of the three stacks in the Library of Congress, those to the north and south are, as the visitor has seen, the largest, each having a length of one hundred and twelve feet against thirty for the East Stack. All three are of the same width, however—forty-five feet—and the same height—sixty-three feet. The method of construction is the same throughout, and each is absolutely fireproof, the only materials used being steel, iron, brick, glass, and marble. Few things which can be destroyed by fire at all are more difficult to burn than books, and a fire in the stacks, even if carefully nursed by an incendiary, could hardly do more than a trifling injury.

Arrangement and Construction.—The stacks are divided into nine tiers, each tier being seven feet high, and into an equal number of stories the same distance apart. This distance was adopted in order that the books on the highest shelf of a tier might not be beyond the convenient reach of a man of average height, or so far away that he could not easily read their titles. By the present arrangement every book can be handled or its title read without effort.

The stacks begin at the basement story, which is fourteen feet below the level of the floor of the Rotunda. They are sixty-three feet in height—the sum, that is,[81] of the nine seven-foot stories—and are topped by an iron covering, so that any water which might by accident come through the roof would be shed without harming the books. The construction of the shelving is entirely of steel and iron. The unit of construction, as it may be technically called, is a steel column erected on a firm foundation and extending the height of the stack. There are over three hundred of them in each of the two large stacks. At the bottom of every tier above the basement is a horizontal framework of steel bars, running between the columns, the length and width of the stack, and securely anchored to the walls. These cross-pieces perform a double service: they brace the upright columns and prevent them from bending under the weight they bear, and they are supports on which to lay the decks. The cases, that is, do not rest on the flooring, but the flooring on the general system of the cases. It may be added that with the strong and simple framing that is used the stacks might very well have been carried a dozen stories higher without materially increasing the size of the columns.

The ranges—by which is meant the cases for books—are of iron, divided into six compartments by partitions bolted to the columns. They are double-faced, each side being a foot deep, and have no backs. On the front edge of each partition are blunt teeth, and near the back edge is a vertical row of horns, both serving to hold the shelves in place. The ranges are at right angles with the wall, so that there is no opportunity for the occurrence of what are called “dead angles”—waste spaces in which it is impossible to put books.


The ranges are nineteen and a quarter feet long, and in both of the larger stacks are forty-two in number, twenty-one on each side of the stack, leaving a corridor between every story the length of the gallery. Between them are aisles three feet four inches wide. Near the middle of the stack a couple of ranges are omitted to give room for staircases up and down, an elevator well, large enough to carry an attendant and a truck-load of books; and the shaft or well for the book-carriage service.

The decks themselves are of white marble, two and a half feet wide in the aisles and five and a half in the corridors, set in an iron frame. This leaves a five-inch slit on either side, between it and the range. The space is too narrow and too close to the range for anyone to step through, and in order that any small article may not roll off, the deck is protected by a raised edge. It would, of course, be possible, though difficult, to drop a book down the slit, in which case, however, it would be very sure to lodge long before it struck the basement floor. If found necessary, any such accident could be prevented by protecting the opening with a wire netting. The advantages of an open space are many, however: attendants may speak to one another from deck to deck without the trouble of going to the stairways; light is diffused through it; and it keeps the books on the lower shelves from damage, either by being[82] carelessly struck by the foot or one of the wheeled trucks used to carry books from the shelves to the elevator well.

Ventilation and Heating.—Especially, by allowing a free circulation of air, these desk-slits help to heat and ventilate the stacks. Ventilation is especially important. Books require pure air almost as much as human beings do; if they do not get it they grow “musty,” and gradually decay. As will have been seen, the whole structure of the stack is open; nothing is closed, even the partitions in the ranges being made in the form of gratings. The system of ventilation and heating is one and the same, and both require the freest circulation of air. Air is taken into the cellar through the windows looking out into the court-yards, first, however, passing through filters of cotton cloth to exclude all dust; after being warmed it ascends through gratings to the roof, where it passes out through ventilating flues. In this way the temperature is everywhere kept very nearly even. Electric fans are ready for use in case of any sluggishness in the circulation, and in summer are also used for sending cooled air into the stack.

The Shelving.—The shelves themselves are open, being composed of parallel strips of steel with a narrow space between. The total number of shelves in the three stacks is sixty-nine thousand two hundred. Each is one foot wide and thirty-eight inches long, with a total length of forty and a half miles. They are capable of sustaining a weight of forty pounds a square foot—more than will ever be required of them—with practically no deflection. Nevertheless, though so much stiffer, they are as light as the ordinary board shelf of the same size. They can be easily and quickly adjusted at any height, without the need of pegs or loose screws. Once in place they cannot slip or tip, and being made in a uniform size (with some small exceptions for certain irregular spaces around stairways, etc.), every shelf is available for use anywhere. There are no rough edges or projections on which a book can wear, and the parallel strips of steel are rounded and highly polished by means of the Bower-Barff process of coating with magnetic oxide of iron, so that the surface is as smooth as glass—which not only helps to preserve the books, but can offer no lodgement for dust or insects. The open spaces, also, afford an opportunity for using a workable book-brace, specially devised by Mr. Green.

Furthermore, the shelves can be removed from any compartment as desired, and space thus made for a table, a cabinet, or a desk, as needed; or an extra corridor can be at once opened for any distance. Then again, in case of the extra large books, sufficient space may be made by placing the shelves of both sides of the range on a level.


Lighting.—No point was more carefully studied in the construction of the stacks than the lighting. Preliminary plans requiring an immense amount of labor were made, showing the amount of direct sunlight which any portion of the three arms would receive at any hour of the day, any month in the year. Skylights along the line of the corridors help light the upper tiers. The walls are honeycombed with windows from top to bottom. In the north and south stacks there are no less than three hundred and sixty. They occur at the ends of the passageways between the ranges, being placed at the intersections of the decks, so that each may diffuse direct light into two tiers at once. In this way there can be no perceptible difference in the amount of light cast into the upper and lower portions of the tiers. At the end of each passageway the window is fitted with a seat for the use of the readers admitted[83] to the stacks, or attendants. Ground glass is employed for the windows on the east side of the south stack, where the sunlight is so abundant and continuous that it would be inconvenient if admitted, besides being likely to cause the bindings of the books to fade; everywhere else the clear open plates invite the entrance of all the illumination which can be obtained. Each window consists of a single piece of polished plate glass three feet wide, and permanently[84] sealed, so that no dust or moisture can ever penetrate it. In order to wash the glass from the outside the wall is fitted at convenient intervals with skeleton galleries. The courts themselves give an abundance of full, bright light; and that none of it may be wasted, and in order that it may be evenly distributed through the tiers, both at the bottom and top of the stacks, the walls of the courts are constructed of yellow enamelled brick, which makes an admirable reflector, on rainy as well as on sunny days. Inside, the marble decks are highly polished, so that they, too, serve as efficient reflectors, casting the light which they receive into every nook and cranny of the stack. Evenings, the light is furnished by incandescent lamps, with which the passages and corridors are abundantly equipped, and here again the polished decks serve a most useful purpose in diffusing the brilliant illumination throughout the whole system of shelving. Altogether, it may be very confidently stated that no great collection of books was ever before so thoroughly and conveniently lighted, whether in the day or at night.


Before leaving the Rotunda it should be added that it is possible to ascend into the Lantern by taking either of the winding iron staircases in the piers on the left and right of the west gallery. The staircases in all the piers carry one up into the space between the two shells of the dome, where it will be necessary from time to time for workmen to go in order to paint the iron framing and thus preserve it from rust and decay, but only these two are open to the public. On the way up one has a chance to observe the interesting construction of the dome; and in the Lantern, which is left unfinished except in the portions seen from below, one may look over the parapet and down into the Rotunda.

By taking the staircase to the right, moreover—to the right as one originally enters the gallery from the Entrance Hall, that is—one reaches a door through which one may pass out to a little gallery encircling the Rotunda in the open air and affording a beautiful view of Washington and the surrounding country.

Or, if one chooses to defer this little expedition, it is possible to make the trip without retracing one’s steps by taking the elevator on the first story of the Entrance Hall and getting out on the attic floor, from which one may enter either of the two stairways just described.


In going through the various galleries and pavilions of the Rectangle it is perhaps more logical to begin on the library floor, but supposing the visitor to be about to leave the Rotunda by the way in which he has come, it will save a little time to take the second story first. Both are alike, so far as the arrangement of rooms is concerned, except that on the first story one leaves the Entrance Hall by a narrow corridor, while above one enters the galleries directly. The arrangement is very simple, as will be seen by looking at the plan of the building. The pavilions are connected by long galleries, two on the west and east sides, where the Rectangle is interrupted by the centre pavilions, and one each on the north and south sides. The corner pavilions of both floors[85] contain octagonal-shaped rooms, which, in the second story, have domed ceilings and mosaic floors, and are richly embellished with paintings and sculpture and relief decoration in stucco. The East Pavilion contains a small staircase and a good sized but plainly finished room on both stories.

The rooms on the second story are intended for the most part as exhibition halls for the display of works of art which have come into the possession of the Library through the operation of the copyright law, or of books and manuscripts of special interest on account of their rarity and curiosity. One room, for example, is intended to contain a collection of early printed books and, in general, such volumes as best illustrate the history of printing; another room is for books relating to the early history of America. The North Gallery is the Map Room; the South Gallery is the Print Room, for engravings, lithographs, etchings, photographs, etc., illustrating the progress and development of the reproductive arts.


There is space here to speak only of the more richly decorated of these rooms—the corner pavilions and the two galleries on the west side. The others, as the visitor will see in walking through them, require no special description. The walls are decorated in broad masses of plain color, with deep friezes of simple but interesting patterns. The decoration varies from room to room, but all are united in a single intelligent harmony of color. Each contains a long skylight surrounded by a stucco border left plain in most of the[86] galleries, but in the Print Room enriched by coffering decorated with gilt “cherubs’ wings.” The skylights are ornamented with a simple design of stained glass. The chief colors employed are purple and pale green and yellow, and the design includes the names of men distinguished in American history and in art, letters, and science.[11]


The chief decorations of the gallery into which one goes from the South Corridor of the Entrance Hall are two large tympanums by Mr. Kenyon Cox, one at each end of the room over the triple doors by which one enters or leaves. For the rest, the room is lighted, like the other galleries, on both sides, so that one may look out toward the Capitol, or, on the east, into one of the interior courts. The ceiling is an elliptical barrel vault, rising to a height of twenty-nine feet. It is set with square coffers in blue and gold, and divided by double ribs which spring from the paired pilasters. Between the pilasters a bright-colored arabesque is introduced, in which blue is the prevailing color. It is continued in the ceiling by an arabesque in relief, the most conspicuous features of which are seated cherubs, and medallions with the letters “C. L.”—standing for “Congressional Library.” The floor is Vermont, Italian, and Georgia marble, laid in square panels, so as to reflect, in a way, the pattern of the coffers in the ceiling above.

Mr. Cox’s Paintings.—Mr. Cox’s tympanums are thirty-four feet long and nine and a half feet high. At the south end of the room the subject of the decoration is The Sciences, and at the north end, The Arts. The panels are similar in composition, occupying as they do exactly corresponding positions. On each the design is drawn together by a low marble balustrade, at the centre of which is a semicircular recess enclosing a kind of throne or high marble seat. At either end of the recess, so as to come directly over a pilaster occurring between the doors, is a post bearing a tripod on which incense is burning. The effect is to carry the lines of the architecture below up into the painting.


In the panel of The Arts, the central throne is occupied by the figure of Poetry, represented as a young and beautiful woman crowned with laurel and bearing an antique lyre. She is seated in an attitude of immediate inspiration, the fold of her garment blowing in the wind, her left hand raised from the chord which she has just struck upon the lyre, and her lips parted in a burst of song. On the steps of her throne are two little geniuses, one writing down[87] her words on a tablet, and the other raising his arms in sympathy as he joins in the rhythmical swing of her song. The first may be taken as personifying the more strictly literary and reflective side of poetry, and the other as standing for its feeling for harmony and music, or, in general, the lyrical element in poetry. In the left-hand portion of the decoration are Architecture and Music, and to the right, Sculpture and Painting—all typified by female figures bearing some appropriate object identifying the art which they represent. Architecture is conceived as the sternest and most dignified of the arts, as shown by her expression of proud abstraction and the severe lines of her drapery. She holds a miniature marble column, and her head is crowned with a circlet of battlements. Music is playing upon a violin, and looking the while upon the pages of a great music-book which a kneeling genius holds open before her. Beside her is a violoncello. Sculpture holds a statuette of a nude female figure, and talks with Painting, who has a palette and brushes. The latter, as representing the gentler and more luxurious art, is shown partly nude, and leaning her head affectionately upon the shoulder of her companion. In the corner of the picture are[88] a vase and two large plates in different styles of decorated pottery—standing for the minor decorative arts.


In the tympanum of The Sciences the central figure is Astronomy. She holds a pair of compasses, and leans forward on her throne to make measurements upon the celestial globe which a genius holds up before her. Another genius to the right looks through a telescope. To the left of the panel are Physics and Mathematics. Physics holds an instrument designed to show the law of the balance of different weights at different distances from the point of support. Mathematics has an abacus, or counting-frame, with which she is instructing a little genius in the elements of figures. The beads of the abacus are so placed that they give the date, “1896”—the year the picture was painted. Beside her, in the extreme left-hand corner, are various figures illustrating plane and solid geometry. The former kind are so arranged, as the visitor will see by looking carefully, that they form all the letters of the artist’s name—KENYON COX. On the other side of the throne are Botany, bearing a young oak tree, and wearing a green and white figured gown; and Zoölogy, a nude figure holding out her hand to caress a magnificent peacock perched on the coping of the balustrade. In the corner are a shell and various kinds of minerals, for Conchology, Mineralogy, Geology, and so forth.

On tablets over the doors and windows are the names of men distinguished in Science and Art. Those representing Art are Wagner, Mozart, Homer, Milton, Raphael, Rubens, Vitruvius, Mansard, Phidias, and Michael Angelo. The Scientists are Leibnitz, Galileo, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Dalton, Hipparchus, Herschel, Kepler, La Marck, and Helmholtz.


The Southwest Pavilion—or the Pavilion of the Discoverers, as it may better be called, from the subject of the paintings with which it is ornamented—opens[89] immediately from the Southwest Gallery. The domed ceiling is richly coffered and profusely ornamented with gilding, except for a large central space in the form of a disc, which contains a painted decoration. Below the dome are four tympanums, also occupied by paintings. The walls are ornamented with paired pilasters, bearing a narrow frieze decorated with lions’ heads and festoons of garlands.

Mr. Pratt’s Bas-Reliefs.—In the pendentives is a series of four large circular plaques in relief, representing The Seasons. The series, which is repeated in each of the other three pavilions, is the work of Mr. Bela L. Pratt. Spring is the figure of a girl sowing the seed, her garment blown into graceful swirls by the early winds of March. Summer is a maturer figure, sitting, quiet and thoughtful, in a field of poppies. Autumn is a mother nursing a baby. An older child—a little boy—stands beside her, and the abundance and fruitfulness of the season are still further typified in the ripe bunches of grapes which hang from the vine. Winter is an old woman gathering faggots for the hearth. Behind her is a leafless tree, on which is perched an owl. A garland appropriate to the season hangs over each of the four plaques—fruits for Spring and Summer, grains for Autumn, and oak leaves and acorns for Winter.


Mr. Maynard’s Paintings.—The paintings in the tympanums and the disc are the work of Mr. George W. Maynard, whose panels in the Main Entrance Hall have already been described. In the tympanums the sequence of Mr. Maynard’s subjects begins on the east side and continues to the right, as follows: Adventure, Discovery, Conquest, Civilization—the bold roving spirit of Adventure leading to Discovery, which in turn results in Conquest, bringing at last a settled occupation of the land and final Civilization. In the disc of the ceiling, Mr. Maynard has depicted the four qualities most appropriate to these four stages of a country’s development—Courage, Valor, Fortitude, and Achievement.

Since the tympanums are the same in shape and of the same size, measuring each thirty-one feet by six, and since all stand in the same relation toward[90] the whole room, Mr. Maynard has followed throughout a single method of arrangement. Each tympanum is over three doors or three windows, as the case may be. In accordance, therefore, with this exactly balanced architectural scheme, a pyramidal group of three female figures—pyramidal because any other form would have looked top-heavy—is placed above the central opening. Balancing or, so to say, subsidiary figures, which, if only from their position at the diminishing ends of the tympanum, are necessarily of less importance, are placed over the doors or windows to the side. Thus the decoration is poised in complete accordance with the disposition of the wall which it crowns. The figures at the ends, it will be noticed, are of two sorts, mermaids and emblazoned shields; but since they alternate in pairs from tympanum to tympanum, the shields occurring in the east and west and the mermaids in the north and south, this variety serves very well to accentuate the unity of the composition of the four paintings. The ornament, also, is the same in its more important features: the throne in the centre, flanked by cornucopias; the arabesque border with its dolphins, suggestive of seafaring; and the lists of names of discoverers and colonizers which occupy the spaces to the right and left of the central group, and serve to draw together the whole composition.

It would be well if the visitor were to hold in mind these points, for in the two following pavilions on this floor, where the conditions governing the painter are exactly the same as in the present room, it will be seen that the artists employed have followed in their work the same orderly and logical plan of arrangement which Mr. Maynard has here adopted.

In the first tympanum, Adventure, seated on her throne, holds in her right hand a drawn sword, in instant readiness for the combat; her left hand rests upon an upright caduceus, the emblem of Mercury, the god of the traveller, merchant, and thief, and fit, therefore, to be the patron of the restless adventurers who sailed westward in the sixteenth century, impelled as well by a desire for booty as for legitimate trade. To the right and left are seated female figures, representing respectively Spanish and English adventure—the two countries which furnished America with the largest part of its early buccaneers and adventurers. Like the central figure, the two are clad in rich and elaborate armor, accurately copied, as is that in the other tympanums, from authentic sixteenth-century models. The figure to the left, typifying England, holds a cutlass in her right hand, while her left hand buries itself in a heap of pieces-of-eight, the pirate and buccaneering coin par excellence. The companion figure to the right holds a battle-axe in her right hand, and in her left one of the little figurines, or miniature idols of gold, which the Spaniards in Peru sought so eagerly, and with so much cruelty, to secure from the natives. At either side of the throne is a shield, on which an old Norse Viking ship, propelled by oars and sail, is depicted. At either end of the tympanum is a shield, that to the right bearing the arms of Spain, and that to the left those of England. On the Spanish side of the decoration is the following list of names of Spanish adventurers: Diaz, Narvaez, Coello, Cabeza, Verrazano, Bastidas. On the other side is the English list: Drake, Cavendish, Raleigh, Smith, Frobisher, Gilbert. Each group of names is surmounted by the heraldic form of the naval crown, ornamented with alternate sterns and squaresails of ships, which was given by the Romans to a successful naval commander, or to the sailor who first boarded an enemy’s ship. In either corner of the tympanum still another emblem of sea-power, the trident, is introduced.



In the second tympanum, Discovery, crowned with a laurel wreath of gold and wearing a leather jerkin, sits on her throne, holding a ship’s rudder in her right hand, and with her left upon a globe of the earth, which is supported on her knee. The rude map of America, which appears on it, is copied from a portion of a mappemonde, or chart of the world, which was discovered a few years ago in England, and which has been ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci. It dates from the second decade of the sixteenth century.[12] The two seated figures to the right and left are clad in armor; the first holds a sword and “Jacob’s staff,” or cross staff, a device used by the early navigators instead of a quadrant or sextant to determine the altitude of the sun and stars. The figure to the left, with paddle and chart, points towards the distance with outstretched arm, and turns to her companions to beckon them onwards. The two shields[92] at the foot of the throne bear an astrolabe, an obsolete instrument used for the same purpose as the cross staff. At either end of the tympanum, a mermaid, with a seashell for cap, and with seaweed twined about her body, invites the voyagers with strings of pearls and coral. Lists of names occur at the left and right, surmounted, as before, with the naval crown. The first list is: Solis, Orellana, Van Horn, Oieda, Columbus, Pinzon; the second, Cabot, Magellan, Hudson, Behring, Vespucius, Balboa.

In the third tympanum, that of Conquest, the idea expressed in the central group is that of the proud tranquillity which follows triumph in battle. The figures carry the insignia of victory. The one seated upon the throne has pushed back her casque and lets her left hand hang idly over the crosspiece of the sword. But there is still danger of a renewal of the struggle; the right hand rests clenched upon an arm of the throne, the armor has not yet been laid aside, and the sword not yet sheathed. The figures to the left and right are in a like attitude of readiness, though they carry in addition to their swords the emblems of peace—the first, representing Southern Conquests, a sheaf of palms; and the second, representing Northern Conquests, chaplets of oak-leaves, which wreathe her casque and sword. The two shields bear a heraldic representation of the Pillars of Hercules, with the motto Ne plus ultra twined about them, and between them, in the distance, the setting sun—perhaps an ironical allusion to the ancient idea which set the limits of the earth at the Straits of Gibraltar, or perhaps simply an adaptation and extension of it to the new conditions of knowledge. At the ends of the tympanum the arms of England and Spain are again introduced, as significant of the general division of North and South America into English and Spanish territory. The names to the left are: Pizarro, Alvarado, Almagro, Hutten, Frontenac, De Soto; to the right, Cortes, Standish, Winslow, Phipps, Velasquez, De Leon. Over each group is the battlemented mural crown given by the Romans to the soldier who first succeeded in planting a standard upon the wall of a besieged city.

The fourth tympanum, Civilization, is the flowering of the other three. The armor has been laid aside, and the three figures in the centre are clad simply in classic garments. Civilization, crowned with laurel and seated on her throne, holds up the torch of learning, or enlightenment, and displays the opened page of a book—an idea which is repeated in the lamp and book which compose the device on the two shields below. To the left is Agriculture, crowned with wheat, and holding a scythe and a sheaf of wheat. To the right is Manufactures with distaff and spindle, twisting the thread. The mermaids at the ends of the decoration hold up, one an ear of corn, and the other a branch of the cotton-plant bearing both the flower and the boll—the two chief products respectively of the northern and the southern portions of our country. The names are: to the left, Eliot, Calvert, Marquette, Joliet, Ogelthorpe, Las Casas; and to the right, Penn, Winthrop, Motolinia, Yeardley, La Salle. Over each list is a wreath of laurel.

Mr. Maynard has represented in the ceiling the four qualities most pertinent to the character of his four tympanums. All four are shown as female figures, displayed against a background of arabesque. The first, Courage—a brute, animal courage—is clad in a coat of coarse scale-armor, over which a lion’s skin is drawn, the head of the beast serving her for a cap. She is armed with a war-club and a shield. The next, Valor, is a nobler figure, more beautiful and wearing more beautiful armor. Her right hand holds a sword, and her[93] left is pressed to her breast. The third, Fortitude, is unarmed. In her left arm she carries an architectural column, the emblem of stability. Achievement, the last, is clad in armor, but is without offensive weapon. She wears a laurel crown, and in her left hand she carries the Roman standard, surmounted by its eagle and laurel wreath, the symbol of a strong and just government. In the order named, therefore, it will readily be seen how these figures may be said to typify the successive tympanums of Adventure, Discovery, Conquest, and Civilization.


In the same way that the room decorated by Mr. Maynard has been called the Pavilion of the Discoverers, so the Southeast Pavilion may be called the Pavilion of the Elements, from the subject of the paintings ornamenting the tympanums and the disc. The tympanums are by Mr. Robert L. Dodge, and the disc by Mr. Garnsey and Mr. Dodge working in conjunction, the former making the ornamental design and the latter designing and carrying out the figure-work.

Mr. R. L. Dodge’s Paintings.—Each of the four tympanums is devoted to a single Element: the east tympanum to Earth, the north to Air, the west to Fire, and the south to Water. The composition, which is very simple, is uniform throughout. In the middle of the tympanum is a group of three figures typifying the subject of the decoration—the central figure standing and the other two seated. The latter are of women, but to prevent monotony, the standing figures are alternately male and female—male in the tympanums of Earth and Fire, and female in those of Air and Water. The central figure holds up in either hand an end of a heavy garland of flowers, which, stretching in a single festoon to the extremity of the tympanum, is there caught up by a little boy or genius. In the middle of each half of the picture, and in each tympanum the same on both sides, is an ornamental bronze column flanked on either hand by a bronze standard or tripod, all three united by floating streamers or ribands into a single group, and each serving as a pedestal on which to place some emblems of the Element represented.

In the tympanum of Earth the idea is the fertility and bounteousness of the soil. In the central group the figure to the right leans her arm upon an amphora or ancient wine-jar, and holds in her hand a rose. The figure to the left is that of a reaper, with a wreath of grains on her head and a bundle of wheat by her side, and holding in her hand a sickle. The geniuses at the ends of the decoration are dancing for jollity. The background is a smiling and luxuriant summer landscape, the fruits of which, the peach, the plum, the pear, the grape and the rest, are displayed in the great garlands which the central figure holds up with outstretched arms. The bronze columns support baskets of fruit, and on the accompanying standards are perched magnificent peacocks. The border of the decoration includes masks, urns and lions, the last emblematic of the subject of the decoration.

The central figure in the decoration typifying Air stands upon a bank of clouds; she is winged, and a large star blazes on her forehead. Of the figures to her right and left, the first is winged and the second carries the caduceus. The festoons are of morning glories, upheld at the further ends by flying geniuses. The background is sky and clouds. The central standards carry astrolabes,[94] as being the typical astronomical instrument of a few centuries ago, and eagles are perched on those to the side. In the border, winged griffins are substituted for lions.

The background of the third tympanum, Fire, is a mountainous and volcanic region, its peaks touched with lurid light from constant eruptions. The festoons are composed of sunflowers, and the seated figures in the centre carry each a flaming torch. The columns to the right and left bear flaming globes, while the flanking standards support the fiery nest of the phœnix—the bird which was fabled by the ancients to live, sole of its species, five hundred years, at the end of which time it repaired to the desert and built a funeral pyre, in the flames of which it was consumed. From its ashes as a nest a new phœnix arose, as here depicted. In the border of the decoration are salamanders, which, according to the old superstition, lived in the midst of fire.

In the last tympanum, Water, the central figure, clad in green, holds festoons of seaweed and water-lilies—flowers, buds and pads. On either side is a mermaid, one of them with a seashell. The background is the open sea. The standards are in the form of rostral columns (such as the Romans erected in honor of their victorious admirals) ornamented with garlands of laurel and the beaks and sterns of captured ships. On top is set a galley, with oars and sails. Over each of the standards to the side hovers a sea gull. The geniuses at the end of the picture have tails like mermaids, and in the border are dolphins.

The disc of the ceiling repeats in another form the general idea of the decorations of the tympanums. In the centre is the sun, across which the sun-god, Apollo, drives his four-horse chariot. The sun, however, is still the sun, and not a yellow background; the dusky picture outlined against it is to be taken as a vision, so to say, of its attributes.

Around the sun as a centre, is painted a chain of alternate medallions and cartouches—four of each, or eight in all—which typify the Four Elements represented in the tympanums below. A medallion and a cartouche are devoted to each. The former sort are painted so as to suggest a cameo design. The first of them, which occurs, like the other three, on the side nearest the tympanum of the corresponding subject, typifies Earth, a female figure reclined amidst a summer landscape. In her hand is a scythe, and behind her is a plow, standing in the midst of a wheat field. Water is a mermaid riding off a rocky shore on the back of a dolphin. In her hand she holds an oar. Fire is a woman watching the smoke which floats away from the flame of a little brazier at her side. Behind her is a tripod on which incense is burning. In the distance is Mt. Vesuvius, sending out a steady cloud of smoke, and in the plain beneath are the ruins of Pompeii. Air is a female figure clad in flowing drapery, and floating among the clouds on the outstretched wings of an eagle.

The cartouches are more simply designed. That of Earth contains a tortoise, on the back of which, according to the Hindoo mythology, the earth is ultimately supported. Air is typified by a swan; Fire, by a lamp; and Water by two intertwined dolphins. Finally the whole decoration is surrounded by a broad band of arabesque ornament, in which are placed the signs of the Zodiac.


The third of the second-story pavilions is the Pavilion of the Seals, at the northeast corner of the building. The walls in this room, it may be noted, are treated differently from those of the other three pavilions. Instead of the frieze and the paired pilasters, one has wall-surfaces covered with gilding and ornamented with painted laurel-bands arranged in regular patterns recalling the designs of the parterres of an old-fashioned garden.




The paintings in the tympanums are by Mr. W. B. Van Ingen, and illustrate the seals of the various Executive Departments of the United States Government. The disc of the domed ceiling was designed by Mr. Garnsey, and shows the Great Seal of the United States surrounded by allegorical emblems.

Mr. Van Ingen’s Paintings.—As in the previous pavilions on this floor, the general arrangement of the decoration is the same in all four tympanums. In each the artist has introduced a low terrace or wall of masonry running from end to end, thus serving both to ballast the picture, as it were, and to bind its parts more strongly together. A recess in the centre of the terrace allows space for a circular tablet, painted to represent wood, about six feet in diameter, or nearly the height of the tympanum. On this are inscribed, as if in raised letters, one or more quotations from the writings or speeches of great American statesmen. These were selected by the Librarian, Mr. Spofford, mainly for their general patriotic application, but, of course, as far as possible with some special reference to the subject of the decoration. The border of each tablet, as of the decoration itself, is a band of laurel-leaves, suggested by the laurel-roll which outlines the disc of the ceiling.

On either side of the tablet is a female figure, seated against the terrace, personifying a Department of the Government, in token of which she supports a shield or cartouche on which the seal of that Department is conspicuously displayed. The visitor will notice that these figures (in this respect like Mr. Reid’s in the Entrance Hall) illustrate the American type of woman, and wear modern gowns and not conventional Greek or Roman drapery.

The two figures and the tablet between form the necessary central pyramidal composition. For a limit and balance to the decoration the artist has painted, at either end, a cypress-tree and, in all but one of the tympanums, one or two nude children or geniuses, usually engaged in some action which shall be useful in explaining the purport of the picture, the meaning of which is still further brought out, in most cases, by introducing into the background a well known monument or building, or some conventional object, suggestive of the functions of the Department represented.

The west tympanum is devoted to the Department of the Treasury and the Department of State; the north tympanum to the Department of Justice and the Post-Office Department; the east tympanum to the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior; and the south tympanum to the War and Navy Departments.

Half a tympanum is devoted to each. The Department of the Treasury—to begin with the one first named in the above list—is sufficiently indicated by the introduction of the Treasury Building in the background. Two children are playing on the parapet, one of them with his foot on a strong-box. The background of the other portion of the tympanum—illustrating the Department of State—exhibits the dome and west front of the Capitol and, to the right, the Washington Monument. The vital thing about a nation—that which it is the first business of a Department of State to help preserve—is its independence. The Monument may be taken, therefore, as standing for the establishment of that independence, and the Capitol for its maintenance. A dog, typical of fidelity,[97] lies in the foreground. The cypress trees, it may be noted before passing to the next tympanum, are introduced purely for their decorative effect, and are without any symbolical meaning. In all the decorations they are set in jars copied from Zuñi originals in the National Museum.

In the north tympanum, the figure of Justice is clad in ermine. On the terrace is a high bronze standard, carrying a pair of evenly balanced scales. The genius at the left holds a measuring rod, for exact justice. In the other half of the painting, devoted to the Post-Office Department, the genius is represented with a pair of compasses marking out mail routes on a globe. Mercury was the Messenger of the Gods, according to classic mythology, and a bronze statue of him with his winged sandals, staff, and cap, is appropriately set upon the stone terrace to typify the dispatch and celerity of the Department.


Agriculture, in the next tympanum, is symbolized solely in the fertile and well cultivated landscape which forms the background of her portion of the decoration. The chief duty of the Department of the Interior—to protect and control the Indians—is indicated in the background of the other half of the picture by a representation of the curious method of burial, if one may use the word, which prevails among certain of the western tribes—the body, lashed to a few poles for a bier, being laid away in the branches of a tree.

In the last tympanum, that of War and the Navy, the terrace is nicked and shattered by the bullets of the enemy. The figure to the left, representing the Department of War, holds a regulation army sword, and the figure to the right a naval sword. To the left the two children are engaged in combat; one is falling, stained with blood, while the other presses upon him with a falchion, or Roman sword. The corresponding composition to the right is much the same; the chief difference being the trident which the victor aims at his opponent’s breast. War is accompanied by a Roman standard adapted to an American use by altering the old initials “S.P.Q.R.”—“The Senate and People of Rome”—to “U.S.A.” In the background is Bunker Hill Monument in Boston. On the other side are the masts of the recently constructed battleship Indiana, and[98] a rostral column of the same sort as those used in the tympanum representing Water in the Pavilion of the Elements, but in this case copied exactly from the one erected in honor of Commodore Decatur and afterwards removed to Annapolis, where it is now. The inscriptions on the tablets in the four tympanums may most conveniently be inserted here. In the west tympanum, that of the State and Treasury Departments, the quotations are as follows:—

’Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.—Washington.

Let our object be our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country.—Webster.

Thank God I also am an American.—Webster.

In the north tympanum:—

Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political: peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliance with none.—Thomas Jefferson.

In the west tympanum:—

The agricultural interest of the country is connected with every other, and superior in importance to them all.—Andrew Jackson.

Let us have peace.—U. S. Grant.

In the south tympanum:—

The aggregate happiness of society is, or ought to be, the end of all government.—Washington.

To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.—Washington.

Mr. Garnsey’s Ceiling Painting.—The disc of the dome contains one of the most interesting and ingeniously arranged of the purely conventional decorations which ornament the Library. In the centre is the great seal of the United States, which puts the final touch of significance upon the series of paintings in the tympanums. Surrounding it is a circular band containing forty-eight stars, one for each State and Territory. On the diagonal axes of the room are four medallions containing heads symbolizing the Four Winds—North, South, East and West—each blowing a gale from his mouth, as in the classical representations. They stand, of course, for the four great natural divisions of the country. Below each medallion is a garland of fruits or grains, festooned from bunches of eagles’ feathers which spring from the central panel of the decoration, and indicating the nature of the products of each section. The garland under the medallion of the North Wind, for example, is composed of apples, pears, peaches, and similar fruits; that under the East Wind, of various vegetables and berries; under the West Wind, grains, as wheat, oats, and maize; and under the South Wind, bananas, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, and so forth.

Other emblematic objects introduced into the decoration are lyres, each flanked on either side by a horn of plenty filled with fruits; and flaming torches, set between a pair of dolphins. There are thus two sorts of groups, each of which occurs four times in the decoration in accordance with the standard fixed[99] by the four medallions of the Winds. The four different objects depicted signify four of the great interests of the country—the lyre, the Fine Arts; the cornucopia, Agriculture; the torch, Learning and Education; and the dolphin, Maritime Commerce. Finally the composition is united by American flags festooned from the lyres to the garlands of fruit which underhang the medallions of the Winds. And around the whole is a narrow border, on which are inscribed the following words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg address, used also, in part, by Mr. Vedder in his decorations in the Entrance Hall:—

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.


The entablature and paired pilasters which decorate the walls of the two pavilions to the south, are resumed in the Northwest Pavilion, or Pavilion of Art and Science, if one choose to name it, as the three corresponding rooms on this floor were named, from the subject of the paintings which it contains.

Mr. W. de L. Dodge’s Paintings.—These paintings, both in the tympanums and in the ceiling disc, are the work of Mr. William de Leftwich Dodge. The subjects are as follows: in the west tympanum, Literature; north tympanum, Music; east tympanum, Science; south tympanum, Art; and in the ceiling disc, Ambition, considered as the incentive of all human effort, whether in art, science, or affairs. Comparing them with the other decorations in the Library, the visitor will be struck with the unusually large number of figures which Mr. Dodge has introduced into his canvases, all, of course, helping to illustrate some phase of the subject under which they are grouped. Throughout, however, the meaning is unusually clear, the special significance of every figure being indicated either by some expressive attitude or action, or by the introduction of some appropriate and typical object.

Literature shows a varied group of male and female figures sitting or standing. The scene is along the steps of an old Greek temple. The God of Letters—or Apollo, if one wishes—sits in the foreground holding an open book. Behind him is a company of maidens reading in an ancient scroll, which they unroll from hand to hand. To the right, a woman is instructing two children in the rudiments of learning. Comedy, a nude and easy figure, is looking at the ludicrous features of a comic mask, and Tragedy stands in an attitude of recitation, lifting her arms in an emphasizing gesture. In the corner is a little boy working over an ancient hand-press. To the left a poet sits with his head bowed in thought, perhaps in despair that his verses have not received their due meed of applause; but Fame stands behind him holding out the wreath of laurel with which, after many years, she means to crown him. Further on is another poet, who, as he reclines half dreaming on the ground, is suddenly inspired with the rapture of the Muse. In the corner is a bust of Homer, with a pile of books for pedestal.

In Music, Apollo, as the God of Song and Harmony, is seated in the centre of a long marble bench playing upon a lyre. Other figures, variously disposed throughout the panel, play upon a number of different musical instruments, illustrating at once the development and present scope of the art. One plays[100] a violin, two others are blowing trumpets, a fourth has the double pipes, another a mandolin—and so on.

The central figure of Science—the background of which is again the columns and marble steps of a temple—is a winged female figure descending through the air to crown the inventor of the phonograph, who kneels on the steps before her with a simple electrical instrument beside him. More broadly considered, the group typifies the triumphs of modern electrical science, summed up indeed, in the invention of the phonograph, but including as well the electric telegraph and the telephone. To the right is a man holding the model of a propeller steamship, and further on a husbandman with his team of horses, gathering the fruits of Agriculture. To the left is a table, on which are set two alembics for Physics, and around which is gathered a group of scientists, one holding a human skull, which forms the subject of their discussion. The group may be taken to represent the various medical and surgical sciences, such as Physiology, Anatomy, and so forth. Further to the left is a figure looking at a kite lying on the ground—a reminder of Benjamin Franklin’s famous electrical experiment with the kite and the key. In the background is a little camp-fire over which a tea-kettle is suspended, for Watt’s celebrated discovery of the power of steam.

Art shows a student sketching a nude model. Behind him is his instructor criticizing his work. Sculpture is symbolized to the left, and, to the right, a young woman is painting a design upon a great Greek vase. Behind her are the capitals of a number of the more familiar orders of Architecture, as the Egyptian and the Doric.

In the painting of Ambition in the ceiling, the scene is supposed to be the top of a high mountain, but only the marble terrace which marks the summit is actually visible in the painting. Here is gathered a group which has toiled along a weary path up the mountain side to comparative success; but none is satisfied. Above them, the Unattainable Ideal, a figure holding aloft in mockery the palm branch of complete achievement, rides through the air on a great winged horse. In front is Fame, grasping the horse’s bridle with one hand, and turning to those below to sound a derisive note on her trumpet. The figures on the mountain top are involved in a scene of mad confusion; some for the moment are distracted by crime or lust, or cynical contempt, but most reach out their arms in ineffectual eagerness to attain the glorious vision above them. They have leapt to the top of the terrace in their fierce desire to gain the slightest advantage. To the left, a murderer shrinks back in horror from the body of the miser whom he has just slain; as he starts away, aghast at his crime, he topples over a flaming tripod which had been set on a post of the terrace. Conspicuous figures in the mad struggle for success are a warrior, with sword, greaves, and helmet, and a sculptor, bearing a statuette of the Venus of Milo. In front of them is the seated figure of a poet, with a bandage over his eyes to indicate the abstraction and ideality of his thought. Further on, a man flings out both arms in a mad appeal, and on the moment is grasped in the arms of a woman, who drags him back to the level of her own baseness. A jester, one of Shakespeare’s fools, in his cap and parti-colored coat, stands near by, holding a bauble surmounted by a skull in one hand, and a statuette of Victory in the other. That fame comes only after death, and that the promptings of personal ambition are but a hollow mockery, is the moral that he preaches.



From Mr. Dodge’s Pavilion, one goes into the Northwest Gallery, which leads directly into the Main Entrance Hall once more. In dimensions, arrangement, and general architectural scheme it corresponds to the Southwest Gallery, with which the visitor began his tour through the Rectangle. The prevailing color, however, is red, and not blue, both in the walls and in the coffers of the vaulted ceiling.

Mr. Melchers’s Paintings.—At either end, occupying the same position as Mr. Cox’s decorations, and of the same size and shape, is a painting by Mr. Gari Melchers, illustrating, at the north, War, and at the south, Peace. The same subjects, it is interesting to note, and as many readers will remember, were chosen by Mr. Melchers for his decorations at the World’s Fair in Chicago. The present paintings may be taken, therefore, as representing the development and completion of a favorite idea of the artist.

In the panel of War, the scene represented is that of a chieftain of some primitive tribe returning home with his clansmen across a desolate tract of open country from a successful battle. He is crowned with a wreath of laurel, and sits proudly astride a magnificent white horse. A second horseman rides beside him, and another a little behind. Three men carry a roughly constructed bier on which they are bringing home the dead body of a warrior for burial in his native soil. In the right-hand corner a woman kneels to care for a wounded man who has just sunk exhausted to the ground. Behind, a trumpeter sounds his horn, exulting in this dearly bought victory. To the left two foot-soldiers carry shields emblazoned with devices of primitive heraldry. One of them holds in a leash two straining bloodhounds, eager for their kennels, and leading the way toward home.

Mr. Melchers’s other painting, Peace, represents an early religious procession. The inhabitants of some little village, perhaps in prehistoric Greece, have come to the border of a grove bearing the image of their tutelar goddess, a small seated figure set on a little platform covered with an embroidered cloth. The procession has halted, and the priest is reading from a paper which he holds in his hand, containing, very likely, a blessing in the name of the goddess upon the fields and orchards of the villagers. Various objects, one of them the model of a ship, are carried in the procession to be offered up as memorials in the temple of the goddess, and in the rear a boy leads to the sacrifice a bull wreathed with garlands.

The following names—forming a list of the world’s most famous generals and admirals—are inscribed in tablets above the doors and windows of the gallery: Cyrus, Alexander, Hannibal, Cæsar, Charles Martel, William the Conqueror, Frederick the Great, Charlemagne, Eugene, Marlborough, Napoleon, Wellington, Nelson, Washington, Jackson, Scott, Grant, Farragut, Sherman, and Sheridan.



The only rooms on the first story of the Rectangle which require a special description are the galleries and pavilions stretching from the Main Entrance Hall along the west front of the building. As has been said before, entrance to these is through two corridors, leading to the north and south. The corridors[102] look out upon the interior courts; the floors are of mosaic, and the walls are painted in simple tones of color with pilasters of Vermont marble polished to a peculiarly soft and waxy surface. The ceiling is a succession of small domes in white and gold. In the centre of each is a large gilt rosette. Around it are hexagonal coffers, or panels ornamented with painted figures. The broad arches between are decorated with coffers and panels in relief, and, finally, the tympanums beneath the domes (one at either end of the corridor, and seven along the west wall) are occupied with panels representing, in the corridor to the south, which the visitor is now supposed to have entered, The Greek Heroes.

Mr. McEwen’s Paintings.—The series is the work of Mr. Walter McEwen. The special subjects are incidents, as related in Greek mythology, in the lives of the following heroes, taking the paintings in order from north to south: Paris, Jason, Bellerophon, Orpheus, Perseus, Prometheus, Theseus, Achilles, and Hercules.

Paris, son of Priam, King of Troy, was brought up as a shepherd on Mt. Ida. When a dispute arose among the three goddesses, Juno, Minerva and Venus, as to who should possess a golden apple inscribed “To the Fairest,” which Eris (Strife) had flung in the midst of an[103] assembly of the deities, Paris was selected by Jupiter to decide their quarrel. He awarded the apple to Venus, who promised him the most beautiful woman in the world to be his bride. Hearing of the charms of Helen, wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, Paris sailed to Greece, and by the aid of Venus carried her away to Troy—thus provoking the expedition of the Grecian chiefs, and the ten years’ siege of Troy. Mr. McEwen’s painting shows Paris at the court of Sparta, conversing with Menelaus, while Helen sits listening beside her husband.


Pelias, King of Iolchos in Thessaly, was warned by the oracle to beware of his nephew Jason. He therefore sent him in search of the Golden Fleece. This had belonged to a ram which had miraculously carried Phryxus and Helle, a brother and sister in danger of their lives through the cruelty of a stepmother, across the sea to Colchis. Here, when the ram died, Phryxus hung up its fleece in the grove of Mars, where it was guarded by a sleepless dragon. Jason accepted the quest, and is here shown inviting the Grecian heroes to join in the voyage which he is to make to Colchis in the ship Argo—to enroll themselves in the famous band of the “Argonauts.”

The third painting shows Bellerophon receiving from Minerva a golden bridle with which he may guide the winged horse, Pegasus. The hero had incurred the dislike of his kinsman, Proteus, King of Argos, who sent him with a sealed message to Iobates, King of Lycia. The message desired Iobates to cause Bellerophon to be slain. Being unwilling to do this directly, Iobates sent him to encounter the Chimæra, a horrible monster, part lion, part goat, and part serpent, which was devastating his domains, and which had overpowered all who had ventured to attack it. By the help of Minerva and the winged horse, Bellerophon was successful.

Orpheus, who charmed with his song the rocks, the trees, the wild beasts, and even the infernal powers, incurred the wrath of Bacchus, whose divinity he refused to worship. Bacchus therefore inflamed his priestesses, the Mœnads,[104] or Bacchantes, against the poet, who was slain, as here represented by Mr. McEwen, in one of their orgies.

Perseus was the son of Jupiter and Danaë. Danaë’s father had heard that his daughter’s son would be the cause of his death. He therefore set the mother and child afloat in the sea in a chest, which was safely cast upon the island of Seriphos, the ruler of which was Polydectes. By the time Perseus had grown to manhood, Polydectes had fallen madly in love with Danaë, and, fearing lest Perseus should be a bar to his passion, he ordered him to cut off the head of the Gorgon Medusa, whose face turned to stone everyone who looked upon it. Assisted by Minerva, Perseus succeeded in his adventure. Returning to Seriphos he found Danaë persecuted by Polydectes, and, appearing at the palace of the king while he and his court were sitting at dinner, he drew the head of Medusa from his wallet and turned the whole company into stone.


Prometheus is represented as warning his brother Epimetheus not to accept Pandora from the gods. Prometheus, who, with his brother, was the first of mankind, had outwitted Jupiter in the matter of offering sacrifices; Jupiter, in return, had withheld fire from earth. Prometheus, however, secured it by stealth from heaven, and Jupiter in revenge formed Pandora, the first woman, and sent her to become the bride of Epimetheus. Epimetheus disregarded his brother’s advice and took Pandora and with her the fatal box, which, when opened, let loose a cloud of evils to torment, with only delusive Hope to console, mankind.

Theseus is directed by Minerva to leave Ariadne, who sleeps beside him, and proceed to Athens alone. Athens had been compelled for years to send an annual tribute of youths and maidens to Minos, king of Crete, to be devoured by the Minotaur, a savage monster, half bull, half man, who was[105] confined in a Labyrinth. Theseus voluntarily sailed on the tribute-ship, and reaching Crete gained the love of the daughter of Minos, Ariadne, by whose aid he was enabled, after slaying the Minotaur, to find his way out of the Labyrinth. Returning, he bore Ariadne away with him, but deserted her at the island of Naxos, as here depicted, at the command of Minerva. There she was found by Bacchus, who made her his bride.


Achilles, disguised as a maiden, and living among the women of the court of Lycomedes, king of Scyros, is discovered by Ulysses. Thetis, the mother of Achilles, had been forewarned that her son would die an early death, as it turned out afterwards that he did, being slain by Paris before the walls of Troy. She therefore dipped him, while still an infant, in the River Styx. He was thus made invulnerable in every part of his body except his heel, by which his mother had held him, and which therefore remained unaffected by the sacred water. To make assurance doubly sure, Thetis sent him to Lycomedes to be reared as a maiden, far from the dangers of war. When the Greeks were arming for the siege of Troy, the oracle informed them that without Achilles the city could never be taken. The crafty Ulysses was therefore sent in search of him. He arrived at the court of Lycomedes disguised as a pedler, bearing in his basket weapons of war and feminine trinkets. Showing these among the women, all were eager to examine the ornaments; Achilles clutched at the sword and shield, thus discovering himself immediately to the keen eye of Ulysses.

Hercules was sold as a slave by Mercury to Omphale, Queen of Lydia. They became enamored of each other, and Hercules, to please her, wore female garments, and spun among the female slaves. The artist here exhibits him aiding the queen in her task.



Mr. McEwen’s corridor opens directly into a richly decorated gallery, serving as a special reading room for members of the House of Representatives. No apartment in the Library is more lavishly and sumptuously ornamented. The floor is dark quartered oak; the walls have a dado of heavy oak panelling about eleven feet high; and the deep window-arches are finished entirely in the same material. Above the dado the walls are hung with olive green silk. The ceiling is beamed and panelled, and is finished in gold and colors, with painted decorations in the panels, and encrusted conventional ornament in cream white along the beams. Over the three doors are carved oak tympanums, by Mr. Charles H. Niehaus, comprising two different designs—the first a central cartouche bearing an owl, and supported on either side by the figure of a seated youth; the other, the American eagle flanked by two cherubs. At either end of the room is a magnificent mantel of Sienna marble. Over the fireplace is a large mosaic panel by Mr. Frederick Dielman, representing, at one end of the room, Law, and at the other, History. Above is a heavy cornice, supported on beautiful columns of Pavannazzo marble, the general color of which is gray instead of yellow, but with a system of veining which agrees very well with that of the Sienna. In the centre of the cornice is a small cartouche, of green onyx in the mantel to the south, and of labradorite, or Labrador spar,[107] in the other, the latter stone being remarkable for its exquisite gradations of deep peacock-blue, continually changing with the light and the point from which it is seen.


Mr. Dielman’s Mosaics.—Mr. Dielman’s mosaic panels are of the same size and shape, each being seven and a half feet wide and three feet seven inches high. They were executed in Venice, which for generations has been celebrated for the delicacy, accurate coloring, and nicety of fitting, of its mosaics. The process and methods used in this work are much the same as in the ordinary sorts of mosaic—such as would be required for a ceiling, for example—although, of course, the pieces, or tesseræ, must be fitted with much greater care and patience, so that every piece may take its place in a perfect gradation of color. The work of the painter consisted in making full size cartoons in the exact colors desired in the mosaic; from these the Italian workmen prepared the finished panels, and sent them to this country ready to be put in place. The cartoons, however, were necessarily painted as much as possible in simple outlines and shades of color, for, although the Italian shops are said to have at their command enamels of no less than twenty-five thousand different tints, it would be obviously impossible with such a material to reproduce exactly every variation of tone and line of which the brush is capable. Certain refinements of technique, therefore, and more especially the vagueness of color which is often so desirable in the painted canvas, must be avoided in a cartoon made for such a purpose as Mr. Dielman’s.


The mosaic at the north end of the room represents Law, typified by a young and beautiful woman seated on a massive marble throne and holding in one hand a sword with which to chastise the guilty, and in the other a palm branch with which to reward the meritorious. Her head is surrounded by a glory, and she wears on her breast the Ægis of Minerva to signify that she is clad in the armor of righteousness and wisdom. On the steps of her throne are the scales of Justice and the book of Law, and a pair of white doves emblematic of mercy. The visitor will notice that Mr. Dielman’s conception of Law includes the conventional typification of Justice, but at the same time slightly[108] differs from it. The reason is that he has wished to indicate not only the judicial but the legislative side of Law; hence the freer air of command, and, in particular, the outdoor landscape of woods and hills, signifying a less restricted authority than that of the courtroom. Such a typical symbol of Justice as the scales is less conspicuously introduced, and the usual globe is entirely omitted.

To the left of the central throne are three figures representing, as one may see by the names in the streamer above them, respectively Industry, Peace, and Truth, the friends and supporters of Law; while to the left Mr. Dielman introduces three other figures typifying Fraud, Discord and Violence, the enemies of Law. Industry and Violence are represented as male figures; the other four as female. Very appropriately, the first group seems to be advancing unafraid toward the throne of the Goddess; while the figures to the right shrink terrified from her presence. The emblems which distinguish the various figures are easily understood: Industry with a wheel and hammer; Peace with an olive-branch and crown of olive; Truth with the lilies; Fraud, represented as a withered hag; Discord, with disordered hair and garment, and holding a pair of knotted serpents; and Violence, in a steel cap with the blazing torch lying on the ground before him.


Mr. Dielman’s second panel represents History. The titular figure, that of a woman of great charm and beauty, stands in the centre holding a pen and a book. On either side are marble tablets bearing the names of great historians—Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, Tacitus, Baeda, Comines, Hume, Gibbon, Niebuhr, Guizot, Ranke, Bancroft, Motley. At the foot of one tablet is a laurel wreath, for peace, and on the other side an oak wreath, for war—the twin topics of history—each accompanied by a palm branch, the general reward of success. On either side of the panel extends a marble bench on which are seated two female figures representing Mythology and Tradition, the predecessors of history. Mythology, the expounder of the ancient tales of the gods and heroes, stands for theories of the system of the universe, in token of which she holds in her right hand a globe of the earth. Beside her is a sphinx—the female sphinx of the Greeks, not the male sphinx of Egypt—suggesting the eternally insoluble Riddle of the World. At the other end of the panel, Tradition, an aged granddame, relates her oldwives’ tales to the boy who sits listening before her. The figure represents the whole body of mediæval legend and folk-tale. Reminders of a past age are brought out in the distaff she holds in her lap, the Romanesque capital on which the boy sits, the harp[109] he holds in his hand—with its reference to the wandering minstrel of the Middle Ages and his store of tales—and in the shield, very likely the text of the story which is being told, which leans against the tablet.

In the background of the panel, seeming to float amidst the clouds, are three ancient buildings, an Egyptian pyramid, a Greek temple, and a Roman amphitheatre—signifying the three nations of antiquity in which History was most highly developed.

Mr. Gutherz’s Paintings.—Along the centre of the ceiling are seven panels containing decorations by Mr. Carl Gutherz, representing The Spectrum of Light. Each of the seven colors shown in the spectrum is typified by a central figure standing for some phase of achievement, human or divine. Other features of the panel are two cherubs in each corner, representing arts or sciences, and a series of eight escutcheons, one with the title of the decoration, and the other containing the seals of the various States, the whole being combined in a single arabesque pattern by an elaborate design of scroll ornamentation.


The order of the subjects begins in the centre and goes first north and then south from that point. The color of the centre panel is Yellow, and the subject The Creation of Light. The Divine Intelligence, sitting enthroned in the midst of Space, and enveloped in mist and clouds, utters the words, “Let there be Light.” The corner figures represent Physics, Metaphysics, Psychology, and Theology.

The second color is Orange, and the subject The Light of Excellence, suggested to the artist by Longfellow’s poem, Excelsior. A spirit stands midway on a pyramid of steps (signifying Progress), which is lost in the unknown distance. She beckons to man to join her on the heights where she is standing, and holds in one hand the wreath which crowns every effort for Excellence. In the corner, the cherubs typify Architecture and Sculpture; Transportation; the Phonograph and Telephone; and Invention and Design.

The third panel is Red, representing The Light of Poetry. Poetry, mounted upon Pegasus, holds a torch in one hand and with the other reaches toward that light of the ideal for which he must always strive, but which he can never attain. In the background half-seen figures represent the afterglow of Tradition and Mythology. The corner groups stand for Tragedy and Comedy; Lyric Poetry; Pastoral Poetry; and Fable.

Violet, the fourth color, is symbolized as The Light of State. The United States being regarded as the highest form of government yet achieved, its emblems are selected as the best expression of the ideal State. This being the case, Violet was the color under which, according to the conception of the[110] artist, the United States might best be represented, since violet results from the union of the American colors, Red, White, and Blue. The figure is that of Columbia, with a shield emblazoned with the United States flag, and carrying a staff surmounted by a liberty-cap, while the American eagle hovers above her shoulder. The cherubs in the corners represent the Suffrage, Justice, Liberty, and Equality.

The next subject is Green, or The Light of Research. The central figure is the Spirit of the Lens, which in the telescope and the microscope reveals to the scientist the secrets of the universe. She is surrounded by the sea, with its myriad forms of life furnishing her with the material for her investigations. The cherubs in one corner have a microscope. In another, they represent Chemistry; in the third Archæology (Egyptology deciphering the hieroglyphics); and in the fourth, Mineralogy—all selected as being especially concerned with original investigation and research.

Blue is The Light of Truth. The Spirit of Truth crushes the dragon of Ignorance and Falsehood under foot, and reaches to heaven for a ray of light with which to inflict the final wound. The blue of the background is the blue of daylight,—light from darkness. The cherubs hold the level, the plumb, and the Bible, each considered as an agent in indicating the presence of a universal law.

The last panel represents Indigo as The Light of Science. The figure represents Astronomy, who is guided by the soul (figured as a butterfly fluttering above her head) to explore the movement of the stars. The cherubs represent various phases of astronomical study. One of the figures, for example, explains the theory of mathematics, showing on the fingers of the hand that one is the unit of everything; a second looks through a telescope; and others are studying books and making calculations.


At the end of the corridor leading to the House Reading Room, is a little lobby, from which one enters the Southwest Pavilion, or Senate Reading Room, reserved for the use of members of the Senate. The little lobby itself is one of the most beautiful examples of pure architectural design to be found in the Library. The walls are of Vermont marble—the same as in the corridor—panelled with Sienna marble. The moulded ceiling is finished entirely in gold, with a central rosette, surrounded by coffers and conventional Greek mouldings, one of which, a rather elaborate fret, is laid upon a ground of deep red. The whole effect of the decoration, taken in connection with the low light which prevails, is remarkably fine—a combination of great richness with soberness and refinement.

The Senate Reading Room is finished in much the same style as the House Reading Room, but with less elaboration of ornament. On the whole, the effect, though quieter, is perhaps more restful and satisfying. A toilet room, leading from the lobby just spoken of, cuts off a portion of the pavilion, but allows space above for a low gallery enclosed by a delicately carved balustrade of Sienna marble. Below, the oak dado is ornamented with delicate inlaid arabesques of white mahogany. Above the dado the walls are covered with figured red silk. In the southwest corner is a fireplace of Sienna marble, with a sculptured panel of the same material by Mr. Herbert Adams. The design[111] shows an eagle with arrows in his claws, and an American shield supported by flying cherubs. The doorhead tympanum is of oak, like those in the House Reading Room, and contains a carved panel, also by Mr. Adams, with a heraldic shield bearing the monogram, “U. S. A.,” and supported by mermaids. The gold ceiling contains six square panels, each containing four graceful female figures holding garlands in their hands—the work of Mr. William A. Mackay.


The corridor leading to the north from the Main Entrance Hall is, as has been said, similar in design to that opening into the Congressional Reading Rooms. The design of the floor and ornament upon the arches is somewhat different, however. The tympanums which it contains are ornamented by a series of paintings, by Mr. Edward Simmons, representing the nine Muses.

Mr. Simmons’s Paintings.—The Muses, according to the Greek mythology, were the goddesses of the various departments of Art, Poetry, and Science. Apollo, the God of Song, was their father, and Mnemosyne (Memory) their mother. Their names, given in the order in which they occur in Mr. Simmons’s series, beginning at the south end of the corridor, were as follows: Melpomene, Clio, Thalia, Enterpe, Terpsichore, Erato, Polyhymnia, Urania, and Calliope. Melpomene was the Muse of Tragedy; Clio, of History; Thalia, of Comedy and Bucolic Poetry; Enterpe, of Lyric Song; Terpsichon, of Dancing; Erato, of Erotic Poetry; Polyhymnia, of Sacred Song; Urania, of Astronomy; and Calliope, of Epic Poetry.


In Mr. Simmons’s panels, each of the Muses is shown as a seated figure. On either side a laurel wreath is displayed, as the general symbol of intellectual pursuits, and the background is diversified by curving lines of smoke proceeding from the flame of a torch or a censer—thus signifying the inspiration of Art and Poetry. In several of the tympanums the Muse is accompanied by[112] little geniuses who serve to bring out the special character of the central figure. In the panel devoted to Thalia the genius is a satyr, with goat’s legs, and carrying a pair of Pan’s pipes. The Muse playfully catches him in a fold of her garment—the whole suggesting the rustic sportiveness of the early Greek Comedy. Certain of the panels, also, contain various distinguishing objects. Melpomene, for example, is accompanied by a tragic mask; Clio by a helmet, for the warlike exploits recorded by History; Thalia, by a comic mask; Urania by a celestial globe. Terpsichore is represented as if swaying to the music of the dance, and is striking a pair of cymbals. Erato is nude, and bears a rose—the flower of love—in her hand. Polyhymnia holds an open book in her lap. One of the geniuses in the tympanum of Calliope holds a scroll, and the other some peacock’s feathers—the latter symbolical, perhaps, of the dignity and beauty of the Epic.


Of the two rooms leading from this corridor—the Northwest Gallery and the Northwest Pavilion—the first is decorated in a cheerful spring-like green ornamented with garlands, and the Pavilion in a deep Pompeiian red with medallions containing figures of dancing girls, by Mr. R. L. Dodge, and conventional ornaments adapted from Pompeiian designs. In the six window bays, also, is the series of the signs of the zodiac, designed by Mr. Thompson.

The various galleries and pavilions on this floor, excepting, of course, the Congressional Reading Rooms, are designed to accommodate the clerical and cataloguing work of the Library and the Copyright Department, or to furnish room for special collections of books. There is every reason to hope that in time many valuable private libraries throughout the country will find their permanent home in some one of these apartments, given or bequeathed by their owners to the Nation, and preserved for all time in convenient, well lighted and fireproof rooms as a memorial to the liberality of their donors. Already one such collection has been received, presented several years ago to the Library by the late Dr. J. M. Toner of Washington. It is kept by itself in the Northeast Pavilion. The most remarkable feature is its Washington letters, gathered either in the original or in copies, during a period of many years.


The basement of the Library, which may be reached through the doors under the staircases in the Main Entrance Hall, is arranged in the same way as the first and second stories, except that the whole floor is connected by a series of corridors which extend entirely round the building.

The walls of the West Pavilion are sheathed in a dado of white Italian marble about ten feet high, above which is a vaulted ceiling ornamented with a bright, open arabesque in green, blue, and yellow on a cream-colored ground. The corridors have dados of American marbles, usually dark in color, as Lake Champlain or Tennessee. For the walls and vaults, plain colors harmonizing with the marble and set off with simple arabesques and borders, have been used. The effect is well worth the attention of the visitor—the rich tones of the marble and the brighter coloring of the walls and vaults framing a long vista seen through a succession of low, narrow arches.







It is interesting to note that the ground plan of the new Library of Congress was suggested by that of the British Museum. There, however, the central reading room was placed inside the quadrangle as an afterthought. Building on this, as well as on the architectural experience of other libraries, our own Library has had the advantage of organic growth. Every part is related to the whole, and practical and æsthetic requirements are logically and naturally fulfilled.

These requirements were: an imposing edifice, with plenty of well-lighted rooms; facilities for the storing of books; and ample space for the reading and general public. With one exception the exterior of the building indicates the character and relative importance of the interior divisions. That exception is the book-stacks, radiating from the sides of the Rotunda or central reading room. But their position is in completely natural relation to the rest, and by being hidden from the outside, they could be made just what they pretend to be, viz. huge book-shelves of iron, bricks, and marble, well lighted and ventilated. Their construction is æsthetically perfect, and yet without injury to the façades.

The latter, albeit severe and lacking the indefinable artistic spirit of the Capitol, are grand and imposing. The ground floor, resting on a continuous plinth, is constructed of huge blocks, quarry or rock-faced, with bold joints and square lights. The masonry of the first story is fine pointed with vermicular or coral-like quoins at the angles of the pavilions. In the second story, the bel étage, the face of the granite is smooth; the windows are framed with pilasters and surmounted with pediments; the pavilions are emphasized by porticoes resting on Corinthian columns. The horizontal mouldings are boldly accentuated and carefully graduated, terminating in a modillioned cornice surmounted by a balustrade. The shadow effects are strong and tender, and the set-back of each floor well marked.

While the exterior of the building represents a single thought and one engrossing individuality, the interior reveals a complexity of thought and a variety[114] of distinct personal influences, due to the parts played by the sculptors and painters. Yet there is no lack of homogeneousness. The architect has balanced the individual notes by the breadth and force with which he has treated the purely decorative parts of his scheme. His effects are massed. Sumptuous expanses of mosaic, or painted surfaces, or stuccoed vaults, compel our attention and divide our interest with the special objects of beauty. The spectator’s mind is not bewildered by a jumble of elaboration, but passes quietly from one impression to another. On entering the Entrance Hall, for instance, marble is beneath our feet and on all sides of us. The impression is instantaneous, irresistible, and entirely undistracted. In the adjoining halls, the prevailing theme is varied by the colors of the marble mosaic vaults, which assert their own beauty at the same time that they modestly bring the painted compositions of the tympanums into color-relation with the grey-white marble walls.

Upstairs, in the corridors beyond the arcades, the marble impression is prolonged in the mosaic floors, delicate in their play of color, and splendid in their very spaciousness. But the main impression is still that of painted ornament. In the adjacent galleries marble is continued in the floors, but the chief architectural interest here is in the stucco work. It is true we are attracted by the painted lunette at the end, but simultaneously we feel how superbly framed it is by the vista of vaulted ceiling. The importance of the four pavilions is emphasized by painted compositions, but here again an equipoise of interest is maintained by the mosaic floors, and the beautiful lines of the stucco, which weave the octagon of walls into the circle of the vault. Beneath the great central dome of the Rotunda all these forces are massed with excellent judgment. The dome itself rests upon massive columns of Numidian marble connected by two tiers of arcades of Sienna marble; mounts up in successive gradations of stucco, from bold accentuation to tender elaboration, till it melts into the calm of Mr. Blashfield’s painting and ends in the dreamy spirituality of his figure in the cupola.

In the little corridors to the north and south of the Entrance Hall the architect has epitomized his methods. They are miniature éditions de luxe, in which arch and vault, marble, stucco, mosaic, and pictures are blended with the daintiness of an Elzevir.


Including under Sculpture the plastic, carved, and bronze work, it will be convenient to consider the sculpture of the Rotunda by itself and apart from that of the rest of the building, for it consists mainly of statues linked together by a common thread of thought, while elsewhere the motive is solely decorative.

One of the prominent features of the Entrance Hall is the balustrade of the staircase, executed by Mr. Martiny. The coil of babies and garlands is irresistibly fascinating. Bold in line and generous in massing of light and shade, as befits the grandeur of the construction, the design has, besides, much daintiness of detail. Joined to an exquisite fancy, playful without grotesqueness, are a fluency and certainty of technique in the best sense French. In somewhat the same vein is Mr. Adams’s tympanum over the Senate Reading Room door. The main masses have an exuberance, boldly contrasting with the delicate details that overspread the entire panel. The modelling and[115] lines are so excellently adjusted that the animation of the laughing faces seems to circulate to the very tips of the tails. In Mr. Perry’s Sibyls the balance between the filled and empty spaces and the simple force of the beautiful lines and masses are admirable. The thought embodied is equally admirable. The sculptor has chosen the four races to which we immediately owe our modern civilization, and pictured each Sibyl as the personification of the special quality or genius of that race: Religion, Beauty, Order, Progress. Conspicuous in the four pavilions are Mr. Pratt’s Seasons. The composition of each is simple and united, while the circle is well filled with an embroidery of light and shade. In Winter, for example, the design converges towards the patiently folded hands; in Autumn it revolves around the infant; we note the circling solicitude of the mother, centering on the baby at her breast.

In the Rotunda, the statues embody the basic elements of civilization, and some of its noblest exponents; a theme beautifully appropriate to the soaring edifice. Primarily, however, the statues have an architectural purpose; the larger ones to prolong the lines of the columns and emphasize the spring of the arches, the smaller to break the level of the balustrade with a series of upward accents. The sculptors have not been as one in interpreting this obligation, for their work varies from monumental simplicity to extreme characterization. Mr. Pratt’s Philosophy is grandly simple and reposeful. A little intricacy of drapery upon the bosom serves to isolate the bowed head and give more severity to the unbroken folds below. By a calm immobility, also, Mr. Bissell, Mr. Boyle, and Mr. Dallin have secured impressiveness in their statues of Kent, of Bacon, and of Newton. Much the same, too, may be said of Mr. St. Gaudens’s Art.

In Mr. Donoghue’s Science the repose is re-inforced with movement. The strong masses of drapery on one side contrast with the supple line along the right of the figure, and with the placidly extended hands. The hands conform to the spread of the arches, while the whole figure prolongs the columns. Symbolically, it suggests the combined restlessness and contemplation of Science.

In this brief analysis we must include in one group Mr. Niehaus’s Moses and Gibbon, Mr. French’s Herodotus, and Mr. Potter’s Fulton. All of them are rich in characterization, extremely picturesque, and yet sober and controlled in contour. We shall find examples of exquisite technique in modelling in Mr. French’s History, Mr. St. Gaudens’s Homer, and Mr. Macmonnies’s Shakespeare. In Mr. Ruckstuhl’s Solon and Mr. Bauer’s Religion and Beethoven characterization seems the foremost thought.

Mr. Macmonnies’s door is very noble, with increased richness and emphasis in the lunette. In thus giving a sense of greater elevation and dignity by lifting the eye upwards, it is interesting to note how he has adopted a form of composition similar to that introduced by Mr. Vedder for the same purpose over the entrance to the Rotunda. The main composition is a square, modelled in such bold relief that the attention is immediately arrested and directed upwards. Yet there is no sense of emptiness in the accessory portions of the lunette, which are richly encrusted with ornament. To assist this elevation the figures in the panels are in low relief, broadly and simply treated. But the comparatively emphatic folds of the drapery on each side strengthen the figures, while the torches seem as a bold frame to the design, with pronounced accent at the four corners.


Somewhat similar must have been the motive of Mr. Warner. He has made the interest of his doors ascend, but on reaching the top has spread it throughout the lunette. In the latter the balance of raised and hollow parts, and the mingled repetition and contrast in the direction of his lines are admirable.


The general painted decoration, as carried out for the architect by Mr. Garnsey, is always loyal to the architecture, and yet asserts the essential and peculiar value of color. First and foremost the constructional value of color is fully realized. In the central Reading Room, for instance, not only have the white walls and stucco been brought into color harmony with the rich red and yellow of the Numidian and Sienna marbles, but the tints have been so distributed and their strength graduated in relation to the spaces they cover, that a strictly structural fabric of color has been constructed in and around the architectural edifice. The grand suite of rooms running round the entire second story is a charming example of color sequence. The keynote is yellow, the most joyous of all colors—the hue of sunshine. The note is struck positively in the four pavilions, where the yellow has been carried as far as possible in the two directions of red or blue. These positive colors are connected by the tertiary tints in the intervening rooms, where the walls are dull yellow or olive, relieved by red and green in the frieze. In the room on the north side the painter has suffused the olive-green with a neutralized bloom of the complementary violet, thus securing a harmony of opposition as well as of similarity. In the central room on the east side, the scheme for a brief space swings to blue, with yellow in the frieze, and the more important rooms on the west side echo some of the brilliancy of the adjacent stair-hall. To name but one other phase of this work in which the decorator has worked so well for the architect, the emotional value of color or its quality of expression is exhibited in numerous instances. Above the high oak wainscot of the Librarian’s Room, the panels are a deep blue, enamelled with subdued arabesques. Age seems to have dimmed them. There is a patina of green rust upon the ivory ceiling, the tender touch of time upon the owls and lamps, that hints at the antiquity of thought. Compare with this the robustness of the design of the ceiling in the Pavilion of the Seals. The first impression is of a turbulence of gorgeous clouds veiled in a golden haze. Gradually the details of form and color grow, and we discover an elaborate harmony in which the great Seal of the United States and the American flag, are predominating features.

Of the special paintings which complete and accentuate this great general scheme of architecture, Mr. Blashfield’s occupy the most important position.[13] The problem was a conflicting one. The space demanded a noble theme and stately treatment, conforming to the monumental majesty of the structure, and yet responding to the tenderness and airiness of the cobweb of arabesque. It was necessary to continue and also to conclude the converging ribs; to solidify and also to disperse them; to create a design subordinate to the architecture and yet completing it and dominating it. His treatment is geometrical. Four figures crown the axial spaces, conspicuously white, full fronted, self-contained,[117] emphasizing the spaciousness and symmetry of the structure, and symbolizing the four basic constituents of civilization. Each of these is supported by a figure to the right and left, which are so subtly posed that they prolong the converging lines of the ribs of the dome. While the eye is thus continually carried up, it is diverted horizontally by the interlacing lines of the limbs, the necklace of recurring banderoles and cartouches, and finally by the majestic sweep of wings, the sculpturesque simplicity of which merges the painting into the architecture above. To this wreath of form the artist has imparted a suffused bloom, tenderly iridescent; giving quiet distinction to each figure and a satisfying harmony to the whole composition. His intellectuality reveals itself, not only in the technical solution of his problem, but also in the depth and comprehensiveness with which he has interpreted his theme. It matters not which figures one selects; all are beautiful and richly suggestive. Compare the representation of Religion and of Philosophy; the yearning of the one for outside strength and light with the calm, passionless scrutiny of the other; or the dreamy transcendentalism of Islam, and his rounded limbs, with the square strenuous determination of the young giant, America. This composition, however, is not a circle, the recognized geometrical symbol of eternal completeness, but a concave ring whose lines converge toward a centre outside of and above itself. That centre is the figure in the Lantern, representing that Higher Wisdom to which the wisest are always striving to attain. This concave ring represents Civilization, which, kept in perfect balance by the harmony of the various elements of human life, spins easily and surely upon its axis. This is the greatest good of all; but it is impossible to maintain Civilization without Progress; it must forever speed upward to the Higher Wisdom.

Mr. Pearce’s panels in the north corridor are notable examples of decorative color. The positive tints are clear and fresh against soft backgrounds of secondary greens and violets. The composition, except in the panel of The Standard-Bearers, leans to the pictorial rather than to the decorative method. Perhaps Labor and Religion combine the two methods most happily. In the former the lines of the limbs repeat and relieve each other most agreeably. There is enough sameness of movement to emphasize the sharing of toil, sufficient difference to suggest individual effort. There is a suggestive contrast in Religion between the man’s awe and the woman’s placid confidence. He recognizes the mystery, she the comfort of fire. A germ of the love of the beautiful is shown in the choice for an altar of the curious stone which they have propped up so unstably, and yet with so much affectionate care.

In the east corridor, Mr. Alexander’s six panels are to be taken as so many fragments cut from the picture of the ages. They are terse and vigorous; they compel our interest. The figures are dramatic, in the true sense that they are doing something simple and natural, while their local surroundings, like the old chorus, interpret the significance—in some cases, from the standpoint of to-day, the insignificance—of the act. For, by the exercise of keen imagination, and through the resources of his technique, the artist has rendered with pathetic vividness the dumbness and isolation of early man and the unresponsiveness of his surroundings. With the skill of an expert dramatist, he has developed the growing permanence of the record, and the widening of the circle of influence, and led up to the climax when the written speech of one becomes the property of all.


In Mr. Walker’s panels, Nature and not Humanity is the inspiration. In his largest panel, she is exhibited in the unrestraint of stream and rock and verdure. Yet she is represented in Mr. Walker’s paintings not so much for her own sake as for the inspiration which she lends to the mind of the poet. It is Nature viewed through the medium of the imagination—Nature refined by the alchemy of human emotion.

In the opposite panel, man’s relation to Nature is introduced; in a suggestion of the old idyllic, pastoral life, with a hint, too, on one side of the panel, of man’s creative genius, the stately edifice into which, working upon Nature’s plan, he has built his own personality. The scheme is completed by the smaller panels in which the artist has suggested the various moods of lyric poetry, as illustrated by the special genius of Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, Emerson, Keats, and Wordsworth.

Mr. Vedder, in his Government series, has played upon a simple scale of low-toned reds, blues, greens, and yellows, thus responding in his work to the mosaic and marble which surround it. Each composition has a separate geometrical motive, built up by the distribution of the colors, the balance or contrast of light and dark, the flow of the lines, and, not least, by the arrangement of the spaces. The central panel succeeds completely in its twofold purpose of giving dignity and height to the entrance, and of expressing the solidity and elevation of Government. The use of line is throughout remarkable. In the panels of Good Administration and Peace and Prosperity the lines of direction are downward from the zenith. In the former, these lines fall in tenderly embracing curves; in the latter they widen out and form that strongest of all structures, a broad-based pyramid. In Corrupt Legislation, the eye is first arrested by the tilted leg and slovenly slipper, and follows down to the money-bag. We know it all: the shamelessness, shiftlessness, and corruption. It is a compression of multiplied experience into one illuminating flash. The direction of the picture is diagonal, and the masses of form and color purposely accentuate its lop-sidedness. Yet the picture seems evenly balanced, for the simplicity and distinctness of the standing figure attracts one’s eye from the intentional confusion of the opposite side. In the spaces one will notice the harsh gashes made by the chimneys, and the unpleasant parallelism of the smoke wreaths, so suggestive of the dead monotony of sordid lives. The triumph of ordered disorder is reached in the panel of Anarchy, which is based on a reversal of geometric methods. The masses of dark and light tumble diagonally across the picture towards the desolate space with the broken wheel. The spaces at the top are shattered and splintered as if by an explosion. But most remarkable is the jagged space near the centre. It is as if a shot had ploughed its way through the chaos and allowed a glimpse of the void beyond.

Mr. Vedder’s Minerva recognizes at once the strong points and the limitations of mosaic. The design itself is a mosaic in which the full and empty spaces, and the light and darker portions, and the embroidery of lines, together form a rich brocade. Sumptuousness is added by contrasting the smooth outlines of the one side with the intricate elaboration of the other. It is very interesting to note how the spear ties together the lighter portions, and prevents the strong figure from being too sharply silhouetted.

Around the statuesque simplicity of Mr. Shirlaw’s Sciences flows a sinuous play of lines, and their broad masses of color reflect the surrounding tints, so[119] that these panels are more than punctuations; they are at once the focus-points and distributing centres of the whole corridor. There is a geometrical plan apparent in the building-up of the figures. Often the main lines intersect diagonally, and one is tranquil, the other energetic; there are centres of repose and of movement to which these lines converge; and these are also the points of main interest in the symbolism of the picture. In Mathematics, for instance, the line of the nude position, suggesting the naked accuracy of figures, leads up to the calm, frank face; while the more intricate line of the drapery winds across diagonally, and merges in the convolutions of the scroll, with its hint of abstruse calculations. The arrangement of the draperies, indeed, is invariably worthy of close attention. Compare the stem-like lines and petal-shaped folds which cling to the form of Botany, with the successive eddies that circle round Astronomy.

In Mr. Reid’s panels the sensitive vibration of color and the luxurious lines eloquently express the delight of the Senses. But there is no note of decadence. There is so much decision in the drawing, free expansion in the masses of form and color, and such energy in the flashing color of the drapery, that we feel in these beautiful women, not the enervation of pampered senses, but merely a moment’s pleased suspension of activity. This is least noticeable in the elegant deliberation of Taste; it is finished to a delicate point in the exquisite conception of Touch. This is a picture of an instant of arrested energy, shown in the forward lean of the body, and the momentary stillness of the outstretched arm on which the butterfly has alighted. In a moment the insect will be gone, the limbs will relax and vibrate again with active life. Throughout, it is enjoyment of the senses, not abandonment to them, that the artist has depicted.

What may be called the debonair quality of Mr. Barse’s figures is very noticeable. It is due not only to the purity of type, and to the tenderness and simplicity of the coloring, laid on so flatly in two or at most three tones; but mainly to the sensitive elaboration of line. The figures are of ample proportion, and the draperies voluminous, but the artist’s appreciation of the value of line in mural decoration does not stop with the broad effects. He weaves into his draperies a diaper of delicate folds, each of which counts. In this way, by contrasting the smooth portions with the comparative intricacy of others, he gives to his figures, notwithstanding their simplicity, a certain richness, a quiet assertiveness, and a most agreeable refinement.

The striking contrast of dark and light in Mr. Benson’s panels gives them decorative distinction; a nearer view reveals the emotional tenderness of detail. The white figures, graciously delicate in drawing and color, are silhouetted against a dark background, brocaded with a bold design, and lustrous with interpenetrating tints. The originality of conception in the four Seasons is interesting. They are the four seasons of human feeling: the Springtime of anticipation; the Summer of possession; the Autumn, not of harvest, but of waning joyousness; the Winter of accepted loss. Yet hope and youth remain, and the beauty deepened by experience in the last face is an earnest of still another spring and summer, which shall be fuller, richer, and more precious.

Mr. Cox’s paintings in the Southwest Gallery exhibit a strong sense of responsibility to the aims and limits of mural decoration. The method he has adopted is to carry the surrounding architecture up into his pictures and melt it into a canopy of sky. Before this he has suspended, in the case of Science,[120] a delicate arabesque, as it were, of line and color accentuated by three important masses. Everything that could interfere with the flatness of his decoration has been rigidly eliminated. It is to the wall and not beyond it that he would direct our attention. The architectural features are only faintly depicted, and the foliage breaks up the background without introducing another plane. But it is in the figures that the artist’s mastery over his restrictions is most complete. With practically no recourse to light and shade, but relying solely on drawing and the handling of a few tones, he has given form and substance to his figures. The work throughout reveals clearness of purpose and certainty of accomplishment.

The decorations by Mr. Maynard, in the Pavilion of the Discoverers, strike a distinctly independent note. The starting-point of the scheme is the honor-roll of illustrious men toward whom the central composition stands as a sort of coat-of-arms, symbolically expressing the principle which links the names into a common family. The treatment, in fact, is heraldic, and subtly suggests the mediæval chivalry out of which the various movements grew. This formal character is assisted by the symmetrical distribution of the colors. Virility of mind and method characterizes every detail of the compositions. Compare, for instance, the panels of Discovery and Adventure. Energy, assertion, and full-blooded life characterize all the figures. The aims and animating impulse which especially distinguish the Discoverer are expressed in the eager, generous movement of one of the flanking figures, and in the strong calm and steadfastness of the other, shown, for example, in the self-restraint of the sword-arm. In Adventure, on the other hand, the roystering abandon of the figures, the easy carriage of the sword, epitomize the Adventurer’s sordid purpose and unscrupulous methods.

Mr. Maynard’s figures in the Staircase Hall (the Virtues) are dignified and elegant. Though they are so many vivid interludes to the repose of the architecture, and are instinct with buoyant vitality, yet, by their coloring, sensitive refinement, and noble proportions, they echo the surrounding marble.

Mr. R. L. Dodge has adopted a similar composition to Mr. Maynard’s in the Southeast Pavilion, in his designs symbolizing the four natural elements. The color schemes are in a light key. The backgrounds, to which the panels are most indebted for their decorative value, have a considerable poetic quality. Their intention is clear, and its expression agreeably fanciful. The names in the tablet below have an interesting significance, recording the Greek personification of the characteristics of the elements. The majesty of ocean, for instance, was embodied in Poseidon; Proteus personified its quality of assuming any shape; Galatea, its surpassing beauty.

In the next pavilion—the Pavilion of the Seals—Mr. Van Ingen has attacked his problem from the standpoint of color. The treatment of the subject is formal, for which, however, the artist has abundant warrant in tradition. The soul is infused into it by color. In the density and richness of the tones, the sumptuous texture of the surfaces, he has embodied the abstract idea of the solidity, grandeur, and delicate complexity of well-ordered government. The color schemes vary. In Post-Office and Justice, there is a diffusion of motive. Rose and violet penetrate the panel, playing with each other and affecting the other colors with subtle variations. In Treasury, however, the blue-green impression, which swims over the whole, is brought into a depth of tone in the woman’s dress; while in War there is a crispness of color throughout[121] in quick accord with the alertness of the figure and the flash of her robes. These panels are essentially a painter’s vision, expressed through a painter’s special medium.

Mr. W. L. Dodge, in the Pavilion of Art and Science, has grappled with his problem in a big way; exhibiting an eager acceptance of difficulty, and a resolute choice of intricate interest. For instance, he has arranged the light to fall upon his figures at short range, so that, instead of a simple scheme of light and shade, there is a multiplicity of unexpected effects. This purpose has expanded under the influence of the various subjects. The panels of Art and Music are crowded with sensations. We feel that here the painter is consciously and unconsciously reproducing the sensations of his Art life. In Literature, however, he has emerged into a more impersonal atmosphere. In Science the reproduction of sensations even more clearly yields to the creation of thought. Lastly, the ceiling is the climax of this growing artistic and intellectual effort. Here the problem is at its biggest, and the technical solution most successful. It is not by this or that accident of professional attainment that Mr. Dodge wins us here. It is because we feel that here the technique finally becomes the handmaid of real creative faculty.

In Mr. Melchers’s War and Peace, it is not beauty, in the popular acceptation of the term, that attracts us. Our interest is seized by their masterful character, held by their strong technique, and confirmed by their deep human significance. The brush-work is simple and sure, applied with breadth and in few tones, imitating the manner of frescoes in the old manner, painted rapidly while the plaster was still damp. Everything counts, and the artist’s thought is brought close to us. The composition varies with the subjects. In Peace, Mr. Melchers has relied on smooth masses balanced athwart a pleasing leafy background. Movement is suspended. War, however, shows the vigorous construction of moving forms: solid masses and a tangle of gnarled limbs displayed naked against a harsh landscape. We have muscular and mental tension. We see only the horror and hideousness of war, and none of its pomp and circumstance. Laurel, indeed, crowns the leader’s head, but his son is stretched a corpse upon the rude bier. One man blows a trumpet, but none of the dogged faces kindles. Only the hounds show eagerness, and they are straining at the leash to get home. The religious procession is in its way just as strong. It is entirely unsentimental. These simple folk are entering naturally into what is merely a part of their life and thought.

A great deal of the charm of Mr. McEwen’s panels is due to the landscapes, which are instinct with poetical imagination. The artist has given them an atmosphere which sets them back in the past, when the world was in its youth and full of promise rather than fulfilment. In the episodes selected, it is not the heyday of heroic achievement that he has commemorated, but the first impulses, such as those of Jason and Paris, or the reverses and inadequate results of human effort as illustrated in the other heroes. Stripped of its glamor, this is perhaps the true story of heroism in all ages.

Mr. Gutherz in his seven panels on the ceiling of the House Reading Room, has symbolized Light in its physical and metaphysical aspects. The starting-point of the scheme is the central panel—“Let there be light”—and the others follow in prismatic sequence. He has not painted the clearness of light, but its subtle play upon various surfaces. For example, from the central figure, “whose face no man hath seen and lived,” radiates a pale saffron glow, struggling[122] through the formless void of primeval chaos, and piercing it with stars and splinters of light. In the next panel of Progress light is burnishing the dry atmosphere of an eastern sky; while in that of Research it acts and re-acts upon the particles of deep water, and spends itself in a soft suffused luminousness.

Mr. Dielman has adopted in his History an almost sculptural design; in Law rather a pictorial. In the latter the group on the spectator’s right is an especially attractive portion of the composition. In the case of the centre figure, it is well worthy of notice how the flexible lines on one side woo the figures, while on the other the drapery as well as the figure of Fraud slinks away from the hard line of the sword and the strong angle of the arm.

Mr. Simmons’s Muses exhibit a certain restless power, tempered by the sensibility of drawing and color. The first impression is of a vivid blue or red spot. The note is at once daring and original and in time irresistibly persuasive. For these panels are daring, not only in color but in the treatment of the subject. The painter has infused into the old Greek conception some of the intricacy of modern thought, without, however, losing the classic character. Observe, for instance, his representation of Tragedy. Greek tragedy was concerned with facts, the sin and the vengeance, not with psychological considerations. The actor’s mask covered even his face. But in the panel before us is a suggestion of the whole perplexing problem of human sin and suffering. Or note the conception of Calliope, with the hands uplifted like Aaron’s, partly in supplication, partly in encouragement, and with the shadow across those pitying eyes; it would be unintelligible but for the Inferno or Paradise Lost. In the thought and execution we feel a certain quality of what one may be allowed to call, perhaps, diablerie. Sometimes it becomes palpable to sight, as in the pale yellow flame in the panel of Polyhymnia. It is something more than technique—it is a spark struck out of the artist’s personal consciousness.

A few words in conclusion upon the significance of this Library. The union of sculpture and painting with architecture has always marked the brilliant period of a country, not only in arts and sciences, but in material and social advancement. The movement in this country, begun by Richardson and John la Farge, in Trinity Church, Boston, has been steadily fostered by our leading architects, gained an immense impulse at the World’s Fair, was endorsed by the Trustees of the Boston Public Library, and may now in the Library of Congress be said to have received the sanction of Government. It is a pre-eminently democratic movement, for art so directed becomes an idealized embodiment of the national life, and is brought within the reach of millions. And the benefit will react upon Art itself, since her domain is thereby widened, her opportunities increased, and an incentive supplied to higher and nobler work. Studied in connection with the great buildings of Europe, this Library, representing the various aims and methods of so many men, working from different points of view towards the same purpose, will afford an opportunity for analysis and comparison that should yield rich fruit. One may even venture to predict that, properly used, it will lead to that artistic ideal, the formation of a distinctively American School of Mural Painting. A school, founded upon the methods of the past; but differing in its animating impulse; no longer catering, as in the Italian Renaissance, to the cultivated caprice of a few powerful patrons, or reflecting an age when faith and civic virtues had waned, but broadening out to express the aspirations of a self-governing People, who profess belief in Religion, Country, Home, Themselves, and Humanity at large.








The uses of a great national collection of books are so manifold and far-reaching that it is difficult to sum them up in any succinct statement. The Library at Washington, steadily growing for generations, was founded primarily for the use and reference of Congress. As the library of our national legislature, whose responsible labors cover the wide field of domestic welfare and foreign relations; it should contain all that can contribute to their service and information. This being its primary function, and a great and comprehensive library having been thus gathered, a far wider field of usefulness is found in opening its treasures freely to the public. Gathered as it has been by appropriations of public money, supplemented for more than a quarter of a century by the steady acquisitions coming in under copyright law, it has become to a degree the representative of American science, and the conservatory of the Nation’s literature. As the only Government library of comprehensive range, every year of its existence should be marked by incessant progress toward completeness in every department. In the new and splendid home for the Nation’s books provided by the far-sighted liberality of Congress, readers whose pursuits are endlessly varied should be assured of finding the best literature of all lands. It is a fact pregnant with meaning that the nations which possess the most extensive libraries maintain the foremost rank in civilization.

The universality of its range and of its usefulness should not lead any to overlook the fact that it is, first of all, the Library of Congress. Here, at the political capital of the country, the Senators and Representatives who are responsible for the legislation of seventy millions of people are assembled. In dealing with the wide range of interests involved, there is almost no knowledge which may not at some time be wanted, or which can come amiss. Here are settled or modified the principles of the internal economy and foreign policy of the Nation. Here resort the innumerable promoters of local, or individual, or corporate, or State, or Territorial, or National, or foreign interests, all of whose propositions are to be examined, weighed, and brought to the test of reason,[124] precedent, justice, and facts of record. Here are apportioned those expenditures of public money which carry on the Government and tend to the development of the country. Here questions of internal revenue and tariff taxation, public land policy, the pension system, patents, copyrights, postal service, agriculture, education, Indian policy, internal commerce, immigration and naturalization, the fisheries, merchant shipping, the army, the navy, the coast survey, the civil service, the public debt, the whole financial system, and the people’s measure of value, are discussed and settled. In the vast and complicated system involved in a government so complex as the American, where State rights and Federal supremacy are constantly brought in question, Congress and its Committees are taxed with responsibilities which demand the widest political, historical, and judicial knowledge. Only a library of completely encyclopædic range, filled with books and periodicals which illustrate every subject, and throw light upon the history and policy of every nation, is adequate to equip them for their work.

In like manner, the Supreme Court and the other courts of the United States, established at the Seat of Government, the Interstate Commerce Commission, and the tribunals frequently created to consider and report upon questions of national or international importance, require and receive the constant aid of the rich assemblage of authorities here gathered. It was found that more than two-thirds of the books relating to Venezuela and its border-countries of South America, needed for reference by the Venezuelan Commission, were in the Library of Congress.

Not less important and valuable is the service rendered by this Library to all the Departments and Bureaus of the Government. Questions frequently arise requiring investigations so broad and extensive as to overtax the stores of even the largest library to supply all the information sought for.

To a National Library which is, in some degree, the intellectual centre of a great capital, resort numberless seekers after books and information. Here is found the busy journalist, turning over files of forgotten, but carefully preserved newspapers, to ascertain or to verify facts, dates, or opinions. Here the Senator or Representative seeks and finds precedents and illustrations, authorities and legal decisions, parliamentary history and the experience of nations, to embody in his reports, or apt citations and poetic gems to adorn his speeches. Hither come the students of history, American and foreign, assured of finding the chronicles that illustrate every period, early or recent, in whatever language. Here are found devotees of art, studying the manuals or the histories of painting and sculpture, or the engraved galleries of Europe, for examples of the beautiful. Hither come the architect, the mechanic and the engineer, in search of designs, of models, or of patents, or of some book which contains the last word in electrical science. Here, too, come professional men of every class, lawyers after leading cases, clergymen investigating commentaries or religious homilies, physicians reading medical or surgical or hygienic treatises, teachers and professors striving to add to their learning. The readers in the wide and attractive fields of literature are still more numerous than those who pursue the graver walks of science. Here, the vast number and variety of works of fiction have their full quota of absorbed readers. The enthusiasts of poetry and drama follow close upon, and the student of biography finds no end of memoirs that are equally full of entertainment and instruction. Essays and criticism enlist the attention of many, while many more find their delight in[125] the perusal of voyages and travels. Here the eager student of metaphysics or moral science feeds his intellect upon the great masters of human thought, and the man ambitious of great reforms busies himself over the books on social science. Here comes the student of natural science in quest of botany, zoölogy, or the other kingdoms of nature, and the politician searches after the arguments and the history of parties. Here the zealous grubber after facts of genealogy burrows among endless tables of family births, deaths, and marriages, and the ever present investigator of heraldry traces the blazonry of crests and coats-of-arms. Here frequent the feminine searchers after costumes, fanciful or historical, and here the lovers of music resort to feed their sense of harmony upon the scores of the great composers. The student of oratory revels in the masterpieces of ancient or modern eloquence, and the lover of classic lore luxuriates in the pages of Greek or Roman poets, philosophers, or historians. The law of nations (that undiscoverable science) engages the baffled researches of some, while many others pursue, through a world of controversial writings, the knotty problems of finance. Some readers visit the Library for prolonged and serious and fruitful investigation—others for only momentary purpose to verify a quotation, or to settle a wager about the origin, the meaning, or the orthography of a word. Many books have been written, and many more have been edited or corrected, by the aid of the copious stores of every great library.

To respond adequately to all these and countless more demands upon its intellectual resources, a National Library must clearly be one of universal range. This comprehensive aim for the National Library will appear still more important when it is considered that it is, in effect, the only really representative library of the nation. Not that other collections (and many of them, let us hope) are not equally far-reaching in their scope and their aim at completeness; but the Government Library being the only one endowed with the full copyright production of the country, its law of growth is necessarily in advance of that of other collections, however well endowed—provided only that adequate care be taken by Congress for its proper increase in other directions. The copyright law brings into it, year by year, virtually the entire intellectual product of the nation so far as protected by copyright; as well as a steadily increasing share (since the extension of the area of copyright protection through the international provisions of the act of 1891) of the works of foreign authors. Thus the National Library acquires a great store of publications which the other libraries do without, from lack of means, or of room, or of disposition to purchase.

It is easy to say that the greater part of the books and periodicals thus acquired are trash; but it is to be considered that very substantial reasons can be urged why one library should preserve the entire product of the American press, irrespective of intrinsic value. First, every nation should have, at its capital city, all the books that its authors have produced, in perpetual evidence of its literary history and progress—or retrogression, as the case may be. Secondly, this complete assemblage of our literature in the Library of the Government (that is, of the whole people) is an inestimable boon to authors and publishers, many of whose books, after years have elapsed, may owe to such a collection their sole chance of preservation. Thirdly, it is a most valuable aid to would-be writers to have access to all the works that have been published in the special field they seek to cultivate. Fourthly, one comprehensive library—inclusive and not exclusive—should exist, because all other libraries must be in a greater or less degree exclusive. Fifthly, all American books should be preserved as[126] models—even if many of them are models to be avoided. One learns as much frequently from the failures of others, as from their successes. Sixthly, it is already provided by law (and very wisely), that all copyright publications of whatever character, shall be deposited in the Library of Congress, and the Nation is as much bound to conserve these things, in evidence of copyright, as to preserve the models in the Patent Office, in evidence of patent right. Seventhly, there is no standard of selection or of exclusion that could be adopted which would stand against the fact of the endlessly varying judgments of different men, or even of the same men at different periods. What is pronounced trash to-day may have an unexpected value hereafter, and the unconsidered trifles of the press of the nineteenth century may prove highly curious and interesting to the twentieth, as examples of what the ancestors of the men of that day wrote and thought about.

Of course it should be one of the foremost aims of our National Library to secure all books, pamphlets, maps and periodicals relating to our own country. Everything that can illustrate the discovery, settlement, history, biography, natural history, or resources of America should be gathered. The already rich collection of Americana comprises a large share of the earlier works respecting America, nearly all of which are now rare, as well as of the early printed books of the various American presses, and many published in places where no books are now printed. Assiduous pains have been taken to increase these collections from auctions and from sale catalogues in this country and in Europe.

Another function of the Library of the Nation is to furnish a repository for special collections of books, manuscripts, and memorials, which may be dedicated by their donors to public use. Now, for the first time, the Government of the United States is placed in a position where it can receive and preserve in a fitting manner, in a noble fireproof edifice, of ample proportions, such gifts of private libraries, etc., as any of its citizens may present. One such donation, from a public-spirited citizen of Washington, the late Dr. J. M. Toner, has already been presented and accepted by Congress. It is to be expected that the example will be followed by other collectors of private libraries, who feel a natural reluctance that their collections of special value, costing years of time and much money to assemble, should be scattered abroad after they have ceased to enjoy them, leaving no memorial behind.

In this connection it should be noted that the National Library furnishes the most obvious and appropriate repository for special collections of manuscripts. When organized into departments, the systematic collection, arrangement, and preservation of manuscripts, with calendars both alphabetical and chronological, open to public use, will form one of the cardinal objects to be kept in view. This too long-neglected field, though zealously cultivated by the leading historical societies of the country, has had no proper recognition at the hands of the American Government. While the manuscript papers of four American Presidents have been purchased, because offered to Congress by their heirs, no attempt to obtain and preserve those of the other Presidents has been made, nor has any fund been devoted by Congress to secure the papers of other public men. All the principal nations of Europe, and even the Dominion of Canada, have an archivist, or custodian of manuscripts, responsible for keeping, indexing, and increasing these collections, whose importance as original documents illustrating the history and biography of the nation can hardly be overrated. To avail of all opportunities offered for securing such manuscript[127] collections, and to seek out others, thus preserving for posterity unique and valuable historical materials which would otherwise remain in private hands, subject to constant diminution or destruction, should be one cardinal function of the National Library. Many such would be freely given by their owners, if assured of permanent care and preservation in that institution.

The acquisition and preservation of pamphlet and periodical literature should be sedulously cultivated by National Libraries. No fact is more familiar to students than the rapid disappearance of these ephemeral but often valuable publications. The chances of procuring any desired pamphlet a few months after its publication are incalculably smaller than those of securing copies of any book. Hence the importance of adding them to the one representative library of the Nation while they are yet fresh and procurable. As this species of literature is seldom protected by copyright, the greater portion of the pamphlets of any period must remain unrepresented in the Government Library unless their authors will take the trouble, by wise forethought, to send copies of their productions to Washington. Of the great value of pamphlets, as exponents of the thought of the time, and the questions which agitate the public mind, expressed frequently in condensed and forcible style, there can be no question.

Of the periodical literature, in its vast extent and variety, now including, in the United States alone, more than twenty thousand different publications, a National Library should acquire and preserve the more important portions. These, in the absence of any possibility of providing room for all, may be held to embrace (1) All American reviews and magazines, with a selection of the leading English and European ones. (2) The daily newspapers of the larger cities of the country, and a few, at least, of the principal journals of England and the Continent, not forgetting the American republics, and Canada. (3) Two, at least, of the most widely circulated journals of each State and Territory in the Union, representing each political party. This has been the established policy of the Library for thirty years past, and the bound files of these periodicals constitute one of the most largely used portions of the Library. Only by keeping up full sets of the notable serials, whether literary, political, religious, historical, scientific, legal, medical, technical, agricultural, economic, etc., can the Library answer the just demands of the national legislature and of the public. In whatever direction American libraries may be inferior to those of other and older nations, they are (at least in the larger collections) well equipped with the literature of periodicals. The materials thus furnished to the politician, the historical writer, or the student of literature, are of great and incalculable value. A National Library is not for one generation alone, but for all time. So much the more important is its function of handing down to the readers and students of the future a full and authentic mirror of each age in its progressive growth, to be found most vividly in the pages of the daily and weekly journals, and the magazines and reviews of every class. These periodicals furnish the best impress of the times which can be derived from any single source. Stored up in a permanent fireproof repository, they are ever ready to be drawn upon by those who know how to use them.

One little known and imperfectly understood function of the National Library is to furnish evidence of literary property to all who are interested in copyrights. This is rendered possible through the removal to Washington, by the copyright act of 1870, of all original records of copyright, previously scattered in more[128] than forty different offices throughout the various States. The registry of copyrights having been transferred to the Librarian of Congress, at the same time, and continued ever since, it is easy to follow out the record of any individual copyright, and thus to trace questions concerning literary property for more than a century. This facility is of great value to publishers and authors, in the various negotiations constantly being made in questions of renewal of the terms of copyrights expiring, or in suits at law seeking to establish or to invalidate copyrights by litigation, or to prevent infringement. Incident to this, it is a part of the function of the Library to produce any copyright book, or other publication in its possession, for inspection by whom ever it may concern.

An incidental benefit of the Library is found in its rich accumulation of works of the fine arts. These include, besides the multitude of illustrations and galleries to be found in books, hundreds of thousands of examples of graphic art, many of them costly and valuable, acquired by copyright. Arranged in classes, in the spacious art-gallery provided, they form a most instructive and entertaining exhibit of the progress of the arts of design.

Of the numerous and beautiful works of art embraced in the decoration of the Library building, full account is taken elsewhere in the present volume. Suffice it to say here, that readers and frequenters of the Library who are surrounded with such architectural and artistic attractions, will find rich suggestions on every hand, as they pursue their several aims. What more inspiring adjuncts to study or contemplation can exist than the sumptuous marble arches, the statues of illustrious authors, the graphic paintings and sculptured emblems illustrative of science, literature, and art, and the many inscriptions drawn from the writings of the great scholars of the world? The stately Library building with its precious contents thus contributes not only to the public intelligence, but also to elevate and to refine the public taste.

While every consideration favors the most liberal hours of frequentation and use of the collection, it is manifestly not a proper function of a National Library to furnish a circulating library for the people of the city in which it is located. All experience proves that a great library of reference cannot be made a library of general circulation without destroying its function as a reference library. Every frequenter of the National Library has a right to expect that the books it contains will be found when called for. This is impossible if a large portion of them are out in circulation. Nor can this be met by the claim that duplicates would enable the Library to loan freely. There are no more than enough duplicates to meet the uses of members of Congress who have the legal privilege of drawing books. Moreover, the few who would be convenienced by the loaning out of the books would be favored only to the inconvenience of the many, who would find very many of them continually absent from the shelves. The greatest good of the greatest number would thus be unjustly sacrificed.

The suggestion has been made that one of the two copies of books received by copyright might be utilized for the purposes of circulation. This is conclusively met by the fact that the copyright deposits are a trust under the law, like the models in the Patent Office, and while one copy may properly be kept in the Library, for the use of Congress and for public reference, the other should be sedulously preserved in the copyright archives. All comers, however, have free enjoyment of the benefits of this great Library within its attractive walls, and are welcomed by its liberal management to share its literary, scientific, and artistic treasures.


[1] Those allowed to take books from the building are: the President; Vice-President; Senators, Representatives, and Delegates in Congress; Cabinet Officials; the Justices, Reporter, and Clerk of the Supreme Court; the Judges and Clerks of the Courts of the United States in the District of Columbia; representatives in Washington of foreign governments; the Solicitor General and Assistant Attorneys-General; the Secretary of the Senate; the Clerk of the House of Representatives; the Solicitor of the Treasury; the Disbursing Agent of the Committee on the Library; former Presidents of the United States; the Chaplains of the two Houses of Congress; the Secretary and Regents of the Smithsonian Institution; the Members and Secretary of the Interstate Commerce Commission; and the Chief of Engineers of the Army. No one, however, not even these officials, may take away any manuscript or map, or any book of special value and rarity. Books are delivered to the order of any of the persons having the special privileges of the Library, but only for their own use. They have no authority to give an order in favor of another person. Previous to the erection of the new building, one of the rules of the Library had permitted the Librarian, at his discretion, to issue books to the public generally, for home use, on the deposit of a sum of money sufficient to cover the value of the volume applied for, but this provision was found to be an embarrassment and has since been abolished.

[2] The list of the previous Librarians of Congress, with the dates when they were appointed, is as follows: John Beckley, 1802; Patrick Magruder, 1807; George Watterston, 1815; John S. Meehan, 1829; John G. Stephenson, 1861.

[3] Such as Races and Peoples, by Dr. Daniel G. Brinton.

[4] The three groups are reproduced as headpieces to the three portions of this Handbook: the first, representing Literature, to introduce the present general description; that representing Art, over Mr. Caffin’s essay; and the third, representing Science, over Mr. Spofford’s.

[5] Mr. W. C. Brownell, in Scribner’s Monthly.

[6] The panel of The Family is shown in the view of the North Corridor, given on the opposite page. The border referred to a few lines below is reproduced in the Handbook on Page 21, as a heading to the present description of the Main Entrance Hall.

[7] The following is the list, beginning, in each corridor, at the left-hand end of the outer wall. The dates appended to the names are from Mr. Roberts’s book: West Corridor—Wolfgang Koepfel 1523; Fust and Schoeffer, 1457; Craft Mueller, 1536–62; Conrad Baumgarten, 1503–5; Jacobus Pfortzheim, 1488–1518; Cratander, 1519; Valentin Kobian, 1532–42; Martin Schott, 1498; Melchior Lotter, 1491–1536; Theodosius and Josias Rihel, 1535–1639. South Corridor—Rutger Velpius (Flemish), 1553–1614; F. Estienne, 1525; Simon de Colines, 1520; François Regnault, early part of the sixteenth century; Simon Vostre, 1488–1528; Sebastien Nivelle, latter part of the sixteenth century; M. Morin, 1484–1518; Sebastien Gryphe, second quarter of the sixteenth century; André Wéchel, 1535; Geoffroy Tory, 1524; Guillaume Chandière, 1564; Pierre Le Rouge, 1488; Mathurin Breuille, 1562–83; Etienne Dolet, 1540; Jehan Treschel, 1493; Jehan Petit, 1525. East Corridor—Paul and Anthony Meietos (Italian), 1570; Gian Giacomo de Leguano (Italian), 1503–33; Juan Rosenbach (Spanish), 1493–1526; Andrea Torresano (Italian), 1481–1540; Valentin Fernandez (Spanish), 1501; Christopher Plantin (Flemish), 1557; Daniel Elzevir (Dutch, the mark of the Sage), 1617–1625; the Brothers Sabio (Italian), early part of the sixteenth century; Melchior Sessa (Italian), sixteenth century; Ottaviano Scotto (Italian), 1480–1520; Giammaria Rizzardi (Italian), latter part of the eighteenth century; Filippo de Ginuta (Italian), 1515; Lucantonio de Giunta (Italian), 1500; Aldus Manutius (Italian), 1502. North Corridor—D. Appleton & Co.; the DeVinne Press; Charles Scribner’s Sons; Harper & Brothers; Houghton, Mifflin & Co. (the Riverside Press); the Century Co.; J. B. Lippincott Co.; Dodd, Mead & Co.; William Caxton, 1489; Richard Grafton, 1537–72; Thomas Vautrollier (Edinburgh and London), 1556–1605; John Day, 1546–84; William Jaggard, 1595–1624; A. Arbuthnot (Edinburgh), 1580; Andrew Hester, 1550; Richard Pynson, 1493–1527. Of the marks in this last corridor, those on the north are of American houses, all contemporary, and on the south, of early English and Scottish printers and publishers.

[8] The original cartoon for this mosaic is reproduced as the frontispiece of this Handbook.

[9] From a tract entitled Considerations on the East India Trade, 1701.

[10] The accompanying illustration of Mr. Flanagan’s clock is taken from a preliminary sketch in clay.

[11] In the South Gallery, or Print Room, the names are those of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. In the Southeast Gallery, those of Inventors: Gutenberg, Daguerre, Schwartz, Montgolfier, Watt, Cooper, Stevens, Newcomen, Trevithick, Hargreaves, Corliss, Arkwright, Jacquard, Fitch, Fuller, Wood, Wheatstone, Whitney, Morse, Vail, Goodyear, Ericsson, Hoe, McCormick, Howe, Bessemer, Westinghouse, Edison, and Bell.

Architects and Engineers are commemorated in the Northeast Gallery; Ictinus, Vitruvius, Anthemius, Palladio, Vignola, Sansovino, Bramante, Brunelleschi, Michael Angelo, Lescot, Duc, Delorme-Labrust, Mansard, Bulfinch, Wren, Jones, Walter, Richardson, Hunt, Archimedes, Stephenson, Smeaton, Vauban, Lavally, Jarvis, Eads, Schwedler, Roebling, and Barnard.

In the Map Room (North Gallery) the list is miscellaneous, including Theologians, Physicians, Jurists, Scientists, Musicians, Sculptors, and Painters: Lycurgus, Coke, Justinian, Blackstone, Montesquieu, Marshall, Story, Hippocrates, Avicenna, Harvey, Paracelsus, Jenner, Hahnemann, St. Augustine, Bowditch, Chrysostom, St. Bernard, Bossuet, Pascal, Edwards, Channing, Euclid, Pythagoras, Pliny, Copernicus, Darwin, Humboldt, Agassiz, Faraday, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Liszt, Wagner, Phidias, Apelles, Da Vinci, Giotto, Perugino, Raphael, Titian, Guido Reni, Correggio, Dürer, Pallissy, Thorwaldsen, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, Murillo, Holbein.

[12] For a description of this map, see Justin Winsor’s Narrative and Critical History of America, Boston, 1886, Vol. 2, p. 124; or Harper’s Monthly for December, 1882.

[13] The order in which the various paintings in the Library are treated in the present essay is substantially the same as in the preceding portion of the Handbook.


The image of the Library at the front of the book, the image on page 87 titled ‘THE ARTS’, and the image on page 102 titled ‘WAR’, were printed sideways in the original book. These have been oriented horizontally in this etext. A larger version of these images can be seen by clicking on the image.

Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within the text and consultation of external sources.

Six occurrances of ‘Michael Angelo’ have been left unchanged (not changed to Michaelangelo).

Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text, and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained: for example, fire-proof, fireproof; hand-glass, handglass; sea-shell, seashell; atheistical; vermiculated; Hindoo; Corean; falchion; lyrists; ideality; pedler; undistracted; blazonry.

Pg 7: ‘Library in Pittsburg’ replaced by ‘Library in Pittsburgh’.
Pg 23: ‘those of the achitecture’ replaced by ‘those of the architecture’.
Pg 35: ‘by door-and’ replaced by ‘by door- and’.
Pg 40: ‘rests a a border’ replaced by ‘rests a border’.
Pg 50: ‘is a rectagular’ replaced by ‘is a rectangular’.
Pg 55: ‘buildings commemmorated’ replaced by ‘buildings commemorated’.
Pg 55: ‘a small tympanun’ replaced by ‘a small tympanum’.
Pg 63: ‘will reflect thing’ replaced by ‘will reflect things’.
Pg 66: The anchor for Footnote [10] was missing and has been inserted after the heading Mr. Flanagan’s Clock.
Pg 69: ‘unobstrusively added’ replaced by ‘unobtrusively added’.
Pg 82: ‘require the freeest’ replaced by ‘require the freest’.
Pg 112: ‘of the genuises’ replaced by ‘of the geniuses’.