This section is from the book "The National Capitol. Its Architecture Art And History", by George C. Hazelton, Jr. Also available from Amazon: The National Capitol Its Architecture Art and History.
After giving this little outline of the life of Mr. West, his sons now beg of you to offer, in their names, to the Government of the United States, that portion of his works which has devolved to them. They hope that the offer will not be rejected, devoutly wishing that the name of their father may thus honorably be transmitted to the posterity of the country wherein he was born, and that the portion of his works, which they now offer, may form the foundation of a school for the growth of the fine arts in the rapidly advancing States of America. In Europe, almost everywhere is to be seen what is generally denominated a National Gallery, composed of pictures and statues by the old masters: the honor of having produced them belonging to Italy and Greece, no country ever yet had such an opportunity of commencing a truly National Gallery as now presents itself to the United States of America; for none of the nations of the old world, at such an early period of their histories, ever bad an artist who stood so distinguished in the eyes of the world, or that had produced so numerous and so diversified a body of celebrated works as Benjamin West. They are the productions of American born genius, and let them be deposited in whatever quarter of the globe destiny may place them, the honor of having produced them belongs to the Uuited States of America.
Hoping that, from your situation in the House of Representatives, you will not find it at variance with your duty and opinions to speak and use your influence in recommendation of our offer,
We remain, with the highest consideration and respect,
Your obedient servants,
Raphael L. West, Benjamin West.
Newman Street, Londqn, April 12th, 1826.
The minister plenipotentiary of France, having on the 6th transmitted to Congress a letter, dated 13th August, 1783, from his most christian majesty, in answer to their letter of the 14th June, 1779, and accompanied the same with a memorial informing Congress, that the portraits of the king and queen are arrived at Philadelphia ; that he has orders to present them to this assembly, and has taken the measures necessary for their safe keeping until Congress shall be ready to receive them ; the said letter and memorial were referred to the consideration of a committee.
On the report of a committee, consisting of Mr. Gerry, Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Read, . . .
Resolved, That the following letter be signed by the President in behalf of the United States in Congress assembled, and transmitted to his most christian majesty, . . .
Great, Faithful and Beloved Friend and Ally,
Your majesty's letter of the 13th of August last has been received by the United States in Congress assembled with a degree of satisfaction and pleasure which those only can conceive, who, to the highest sentiments of respect, unite feelings of the most affectionate friendship.
The portraits of your majesty and of your royal consort having arrived at Philadelphia, have bean carefully preserved by your faithful minister, the chevalier de la Luzerne, whose attention on this, as on all other occasions, merits the acknowledgements of Congress.
These lively representations of our august and most beloved friends will be placed in our council chamber ; and can never fail of exciting in the mind of every American, an admiration of the distinguished virtues and accomplishments of the royal originals.
We beseech the Supreme Ruler of the Universe constantly to keep your majesty and your royal consort in his holy protection, and to render the blessings of your administration as extensive as the objects of your majesty's benevolent principles.
Done at Annapolis, in the state of Maryland, this 16th day of April, 1784, by the United States in Congress assembled.
Your faithful friends and allies.
Resolved, That the President inform the honourable the minister of France, that Congress have a due sense of the care which he has taken for preserving the portraits ; and are desirous they may continue in his possession until proper places can be provided for them.
Before I close my account of the south wing of the Capitol, I most respectfully beg permission to notice in this report the two objections to the Hall of Congress, which were discovered immediately on the opening of the session—the difficulty of hearing and speaking in it, and the unpleasant effect of the mode adopted to warm the House upon the air of the room.
In every large room the great average distance of the speaker from the hearer is a cause of difficulty of hearing and speaking which cannot be removed ; but the effect of this cause bears no proportion to that indistinctness which arises from the innumerable echoes that are reverborated from the walls and arched ceiling of such a room as the Hall of Representatives. These surfaces give back to the ear echoes, not only of the voice of the speaker, at a perceptible distance of time from the original sound, but also distinct echoes of every accidental noise and separate conversation in the House and lobbies, and renders debate very laborious to the speaker and almost useless to the hearers. This defect was foreseen; and, in furnishing the House, the curtains and draperies of the windows were made as ample as propriety would admit ; draperies were hung in other proper situations, and a large curtain closed the opening of the columns behind the Speaker's chair. But all this drapery bore a small proportion to the extent of uncovered surface, though it rendered those particular situations of the hearer, thus freed from echo, superior to all others.
If the dimensions of a room, erected for the purpose of debate, were so moderate that the echoes of the voice of the speaker could reach the ear of the hearer, without the intervention of a perceptable distance of time, then the echo would strengthen and support the voice; and we find that this is actually the case in small lecture-rooms, expressly constructed to produce innumerable echoes. But there is a circumstance attending halls of debate which distinguishes them from rooms intended for the lectures of one speaker ; the impossibility of preserving perfect silence, and of confining persons to their seats, so as to prevent all sound but that of the speaker's voice ; for it is evident that sounds from all quarters and of all kinds will be re-echoed with perfect impartiality.