Commerce Quotation in Main Reading Room
“WE TASTE THE SPICES OF ARABIA YET NEVER FEEL THE SCORCHING SUN WHICH BRINGS THEM FORTH.”
—Dudley North (1602-1677)
Above each statue the pendentive of the dome is occupied by a group in plaster, sculpted by Philip Martiny (1858-1927), consisting of two winged figures, modeled 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 books symbolic 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 Charles W. Elliott, president of Harvard University, who several years before had furnished the memorable sentences carved upon the Water Gate at the World Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago. Each is appropriate to the subject of the statue below it.