Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/11

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


CONGRESS OF ARTS AND SCIENCE. 7

were strictly in pure science, as e. g., the department of anthropology, which included a laboratory of anthropometry and psychometry.

Such considerations suggest the ideal advantage which the Con- gress of Arts and Science enjoyed through its relation to the great exposition. It would further seem a happy thought which led to the convocation of an international group of scholars at a place independ- ently dedicated as a meeting ground of the nations. Not to mention other advantages of a more practical kind for such of the participants as were interested in seeing a great world's fair, or studying some special aspect of its exhibition, the provision for this congress was at once a tribute to science many times deserved, and especially a lesson to the public at large of incalculable educational value. Besides, here was an opportunity too rare to be despised, of realizing, however imper- fectly, a worthy ambition, widely shared, for the internal improvement of the whole kingdom of knowledge.

On the other hand, there were obvious drawbacks to the satisfactory conduct of meetings for the serious discussion of abstract and learned subjects under the conditions presented by a world's fair. It was impossible for the committee to overcome all the difficulties incidental to the subordination of the congress to the management of the exposi- tion, of which it was externally but a small part, however significant. The fair's department of congresses had to provide for at least one hundred and fifty special conventions or international congresses of one kind or another, besides this universal congress. It was unfortunate that more halls suitable for speaking and hearing, and less widely scat- tered, could not be found or spared, and that no proper waiting and lounging room was provided for social intercourse. Yet great scholars spoke cheerfully to attentive listeners and congenial spirits contrived to meet for friendly conversation or for seeing the fair together. If some of the foreign guests suffered temporary inconvenience on the score of the creature comforts, they will probably not long remember it against us.

Those acquainted with the conditions may well pause for wonder at the smoothness with which so complicated a piece of machinery was kept running, involving as it did the direction of so large and va- riegated a group of markedly individual men who were for the most part hurried. In this connection credit is especially due the energy, patience and industry of the .faithful staff of executive assistants under the efficient direction of the executive secretary of the congress, Dr. L. 0. Howard, of Washington, government entomologist and chief of the division of entomology, U. S. department of agriculture. The congress was fortunate in securing for this arduous work the services of so eminent a worker for science, both as an investigator and as the permanent secretary of the American Association for the Advance- ment of Science, with his able assistant, Mr. Clifton. It is significant of the spirit of the congress that Dr. Howard's special executive assist-

�� �