Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/560

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8. It is sufficiently obvious that we have yet much to learn in regard to the constitution of the Leonid ring, and that future observations from the 13th to the 15th of November may probably result in important discoveries.

Bloomington, Indiana, November 25, 1880.


TO the uninitiated an "International Congress of Prehistoric Anthropology and Archæology" may seem a formidable affair, where no more cheerful entertainment than a feast of dry bones could be allowed, and where a member indulging in a joke would be instantly called to order. Those who attended the late meeting of this Congress at Lisbon know better. They know that under cover of their imposing title this scientific Congress can give itself up to sociability, and even levity, without imperiling its dignity. They know that this assembly of men, representing the scientific world in nearly every country in Europe, has as human an idea of enjoyment as the most ordinary mortals who have never even heard of the Neanderthal skull, and to whom the term palæolithic or quaternary man calls up no vision of cave-bears ,or hairy mammoths, living hob-and-nob, so to speak, with our flint-using ancestors.

Let us follow the fortunes of the Congress, the idea that the typical Dryasdust flourishes among its members being dispelled. The first unofficial séance may be said to have taken place at Almorchon, a junction half-way from Madrid, where all the scientific pilgrims, more or less tired and dusty, made a rush at the buffet to get what food was to be had. Those who had been traveling from Madrid since the previous evening and those who had taken a preliminary tour through Andalusia here met, and Instantly there was a Babel of tongues—German, Italian, French, and English. Only Spanish was not to be heard, so that, but for the tropical heat of the sun and the Sahara-like aspect of the surrounding country, one would hardly have realized that one was in the Peninsula. Friends were inquiring how each other's work had sped since the meeting four years ago at Buda-Pesth, or that of Stockholm two years earlier. Scientific men who had never met before, and who only knew each other by books or letters, were being "enchanted to make each other's acquaintance" in the best French they could muster. Some were deploring in hushed tones the great loss just sustained by anthropology in the death of M. Paul Broca, who was to have been present at Lisbon. Here was the universal favorite, M. de Quatrefages, of the French Institute, in a gray suit and wideawake, looking more like a genial English geologist than a French savant,