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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/797

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so various that some are fitted to each of all the conditions of material and mode of life which they can discover or invent. These are most prosperous in the highest civilization; these whom nature adapts to the products of their own arts.

Or, among other groups, the mightiest are those who are strong alike on land and sea; who can explore and colonize, and in every climate can replenish the earth and subdue it; and this not by tenacity or mere robustness, but rather by pliancy and the production of varieties fit to abide and increase in all the various conditions of the world around.

Now, it is by no distant analogy that we trace the likeness between these in their successful contests with the material conditions of life and those who are to succeed in the intellectual strife with the difficulties of science and of art. There must be minds which in variety may match with all the varieties of the subject-matters and minds which, at once or in swift succession, can be adjusted to all the increasing and changing modes of thought and work.

Such are the minds we need; or, rather, such are the minds we have; and these in great meetings prove and augment their worth. Happily the natural increase in the variety of minds in all cultivated races is—whether as cause or as consequence—nearly proportionate to the increasing variety of knowledge. And it has become proverbial, and is nearly true in science and art, as it is in commerce and in national life, that, whatever work is to be done, men are found or soon produced who are exactly fit to do it.

But it need not be denied that, in the possession of this first and chiefest power for the increase of knowledge, there is a source of weakness. In works done by dissimilar and independent minds, dispersed in different fields of study, or only gathered into self-assorted groups, there are apt to be discord and great waste of power. There is, therefore, need that the workers should from time to time be brought to some consent and unity of purpose; that they should have opportunity for conference and mutual criticism, for mutual help and the tests of free discussion. This it is which, on the largest scale and most effectually, our Congress may achieve; not indeed by striving after a useless and happily impossible uniformity of mind or method, but by diminishing the lesser evil of waste and discord which is attached to the far greater good of diversity and independence. Now, as in numbers and variety the Congress may represent the whole multitude of workers everywhere dispersed, so in its gathering and concord it may represent a common consent that, though we may be far apart and different, yet our work is and shall be essentially one; in all its parts mutually dependent, mutually helpful, in no part complete or self-sufficient. We may thus declare that as we who are many are met to be members of one body, so our work for science shall be one, though manifold; that as we, who are of many nations, will for a time forget