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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/678

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

physicist, Dr. Dawson a geologist, and Sir Baden-Powell something of a sportsman. Dr. Merriam alone, a mammalogist of the first rank, was a scientific expert in any proper sense.

Moreover, the investigations conducted by the two commissions were, from a scientific point of view, of the nature of a farce. Less than two weeks were spent upon the islands, and that at a date in the season least favorable of all for observations. This meant that the greater part of their information was got second-hand by the commissioners.

In marked contrast to the findings of the joint meeting is the individual report of the American commission, prepared largely by Dr. Merriam. This stands out as a notable contribution to the subject of which it treats. Though largely a compilation, so well was the work of sifting and weighing evidence done, that not a single statement of fact in it has proved fallacious, and the more exhaustive investigations of 1896 and 1897 corroborate its conclusions in every particular. This was the work of the true “scientific expert,” and he can ask no better vindication. The joint commission contained “experts” of another sort, and its report was necessarily different.

The second Bering Sea Commission came into existence in much the same way as the first. An agreement was reached in 1896 between the two nations whereby the entire fur-seal question should become the subject of a new investigation. This agreement was the outgrowth of dissatisfaction on the part of the United States with the workings of the regulations of the Paris award.

The new investigation was begun at once and extended through the seasons of 1896 and 1897, and again the experts were called together at Washington to agree, if possible, on a joint statement of fact. The scope of the investigation and the object of the joint meeting are succinctly stated in the following words quoted in the preamble of the commission's report: “To arrive, if possible, at correct conclusions respecting the numbers, conditions, and habits of the seals frequenting the Pribilof Islands at the present time as compared with the several seasons previous and subsequent to the Paris award.”

In the commission of 1897 the United States were represented by Dr. David S. Jordan and Hon. Charles S. Hamlin; Great Britain, by Prof. D'Arcy W. Thompson and Mr. James M. Macoun. It convened on the 10th of November and concluded its labors on the 17th, reaching a full and satisfactory agreement.

It will best serve our purpose to give the final report of the commission of 1897 in full. Two reasons make this appropriate: First, the substance of the sixteen concisely worded propositions of which it is made up can scarcely be stated in fewer words than the original. In fact, instead of condensing them, it will be necessary to amplify