Popular Science Monthly/Volume 53/October 1898/The First Half Century of the American Association
|THE FIRST HALF CENTURY OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION.|
THE recent jubilee meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Boston, where the society was organized fifty years ago, is a memorable event in the history of science in this country, and is well deserving of careful notice. It has been somewhat fully treated of, indeed, in several of our magazines and leading papers, and the general aspects of it must be familiar to most of the readers of these pages. But some consideration is due to so interesting a topic from a review entirely devoted to scientific objects, and it is proposed in this article to give not only some historical aspects of the association and its half century of work, as has been done in most of the articles and addresses that have appeared, but also some suggestions as to the influence that it has exerted on the country, and how that influence may and should be increased in the years to come.
The association itself was the natural and indeed the necessary outgrowth of the earlier organization known as the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists, which held its first meeting at Philadelphia in 1840. That movement began two years before, in 1838, in the suggestion of such a body as eminently desirable, by Prof. Edward Hitchcock, of Amherst College, in a letter to Prof. Henry D. Rogers, of Philadelphia. The two brothers Rogers took up the suggestion earnestly, and, with the active efforts of Professor Hitchcock, brought together the first gathering, which was a notable one both in itself and in its subsequent results. These were foreshadowed at the very outset; the original idea was for a conference of geologists only, but the inevitable expansion was seen in the name selected, in which the words "and Naturalists" were soon added to the proposed title—"Association of American Geologists."
There were eighteen students of the science present at that first meeting, in the Franklin Institute at Philadelphia, Professor Hitchcock being chosen to preside. Among them were nearly all the men actively interested in geological studies and in the early State surveys then beginning or begun. Of that circle of founders only one remains. Dr. Martin H. Boyé, then of Philadelphia, but lately abroad. Prof. James Hall, the veteran head of the New York State Survey, and for some years past the Nestor of American paleontologists, lived to within a few weeks of the Boston jubilee meeting, and his presence was looked forward to with peculiar interest; but he was taken away only a short time before, to the great regret of many who had hoped to see and hear him there.
At the first meeting Professor Hitchcock laid before his co-laborers in geology an account, with specimens, of the fossil footprints of the Connecticut Valley sandstone, which have since become so celebrated and so closely connected with his name. The next year the meeting was again held in Philadelphia, and the third year in Boston. On that occasion (1842) the brothers Rogers—Henry Darwin and William Barton—presented to the body their immortal achievement, wrought out together over a vast field, of the structure of the Appalachian mountain system. Both were then young men, but little over thirty, and had labored with true brotherly as well as scientific co-operation, Henry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and William in Virginia. A most interesting account of their joint presentation of this memorable investigation was given in a letter from one who was present at the time, Mr. John L. Hayes, and printed in the memorial volume. Life and Letters of William B. Rogers, by his widow, published by Houghton, Mifflin & Co. After referring to the eminent men present—Dr. Morton, of Philadelphia, presiding, already becoming noted in the young science of anthropology, and the brilliant address of Professor Silliman, of New Haven, and others active in various departments of science: Hitchcock, Jackson, Emmons, of Taconic fame, "the brilliant French astronomer Nicollet, the mineralogist Beck, the paleontologist Hall, the microscopist Bailey, the zoölogist Gould, the philologist as well as naturalist Haldeman," and others, among them Mr. (afterward Sir) Charles Lyell, of England—he goes on to give the first place of interest and importance to the work of the brothers Rogers, and after describing it enthusiastically closes with the following words: "The brothers by their happy and amiable faculty of working in concert, more than duplicated their individual power. In making their joint exposition, William Rogers took upon himself the more modest but really more difficult part of describing the phenomena, leaving to his brother the part of explaining the theory. . . . Nothing could be more pleasing than the working together of these minds toward the same end."
It will be apparent to any one from these accounts of those early meetings, both their topics and their personnel, that there was not only ample scope for such an organization, and both need and readiness for it, but that it had in it from the first the germs of a wider association that should take in all departments of science, and give similar opportunities to all the scattered workers and students of the land. This fact soon became evident, and the idea was taken up earnestly by the Rogers brothers and actively pressed to its accomplishment. Henry D. Rogers was more prominent in the first stages of the movement leading to the earlier association, while his brother William became strongly identified with the later steps that merged it in the wider organization which has now existed for half a century. For eight years the Association of American Geologists and Naturalists met as such, and then in 1848, in the city of Philadelphia, the new association, under its present name and with nearly its present constitution, took its place. William B. Rogers, the retiring president of the earlier body, turned over the chair to Dr. W. C. Redfield, of New York, the first presiding officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Six members of this first meeting are still living, two of them in Greater New York: these are Dr. Boyé, already named as the sole survivor of the founders of the previous association; Prof. Wolcott Gibbs, of Newport; E. I., the retiring president at the recent meeting; S. L. Abbott, of Boston, and Epes S. Dixwell, of Cambridge; and the two New York members. Prof. Oliver P. Hubbard, of Manhattan, long and actively connected with the New York Academy of Sciences, and Dr. Charles E. West, of Brooklyn, the veteran educator, student, and public-spirited citizen.
In reference to the place of holding the jubilee meeting in the present year, Boston and Philadelphia both had claims to the honor. It was decided in favor of the former, however, as the real birthplace of the association; because, although the first regular meeting was held in Philadelphia in 1848, yet the body was organized and its constitution adopted in Boston at the last meeting of the previous association, in 1847. Strictly, perhaps, the celebration of the semicentennial was due Philadelphia, but there does not appear to have been any other than friendly rivalry in the case; Boston was enthusiastic for it, and Philadelphia consented, and through her representative. Dr. Daniel G. Brinton, the well-known anthropologist and ex-president of the association, expressed her warm and earnest congratulations.
The arrangements for the meeting had been planned on a scale of elegant and even elaborate hospitality on the part of the city and all its institutions of science and education. Regret was expressed to the writer by a leading member of the local committee that, at the season when the Association met, so many of the wealthy and cultured citizens were absent and their houses closed that there was far less of elegant private hospitality than would have been gladly offered at a different time of the year. But this fact was really not a matter for regret, as the time of the association was so absolutely filled up with work and with the abounding courtesies and invitations from the city and its institutions that every hour during the week was crowded. One day was spent amid the classic precincts of Harvard University, and another at historic Salem; one evening reception at the far-famed Public Library, and another at the Art Museum, gave the members opportunities of seeing two justly celebrated institutions of their kind, among the noblest in the country; another evening and several excursions were devoted to the remarkable park and water-supply systems of Greater Boston, which for scientific design and execution are in advance of those of any other American city.
In the addresses of welcome at the opening session, by the Governor of the Commonwealth, Hon. Roger Wolcott, and his Honor Mayor Quincy, of Boston, much emphasis was laid upon the public benefits, social and municipal, derived and derivable from the studies and labors of scientists, especially as illustrated in the city where they were meeting, and upon the mutual duties of the scientist and the public—the former to diffuse and extend the results of his researches for the general benefit of his fellow-men, and the latter to honor and encourage in every way the scientific laborers who had done and could do so much for society. These lines of thought will be referred to later in this article. They had a peculiar force and aptness in the city of Boston, where intellectual and scientific culture is so widely diffused, and public enterprises are so largely and so successfully carried out under scientific direction.
The meetings were held in the buildings of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the adjacent Boston Society of Natural History. Here, too, there was exceeding fitness. The Society had taken the initiative in planning and preparing the invitations to the association to meet in Boston; while the Institute was largely the life work of Prof. William B. Rogers, who was its organizer and first president for many years. Its two fine buildings are named Rogers Hall and Walker Hall, after Professor Rogers and his successor in the presidency, the late Dr. Francis A. Walker. Professor Rogers, after his early labors in Virginia as an orographic geologist, was called to the headship of this newly founded school of applied science, and remained there till his death in 1882. He always retained his ardent interest in the association that he had so largely helped to establish, was its president in 1876, and welcomed it at its last meeting in Boston, in 1880. The writer has a striking memory of him on that occasion, the aged scientist kindling with enthusiasm during a discussion in the section of geology, and saying that it brought back to him "the glow of a youthful worker among the Appalachian hills." A highly interesting and pleasing feature of the recent meeting was a reception given by his widow to the geological members, at which they had the privilege of seeing and conversing with her personally. The present president, Dr. J. M. Crafts, welcomed the association in behalf of the institution so closely connected with the name of Rogers on the one hand, and with the diffusion and application of scientific training on the other.
A few words must suffice as to the foreign delegates and visitors who were present. Among these were M. Desirée Charnay, of France, eminent as a student of archaeology in both the Old and the New World; Prof. Benjamin Howard and Mr. C. W. Cooke, of London; and Dr. A. Sasse, of Zaandam, Holland. The presidency of the association had very properly been conferred upon Prof. F. W. Putnam, whose name has been so closely connected with the history and work of the body for the past twenty-five years, as its permanent secretary] while the retiring president was, as already stated, Dr. Wolcott Gibbs, one of the six surviving members of the first meeting in 1848.
Passing over, for present purposes, any account of the many scientific papers and addresses of high interest that were presented at this meeting, we return to the history and influence of the association; It was the first national scientific organization, bringing together students and workers in all departments and from all parts of the country, and it still remains the only one. It has grown and broadened with time, as might be expected; it has been divided into a number of sections relating to different branches, and it has come to embrace Canada as well as the United States; so that it is not merely a national but a truly "American association." Twice it has met in cities of the Dominion, having been received with great respect and cordiality in both Montreal and Toronto (1882 and 1889).
When it was first organized, there were local scientific societies of high standing that had done excellent work for many years. Of these, the American Philosophical Society at Philadelphia antedates the Revolution, going back to 1769; next came the American Academy, at Boston, 1780; then the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia), the Boston Society of Natural History, the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass.; the Lyceum of Natural History of New York (now the New York Academy of Sciences), and others. These had been publishing reports and proceedings, and around them were gathered a large number of able and eminent workers in science. Yale College had become a center of scientific interest, under such men as Silliman, Shepard, and Olmsted; and the American Journal of Science, long spoken of as "Silliman's Journal," was already a medium of general communication among students of Nature. Scientific surveys had been begun in several States, and the great geological and natural history survey of New York was engaging such leaders as Hall, Emmons, Mather, Vanuxem, and De Kay; while the celebrated United States Exploring Expedition under Captain Wilkes, with young Dana as its naturalist, had extended interest into the study of regions hitherto almost unknown or inaccessible.
But some organization for personal intercourse and contact between the workers in varied fields and at widely separated points was becoming plainly necessary. The societies and colleges and surveys were doing good work and gathering about them able men; but they were local and disconnected in their scope, and could accomplish far less for the development of American science than would be possible if a definite system of communication could be established among them all. Such a work was that of the association; the early founders saw the need, and planned well and wisely to meet it; and for fifty years the organization has held on its way and fulfilled its work in excellent measure. But it has had its vicissitudes and its modifications; and it may be well to refer to some of these, and to consider certain aspects in relation to its future usefulness and power.
At the first meeting there were recorded four hundred and sixty-one members, sixty-one being from Boston and vicinity, and fifty-six each from Philadelphia and New York; the number actually present is not on record. The original plan was to hold two meetings each year, one in a Northern city in the summer, and one in the South or West in the winter or spring; this plan was only carried out for two years, 1850 (Charleston and New Haven) and 1851 (Cincinnati and Albany). In 1854 the association met in Washington, with Prof. James D. Dana as its president, while the membership had risen steadily to a total at that time of one thousand and four. It then fell off to six hundred and five, but again rose year by year to nearly a thousand in 1858, when Baltimore was the place and Prof. Alexis Caswell the president. For two years it fell again, and then came the civil war. The place chosen for 1861 was Nashville, but the meeting was given up on account of the condition of the country, and the association did not convene again until 1866. After 1867, when the membership was but little over four hundred, it began again to increase by one or two hundred yearly, though irregularly, until it again passed the thousand mark in 1879 (Saratoga meeting. Prof. George F. Barker presiding), and then leaped to fifteen hundred and fifty-five at the great Boston meeting of 1880. From that time it has varied from sixteen hundred to two thousand and over, the meetings at Minneapolis, 1883, Washington, 1891, and Rochester, 1892, having recorded a total of 2,033, 2,054, and 2,037 respectively.
The attendance at the meetings has varied even more than the membership itself, very rarely reaching or surpassing one half or, in recent years at least, falling below one fifth. From one third to one fourth may be taken as a general average. The causes for these fluctuations are not difficult to trace, although at first sight they are not very evident. The migratory character of the association is to a considerable extent the main reason. It has been the custom for many years to meet somewhat alternately in Eastern and Western cities; and the fact has been conspicuous that the Western meetings have usually been "off years" in attendance. At the same time, if the membership from accessions in the previous year, at a large meeting on the seaboard, has been high, the smaller attendance makes a marked reduction in proportion to the membership. Other circumstances have at times caused increase or diminution in attendance in special ways. Thus the Springfield (Massachusetts) meeting of 1895 v/as held so late in August that many teachers could not attend it and be at home in time for the opening of their work at the beginning of September, and this palpable error was probably responsible for an unusually small attendance at a pleasant and convenient place. The Detroit meeting of 1897 was overshadowed by the meeting of the British Association at Toronto in the following week, as some who could not attend both occasions chose the latter as the more remarkable. On the other hand, the great Philadelphia meeting of 1884 owed its unequaled attendance, both actual and proportional (twelve hundred and sixty-one out of a total of nineteen hundred and eighty-one), to the presence of a large number of British members who came from the meeting of their association, held the week previous in Montreal, just as some four hundred American members went last year to Toronto.
Whenever the place of meeting is a large city, and particularly if it be one containing important scientific institutions, like Washington, Philadelphia, or Boston, both the membership and the attendance are greatly increased by the addition of many "local" members. Some of these remain permanently, while others drop off in the course of a few years; but the result is a net increase, though subject to many fluctuations, as we have already noted.
One fact is apparent, and very gratifying, from a study of these figures in detail—to wit, that notwithstanding a certain impression to the contrary in some quarters, the association has, since the civil war, maintained a steady though varying growth in numbers, and (when several years are taken together) a fairly uniform proportion of attendance to membership. At the recent meeting, the register of those present showed a little over nine hundred, while the total membership must be considerably above two thousand, and doubtless larger than ever before.
There seems no foundation, therefore, for the idea expressed by some, that the association is losing ground, or failing to meet the objects for which it was designed. At the same time it might, and doubtless should, attain larger growth and wider influence in its new half century, proportionately as well as actually, than it has, and some suggestions to that end will be presently referred to.
Several causes have operated to produce the impression, or the fear, that has been spoken of. We have said that, when founded, it was the only national body of its kind, and also that it is so still. But the developments of science during the last half century have altered the conditions of its existence and its work in some important respects. These marvelous advances have been strikingly presented in the September issue of the Atlantic Monthly, by Prof. W J McGee, under the title Fifty Years of American Science, in which a comprehensive survey is given of the progress of science in its various fields during this remarkable period, with the philosophic breadth that marks Professor McGee's work. He states the share and the function of the association very happily in the following words:
"Since American science was young, the course of research and conclusion has been guided by an association of science-builders, who have freely contributed their mental and moral riches to their younger and poorer fellows. This association has shaped the progress of American science, and its semicentennial anniversary is America's jubilee of Science."
As was said above, however, new phases have developed in the work of the association, some within it and some without, from this very growth of science. The increase of specialism has led not only to a division of the association into nine sections, in place of the two or three of its early years, but to the formation of several separate organizations of specialists, which have been looked upon as tending to weaken, or even disintegrate, the main body. The American Chemical Society, the American Mathematical Society, and the Geological Society of America may be cited as leading examples, while less directly in such possible rivalry stand the American Forestry Association, the American Folklore Society, and the Association of Economic Entomologists. For the most part, however, there is no cause for apprehension from these sources. Most of these societies hold their meetings at the same time and place with that of the association, or on the days immediately preceding, and thus contribute quite as much as they might detract in the matter of attendance and interest. Some of them also pursue the original plan of the association, and hold another meeting at a different season of the year; this is the case with the Geological Society, of which the college and university professors can best gather in the summer, while the field workers in the United States Geological Survey are apt to be far away at that time, and can better convene in the winter or spring. So far as this department is concerned, moreover, and probably in others also, the number of papers offered for reading and discussion is amply sufficient to fill the whole available time of both the Geological Society and Section E of the association; and there is room enough and-work enough for all, without fear of conflict. The same is true of Section H and the Folklore Society, and of Section G and forestry; while the stimulus and the freedom of separate and special organizations tend strongly to the advantage of those branches of science, so long as there is co-operation with the general body of the association.
The question has some resemblance to that of State rights, or "home rule," and national unity, in American politics. Elements of advantage and of power there are, in local associations and local pride and local tradition, that are of the highest value, not only to the community that cherishes them, but to the entire nation, and which could not be developed under a centralized government, while they should never be carried to the danger of disintegration. So it is with the specialist societies: so long as they are willing and ready to co-operate with the broader work of the association, each can help the other in the interest of science as a whole.
Another change, of a different kind, has also taken place, and has perhaps weakened the association. Some years since there was organized the more advanced and select body known as the National Academy of Sciences, limited in number, confined altogether to men who had achieved important results, holding aloof from the more popular aspects of science, and standing at certain times in a somewhat advisory relation to the general Government. It had its prototype in the Institute of France, and admission into it is a distinguished honor. Here again was a natural outgrowth of the progress of science, for which the association had prepared the way, much as the college does for the university. But it is a matter for regret that, in many cases, the men who have reached the "inner circle" of the academy have thenceforth disappeared from the association, or at least from active interest in it. This is not a just course; the scientist has no right to withdraw himself from the needs and interests of the people, even under the plea of lofty devotion to science for its own sake. To any who are so disposed, whether consciously or unconsciously, the words of Professor McGee, above quoted, may be earnestly recalled, when he speaks of "science-builders, who have freely contributed their mental and moral riches to their younger and poorer fellows," and also the strong and wise expressions of Governor Wolcott and flavor Quincy, in regard to the obligations of scientific men to use their attainments and diffuse their results for the advantage of societv. "Science," said the former, "would be less worthy of our regard if its benefits were confined to a single class; but it is open to all."
There are some, perhaps, who feel that the dignity of science is compromised by the popular diffusion of its facts and results. This idea has an ancient flavor, of mysteries and arcana belonging to a learned caste, and too high and sacred for the "profanum vulgus." But it has no right, and should find no tolerance, in this day, and above all in this country of equal rights and free institutions. Even were it not, however, so unmodern and so un-American, it would be impossible now to carry out. The question is only between the diffusion of scientific information among the general public by men of character and attainment, or by shallow and sensational charlatans. Happily, the great majority of scientists recognize and accept their high responsibility and privilege in this regard. But there is a danger and a tendency, among some, to overlook it or to disregard it, and to such the truth should be plainly spoken, while to all it may safely be reiterated.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science embodies this very idea, of diffusing and familiarizing scientific studies and results, under wise direction, among the intelligent and interested portion of the public. It has accomplished this result as no other agency has or could, while its organization is such that it is absolutely guarded against any lowering of its tone. Any person interested sufficiently to subscribe to the very moderate fees is eligible to membership, while the entire direction and control rest with the "fellows," who are students and workers of assured standing in science. Thus organized, it affords the amplest opportunities to the humblest lover of science to learn and to rise, while its officers and directors are men of professional reputation, jealous for its dignity and its influence.
In its migratory character, also, facilities for this result are admirably secured. Not only do the meetings in different cities afford especially favorable opportunities to the members for studying the geological, botanical, and other natural features of many parts of the country, and for visiting collections, museums, and libraries which ordinarily they might never see, but every meeting of the association gives an immense stimulus to scientific interest among the residents of the place visited, and leaves a permanent impression on the community. Quiet local students and workers are called into prominence and "honored in their own country"; beginners in science are quickened and encouraged; and local societies find themselves for the time in touch with the great national association. Xor is this aspect dependent upon a large attendance: indeed, the meetings in smaller cities and at less conspicuous and accessible points have had perhaps quite as important an influence on the country as the great gatherings that are regarded as most "successful." The association has a twofold work—for its own membership and for the public;—and it may be that while the large meetings yield more of enjoyment and advantage to the former, the small meetings have relatively more important influence on the latter.
Amid the overwhelming attentions and courtesies of the recent meeting in Boston, there were some who felt almost embarrassed by the sense of being so largely recipients rather than givers. The circumstances, however, gave this character to the meeting; Boston was able to do it, and proud to do it. Younger or smaller cities, with less wealth of institutions and resources—literary, scientific, and historical—could not do the like. There the conditions would be reversed, and the association would be the giver rather than the receiver. One marked circumstance may illustrate this aspect. It has been the custom of the association to give one or two public evening lectures, "complimentary to the citizens" of the place, on important or attractive scientific topics; these have been prominent features of popular interest during the week of the meeting. This year the only evening lecture was rather for the benefit of the members, an exposition of the elaborate system of parks and water works of the city, in which engineering, sanitation, and aesthetic taste have been united to a degree unequaled elsewhere in the country.
If we turn, in closing, to the future of the association, and present some suggestions as to its enlarged usefulness and success, this would be one of the most important lines of thought—the association as an educating force. Standing as it does between both the local societies and the specialist societies, limited as these are by neighborhood and by subjects respectively, and the more advanced and select National Academy, the association may be likened in position to the college, standing between the schools and academies and the advanced work of the universities and professional institutions. It is the only body, in its very nature and scope, that can bring genuine science before and among the people at large. The "advancement of science" has two aspects—the increase of numbers, of intercourse, and of quality, among scientific students and workers, and the diffusion of sound and accurate scientific information among the intelligent but nonprofessional public. Both these ideas were aimed at in the plan of the association; both of them have been largely realized in its history, but the latter has rather been subordinate to the former. In its new half century, the educational function should doubtless hold a larger place; nor will this involve the least diminution, but rather an increase, in its other aspects of usefulness.
As to how this end may be attained, a few closing hints may be offered. Every meeting of the association should aim to leave a distinct impress on the community where it is held. In a general way, as we have said, this has been done; but it has been rather incidental than designed. Every community has its limited circle of science-lovers, with perhaps a local society, little known, however, and little recognized, amid the interests of business and politics; it has its library and museum, its colleges and high schools, often struggling, with limited facilities, to arouse or to maintain an interest in scientific culture. All such local agencies should receive a definite accession of strength from a visit of the association; this result should be distinctly held in view as one of the objects of the meeting, and the city or town should find itself not only stirred and quickened by the temporary assemblage of scientists and scholars, but permanently enriched and uplifted. The association might well have a special committee, composed of one or two representatives from each of its sections, whose function should be to ascertain in advance the status of local societies and institutions in the place of meeting, and provide for some enduring advantage to them, as a memorial of the gathering and a return for the courtesies and hospitalities of the community. What forms such action should take would depend altogether upon local conditions, and would vary greatly in consequence thereof; but such a policy could not fail of important advantages to the cities visited and conduce to the strength and prosperity of the association.
In the matter of lectures, too, the association can accomplish much. The custom referred to, of giving one or more such lectures by leading members of the body to the people of the city, should be carefully maintained at each meeting. The recent case of Boston was exceptional in its conditions, but ordinarily this should be one of the "strong points." The character of the lectures should be high, and yet popular in the best sense; not merely interesting or attractive, but instructive. There are many important departments of science bearing upon practical questions—of health, of social conditions, of public advantage—upon which either little is generally known or the partial knowledge derived from magazines, newspapers, and irresponsible lecturers is crude and unreliable. To furnish a clear, careful, and "up-to-date" presentation of some subjects of this kind, in a form at once interesting and accurate, should form a part of every meeting, and would be highly valued by the community. Such addresses would probably be widely published by the higher-class newspapers of the country, and would not only be useful to the public, but would bring honor and respect to the association. We are not saying that this has never been done, but that it might be done more and better; and that a definite policy of so doing would be an element of strength to the body and of benefit to the people at large.
Another line of desirable influence would be in relation to local societies. The association from the outset sought and accomplished the great advantage of bringing together scattered and isolated workers in science throughout the land. This social and personal intercourse lias been and still is one of the strongest and best elements in the annual gatherings. But the local societies throughout the country arc still in much the same isolation as the individual workers were fifty years ago; and some system of communication and cooperation among them would be a strength and a stimulus to all. Why might not the association bring about some method of intercourse or federation among these bodies, that would prove of great interest and value? The several scientific societies of Washington and of New York city (Manhattan) have for some years united in a "Scientific Alliance," or federation, and thereby, while preserving their separate identity, gained the strength that lies in union. Brooklyn has gone further, and merged into its one great "Institute" a number of distinct societies, as departments. These are merely cited as illustrations. But if the association should again have a committee representing its various sections, to consider some plan for co-operation and intercourse among the societies that now know so little of each other's work, the result might have great influence both on them and on itself. A local society in a small place often does excellent work; but it is wholly unknown beyond its own limited sphere. If it were provided, also, in the association that societies as well as individuals could become members, to be represented by one or more of their own members, as delegates, such representatives would come to the meeting, enjoy the interest and receive the stimulus of the occasion, and carry back to their own little circle reports of what they had seen and heard. These suggestions might be greatly amplified were there space to do so, but they can only be outlined here, as indicating ways in which the association might quicken the interest and unify the labors of the scattered scientific bodies of the country, and in turn receive support and advantage from them.
Various other lines of thought present themselves, which it is impossible here to discuss, bearing upon the prospects and possibilities of this great scientific body, upon its duties and functions toward the public and the corresponding duties which the public, and especially the scientific public, owe to it. Its history has been fruitful and honorable, its mission is noble and broad, its future is full of "promise and potency." But, to realize these aright, it is needful that the association shall clearly recognize its obligation as an educating agency and keep in touch with the public, and that the scientists of the country shall sustain it in its work and contribute to it their best endeavors.