A Short Sermon for Sight-Seers

By Edward S. Martin

From the Official "Pan-American Art Hand-Book", 1901

Life is worth living, but you won't think so unless you live it well. The Pan-American is worth seeing, but not for you unless you see it right. To the process of seeing a fair there are two factors. One is the fair; the other is yourself. If the fair is not well devised and managed it will not give you what you ought to get; and if your consideration of it is not well ordered and conducted you will not get out of it what you should. Due attention has been paid and pains taken and money lavished to make the Pan-American worth your trouble to look at. Be so good, in your turn, to take pains to see it wisely.

Give it time. Don't try to bolt it. You can't digest all you see at a great fair at the time you take it in. To gather impressions that will lie in your mind until you have time to bring them out and think about them is part of the lawful business of fair-going. But get your impressions as distinctly as you may. Dwell on what appeals to you until it takes form in your mind. The means of comparison is one important thing that great fairs afford. Try to get out of the Pan-American as large an equipment of that sort as it will yield. One comparison will force itself upon you from the start. If you went to the Chicago Fair, you will say, "This fair is not so big as that." It is not, but it is even more beautiful. It has not aimed to be very big, but it has aimed to be as beautiful as contemporary art and labor can make a fair. Take in its beauty. Don't leave that behind, but carry it away with you. There is education in it, and at the same time there is delight.

Don't neglect delight. The impressions that stick best and last longest are those that please us while we are forming them. By all means get pleasure out of the fair. Unless you do, your experience of it will be imperfectly successful. Don't drive yourself to do more than your strength is equal to. Don't tire yourself out with overmuch gadding; for a tired body means a tired mind, and the tired mind is not receptive. If you are pressed for time make your inspection general and neglect particulars. But even so, make it as leisurely as you can, so that what you do see you may assimilate.

Be considerate of yourself and of any one who may be your companion. Feed yourself considerately at proper intervals. Rest yourself and be kind to yourself generally. If any one is getting ahead of you and covering more ground than you are in the same time, let him get ahead. What counts in the end is not so much what one is able to see as what he is able to think about it. Perhaps you will get more thoughts out of what you see than that other will whose pace is hotter. Anyhow, fairing is a holiday occupation, and if you make too much of a workaday job of it you may miss more than you gain.

It is a mistake to be one of too large a company in going the rounds of a fair. Stick to one or two persons whose energies match yours, who are willing to neglect some of the things as you do you don't care for to dwell on the sights you want to dwell on, to sit down when you do, and to rest or go home when you are tired. If you find it necessary to yield your preferences to theirs in some details, that may be your gain and save you from passing by some things that you ought to look at. Take with you daily to the fair whatever store of good manners, courtesy, and good humor the experiences of life may have left at your command. After financiers, architects, managers, collectors, exhibitors, and advertisers have done their utmost to make a fair glorious, it may still fail to be pleasant unless pleasant people go to it. Nothing does quite so much to make a fair "go off " as lots of pleasant people. Nothing shown at a fair is more interesting or more generally observed than the fair-goers.

Please remember that when you get inside the gates you are part of the show and should take due pride in doing it credit.

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