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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/362

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

who carved the knife-handles and etched the pictures of reindeer or mammoths, in southwestern France, still lived in caves and holes of the rock. But as soon as man began to dwell in a hut, that hut began to take the impress of his growing æsthetic tastes. Swiss lake-dwellings present regular square or circular ground-plans. Esquimau snow houses are finished with as much regularity and neatness as if they were built in the most durable material. Almost all savage huts are picturesque in shape, and some are even artistic in their simple style of architecture. The rudest tribes care for little but the exterior of their dwellings, since the interior is only used as a shelter for sleeping or a retreat from wet weather, not as a place of reception. Pride in personal possessions, we must always remember, has uniformly formed the stepping-stone on which our nature has slowly risen to a higher æsthetic level. So, we find houses beginning to be ornamented internally just in proportion as they are used for purposes of display. Even our own homes usually have the drawing-and dining-rooms much more elaborately decorated and furnished than the other parts of the house. The state-apartments of halls and palaces contain all the best pictures and the handsomest mosaic tables that their owners possess.

At this stage, the governmental and ecclesiastical impetus begins to be strongly felt. From the very beginning, indeed, æsthetic products are specially the attributes of royalty and divinity. The clubs and paddles noted above are those of chiefs alone: the Hawaiian feather mantles were taboo to the royal family: the ivory scepter and the vermilion-painted face "belonged alike to the Roman god and to the Roman king." But, when we reach a state of culture at which the royal palace and the temple are widely different from the huts of the subject, we find a great æsthetic advance. Architecture is indeed a specially regal and religious art. All early buildings of any pretensions are either palaces or shrines: only at a comparatively late stage of evolution, and under an industrial régime, do handsome mansions of commoners begin to exist. Even in our own day, if we see an exceptionally large and pretentious house, we take it for granted that it is, if not a palace, at least a public building. In India, all the great architectural works are either mosques and temples or palaces and mausoleums of native or foreign rulers. In Egypt, they are either pyramids of dead kings or fanes of still earlier gods. So, too, in Mexico, Peru, Central America. The catalogue of the works of art in Solomon's temple and Solomon's house, whether authentic or not (and good authorities accept it as historical), represents at any rate the æsthetic status of the Hebrews at the date at which it was committed to writing.

The king, then, from the first surrounds himself with such natural or artistic products as add to his impressiveness and dignity. Trophies and other decorations of warlike origin, badges and costumes, paint and ointment, have been so fully treated in this connection by Mr.