Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/755

This page has been validated.
735
A YEAR OF GEOGRAPHICAL WORK.

criticism, it by no means follows thence that every one of its members has the gift of infallibility. Far from that; it is like that aristocratic democracy of Athens, in which each citizen had his personal vote only, and could prevail only on condition of convincing. As in the domain of the good there is but one authority conscience, so there is but one authority—in the domain of the beautiful—taste. Only, conscience speaks the same language to all the men of one community; while taste, on the contrary, even acquired and formed taste, is as manifold as temperaments, ideas, and passions are. It varies from country to country in every age, and from age to age in every country. Still further, it varies between man and man, and in each man, at different periods of life. The bear in the fable very sensibly says:

"Who tells you this shape's awkward, that one fine?

Has yours the right to judge or censure mine?"

Therefore it is in vain, as if in strict pursuance of a duty, to read all books, listen to all counsels, ask advice from people supposed to be cleverer than one's self, and prop up one's judgment by more sure and authoritative judgments. In the criticism of art, where positive canons are wanting, no one is suffered to deem himself an authority; no one is any thing more than an opinion.—Gazette des Beaux Arts.

 

A YEAR OF GEOGRAPHICAL WORK.

AT the annual meeting of the American Geographical Society, held on the 13th of January, 1874, the address was delivered by the President of the Society, Chief-Justice Daly, who gave to a large and intelligent audience an admirable digest of geographical work and progress during the past year. In his elaborate and most instructive remarks, after dilating on the object and use of geographical societies, and making special allusion to the great results of what might be called the geographical society formed by Prince Henry and his associates upon the promontory of Sagres, in Southern Portugal, viz., the discovery of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, the president went on to state that there is yet one-seventeenth part of the globe of which we know nothing, except by conjecture, especially in the north and south polar regions, in Central Africa, in the interior or northern parts of Australia, and some of the great East Indian islands, e. g., Borneo and New Guinea. Many regions in South America, in Asia, and even a considerable portion of our own Western country, are not yet fully explored. These may yet be outlets for the surplus population of longer-settled and overstocked countries. Geographical research aids the progress of physical geography, especially our knowl-