Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/110

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

worshiped. Educated Chinamen all profess to be disciples of him and to read his works, and to be guided by his instructions. In some respects they perhaps do, but they put their own interpretation upon the import of his teachings. There are no special teachers to expound his works, and every one is free to place such construction upon his teachings as his intelligence or impulses may lead to.

I am convinced that the power of the philosopher over his people has been overestimated by foreigners generally, and that the real nature and scope of his work have been largely misapprehended.



IT is said repeatedly, as of course, that Egypt was the cradle of the arts. Yet archaeologists like Lartet, Garrigue, Cristi, and others have shown that the first artistic manifestations go back to epochs far anterior to the ancient Egyptians. According to these authors, these first manifestations were contemporary with the presence of the reindeer in the south of France—when the mammoth had not yet quite disappeared, and when man, ignorant of the metals, made all his instruments of stone, bone, and wood. In fact, the first works of art, and particularly the first efforts at drawing, date from those prehistoric times. In France, the oldest remains of these works of art have been found, in the shape of drawings engraved with a flint point as ornaments on articles of reindeer-horn, in caves by the side of the fossil remains of animals which, like the mammoth, have since disappeared, or, like the reindeer, have abandoned those regions. Other drawings have been found on tablets of stone, horn, or mammoth-ivory.

It is not our intention to insist on the simply linear rudimentary designs of which these ornaments consist. We rather invite attention to more perfect and characteristic works, in which, according to the words of Carl Vogt, the spirit of observation and imitation of Nature, and especially of living Nature, is remarkably manifested. An image of a mammoth, found in the cave of La Magdelaine, in the Dordogne, is engraved on a tablet of mammoth-bone. Very striking are the ungainly attitude of the animal's massive body, its long hair, the form of its elevated skull, with concave forehead, and its enormous recurved tusks. All these traits, characteristic of this extinct type of pachyderm, are reproduced by the designer with a really artistic distinctness. The mammoth was already rare in Europe when this primitive artist lived; and this, perhaps, is the reason why only two of the numer-