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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/437

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

guide the machine by horizontal and vertical rudders. The machine may be started by causing it to descend an inclined plane, and then to move horizontally, when its course is that of a scaling bird, and the power is applied, with the rudders, to keep up and direct the motion. Few persons who have seriously considered the subject now doubt the possibility of aërial navigation on the principle of "heavier than the air." But the construction of a practicable machine demands a variety of gifts and resources not to be found in one man: there must be an inventor, a mechanical engineer, a mathematician, a practical mechanic, and a syndicate of capitalists.

 

The Earliest Historical Art.—The earliest condition of art in Egypt, says Prof. W. M. Flinders Petrie, stands in a far different light from that of the history of art in other countries. In the first place, it is as early as, or earlier than, any other source of art that we know. Other countries have largely borrowed from Egypt or from Mesopotamia, but these two great deltas have not had any external influence acting on them; they stood far in advance of the civilization of the rest of the world in the early ages, and their art appears to be the outcome of the first stable and well-organized governments that were known. Tranquillity and the command of large resources were needful before any great progress could be made in architecture or the imitative arts; and no land appears to have enjoyed such conditions before the dawn of the historical period in Egypt. We have, then, to deal with a state of things in which art was, in the course of actual growth, free from the influence of any external guidance, and with only its own antecedents to build upon. This art also stands apart in the fact that all traces of its origin and rise are absent. We are still as much ignorant as ever of the course of its development. Where the tentative stages are to be found which led up to the triumphs of the fourth dynasty is as yet a mystery. Certain sculptures, which are undoubtedly very early, have been assigned to the second and third dynasties solely on account of the style. But there is no absolute evidence of the date of a single sculpture or a single block before the first king of the fourth dynasty, Snefru (the predecessor of Khufu, or Cheops), under whom we find some of the most perfect works that ever were executed. In one line, however, there are remains of an earlier style. The rock carvings of Upper Egypt certainly date back to a long prehistoric age—an age when the ostrich and the elephant were familiar in Egypt. But these rude figures have no relation to the art of historical times; and we should as soon learn the history of the Parthenon from the weapons of the stone age in Greece as trace the Egyptian schools in the rude carvings of the primitive man.

 

Public Parks in Massachusetts.—The Trustees of Public Reservations of Massachusetts is a chartered body established for the purpose of providing a ready instrument by means of which any person or body of persons may insure the preservation of any beautiful or historical place in the State. This may be accomplished by putting the tract in its hands. It also receives money for the maintenance and adornment of such places. As the years pass, a variety of motives are found to inspire the giving of lands into the hands of the trustees. The largest recent instance of this confidence is the gift of twenty acres of fine woodland in Stoneham by Mrs. Fanny Foster Tudor, now deceased, named by her desire, in memory of her daughter, Virginia Wood, for which a maintenance fund—the Virginia Wood Fund has been collected and invested by other friends. It appears, from facts collected by Mr. J. B. Harrison respecting the present provision of open spaces in Massachusetts, that the large areas of undivided common lands which were once to be found in most of the townships of the Commonwealth have all been allotted or sold to individuals, except in Nantucket, where there still remain at least one thousand acres open to the public. The Park Board and Water Board of Lynn have lately restored to public ownership about two thousand acres of woodland which was once a common of this large kind. The smaller commons which the first proprietors of townships almost invariably laid out for "training fields" and sites for "meeting houses" appear to be still the only public open places in most of the townships of the State. Some of them have been en-