Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/553

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success. Billiard balls and other small articles have been made of celluloid, a combination of gun cotton, camphor, and ivory dust, but none have been satisfactory to the workman, whether carver, turner, or miniature painter.

There are not less than fourteen extinct but only two or three living species of elephants. Like the American buffalo, they are becoming less numerous every year. Though long-lived—some have in captivity lived over one hundred and fifty years—they propagate very slowly, the most slowly of any known animal; the period of gestation is twenty-two months, and but one at a birth, and they are gradually disappearing before the hunter. One writer states that England's imports of African ivory alone average in one year 15,550 hundredweight, worth from £600,000 to £750,000, or between, three and four million dollars, and predicts the certain decrease of supply and consequent increase of value of ivory.


HAVING had occasion several years ago to converse on subjects of psychology with a number of comedians, I sought their opinion concerning the "paradox of Diderot," and, finding much in their answers that was instructive, I took them down. I afterward completed the inquiry by questioning several of the actors connected with the Théatre Français. The subject had been already studied by W. Archer (cited by William James in his Psychology), but I was at the time ignorant of his work. So far as I can judge, I reached the same conclusions as he.

Diderot's Paradox of the Comedian is not a very profound work, but deals in scattered facts of little intrinsic weight, and his arguments are not very forcible.

His thesis is that a great actor must not be sensitive; or, in other words, that he must not feel the emotions he expresses. "Extreme sensitiveness makes poor actors; while absolute lack of sensitiveness is a quality of the highest acting." He sustains this view by six arguments, viz.: we can not repeat emotion at will, but the power is soon exhausted; the age when the comedian is at his greatest is not youth, when he is quick and full of emotion, but after he has had a long experience, when the ardor of his passions has subsided and his head is calm and his spirit self-possessed; certain facts going to show that the performer's real feelings are different from those which he is expressing on the stage; and, finally, his best argument, and the one on which his thesis mainly rests, that one can not do two things at a time.