Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 27.djvu/115

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103
A VERY OLD MASTER.

bids them cling together for mutual support and sympathy, and as a whole they have hardly the characteristics which would qualify them for united constructive effort. Nevertheless, association is needed. A comparison of views, each individual reaping the benefit of the thought of his co-workers, is of the highest value. Without associated action but little enthusiasm can be expected, and enthusiasm is all-important in carrying forward any good work. The employment of earnest and competent teachers and leaders in thought is practicable only through united action. For charitable work—the relief of want, the alleviation of suffering, the furnishing of employment, the assistance which helps others to help themselves—associated and united effort is well-nigh indispensable. And in earnest exertions to improve the condition and add to the happiness of our fellows, may be found the best and highest ethical culture, giving to those who engage in the work a new conception as it were of the higher duties and nobler life of man.


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A VERY OLD MASTER.

THE work of art which lies before me is old, unquestionably old; a good deal older, in fact, than Archbishop Usher (who invented all out of his own archiepiscopal head the date commonly assigned for the creation of the world) would by any means have been ready to admit. It is a bas-relief by an old master, considerably more antique in origin than the most archaic gem or intaglio in the Museo Borbonico at Naples, the mildly decorous Louvre in Paris, or the eminently respectable British Museum, which is the glory of our own smoky London in the spectacled eyes of German professors, all put together. When Assyrian sculptors carved in fresh white alabaster the flowing curls of Sennacherib's hair, just like a modern coachman's wig, this work of primæval art was already hoary with the rime of ages. When Memphian artists were busy in the morning twilight of time with the towering coiffure of Rameses or Sesostris, this far more ancient relic of plastic handicraft was lying, already fossil and forgotten, beneath the concreted floor of a cave in the Dordogne. If we were to divide the period for which we possess authentic records of man's abode upon this oblate spheroid into ten epochs—an epoch being a good, high-sounding word which doesn't commit one to any definite chronology in particular—then it is probable that all known art, from the Egyptian onward, would fall into the tenth of the epochs thus loosely demarkated, while my old French bas-relief would fall into the first. To put the date quite succinctly, I should say it was most likely about 244,000 years before the creation of Adam according to Usher.

The work of the old master is lightly incised on reindeer-horn, and represents two horses, of a very early and heavy type, following