Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/762

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

venerable, beautiful, and ugly monsters in art, so endeared by childish memories and fears? United to and supported by ignorance and blind belief, they stood as truths in the infancy of the race; separated from these, and subjected to the light of reason and knowledge, they fall from our acceptance as beliefs, and from the highest sphere of art, where nature and truth should henceforth be the grand aims of the artist.

Should any object that following strictly the laws of nature will have a tendency to lower the aspirations of the artist, we may refer to a sister science in defense of our position. The signs of the times have convinced many a timid but reasoning soul that fidelity to truth and nature can never injure religion, however much it may shatter ideal theologies; nor in art can it injure anything but the false and the temporary—the grand underlying principles resting on the basis of eternal truth. Are we not justified, then, in saying, "The essentially beautiful must be in nature; it can not be beyond it, above it, nor below it; the merely ideal in inform can have no real existence in the mind of man"?

 

NEW GUINEA AND ITS INHABITANTS.
By ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE.
I.

IMMEDIATELY north of Australia, and separated from it at Torres Straits by less than a hundred miles of sea, is the largest island on the globe—New Guinea, a country of surpassing interest, whether as regards its natural productions or its human inhabitants, but which remains to this day less known than any accessible portion of the earth's surface. Within the last few years considerable attention has been attracted toward it by surveys which have completed our knowledge of its outline and dimensions, by the settlement of English missionaries on its southern coasts, by the explorations of several European naturalists, and by the visits of Australian miners attracted by the alleged discovery of gold in the sands of its rivers. From these various sources there has resulted a somewhat sudden increase in our still scanty knowledge of this hitherto unknown land; and we therefore propose to give a general sketch of the island and of the peculiar forms of life that inhabit it, and to discuss briefly some of the interesting problems connected with its indigenous races.

It has hitherto been the custom of geographers to give the palm to Borneo as the largest island in the world, but this is decidedly an error. A careful estimate, founded on the most recent maps, shows that New Guinea is considerably the larger, and must for the future be accorded the first place. In shape this island differs greatly from Borneo, being