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Circassian at the Watering-Trough

Earl Shinn ["Edward Strahan"], Gerome: A Collection of the Works of J.L. Gerome in One Hundred Photgravures. Multiple Volumes. New York: Samuel L. Hall, 1881.


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CIRCASSIAN AT THE FOUNTAIN.

she gave the finishing touches by skilful erasures here and there, and by adding the growth of broad-leaved aquatic plants, and then, when her scene is set to her mind, she conveys to-day her personages upon it—the handsomest that she can make—one man and four beasts. She is even willing that one of them may be dead, and cruelly slung across the croup of another—all that she desires to bring about is her "effect," and it is all one to her whether Gerôme, or any man, or no man, beholds it at all. And we, who happen to see this small piece of her splendor, feel stir in us for the moment, under our veneer of artificial civilization—the instincts of the original, natural man—for the free life of the desert. Surely it is a better thing to hunt the gazelle, mounted on stallions, and with hounds like the south wind, than to " pore with blinded eyesight over miserable books." What matters it if this tall rider comes of a people which, so long accounted the very flower and type of the Caucasian race, " has given nothing to the world for centuries but the bravery of the men and the beauty of the women?" Is there not the true narration of that mother in England, of a noble race, who tried only to give her sons "the education of Homer's heroes—to ride hard and to tell the truth?"
These "proverbially handsome" Circassians, "strong, active, and temperate, characterized by the higher attributes of self-dependence, courage and prudence," spring from the slopes of those mountains which give their name to the noblest race of mankind, and that by a curious blunder which may serve to indicate the triumph of matter over mind." The narrow basis upon which the theory of the Caucasian type was first formed, is thus stated by Dr. Latham: `Blumenbach had a solitary Georgian skull; and that skull was the finest in his collection--that of a Greek being the next. Hence it was taken as the type of the skull of the more organized divisions of our species. More than this, it gave its name to the type, and introduced the term Caucasian. Never has a single head done more harm to science than was clone in the way of posthumous mischief by the head of this well-shaped female from Georgia.'"



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