When one reads that a dinosaur egg of ten million years vintage is to be auctioned off by the New York Museum of Natural History to raise funds for continued Asiatic Research, one must wonder what market this stony curiosity will find. Mr. Andrews, the chief curator and wielder of the hammer in the present sale, evidently has no question for he states that bids will open at five thousand dollars. Certainly if any private citizen should buy it and not use it in the foundation of his house or as a stepping stone, he would need a room "founded upon a rock" to place it in.
The buyer of a dinosaur egg, unless the buyer be a Museum, seems in worse case even than the collector of old books--or certain old books. There are of course old books which have in their content more or less value for the intellect. And there are old books which fell like lead upon their ago and generation and which by their bindings and beautiful print and wooden illustrations appeal only to the eye. But an object d'art practically the only value of which lies in its use as a test of human muscle must fall in the lowest plane of all.
There is a curious resemblance between this relic of past life and certain relics of present life now in the making. There have grown up in the shadow of Flaubert with his dull and unfortunate M. Bovary a race of writers who call themselves "realists." These Realists have much in common with our Imagist poets, especially in the common method of transcribing rather than transmuting whatever of sight or sound or smell comes to them through their senses. This photographic process, which eliminates the emotions and sympathies of the author, has at present the resource of shocking the public into buying. But as the stimulant grows stronger, its effects become less potent, and one day the revolution against Victorian sentiment and unexiting domesticity will itself be revolted against. And then these literary dinosaur eggs will become as petrified as those of Pope's clan.
Such is not the fate of all artistic revolutions. It is reserved solely for those ill-balanced artists who run so counter to human nature as to leave entirely out of their works that vein of goodness and sublimity which runs through all mankind.