It being shown that the chief merit of the primitive forms depended upon their artistic crudeness, it may also be said that the many repetitions of the same designs pertain to different interpretations. The Monad sign, according to Professor Challenor, appears seven times in each book "in the nature of a period to close the chapter." In this respect it is safe to say he has overlooked one of the most unique and beautiful features of the work. The Monad sign whenever met should be taken in the sense of the D. C. al Sig. sign in music, viz., "return to sign at the beginning," and review from the new standpoint!
Anyway, that interpretation is here accepted, and the reader is always asked to turn back and review with the newly acquired information, and to kindly remember that the writer is attempting, with a few hundred illustrations, to give an inkling of the scope of a work which required 7,000.
The book should first be glanced over from the standpoint of a little child who loves funny pictures. He notices that some are better than others, and, be he young or old, he finds many of such poor construction as to tax the imagination at first. Then the work is reread with the knowledge that each subject is built with the same seven pieces, and that the contrary little pieces are to be converted into rounded forms and graceful curves. Then we detect a gradual and systematic improvement in the construction of the figures, and get some idea of the attempt to portray the development of species and the onward march of civilization as has been already explained.
The puzzle feature of discovering how to make any of the forms with the seven pieces must not be overlooked, for, while some of them are very easy, there are others so difficult that for hundreds of years they have been considered as impossible of solution.
It is believed that all of the designs presented in this work have been past upon as correct, and will yield to patience and perseverance after one has become familiar with the shapes of the pieces.
At first some figures will be found which do not bear resemblance to any known object, and others will seem to be impossible of solution; and, when one essays his hand at creating new designs, it appears as if all of the good ideas were exhausted, and the obstinate little pieces, or the brain, cannot be induced to work properly.
Another reading of the book, and the solving of the puzzles will produce a wonderful change, so that one becomes astonished at the facility with which any subject which occurs to the mind can be faithfully represented.
It is at this stage of the game that it becomes necessary to check one's imagination, or in his enthusiasm he will fancy that the many things he sees must be just as plain to anyone else. As a matter of fact, to a beginner some of the finest designs are unintelligible, and some persons can never see anything but angles.
In learning to originate new designs, confine your efforts at first to simple figures which do not call for explanations as to whether they are animals or cooking utensils. Afterward you can essay designs which cater to the imagination, like the following illustration of Shakespeare's seven ages of man : from the puking babe, the unwilling schoolboy, the sighing lover, the quarrelsome soldier, the round-bellied justice, the lean slippered pantaloon and decrepit old age. It was deemed expedient to introduce the first figure of a policeman to suggest the nurse-maid, and the baby-carriage then serves as a preface to the "muling."
In portraiture there seems to have been a vast and interesting collection, but, unfortunately, the illustrations to which Professor Challenor's copious notes refer were lost with others of his most valuable papers. Only eleven of the faces are to be found, and as they are described as belonging to the barbaric age they are crude and not pretty to look at. The two wich appear to be like busts upon pedestals are given as belonging to some clever representations of statuary.
The two Celestials with pig-tails are mentioned as showing the few illustrations of queues, which appear only in the last book, which is taken therefore to indicate that it must have been written during the Chow dynasty, 1,100 years before Christ.
In the following gallery we begin with a portrait of the old Scotch Piper, then the French Grenadier, and a Colonial General next to the Turk. Aunt Betsy with Uncle Rhube and Mary Smith, whom we all know, comes next, and then we have a head of John Knox. Tom Sharkey requires no introduction, and then we have the Professor, Buffalo Bill, and "the Easy Boss," all of whom it is safe to say could be recognized from the others.