what is interesting in these ‘slaves of the ring’ is that with them beauty is an unconscious result not a conscious aim, the result in fact of the mathematical calculation of curves and distances, of absolute precision of eye, of the scientific knowledge of the equilibrium of forces, and of perfect physical training. a good acrobat is always graceful, though grace is never his object; he is graceful because he does what he has to do in the best way in which it can be done—graceful because he is natural. if an ancient greek were to come to life now, which considering the probable severity of his criticisms would be rather trying to our conceit, he would be found far oftener at the circus than at the theatre. a good circus is an oasis of hellenism in a world that reads too much to be wise, and thinks too much to be beautiful. if it were not for the running-ground at eton, the towing-path at oxford, the thames swimming-baths, and the yearly circuses, humanity would forget the plastic perfection of its own form, and degenerate into a race of short-sighted professors and spectacled précieuses. not that the circus proprietors are, as a rule, conscious of their high mission. do they not bore us with the haute école, and weary us with shakespearean clowns? still, at least, they give us acrobats, and the acrobat is an artist. the mere fact that he never speaks to the audience shows how well he appreciates the great truth that the aim of art is not to reveal personality but to please. the clown may be blatant, but the acrobat is always beautiful. he is an interesting combination of the spirit of greek sculpture with the spangles of the modern costumier. he has even had his niche in the novels of our age, and if manette salomon be the unmasking of the model, les frères zemganno is the apotheosis of the acrobat.