Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

man.

and having regard to some forms, fixed as the oyster on the solid rock, immovable, lest in these changes they should be all destroyed, provided that their young should freely swim till they had found a station suitable for them, then plant themselves for life; so also do the seeds of plants. And thus we have learned to look upon the fact that there had been great changes in the forms of life between two periods, as proving also a great lapse of time, seeing that all the indications we can trace show that these things were gradual.

In the same beds with man's remains are creatures now extinct: the mammoth, for example, and others too, more numerous, now only found much further north or south, which once lived there, but migrated. It is not sufficient explanation to remark how such large animals, as being fierce wild beasts or good for food, are often now killed off or driven out by

For with them in this case are some small shells, one (Corbicula fluminalis) now found no nearer than the Nile; the other (Unio littoralis), gone as far as the rivers of France; but they once lived with the extinct mammalia and with man in Britain. It seems more likely that we have but the continued working of the laws which from the earliest geologic ages have determined the range in time of genera and species, and as all through the early epochs of the world the greater changes in the life were carried out in very long periods as deduced from independent reasoning, so it appears that in these later ages during the time required for the formation of the valleys and their terraces a corresponding change was brought about in the great groups of life that dwelt with man in north and western Europe, and this fact much strengthens our belief in the vast time which has elapsed since his appearance there.

Such, then, it seems to me is a fair statement of the present state of the evidence for the antiquity of man. First, it has completely broken down in all cases where it has been attempted to assign him to a period more remote than the postglacial river gravels, and there is much reason for thinking that should evidence be hereafter forthcoming on which he may be relegated to a more remote antiquity, it will not be found in northern Europe. And next, although we cannot offer any numerical estimate of the antiquity of the human remains found in the river gravels, still

, having regard to the geographical and palæontological changes which have taken place since the period when those gravels were deposited, as compared with the changes which have taken place during the eighteen centuries which in our country we may call historic, it would appear that the age of man must be a very large multiple of the historic times.

The CHAIRMAN.-We are much indebted to Professor Hughes for this very interesting and important paper, all the more so because, in spite of his labours in his professional work, he has given so much valuable time to its preparation. Indeed, he has been so much occupied as not to have been able to send in the MS, in time for the Council to have it printed. I hope, however, that the meeting has gone sufficiently far with him to be able to discuss the paper.

Mr. J. E. HOWARD, F.R.S.—There are a few observations I should like to make with regard to what has been said about the Valley of the Somme, and the degree of rapidity with which rivers have worn down that and other valleys. The valley of the Thames is one with which, of course, we are all more or less familiar, and we know that the deposits under London and in the neighbourhood disclose something as to the antiquity of the work that has been accomplished. We thus obtain some measure of the time which we may suppose the river to have taken in excavating the valley, supposing it to have been excavated in the same way as has been suggested with regard to the valley of the Somme and other valleys in France. The first of the strata at which you arrive in digging the foundations of houses in London,--and I have had personal experience of this recently within a few hundred yards of St. Paul's, -consists of sand and gravel, and contains some remains of the Roman period. Then, beneath these, you arrive at strata which (I am told) contain the bones of the mammoth and other extinct animals. These, it seems to me, indicate a state of things belonging to the Pliocene period, or the period of the extinct animals. I do not think we can arrive at the conclusion that there has been, since then, any excavation, but quite the reverse, when we find these strata superimposed upon each other about 20 or 30 feet under London. (Hear, hear.) [The magnificent tusks of the mammoth, now in the British Museum (found at Ilford), show that the tributaries of the Thames flowed at about the same level when this creature was drowned at the ford over the Roding.] We know that the rivers in the neighbourhood of London do not now excavate the valleys at all ; it is rather the contrary, for they appear to fill up very considerably. (Hear.) This I know to be the case in regard to the river Lea, near which I live, and in the neighbourhood of which I have works, and have seen excavations. The Lea valley, in the vicinity of Bow, has been filled up since the Roman period to the extent of 5 or 6 feet, as is shown by the excavations that have been made ; for the workmen have found, and I have received from them, many curious and interesting relics of Roman times. Therefore, I am unable to understand the argument we have heard as to the formation of valleys by slowly-flowing rivers such as the Thames. It does not appear to me that in any conceivable time,-oven if you were to take an eternity--you could excavate the Valley of the Thames by means of the river flowing through it : it would rather, as I have already said, have a tendency to fill up the valley. With regard to the valley of the Somme, it was at one time asserted that the deposits found there were of extreme antiquity,--I allude to the deposits in which the earlier works of man were found. This was the theory in England ; but it was not exactly this supposition that set M. Bouchier de Perthes, who was the first great explorer in that region, to work. He started on the basis of a very definite theory, which he explains in his elaborate books, certainly interesting, and which I have perused since I read my last paper here.

His supposition was that man was contemporaneous with the mammoth (of which there can be no doubt); and that wherever the bones of these great extinct animals are found, there also, in the course of time, would be found the works of man and his remains. This was his theory, and he began to examine what was then called the diluvian strata, which I think in England are now called the drift. He set to work to find guch remains in the drift, and although he was ridiculed, he persevered for many years, and never ceased till he had found, not only the works of man in the diluvium, but also what were clearly his bones. (Hear, hear.) The works of M. Boucher de Perthes prove that the diluvian strata are not formed by pluvial deposits, but by some great cataclysm. I do not believe that any of the causes at present at work have formed the valleys or can account for the configuration of the hills ; but that we must go to much more powerful causes in order to account for what we see. (Applause.)

Mr. D. HOWARD, F.C.S.-With regard to the level of valleys, it is sufficiently ascertained that the deposit made in the valley of the Lea is now going on, and that there is no denudation ; in fact, it would rather appear that there has been an actual rise in the level of the valley. The points traditionally referred to as being where, at the time of King Alfred, the Danes sailed up, are at such a level that it would be impossible for them to sail to at the present day. But that there is some foundation for this tradition is shown by the fact that some remains, which appeared to be those of a Danish vessel, were found near Old Ford, at a spot to which the tide would not, apart from the question of the gateways which prevent its flowing freely, now allow such a vessel to reach. But, with regard to the question that has been raised in reference to these valleys, there is one point which I have never heard fully explained, and that is, how far the bones of man are found in them. Undoubtedly, the presence of the bones of man would be much more satisfactory than the finding of flint implements. The vagaries of Aint when weathering are so extraordinary, that it requires cumulative evidence to give satisfactory proof of the pieces that are found having been made by man; but bones are things that require no cumulative evidence, because it can be shown at once that they either are or are not of human origin. (Hear, hear.)

Mr. T. K. CALLARD, F.G.S.-I am afraid that we are somewhat at a disadvantage to-night, in not having had the paper which has been read, in a printed form before us, and Professor Hughes will excuse me if I am not able to deal with the subject as readily as I might have done had I been able to refer to the paper, and mark it as he went along. I am very pleased to find that with the usual candour and skill with which Professor Hughes deals with all geological subjects, he has cleared away to-night some of the supposed evidences of the antiquity of man, and brought us down to two or three important points, which we can discuss much better than if we had to be thinking of Swiss lakes and kitchen middens, and going here and there for evidence. (Hear, hear.) He has cleared the way a great deal, and shown that the antiquity of man, as far as we yet know, does not extend so far back as has been thought by many scientific men. I would, however, make this remark, that Professor Hughes has dismissed any discussion with regard to the flint implements before us, in what I think rather too rapid a manner, because I certainly have not been able to understand on what ground he says, so positively, that they are of human workmanship. They may be; but, on the other hand, we may be deceived in forming such a conclusion. (Hear, hear.) The Brandon gravels have been referred to, and I have here some flints from the Brandon gravels. May I trespass so far as to ask Professor Hughes if this one, with the point broken off, is in his judgment, an implement? (Showing it to Professor Hughes.)

Professor HUGHES.--Certainly, I should accept it as such.

Mr. CALLARD.--Here is another from St. Acheul. Would you accept that as an implement ?

Professor HUGHES (examining it).—No.

Mr. CALLARD.—You accept one flint readily, the other you as readily refuse to accept ; but I think that if they were handed round the roon, there are very few gentlemen who would be able to see much difference between them. This (referring to a third one] I picked up on the surface of the soil near St. Acheul, and I see no reason to believe it to be of human workmanship; but, at the same time, I think it looks as much like the work of man as the flint you have accepted as an implement from Brandon.

Professor HUGHES.-Respecting the third specimen, it might have been made by man, or it might have been the result of accidental fracture. I could not be certain. My reason for thinking that man might have made the one and that he never made the other I will state when I reply, and I will then point out what constitutes the difference between them to my eye.

Mr. CALLARD.-That some of the best specimens have the appearance of being made by man I readily admit; but seeing that the naturally fractured ones so nearly resemble them, it would suggest the need of great caution in pronouncing any specimen to be of human origin in the absence of collateral evidence. There is a flint which you accept at once ; now here is another, exactly like it, which never has been out of its matrix, and which man could not have made. These are the things which make me say, we must pause before we decide that man has done this or that. If man has not made these implements, then of course the whole argument falls to the ground, as far as evidence from the gravel is concerned. Then, again, Professor Hughes has taken it for granted that the river Somme cut the Somme valley. Now, I certainly should not take it for granted. I have been 6 Is it

all over the ground and examined it carefully, and, as far as I saw, I came away with the clear conviction that the Somme river, although running through the Somme valley, never excavated that valley.* There are about twenty-eight miles of the valley between St. Acheul and Moulin Quignon, in both of which places implement-bearing gravels are found. St. Acheul is 119 feet above the level of the sea at St. Valery, and Moulin Quignon 106 feet above the same level. If, then, the river ever ran at the height of these gravel beds, the fall would be 43 feet between these places. Α. fall of 43 feet in twenty-eight miles gives a good deal less than 2 feet per mile. When I looked at this fact, I asked myself the question,possible that a river flowing with a fall of less than 2 feet per mile could have eroded this immense valkay ?." (Hear, hear.) Then it must be borne in mind that the Somme is but a small narrow river, while the valley through which it flows is wide, being sometimes two or three miles in breadth, and I would venture to say that if you could spread the river all over the valley I could walk across it without having my shoes covered with water. I am sure Professor Hughes will agree with me that there is no erosion going on at the present time, and if that be so, the data for calculation is taken away. I may add that I took a boat and rowed for five hours up the river, to see whether I could find the continuation of the banks that could have kept the river in, for we know that where there are no banks there can be no river. I had a friend with me, and the conclusion we reached was that there was an absence of continuous embankment necessary to keep the water up to the height where the implements were found, namely among the gravels of M. Tattegtain Brulé, 80 feet above the level of the Somme. I crossed on my next visit to Amiens, Pont de Camon, to see how high the bank was on the other side, and I am quite certain I am right in saying there was not sufficient height of bank to have kept the stream in so as to have occasioned it to reach the higher parts on the St. Acheul side, where erosion is said to have occurred and the implements are found. Correctly speaking, there was no bank at all, but simply a rising ground stretching back into the country. [The speaker here pointed out on the map what he was describing.] From all the appearances I saw, it was clear to ine that the water had never flowed up to the points I have indicated. I recrossed the river, and came along the banks on the south-western side, and before I had reached the peat beds of Longueau I could see that I was getting many feet below where the implements were found, and I suppose I shall be justified in saying that the minimum of the banks must have been the maximum of the stream. If the water, half a mile from St. Acheul, had come this way [pointing to the map], it would have flowed out upon the surrounding country, whereas a river that could have done the amount of erosive work attributed to the Somme ought to have been well stemmed in, but no signs of this exist.

* See Mr. J. Parker's view. (Vol. viii., p. 51. An extract from his paper will be found in the appendix.)

VOL. XIII.

2 A

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »