Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

I presume that the sections on the wall have been taken from measurement?

Professor HUGHES.—They were sketched by the eye when standing at a distance, and to make the diagram clear the vertical heights have been exaggerated.

Mr. CALLARD.-I certainly saw the locality different. You have got the height equal on the right and left.

Professor HUGHES.—The view you have taken is from a different line of sight.

The CHAIRMAN.-I think it would be better to allow Professor Hughes to answer any remarks that may be made at the end of the discussion.

Mr. CALLARD.-I had two friends with me, and we were not casually looking about, but were there for the purpose of examining the valley, and I am prepared to say that the opposite side [pointing to the map] was not sufficiently high to allow the river to touch the place where the implements were found. If you admit there has been some alteration in the contour of the country, some change in the level of the land, then I say all the data for the argument from erosion is gone; but with the contour of the country the same as now, if I were on the spot with Professor Hughes, I think I could convince him that the river never could have touched the place where these implements were found. (Applause.)

Mr. T. JONES.—I would ask permission to make a remark. Some years ago a shock of earthquake was felt all along the coast of Wales, and so marked was the tremulation of the earth that at the Greenwich Observatory the telescope was seen to rise and fall. On the following morning the observer found that the time at which he had seen the instrument rise and fall agreed with the time at which the earthquake was travelling along the coast of North and South Wales. Now, this being so, it seems very possible that there may be occasional changes in the contour of the country so affected, and that after a shock of earthquake the land does not revert back to exactly the same level it had before, if this be so, it seems to me that it has a tendency to disturb the erosive principle that has been contended for.

Mr. J. THORNHILL HARRISON, F.G.S.--I do not agree with the author of the paper when he says that the peculiarities of the Glacial and recent periods cannot be explained by the occurrence of cataclysms, but upon this question I cannot now enter. I would call attention to the raised beaches in the West of England and on many parts of the coast, and suggest that in times past the tide rose in the Exe, the Teign, the Axe, and very probably in the Thames and other rivers, to a much higher level than it does at present, owing to the altered configuration of the coast by the encroachment of the

I consider the valleys of these rivers were formed by other processes of nature than the erosive action of the water falling within the river basins and flowing down their channels. (Hear, hear.)

Rev. G. HENSLOW, F.G.S. (a visitor).--I think the discussion has been somewhat diverted from the subject of the paper, which is “The Antiquity of Man," as far as the best evidence is concerned. The last speakers seem rather to have entered on the question of physical geography. Most of them have criticised Professor Hughes's remarks ; but I should like to say

sea.

that I agree with him from beginning to end. I hold that the records of mammalia in the Eocene and Miocene periods are such that it is impossible even to expect to find man's remains in these deposits. For given reasons Professor Hughes says that the remains of the animals, I presume he alludes to the mammalia, found in them are so different from those of later times, that man, if he existed at all, must have been different also. If we take Professor Gaudry's deductions, I think he shows conclusively that not only is there not a single species of mammalia that lived at the time of those deposits to be found in existence at the present moment; but that those which did exist then have given rise, by evolution, to the modern species. In those days there was no such hyæna as we have now; I take it that the horse did not exist, but its earliest ancestor, if we may accept the theory that they sprang one from the other, was the Echippus. Similarly, if we reason by analogy, and draw a comparison between the mammalia of those periods and the mammalia of the present day, assuming that the ancestor of man must have been subject to the same laws of evolution as they ; then, man, as he is now, could not have existed. Whether there was any intermediate, halfrational being, and whether he could make and use flint implements, is another question. It is, however, certain that man, as we know him, could not have existed in the Miocene or Eocene periods, if we are to judge by analogy. I would submit this view to the consideration of Professor Hughes. With regard to another point that has been referred to, we know that rivers do cut out the material from the channel through which they flow, and that they also may become silted up, these two operations going on together. But the whole gist of the paper lies in the fact that it brings us to this,—that all the evidences of the existence of man are confined to the Post-glacial period. Whether he can be carried beyond that is another matter; but I see no reason why he should not be. The horse existed before the Glacial epoch, and therefore man might have existed as well ; but as far as these northern regions are concerned, I see no evidence whatever that he did.

The CHAIRMAN.--I think that what was said by Mr. Henslow was quite to the point, because the paper certainly dealt with those physical conditions which we see around us as affording a chronology by which we are to measure the age of man. I could not help thinking that if you gave me an earthquake, I would give you almost any physical condition you please. (Hear, hear.) Perhaps most of you may not be as well acquainted as I am, from the circumstances in which I have been placed, with some of those great physical changes that do occur at intervals in different parts of the world. It is but a few years since a district comprising 1,800 miles of South America was raised a considerable height, and remained in its altered position. Such a fact, of course, alters all the physical conditions affecting the adjacent rivers. I

may mention another interesting fact which shows how little the chronology to be derived from the mud deposit of rivers can be relied on. Sir William Parker took his fleet up a branch of the Yang-tsi-Kiang in 1841; and in 1851, when I went up, that branch had become all solid land, and I sailed up a new branch altogether. (Hear, hear.) Not only was this the case, but within the memory of man, where the river was there are now islands and cities, with thousands of inhabitants upon them. (Hear, hear.) You

see, therefore, in how short a time the whole of the physical features of a large tract of country may be altered, and how the chronology to be derived from any particular river may be entirely upset. (Applause.)

Mr. S. R. PATTISON, F.G.S.-I should like to say a few words before Professor Hughes replies. Every one must have been pleased with the attractive tone and moderation of the paper, but I am not sure that the conclusion was quite so satisfactory to me as the title and general contents seemed to indicate. The title and general contents of the paper are

On the Evidences already obtained as to the Antiquity of Man”; and as to his statement of these evidences,—especially with regard to certain distinct operations which he has brought before us,- this is quite satisfactory ; but when at the end of his paper he infers from the state of things he describes that the river Somme has cut its way, since the formation of the flint implements, to an extent that implies an enormous lapse of time, I fail to see that he gives us sufficient evidence in support of his conclusion; and when he says that the geological evidence is such that there has been a total extinction of the mammalia, and that therefore it must have taken the enormous amount of time implied by such a state of things, I fail still more to see any evidence to support that proposition. Now, it seems to me in reference to that which has been offered to this Society, that there are factors in the business that have not been taken into sufficient account by Professor Hughes. He has not considered those violent actions of nature referred to by the Chairman, in the case of the sudden changes that have taken place in rivers by reason of earthquakes, nor has he alluded to those changes which take place with equal suddenness, and also with very great force, by reason of severe and exceptional floods. (Hear, hear.) But beyond all this we have in the ancient Somme valley proofs of a continuous course of rapid erosion,–far more rapid than the erosion now going on, which is proved to be nil, or next to nil. We have the fact that the valley has been eroded in a rapid and turbulent or tumultuous manner, with intervals of rest, during which the materials were deposited,—so that we have evidence of a state of things in existence at one time of which we have now no example there. It is clear that the Somme valley must have been cut where it is, and not by the present stream, and therefore that it must have been subjected to forces which are not now in operation, and the moment we have to introduce into the discussion forces that are not now in existence, we necessarily introduce a different and an unknown measure of time ; so that I am at liberty to say that the excavation of the valley took place under circumstances which necessarily imply great rapidity, because the employment of great force means rapidity of action. (Hear, hear.) Consequently, I am free to say, from the same evidence as Professor Hughes refers to when he says, “I see the proofs of immense periods,” I can only see proofs of short periods. (Hear, hear.) However, I will not dwell upon this. I will only add that, with all due respect for the more competent knowledge of Professor Hughes, I think the evidence he

has adduced indicates a course of things leading to the proposition that the inferences he has drawn are not quite so satisfactory as the fascinating narrative he has given us.

Rev. H. MARTYN HART, M.A.-Before Professor Hughes replies, I think I may say that we all agree in one thing, and that is in being thankful that he has given us a specimen of the cautious accuracy with which a man thoroughly acquainted with a subject proceeds to discuss it. I am quite sure that what we call religion will not suffer at the hands of Professor Hughes. The cause of truth only suffers at the hands of the incautious and inaccurate, and of those hasty generalisers who can never wait patiently for an accumulation of facts; but upon some one or two isolated cases hurry to a conclusion,-a conclusion often very far from being warranted. As an example of the unjustifiable manner in which this subject has been treated by a certain class of writers, I may mention that some time ago a periodical, the School Magazine, was edited by Dr. Morell, one of H.M.'s Inspectors of Schools, and in its first number was an article on Man. One paragraph ran,- that human remains had been found at a depth of 600 feet in the Mississippi Delta, and that Dr. Benet Dowler had proved, by "a hard and indisputable process of calculation,” that man has been upon the Delta of the Mississippi for 57,000 years. I wrote to the writer for his authority. After one evasive letter, he wrote a second time to intimate that I could not have much acquaintance with the subject if I was not familiar with Nott and Gliddon's Types of Mankind; and, referring me to the page, he said I sbould find “the hard and indisputable process of calculation ” there. I found the volume in the British Museum, and there read,—that at New Orleans borings had been made to a depth of 600 feet, and that the base of the alluvial deposit had not been reached, and that when excavations for certain gas-works were being made, under the fourth forest level, and at a depth of 60* (not 600) feet from the surface, a skeleton was found. The cranium was in a state of good preservation. The trees were cypresses, and by counting the rings of growth, and by calculating the time the great river takes to make a deposit of an inch,—the Egyptian Nilometer being appealed to for the exact number of years !-the precise number

* Mr. Hart's absence prevents an apparently needful correction being made. Sir C. Lyell, in the fourth edition of his Antiquity of Man (1873), refers to only two instances of fossil human remains having been found in the Mississippi valley ; the first being that of the skeleton of a Red Iodian, the cranium in good preservation, found 16 feet below the surface when excavating for some gas works : Dr. Dowler considered it to be 57,600 years old. Sir C. Lyell cites his opinion with apparent approval (P. 46), and gives his reasons, founded upon a calculation as to the rate of deposit of the mud but Messrs. Humphreys and Abbot, quoted by Sir C. Lyell in the later edition of his work as reliable authorities, have calculated that the whole ground on which New Orleans stands, down to a depth of 40 feet, has been deposited in forty-four centuries. In regard to the second instance of fossil human remains, Sir C. Lyell says, “It is necessary to suspend our judgment as to the high antiquity of the fossil ” (p. 239).- ED.

of 57,600 years was arrived at, during which the bones had lain in their grave, and during which vast lapse of time the cranium had been enabled to resist the process of decay.

The calculation itself, moreover, was transparently inaccurate. And although this article had been put into the hands of thousands of school children, with the authority of one of H.M.’s Inspectors, yet I was unable to persuade them to withdraw or even correct the gross mis-statement, and the sole result has been that I received a challenge from Mr. Bradlaugh to meet him in discussion anywhere. Let all take a leaf from Professor Hughes's book, and hazard no definite calculation ; but let us wait patiently for more data, resting quite sure, as again and again we have been taught, that the records of the Book of Nature will never contradict the assertions of the Book of Grace,

“Read each aright, and each will read the same." Rev. H. G. TOMKINS.—Since the Nile has been mentioned in connection with calculations as to the lapse of ages and the antiquity of man, I

may be allowed to remark that the deductions of Mr. L. Horner from his observations in the Delta have been set aside by more recent inquirers,—“The whole inquiry,' says Dr. Birch, " is for many reasons more than unsatisfactory.”Wilkinson, Anct. Egyptians, New Edition, 1878, vol. i., p. 9, footnote.

Mr. W. TOPLEY, F.G.S. (a visitor).—I should like to say with regard to the Brandon flints, that Professor Hughes probably may not be aware of the fact that some memoranda have been sent in to the Royal Society on the subject, and are now in the hands of the Secretary, and I hope will be gone into. A large pumber of people disbelieved the evidence that was adduced ; and although I do not argue the point, I must say that I thought the evidence insufficient. But all the officers of the Geological Survey who have seen the place, say they have not the slightest doubt but that the implements found in the brick earth have been undoubtedly overlaid by a boulder glacial deposit. I do not think Professor Hughes was so clear when he passed onwards a little period. I should like to know his opinion as to the actual antiquity of man. It inay

be useful to take the historic age as a multiple ; but what multiple is it? Of course, the whole of his argument is called in question upon the authenticity of these flint implements; but, according to his showing, the Somme and the Thames have for the last 2,000 years been in pretty much the same state as they are now. Assuming it is only 2,000 years ago since the change began, what multiple is that with regard to the period to which we are to go back to find the age of these implements ? I should like Professor Hughes to state whether, according to his view of the evidence, although it has been called in question, he, in common with a great many geologists, would stretch tho chronology of man to its utmost limits? He might tell us of the wonderful succession of events that have taken place in Kent's Cavern, where, below the hyæna beds and flint implements, there is a great gap, and then still earlier deposits and flint implements, and along with these a totally different fauna, the hyæna and the elephant being altogether absent, and the remains are almost exclusively bears; so that one can hardly but believe that

و

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »