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ORDINARY MEETING, JULY 16, 1866.

THE Rev. WALTER MITCHELL, VICE-PRESIDENT, IN THE CHAIR.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed; and the names of the following Members and Associates were announced as having been elected since last Ordinary Meeting :

MEMBERS :—John Corderoy, Esq., 3, Kennington een ; Rev. John Philip

Gell, M.A., St. John's, Notting Hill ; Malcolm Goldsmith, Esq., H.M.
Civ. Ser., 43, Addison Road, Kensington ; D. J. Jenkins, Esq., 61,
Marquis Road, Canonbury ; Frederick Prideaux, Esq., Barrister-at-Law,
Reader on the Law of Real Property to the Inns of Court, Castelnau
Cottage, Barnes; J. Hornsby Wright, Esq., 2, Abbey Road, Maida
Hill.

ASSOCIATES,—1st Class :—Miss Broke, Marlborough Buildings, Bath ;

2ND CLASS :—Peter Carthew, Esq., 15A, Kensington Palace Gardens, and Woodbridge Abbey, Suffolk.

The following paper was then read :

ON THE VARIOUS THEORIES OF MAN'S PAST AND

PRESENT CONDITION.- BY JAMES REDDIE, Esq.,
Hon. Mem. Dial. Soc., Edin. Univer., HONORARY SECRETARY.

THERE are three leading doctrines or theories current in

the present day, which claim our attention as professing to account for the facts of man's past and present condition. The oldest and first in importance is what we have all been taught as children, that God created man a little lower than the angels,

him dominion over the inferior creatures. This might well be called the Monogenist, or the Historical Theory, but on the present occasion I prefer to give it another name, and will call it the Religious Theory. The second in importance, because, although the latest put forward, it is antagonistic to both the others, is the Darwinian Theory, which derives man from the ape.

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And the third is the

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Polygenous Theory, which, without descending quite so low for an ancestor, nevertheless propounds that the primitive men were savages, but lower than any known race of savages, inasmuch as, according to the theory, men originally could not even speak.

There may be minor distinctions and sub-theories perhaps, but still it will be convenient to keep to this classification. There may be polygenists, for instance, whose imagined primitive men were not all of the same low caste,-all merely speechless savages of different colours, white, yellow, red, and black. And it is surely not worth while to have a polygenous theory at all, if merely physical differences are all it can account for. There would certainly be a greater similarity between men of all the existing varied races, while in the same savage, low condition, than between men of identical race when savage and when civilized. The physical racecharacteristics of a people might not much differ, through such a change in their mental character,-or rather, let me say, the physical differences would be only and literally superficial,

- whereas the differences, between savage and civilized races, when regarded in a mental, moral, and social point of view, are well-nigh infinite. But then, the polygenist, who would make only some of his primitive men to be low-caste savages, and others an elevated race of superior clay and capacity, would be involved in contradictions as to his very theory of creation, or, if he denies creation, in his theory of man's origin and development. And, in point of fact, no such theory has yet been propounded, at least not in such a way as to lay hold upon men's minds, or to call for further examination. Some, who have not studied the whole question, may vaguely speak as if they held such a theory. They may have been puzzled at seeing the marked differences between the various races of mankind as now developed; and, influenced by the persistency with which a diverse origin for each has been urged by some eminent physiologists upon scientific grounds, they may not have inquired what science and equally eminent physiologists have said upon the other side.

But here Darwinism comes to the aid of the religious theory, and decides in favour of a monogenist hypothesis, professedly upon scientific grounds. Not that there may not be, again, a sub-class here, who are Darwinians and yet polygenists. At one time I thought that not possible ; but on arguing before the Anthropological Society of London,*

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. cxv et seq.

two years ago, that Darwinism "gets rid of the polygenous theory, by assigning to us the ape for an ancestor, mediately through the negro,” I was answered thus :

“Mr. Bendyshe could not perceive how the transmutation theory could get rid of the polygenous theory. Mr. Reddie appeared to suppose that, admitting the transmutation theory, man must have descended from a single ape; but that by no means followed. Man might have descended from several different apes. The question of the origin of man from one or from many

Adams was not settled at all by the transmutation

theory."*

To this it was replied, that “Mr. Bendyshe's suggestion of 'more apes than one,' to reconcile transmutation with the polygenous theory, is at any rate something new; but if these apes are all to be found in the 'equatorial regions,' to which Sir Charles Lyell refers us for a search, we are still relegated to the unimprovable' negro races for the first ancestor of civilized man ! If it could be established that low-class savages could raise themselves, one difficulty in this theory would be got rid of—that would be all. But if this cànnot be established, the theory is incredible, as being impossible.”+

Mr. Bendyshe is Vice-President of the Anthropological Society of London ; but I am not aware how far his opinions are shared by others, or even if there really exists a class of Darwinian Polygenists in this country. On the Continent, Professor Carl Vogt is a Darwinian, who derives makind from three kinds of apes; and he denounces, as irreconcilable with facts, the Darwinian monogenist theory. But it will be observed that this view of more apes than one, to obtain for the human race a polygenous origin, only brings us back, after all, to the other polygenous theory we have glanced at, which gives us "merely low-caste speechless savages of different colours" for the ancestors of all the races of mankind. If there be any great difference between the two theories, so far as anthropological considerations are involved, it is only this, that the one gets entirely rid of the special creation of man. In that respect Darwinism is completely antagonistic both to the religious theory and to all such polygenous theories as recognize the necessity for the intervention of a Creator, in order to account for the existence of “the paragon of animals”-man.

But the two best-known advocates of Darwinism are monogenists. Professor Huxley has become a convert to it as a monogenist, and has urged its probability upon physiological grounds. Mr. Alfred R. Wallace, who (upon Mr. Darwin's frank acknowledgment) may be regarded as the joint author of the theory, and ought therefore to understand it, pleads for it exclusively on monogenist grounds. The Darwinian is, therefore, so far in agreement with the Religious Theory; but only 80 far.

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. cxxxii.

+ Ibid. p. cxxxiv.

Still it is useful to have an eminent physiologist and anatomist, like Professor Huxley, strenuously declaring upon scientific grounds that he has no difficulty in understanding how all the varieties of the human race may originally have sprung from a single pair. His scientific dicta and arguments counterbalance what may be put forward, also as scientific dicta and arguments, on the other side. It is of great consequence also to have Mr. Wallace, as a distinguished naturalist, traveller and ethnologist, upon the monogenist side; even although other travellers and ethnologists, also eminent, have come to totally opposite conclusions. This being so, the holders of the religious theory may fairly say, that at least nothing is scientifically determined by physiology, comparative anatomy or ethnology, on the one side or the other. And this leaves us free to study the matter with regard to other considerations, if it does not indeed compel us to do so, in order to understand on what side is the weight of evidence and probability. It is to these other considerations I now wish especially to call attention.

But there may be also monogenists, who, while rejecting Darwinism, do not hold the religious theory. They may believe that all mankind are of one species, and have sprung from a single pair, but yet they may consider the primitive man to have been a savage.

If there be such a theory, it practically differs little from the Darwinian, after (but only after) we have arrived at man upon the theory of transmutation. The difficulties of Darwinism begin, however, long before we have got to man.

The classification adopted may, therefore, suffice for a tolerably complete review of the leading theories opposed to that of Scripture, which differs essentially from the others, in this, that it not only holds the special creation of man, but also that man was created not a low-caste, speechless savage, but a man in perfection. All the theories recognize the fact that there has been some kind of development or change in the human family ; the chief differences between them all relate to the origin and character of the primitive man.

While acknowledging in what respect the religious theory differs from all the others, it must also be pointed out in what

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essential particular Darwinism differs from them all,-from all, at any rate, that admit the distinct creation of man; for they all may be regarded as beginning with man in a state of manhood; whereas Darwinism, of necessity, begins with a human infant which had not human parents. But long before we arrive at that development under this theory, we are forced to ask, in our endeavour to realize what it professes to explain, “How possibly the first young mammal was nourished in its struggle for existence, if its immediate progenitor was not a mammal ?" No answer has ever been given to that inquiry; not even by Mr. Wallace in the ingenious paper* which he read before the Anthropological Society of London two years ago, in which he endeavoured to work out in some kind of detail the Darwinian hypothesis applied to man.

Nor does Mr. Darwin make any attempt to explain this, in his own elaborate volume. But the question is really a very old one, now revived. It differs nothing from that discussed in the Symposiacs of Plutarch, namely, “Which was first, the bird or the egg?. And I must say, to the credit of those ancient inquirers, that when they started a theory, they did not shrink from discussing it in all its bearings. The same question—which really involves the theory of creation-has been more ably and fully discussed than anywhere else, so far as I am aware, in the work called Omphalos, by our VicePresident, Mr. Gosse, F.R.S.

But passing over that, with all other difficulties which lie against Darwinism long before we come to its application to the origin of man, and contemplating “the lowly stock whence man has sprung," as Professor Huxley expresses himself, it has also been pointed out that “to this physiological difficulty there is added one that is psychological; for, even if we see no difficulty as to the physical rearing and training of the first human baby which some favoured

ape brought forth, we are forced to ask the transmutationist to favour us with some hint of the educational secret by which the monkeys trained and elevated their progeny into men, when we ourselves are scarcely able, with all our enlightenment and educational efforts, to prevent our masses falling back to a state rather akin to that of monkeys and brutes."

To this, again, no answer has ever been given; and there is even a prior difficulty, which I may say has been suggested by Mr. Wallace himself. For, in the paper already referred to, he laid it down that the intellect of man and his speech would be developed together; in fact, he recognized that they are

* Anthropological Review, vol. II. p. clviii, et seq.

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