RECORD: Monadnock. 1871. [Review of Descent]. Mr. Darwin's last book. New York Times (28 April): 2.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 10.2022. RN1

NOTE: Reprinted in the The evening Telegraph (Philadelphia) (8 May 1871): 6.

[page] 2


MR. DARWIN'S last book is a hard dose to swallow, and it gets plenty of denunciation and ridicule. The Roman Catholic Bishop Goss. of Liverpool, in his Easter sermon, after condemning the late Royal marriage in Lent, and the Communistic revolution in Paris, as results of a growing Atheism—a godlessness that left man with no government but his own selfishness—said there were men who were publishing learned books in which they discussed the question of what sort of animals were our progenitors. Not content with a paternity of apes, they now sought to find our prototypes in submarine animals. SIR ALEXANDER GRANT thinks there is nothing atheistical in Mr. DARWIN'S book—it is rather a system of natural theology on a new basis. He does not think, however, that the theory which makes the mind of a NEWTON or SHAKESPEARE differ from that of a clam or oyster only in degree of development can be accepted as philosophical. The Times condemns the theory with great severity, in a review of nearly two pages. But I prefer to all the reviews a portion of a poem in Blackwood, in which Mr. DARWIN is supposed to say, or sing, as follows:

"Man comes from a mammal that lived up a tree,

And a great coat of hair on his outside had he,

Very much like the Dreadnoughts we frequently see—

Which nobody can deny.

He had points to his ears and a tail to his rump,

To assist him with ease through the branches to jump—

In some cases quite long, and in some a mere stump—

Which nobody can deny.

This mammal, abstaining from mischievous pranks,

Was thought worthy in time to be raised from the ranks,

And with some small ado came to stand on two shanks—

Which nobody can deny.

Thus planted, his course he so prudently steered.

That his hand soon improved and his intellect cleared;

Then his forehead enlarged and his tail disappeared—

Which nobody can deny.

'Tisn't easy to settle when man became man;

When the monkey-type stopped and the human began;

But some very queer things were involved in the plan—

Which nobody can deny.

Women plainly had beards and big whiskers at first;

While the man supplied milk when the baby was nursed;

And some other strong facts I could tell—if I durst—

Which nobody can deny.

Our arboreal sire had a pedigree, too;

The marsupial system comes here into view;

So we'll trace him, I think, to a great kangaroo—

Which nobody can deny.

This kangaroo's parent, perhaps, was a bird;

But an ornithorhynchus would not be absurd;

Then to frogs and strange fishes we back are referred—

Which nobody can deny.

The rest is good, but not so good as this, and so I spare you.



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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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