RECORD: DuBois H. A. 1866. The origin and antiquity of man: Darwin, Huxley and Lyell, part III. American Quarterly Church Review, and Ecclesiastical Register 17 (4) (January): 505-534.
REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by Angus Carroll, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data, corrections by John van Wyhe 8.2009. RN1
NOTE: From a copy in the collection of Carroll.
N. S. RICHARDSON, D. D.,
EDITOR AND PROPRIETOR.
VOLUME XVII.—NUMBER IV.
WHOLE NUMBER, LXVIII.
N. S. RICHARDSON,
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|ART.||I.||The Origin and Antiquity of Man: Darwin, Huxley and Lyell,||505|
|ART.||II.||Genesis of Slang and Street-Swearing,||535|
|ART.||III.||Letters on Romish Errors and Corruptions,||553|
|ART.||IV.||The Canon of Scripture,||583|
|ART.||V.||Jones's Critique on the Hamiltonian Philosophy,||601|
|ART.||VI.||Bishop Potter's Pastoral Letter and its Causes,||611|
|Notices of Books,||646|
|Summary of Home Intelligence,||666|
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VOL. XVII. JANUARY, 1866. No. 4.
ART. I.—THE ORIGIN AND ANTIQUITY OF MAN: DAR-
WIN, HUXLEY AND LYELL.
The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man, with Remarks on Theories of the Origin of Species by Variation; by SIR CHARLES LYELL, F. R. S. Philadelphia: 1863.
HAVING exposed the fanciful scheme of Mr. Darwin, and the illogical argument of Mr. Huxley, in the two preceding Parts of this Essay, we now come to the conclusion of our task, and propose to examine, critically, the views of Sir Charles Lyell, promulgated in his latest work on the "Antiquity of Man."
It is said that Napoleon Bonaparte rebuked the religious infidelity of Marshal Duroc, who had, on a certain occasion, expressed his belief in a very incredible story, by the remark, "there are some men who are capable of believing every thing but the Bible."
The three authors whose works are reviewed in this Essay, furnish an apt illustration of this remark. Mr. Darwin is unable to credit the Scriptures, which declare that all the forms of life were originated by a Divine Creator, and that all the
laws of Nature emanate from a Divine Lawgiver; yet he has no difficulty in believing that all the distinct species of animals are the results of accidental variations of some common non-descript germ; and that the laws which govern their existence have been determined by some imaginary and impossible principle of Natural Selection, which they themselves have fortuitously given birth to, in their struggle for existence. He requires us to disbelieve the authoritative Revelation of the Creator,—the authenticity of which is capable of verification,—and proposes, for our acceptance, the most improbable scheme of Creation which an unbridled imagination can devise, based solely on his own gratuitous assumptions. He rejects, as unreasonable, Moses' account of the successive acts of Creation, which is in perfect harmony with the disclosures of science, and his statement, that the distinct forms of animal life were created separately and independently, which also comports with all known facts: but he can see no difficulty in believing that all the distinct species of animals were produced by accidental transmutation, under the guidance of a physical divinity, itself accidentally developed,—although not a single fact in science can be adduced to prove even the possibility of such an occurrence,—or the probable existence in Nature of such a chimera as he designates under the name of "Natural Selection." Truly, the credulity of scepticism exceeds belief!
Next comes Mr. Huxley, a practical anatomist of distintuished merit, who believes that the suggestive and fanciful vagaries of Mr. Darwin furnish a sound basis for scientific theorizing. He accordingly lays down his scalpel, and takes up the pen, and by an argument founded on the differences of animals, which is not only illogical in itself, but absurd in its application, he endeavors to prove, in contempt of such "time-honored theories" as the Bible propounds, that Man is the lineal descendent of the gorilla.
Lastly, Sir Charles Lyell, who has devoted a long life, with renowned success, to practical and theoretical Geology, is infected with the same credulous scepticism, and renounces, in his old age, the firm convictions of his vigorous prime, which were then in accordance with Revelation. With garrulous
prolixity, he has reproduced his accumulated store of facts, and written a book of 513 pages, to endorse the visionary notions of his friends, Darwin and Huxley, and to prove that man, if not of bestial origin, at least commenced his career as a brutal savage, and dwelt on this earth a hundred thousand years ago, the Bible to the contrary notwithstanding.
We shall deal with Sir Charles in the same manner that we have with his two friends. We will frankly admit, so far as possible, all his facts; but we will sub ect to rigid scrutiny the inferences which he draws from these facts, and will test, by a rigorous analysis, the soundness of his theoretical speculations.
It is important to state, at the outset, that Sir Charles Lyell's estimates in regard to time are to be taken with great allowance. From the commencement of his career as a Geologist, he has always been a strenuous advocate of the theory, that all the changes which this earth has undergone have been brought about gradually, by the uniform action of the same causes which are now at work, modifying its PRESENT surface. This theory, which is in direct antagonism to the more prevalent one of cataclysmic convulsions, requires, as a necessary element, illimitable periods of time, to account for successive geological formations. Consequently, this claim of epochs of immense duration, in connection with his pet theory of gradual change, became, and still is, a special hobby of Sir Charles Lyell. It governs all his geological speculations, and gives a bias to all his inferences.
On the other hand, many other geologists equally entitled to respect, and some who rank higher, such as Elie de Beaumont of France and Sir Roderick Murchison of England, maintain the opposite theory, of sudden changes, produced by paroxysmal convulsions. Lyell has satisfactorily demonstrated the probability, that certain formations have been gradually produced by existing causes, acting during immense periods of time, but he is constantly forced to admit that these causes may have acted with very different degrees of energy at different times. This admission is fatal to any dogmatic assertion in regard to absolute time; for the varying ratio of increase, being unknown, the time necessary for a formation must also
remain unknown, even if we admit its present progress to be gradual and constant.
The advocates of the opposite theory give us equally good reasons for believing, that immense changes have been produced by convulsive agency, causing sudden great disruptions and vast upheavals. Each theory, doubtless, contains a portion of the truth, and error lies in the extreme views of each. All speculations in regard to time, founded on either theory, can never amount to anything more than doubtful guesses, even when the speculator is free from the bias of extreme views. But, in regard to this element of time, Sir Charles Lyell is, and always has been, from the necessities of his theory, and extremist; and as such, he undertakes in this volume to determine the antiquity of man.
After a short Introductory, our author, in Chap. II., opens the consideration of his subject, by detailing the works of art found in Danish peat, in Danish shell-mounds, and in ancient Swiss and Irish lake-dwellings. These Danish deposits of peat occur in hollows, in the northern drift formation, which constitutes the most superficial matter of the earth's surface. The basins or depressions in which this peat has been formed, or rather deposited, show accumulations of this semi-fluid matter, varying in depth from ten to thirty feet. He states, that around their borders, and at various depths in them, lie trunks of the Scotch fir, (Pinus Sylvestris,) often three feet in diameter, and that "this tree is not now, nor ever has been in historical times, a native of the Danish Island." It appears clear to him, that this tree has been supplanted by the sessile variety of the common oak,—for many prostrate trunks occur in the peat, at higher levels than the pines or firs, and that this last, in its turn, has "been almost superseded in Denmark by the common beech." He admits that other trees, still flourishing in Denmark, occur at all levels of the peat, and that the shells, mammals and plants buried in it are all of recent species.
All these facts and statements are consistent with an explanation, which would assign to this peat deposit no very remote antiquity; but our author draws his first inference in
favor of the immense antiquity of a pre-Adamite man, from the fact "that a stone implement was found under a buried Scotch fir, at a great depth in the peat." He asserts that Danish and Swedish antiquaries, by studying such implements, as well as other articles of human workmanship preserved in peat, in sand dunes on the coast, and shell mounds, have succeeded in establishing a chronological succession of periods, which they have called the ages of stone, bronze and iron, under which they class their antiquarian relics, as illustrative of the early condition of the aboriginal inhabitants. This generalization, or rather assumption of these Northern antiquaries, which is convenient for classifying relics, is immediately adopted by our author, who appropriates it as an established and universal truth, considering it of general application to all other parts of the world, and using it as a basis for other assumptions and generalizations of his own.
The following quotation shows the immediate use to which our author puts this theory, and is a fair sample of the very quiet way with which, in a hundred instances, and on very slight grounds, he puts forward his own opinions, or the assumption of others, as if they were indisputable truths.
"The age of stone, in Denmark, coincided with the period of first vegetation, or that of the Scotch fir, and in part at least with the second vegetation, or that of the oak. But a considerable portion of the oak epoch coincided with 'the age of bronze,' for swords and shields of that metal, now in the Museum of Copenhagen, have been taken out of peat in which oaks abound. The age of iron corresponded more nearly with that of the beech tree."—p. 10.
He then proceeds to speculate in regard to the progressive advancement of the primeval savage of the stone period, toward the civilization of the age of iron.
He finds, in the Danish "shell-mounds," evidence of the remote antiquity and original state of the primeval man of the stone period. These mounds, or, as they are called by the Danes, "kitchen refuse heaps," are very similar to the Indian shell heaps, which occur along our coast, from Maine to Florida. They vary in height from three to ten feet, and are composed of oyster and other shells of the neighboring coast, interspersed with flint knives, rude pottery, implements of bone
and wood, and the bones of various animals used for food. None of these animal remains are of extinct species, except the Bos primigenius, which existed in the time of Julius Caæsar. He concludes that the primitive man, who left these "kitchen refuse heaps" behind him as monuments of the stone age of the world, was not a cannibal, because no human bones are found in them; that he was not an agriculturist, because no grain of any sort is found amongst this offal; that man in that age lived by fishing and hunting, and had no domestic animals but the dog, because the bones of such animals are not found in these heaps; and that he was of smaller stature than his successors of the bronze and iron ages, and had a small, round head, like the present Laplander, because a few stray skulls picked up in the vicinity or found in the peat, were of this description, while those of the bronze and iron age of the world, were "of an elongated form and larger size." He admits, however, that "there appear to be very few well authenticated examples of crania referable to the bronze period."
The early explorers of the new world found far stronger evidence to show that just such a primitive stone age existed contemporaneously with the advanced civilization of Europe, and that just such a primeval man roamed over the buried memorials of a preceding and more civilized race. In the supposed absence of all historic records, the archæologists of a far distant future, would trace back the civilization of the present iron age of the United States, to this Indian stone age, with just as much show of reason as antiquarians now refer the civilization of Europe to a primitive period of rude flint implements, from which it gradually emerged and advanced slowly, through successive ages of bronze and iron.
There is nothing to forbid the belief, that while a few roaming hunters were making their "refuse heaps" on the distant shores of the Northern Ocean, there were populous communities of more enlightened men in those Eastern centers of civilization, which are known to have been the oldest seats of art.
It is more reasonable to believe, that occasional contact with these centers subsequently improved the condition of these stragglers, and added a few metal tools to their stock of flints,
before they were overtaken by the general march of civilization, than to suppose that primeval savages gradually originated language and arts, during these assumed countless ages of progressive advancement, of which there is no evidence save these metal tools. The requisite time claimed for such progress, however small the original number of the autochthones, must necessarily have begotten a teeming population, which would have left, everywhere, numerous memorials of its presence; whereas, a few scattered bones and here and there a skull are all that remain to indicate the existence of myriads. It cannot be asserted, with any show of reason, that time has destroyed all but a very few specimens of this human multitude, and yet spared, in great abundance, the smallest bones of animals which they consumed for food. It is far more in accordance with probability, as well as history, to conclude, from these archæological facts, that contact with civilization had, from time to time, introduced weapons and utensils of metal, than to imagine long successive ages of stone, bronze and iron, in order to account for a few bronze or iron implements, found interspersed with the flint relics of the original sparse settlers.
Nor is there anything, in the occasional superposition or wide range of these scattered relics, to justify a generalization so sweeping, and so beset with insurmountable difficulties. That stragglers, roaming from the centers of civilization and becoming savage, should universally first adopt the rudest means at hand, such as flint and bone, to supply themselves with tools and implements of war, is conceded. That such savage tribes may have, in many instances, originated some steps towards the arts and sciences, and have invented, successively, instruments of bronze and iron, we will also concede. But do these conceded facts, and the relics which attest them, force us to the conclusion that man was, ab origine, a savage, just removed above the brutal state,—if not of bestial origin,—and that he has advanced from this brutal state to civilization, through the countless ages of time necessary for such a being to invent, first, language, and then arts and sciences? Or was he, at the start, created a more perfect being, endowed with speech, with developed moral and intellectual faculties, and with divinely
implanted germs of knowledge, which readily developed into those arts and sciences which his wants demanded?
These are the two questions at issue. The latter theory is consistent with all known facts, and with the history of the race. It satisfactorily accounts for the rapid progress of civilization, in certain primitive centers, and for its subsequent lapse,—from adverse causes,—in these same centers, leaving behind monuments to attest its previous existence. It also satisfactorily explains the origin and long continuance of barbarism in those tribes which had become separated from these centers, and accounts for those relics which record their imperfect attempts to recover a lost civilization. This theory is taught and explained by a Book, the authenticity of which, as a Divine revelation, is capable of verification, and the testimony of which, thus verified, is decisive.
The other and opposite theory is maintained by our author, and by those who advocate the fanciful views of Darwin and Huxley. It requires the admission of great improbabilities, not to say impossibilities; it rests chiefly on opinions, assumptions, and unwarrantable generalizations of isolated facts, and is supported solely by a few obscure relics of a barbarous antiquity, which are much more rationally accounted for by the opposite theory, than by the hypothesis which is proposed as a substitute. It demands, as a necsssary element, an immense antiquity for man, and this demand Sir Charles Lyell attempts to supply from the geological record.
He brings to bear on this point, with tiresome profusion, all the opinions, assumptions and speculations of others, as suggestive, approximate or decisive, to which he very quietly adds, without proof or argument, his own opinions, in the way of correction, modification or confirmation. The evidence of the Danish peat and shell mounds, is summed up in the following words:—
"How many generations of each species of tree flourished in succession before the pine was supplanted by the oak, and the oak by the beech, can be but vaguely conjectured; but the minimum of time required for the formation of so much peat, must, according to the estimate of Steenstrup and other good authorities, have amounted to at least 4000 years; and there is nothing in the observed rate of tho
growth of the peat opposed to the conclusion that the number of centuries may not have been four times as great, even though the signs of man's existence have not yet been traced down to the lowest or amorphous stratum. As to the "shell mounds," they correspond in date to the older portion of the peaty record, or to the earliest part of the age of stone as known in Denmark."—p. 17.
In other words, according to Mr. Steenstrup, the flint instrument "taken out with his own hands" from a peat bog, must be at least 4,000 years old; but our author thinks it might have been 16,000 years old, and that other still older signs of man's existence might be traced still farther down in the peat. He quietly assumes that the "shell mounds" are as old as the oldest part of the peat, and belong to the earliest part of the assumed Danish stone age.
In another part of the volume, he assumes a far greater antiquity for an implement found in peat; advancing, in proof, the opinion of a French archæologist, whose ideas in regard to the formation of this substance are not so liberal as Mr. Steenstrup's. To say nothing of the great liability of stone and metal tools to sink in the soft muck of a peat bog, there are conclusive reasons for setting aside all the evidence of man's antiquity drawn from peat deposits, upon which our author, in different parts of his book, lays great stress.
So varying are the conditions which modify the rate of growth of peat, and so various are the accidents which attend its accumulation, or deposit in "hollows," that no reliable indication of age can be derived from the quantity or depth of this deposit. Many facts corroborative of this statement, might be produced from the previous works of Sir Charles Lyell, and from other authors. But to show how perfectly unreliable is the above calculation, which is based on the depth at which a flint instrument was found in these Danish "hollows," we need only quote the words of our author used elsewhere:—
"The depth of overlying peat affords no safe criterion for calculating the age of the cabin or village, for I have shown in the 'Principles of Geology' (Ch. XLVI.)* that both in England and Ireland, within historical times, bogs have burst and sent forth great volumes of black mud, which has been known to creep over the country at a slow pace, flowing somewhat at the rate of ordinary lava currents, and
* See Book III, Chap. XIII., first Am. Edition, 1837.
sometimes overwhelming woods and cottages, and leaving a deposit upon them of bog earth fifteen feet thick."
The well known account of the bursting of Solway Moss, in 1772, caused by rains, the like of which had not occurred for 200 years, and by reason of which its peaty matter flowed into the valley of the Esk, overwhelming farms and hamlets, explains how the relics of man may be found in ancient peat deposits, accumulated in "hollows," without attributing to these deposits any great previous antiquity.
In regard, also, to the time necessary for the formation of peat, there is a remarkable fact on record, which proves the unreliableness of Lyell's estimates of antiquity, drawn from this source. In 1711, George, Earl of Cromartie, at the age of eighty years, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, a very valuable paper on this subject. He states that in 1651, in passing through the parish of Lochbrun, he carefully noticed a wood of very ancient fir trees, standing firm on a little plain of half a mile round, midway on the slope of a very high hill. On visiting this locality fifteen years afterwards, he was surprised to find in the place of this wood, a level surface of moss, with not a vestige of a tree to be seen. Upon inquiry, he was informed that the wood had been prostrated by winds, and that their interlaced trunks, arresting the moisture from the declivity above, had caused the whole to be overgrown by "a green moss or bog," which was unsafe to cross. Doubting the fact, he made the attempt, and immediately sank in the bog up to his arm-pits, before he could be withdrawn. He goes on to state, that in 1699, "the whole piece of ground was turned into a common moss, where the country people were digging turf and peats, and still continue so to do."
Here we see that forty-eight years sufficed for the formation, on firm land, of a peat deposit of such thickness as would denote, according to Lyell's estimate, an antiquity greater than that assigned to Adam. In the absence of this record, had he found, as he doubtless might, some relic of human art in the soil under this deposit, he would, as in other cases, have advanced it as an incontestable proof of a pre-Adamite man.
Our author next proceeds to consider the "Swiss Lake Dwellings," built on piles, near the shores of Lake Geneva and other small neighboring lakes. There is nothing in the presence or construction of these rude dwellings to indicate any very remote antiquity, for Herodotus informs us that the Pæonians built just such lake dwellings, to escape the attacks of Xerxes. But our author finds in some of them "implements of stone, horn and bone, but none of metal," and these he refers to the stone period of the world. In others he finds some tools and weapons of bronze, and these he attributes to the "bronze period," at which time arts had begun to arise among men. He makes a nice point of the fact, that the huts of the bronze period were situated more westerly, showing the westward march of civilization, in this little confined lake district. He states, that "the tools, ornaments and pottery of the bronze period, in Switzerland, bear a close resemblance to those of the corresponding age in Denmark, attesting the wide spread of a uniform civilization over central Europe, at that era;"—a very sweeping generalization, based on forty rude metal hatchets, dredged up in Lake Geneva. In some few of these aquatic stations, as well as in other places on land, he finds a mixture of bronze and iron implements, and works of art, "including coins, and metals of bronze and silver, struck at Marseilles, and of Greek manufacture, belonging to the first and pre-Roman division of the age of iron."
He speculates largely in regard to numerous fragments of bones of wild and domestic animals, found in or near the foundations of these dwellings, and he conjectures, as in the case of those found in Danish refuse heaps, that "the greater number, if not all these animals, served for food." They amount to fifty-four species; and he ingeniously distributes them, with the help of Rutimeyer, among these three assumed and remote ages of man; they are all, however, animals now living in Europe, except the Bos primigenius, which existed in the time of Cæsar. We notice among those allotted to the bronze period, the ox, sheep, goat, hog, a large hunting dog, "and with it a small horse, of which genus very few traces have been detected in the earlier settlements,—a single tooth, for
example, at Wangen, and only one or two bones at two or three other places." He thinks, that in "the earliest age of stone, when the habits of the hunter state predominated over those of the pastoral, venison or the flesh of the stag and roe was more eaten than the flesh of the domestic cattle and sheep." But the great mass of animals constructed out of these disjecta membra, were common to all those far distant epochs of man's existence, within the narrow limits of these Swiss lakes, and were precisely the same animals which now inhabit the country. In addition to the common fishes, wild fowl and reptiles, he enumerates all the present wild mammalia, such as "the bear, the badger, the common marten, the polecat, the ermine, the weasel, the otter wolf, fox, wild cat, hedgehog, squirrel, field mouse, &c.," the greater part or all of which he tells us served for food. Not a very inviting bill of fare, certainly. Perhaps, however, these unsavory animals were killed for their skins; the assumption that they were used for food, is entirely gratuitous.
While the bones of the fox occur every where in great abundance, he tells us that only "a single fragment of the bone of a hare has been found at Moosseedorf." He assumes, backed by the authority of Rutimeyer, that this fact proves a universal preference of fox to hare, on the part of the lake-dwellers of the stone period, and "establishes a singular contract between their tastes and ours." This is a very astonishing deduction from a single fact, and is based, also, on a gratuitous assumption. This solitary fragment of bone might be good evidence that hares were scarce where foxes were plenty; but who, except a savant, would ever have dreamed that this solitary bone could be proof of a universal preference of foxmeat to hare, and establish such a singular contrast of tastes between the gourmands of the Swiss stone period and the British age of iron? To an unsophisticated mind, such generalizations would seem to manifest more imagination than common sense.
He also informs us, that, "amidst all this profusion of animal remains" which served for food to men belonging to different ages of the world, during three long chronological ages,
only one solitary human skull is found, to represent the three ages of stone, bronze, and iron.
After careful examination of this solitary specimen, Professor His observes, that "it exhibits, instead of the small, rounded form, proper to the Danish peat mosses, a type much more like that now prevailing in Switzerland, which is intermediate between the long-headed and short-headed form." This is, doubtless, a very correct and cautious observation of Prof. His; and the plain, common-sense conclusion is, that it belonged to the present Swiss race, since it has their prevailing characteristics. But this skull is authoritatively pronounced to be "of the early stone period," simply because it was dredged up in that part of the Lake of Zurich which is assumed to have been the theater of the stone period. Accordingly, the inference which our author draws from this opinion of Prof. His, is the following:—"So far, therefore, as we can draw safe conclusions from a single specimen, there has been no marked change of race in the human population of Switzerland, during the periods above considered."
Here we have another brilliant generalization of an assumption, based moreover on the perversion of a cautious opinion. A solitary skull, which is assumed to belong to the early stone age of Switzerland,—though differing from another solitary skull, which was made the type of the same age, "of a uniform civilization," in Denmark,—is pronounced by Prof. His to be similar to those of the present Swiss race. Thereupon, our author makes this solitary skull typical, also, of the other two ages, and comes gravely to the conclusion. (with a salvo,) that there has been no marked change in the human population of Switzerland, during the ages of stone, bronze, and iron! This, certainly, is generalizing with a vengeance; we need not the cautionary salvo of the author, to guard us against the fallacy of such unscientific speculations.
On the strength of such assumptions, we are called upon to believe that the present Swiss population have come down, with little change of race, from the primeval savage of the stone period;—that their rude fox-eating forefathers continued to inhabit a little lake district, until they had there institute
agriculture and metallurgic arts, during two successive ages of civilization, necessarily embracing a period of time sufficiently long to fill all Switzerland with an overflowing population, and convert it into a populous cemetery of the dead;—that, although numerous animal remains and cereals used for food, are said to manifest the habits and tastes of each age, yet they left behind them only the remnants of a few wooden huts, some metal tools, and a solitary skull, to attest the existence of vast multitudes, their peculiarities of race, and their gradual progress towards civilization, through long successive ages of stone, bronze, and iron!
Assuredly, scientific men who have hobbies to ride, go out of their way to invent grave absurdities. The only rational explanation of the facts, which does not do violence to common sense, is, that a few rude savages had built temporary hunting lodges in the water, for fishing purposes, and probably, also, to protect themselves from abounding wild beasts,—and that the pioneers who preceded the Roman invasion of Helvetia, introduced the few metal utensils, which form the sole foundation for these assumed ages of stone, bronze, and iron.
But our author brings geological evidence to prove the existence of his three chronological ages, in this particular locality, and estimates, upon the authority of M. Morlot, their duration in years. The case which he cites,—though imperfect in its details,—is one of the strongest in the book. We will, therefore, quote it entire, for the purpose of cross-examining the evidence which is adduced in support of its conclusions.
"The attempts of the Swiss geologists and archæologists to estimate definitely in years the antiquity of the bronze and stone periods, although as yet confessedly imperfect, deserve notice, and appear to me to be full of promise. The most elaborate calculation is that made by M. Morlot, respecting the delta of the Tinière, a torrent which flows into the Lake of Geneva, near Villeneuve. This small delta, to which the stream is annually making additions, is composed of gravel and sand. Its shape is that of a flattened cone, and its internal structure has of late been laid open to view, in a railway cutting one thousand feet long and thirty-two feet deep. The regularity of its structure throughout implies that it has been formed very gradually, and
by the uniform action of the same causes. Three layers of vegetable soil, each of which must at one time have formed the surface of the cone, have been cut through at different depths. The first of these was traced over a surface of 15,000 square feet, having an average thickness of five inches, and being about four feet below the present surface of the cone. This upper layer belonged to the Roman period, and contained Roman tiles and a coin. The second layer followed over a surface of 25,000 square feet, was six inches thick, and lay at a depth of ten feet. In it were found fragments of pottery unvarnished, and a pair of tweezers in bronze, indicating the bronze epoch. The third layer, followed for 35,000 square feet, was six or seven inches thick, and nineteen feet deep. In it were fragments of rude pottery, pieces of charcoal, broken bones, and a human skeleton having a small, round and very thick skull. M. Morlot, assuming the Roman period to represent an antiquity of from sixteen to eighteen centuries, assigns to the bronze age a date of between 3,000 and 4,000 years, and to the oldest, layer, that of the stone period, an age of from 5,000 to 7,000 years."—p. 28.
We have examined the Memoir of M. Morlot, and find the "elaborate calculation," referred to above, to be merely an approximative conjecture, based on the growth of the cone in proportion to the volume of its alluvium, and varying from 5,000 to 11,000 years. The above figures are, therefore, to be considered as guesses. We also find that M. Morlot, after diligent search in the bed of the so-called stone period, "has not had the good fortune to discover in it any stone hatchet or other antiquity of that sort." The animal bones found in this bed belong to "the ox, goat, sheep, pig and dog, all domestic," and such as are assigned to the bronze and iron age. The skull, also, found in this lowest bed, "was very round and small, and remarkably thick, showing a strongly-marked Mongolian type," an entirely different type from that assigned by Lyell to the Swiss stone period.
According to M. Morlot, the torrent of the Tinière, where it flows into the Lake of Geneva, like other Alpine torrents issuing from ravines or small lateral valleys, forms a rounded, "fan-like" deposit or flattened cone at its mouth. This cone has an inclination of four degrees, corresponding to the bed of the torrent; its radius is 900 Swiss feet, and its transverse diameter is 1,000 feet at its central part, where the railway cuts through it at right angles, or perpendicularly to its axis. The greatest height of this conical mound is at the central
part of the railway section, and is just 32½ feet above the level of the rails. So far as the size of this cone is concerned, the whole quantity of matter comprising it might have been deposited during a single season, by such extraordinary inundations as have been known to occur in that district in modern times. One which occurred so late as 1818, to which we will presently refer, deposited in a similar position a vastly greater amount of transported matter. But Lyell, in accordance with a theory which he has made a pet hobby, assumes "that it has been formed very gradually, and by the uniform action of the same causes." Let us see what evidence there is to support this assumption. We are informed that this deposit is composed of four gravel beds, separated by three intervening layers of soil. Taking the dimensions of these beds as stated, but reversing their order, the first or lowest deposit of gravel and sand brought down by the torrent, was thirteen feet thick, and on the top of this was found his primitive man of the so-called stone period. The next bed was nine feet thick, and this underlaid his assumed bronze period. The third bed was six feet thick, which reached up to his Roman iron period; while the last deposited bed of four feet, forms the present top of the cone. Now, whatever length of time may have elapsed between the deposition of the first and last of these beds, it is very certain that they could not all have been continuously deposited by the very gradual and uniform action of the river, as asserted. It is evident that this action must have been completely suspended, during three intervals of indefinite duration, in order to permit the formation of three successive layers of vegetable soil; otherwise the whole mass would have been a homogeneous deposit of sand and gravel, undivided by these intervening layers. The facts of the case, therefore, forbid the assumption that this mass was formed gradually, by the continuous and uniform action of the river, but justify us in concluding that it was produced at intervals, and by extraordinary freshets. Again, on what authority does he make this isolated sand cone, washed down by a mountain torrent, and superimposed on the alluvial drift, which forms the very outer vestment of the earth, the theater of successive chronological ages of immense
duration? We admit that the Roman coin is proof that men existed at the time of, or subsequent to, the Roman invasion. But the only evidence that he has of the existence of a preceding bronze age, is a solitary bronze tweezers! Now this bronze instrument was in very common use at Rome, by men as well as women, and is just as good proof of a Roman iron age, as a copper or silve coin is. The only evidence he has of a primitive stone period, is a human skeleton, with a small, round and very thick skull. This round skull, by the bye, is quite different from the elongated one which was dredged out of this same Lake of Geneva, and which was made, as we have seen, the type of the lake dwellers of the stone period.
A thick, round skull, and a solitary bronze tweezers, found in a hillock of sandy gravel, washed down by a mountain torrent, are the only evidences to support our author's foregone conclusion of successive ages of stone and bronze. It is true, he speaks of "fragments of rude pottery," but broken pieces of pottery, however rude, without specific notes and marks, are valueless as determining the question of age. Pottery is the most universal as well as the earliest of the arts, and fragments of unglazed earthen ware, and the rudest pottery, may be found among civilized nations of modern date. Rudeness alone is no test of age. We doubt not that the coarse pottery used by Roman soldiers, after being smashed to fragments, and lying in the ground for 1800 years, would look rude enough to the eye of an archæologist, to be assigned to the so-called stone period.
Upon what data does M. Morlot base his conjecture, that this assumed stone period is from 5,000 to 7,000 years old? We are informed that it rests on the assumption that the Roman period, indicated by the coin found four feet below the top of the cone, represents an antiquity of from sixteen to eighteen centuries. If so, the question is easily solved by the rule of three. If it takes 1,800 years to make 4 feet of deposit, how long would it take to make a deposit of 32 feet ? But this calculation would give far greater antiquity than is claimed. Besides, it presupposes that the whole cone has been deposited continuously and uniformly, which assumption is proved to be
untenable, by the existence of intervening layers of soil. Nor is the calculation, founded on the thickness of these layers of soil and the probable time necessary for their formation, a whit more reliable. Facts prove that, in some cases, thousands of years are necessary to produce a thin covering of soil, while in others, a few hundred years are sufficient for the production of thick layers; and then again, in other cases, such layers have been formed, as it were, immediately. The sudden covering up of a rank vegetation by earthy matter, the overwhelming and subsequent decay of a forest, the soil and vegetable matter transported by an inundation, and then deposited, are all capable of producing immediately just such "layers of vegetable soil" as occur between the gravel beds deposited by the River Tinière. Herculaneum furnishes evidence which is decisive on this point. The date of its destruction is well known; and in regard to it, Sir William Hamilton remarks:—"The matter which covers the ancient town of Herculaneum, is not the produce of one eruption only; for there are evident marks that the matter of six eruptions has taken its course over that which lies immediately above the town, and was the cause of its destruction. These strata are either of lava or burnt matter, with veins of good soil betwixt them."*
A geological observer, who is not wedded to this ultra theory of very gradual formation which ignores all catastrophes, and who is not committed to the hypothesis of a universal and inevitable succession of stone, bronze, and iron ages, finds no necessity for imagining periods of immense duration, in order to account for the formation of this deposit of gravel, from the effect of causes still operating in this same district. In 1818, the River Dranse, a mountain torrent similar to the Tinière, and which empties into the Rhone through the broad valley of Bagnes, became, in consequence of a succession of very cold winters, dammed up in its mountain gorges, with ice so thick as to resist the usual melting of the summer heat. A lake was thus formed near its source, containing 800 millions of cubic feet of water, held back by a dam of ice, which was liable to
* "Philosophical Transactions," Vol. LXI. p. 7.
give way at any moment, and overwhelm the cultivated plains below. To avert the impending calamity. M. Venetz was employed to tunnel the icy barrier. By means of an artificial gallery, a large portion of the water was gradually drawn off; but at length the dam gave way, and the lake was suddenly emptied of the remainder of the water. The mighty flood precipitated itself through a succession of gorges and basins, stripping the mountain sides of soil and forests, and lower down carrying off houses, barns and whole farms, with cattle and men; rising to the height of ninety feet above the bed of the Dranse, and threatening with instant destruction the inclined plane on which the large village of Le Chable is situated. The huge tide gathering fresh spoils at every step, and resembling a "moving chaos" of rock and mud, more than water, "continued its work of destruction till its fury became weakened by expanding itself over the great plain formed by the valley of the Rhone," and in six and a half hours it discharged itself into the Lake of Geneva. The engineer, M. Escher, in his Memoir of this event, informs us that a stratum of alluvial matter, several feet in thickness, was deposited over the whole of the lower part of the broad valley of Bagnes. Several other instances are on record, to prove that precisely the same cause has repeatedly produced similar results, in this same region. This cause furnishes a sufficient explanation of the fact that successive deposits at the mouth of the Tinière have been, at different intervals and in separate beds, piled up to the height of 32½ feet above the lake, which never could have been accomplished by the ordinary, gradual and uniform deposition of the river, as Sir Charles Lyell contends. It is perfectly legitimate to conclude, that the same cause which has repeatedly produced extraordinary inundations in this district, attended with such remarkable results, as in the case of the Dranse, has also at other times similarly affected the Tinière, the conditions of both rivers being similar. We may infer that at different intervals, this latter mountain torrent has, also, from the same cause, in a less degree, and on a more circumscribed area, transported and deposited at its mouth, extraordinary quantities of alluvial matter; that the heavier parti-
cles of gravel and sand have settled below, while the lighter earth and drift wood have formed over them the "layers of vegetable soil;" that successive beds have thus been added, by successive inundations; and that the whole mass has, in the course of time, been rounded by the elements into its present cone-like shape.
Nor is there any thing in the character of the relics contained in this mound, to forbid the conclusion that the whole deposit has been formed subsequent to the earliest Roman period. The first inundation buried the wild native, found in the lowest bed, while the subsequent ones swept up from some neighboring surface the bronze tweezer and the coin, both of which are equally good attestations of the Roman invader.
We have dwelt at some length on this Tinière deposit, because it seems one of the strongest cases in the book, and because it is a very fair sample of the manner by which, in every chapter, assumptions and opinions are made to take the place of evidence and reason, in order to establish foregone conclusions.
Chapter III. treats, under separate heads, of "fossil human remains, and works of art," found in the Nile mud, in ancient mounds of the valley of the Ohio, and in the Delta of the Mississippi; of recent deposits of seas and lakes, and of the upheaval of Scotland, and other districts. Under each of these heads, Lyell gives numerous opinions and assumptions, to establish the immense antiquity of man.
Under the first head, he inculcates the peculiarly ultra views and very unreliable opinions of Mr. Leonard Horner. This gentleman induced the Royal Society to contribute funds toward some experiments he was desirous of making in the Nile valley. He intrusted the work to an Armenian engineer, Hekekyan Bey, who employed some sixty Arabs to dig shafts sixteen to twenty-four feet deep, and to bore Artesian holes sixty to seventy feet deep. In the first case, some "jars, vases, pots, and a small human figure in burnt clay, a copper knife, and other entire articles were dug up." From the borings, "pieces of burnt brick and pottery were extracted almost every where, and from all depths, even where they sank sixty feet below the
surface, toward the central parts of the valley." "Another fragment of red brick was found by Linant Bey, in a boring seventy-two feet deep."
These are the facts; now for the conclusions. M. Girard "supposed" the average rate of the increase of Nile mud to be five English inches in a century. Our author allows an extra inch, and says, "were we to assume six inches in a century, the burnt brick met with at a depth of sixty feet, would be 12,000 years old."
In regard to the other fragment of red brick, he remarks:—"M. Rosine, in the great French work on Egypt, has estimated the mean rate of deposit of sediment in the delta at two inches, and three lines in a century; were we to take two and a half inches, (our author is not so generous in this case,) a work of art seventy-two feet deep must have been buried more than 30,000 years ago." To this conclusion, presented as an inevitable necessity, we would simply add the proviso, unless it had been buried at some time subsequently. The great probability of such a contingency is in fact admitted by the author, for he says, if the boring of Linant Bey was made where an arm of the river had been silted up, "the brick in question might be, comparatively, very modern." Here we have the key to the position of these fragments, and the solution of the whole difficulty. This silting up and shifting of the arms of the river, explain all the discoveries of these Arabian borers, even admitting them to be reliable, as our author maintains, though he frankly acknowledges that some raise the objection, "that the Arabs can always find whatever their employers desire to obtain." But another, and much more serious objection is found in the fact, that burnt bricks were not used in Egypt till the time of the Romans. This Lyell combats, as an erroneous opinion; but how does he do it? He tells us that Mr. S. Birch assures him that it is erroneous, because "he had under his charge, in the British Museum, first a small rectangular baked brick, which came from a Theban tomb," supposed, by the style of art and inscription, to be as old as about 1450 B.C.;—"secondly, an arched brick," with a partially effaced inscription, ending with the words, "of the temple of
Amen Ra," which "is referred, conjecturally, by Mr. Birch, to the 19th dynasty, or 1300 B.C." We are not informed that this brick was baked, unless we are to infer from the term "arched," that it formed part of the arch of a brick-kiln.
This is all that Lyell advances, to disprove the well-known fact, that the common use of burnt bricks was introduced by the Romans, and to support his assumption that fragments of burnt brick must be considered as old as the conjectural age of the mud in which they have been buried. What sort of argument or evidence is this? Because two, or, strictly speaking, only one rectangular piece of baked clay, inscribed as a memorial, and supposed to be as old as 1450 B.C., is found amid ruins, where a thousand examples attest the universal prevalence of unbaked bricks, therefore we must conclude that red burnt brick, precisely like that introduced by the Romans, "extracted almost everywhere and from all depths" in the mud, is 30,000 years old, if Linant Bey happens, as alleged, to bring up a fragment from a boring seventy-two feet deep. With such kind of reasoning, founded on exceptional cases and accidental contingencies, and built up with the various conjectures and assumptions of others, one might prove or disprove anything in the world.
It is remarkable, that Sir Charles Lyell, after enumerating the jars, vases, pots, copper knife, &c., which were found entire in the shafts dug by these Arabians, makes no further mention of them. They certainly would furnish far more reliable evidence in regard to age, than the pulverized detritus brought up by the boring auger; yet he says nothing about them. Some of our readers will recollect the animated discussions which took place, two or three years ago, in the Athenæum, Times, London Record, and other English papers, and which were republished in this country, in regard to the spurious flint hatchets and human fossil found at Abberville, in France. Dr. Falconer and Mr. Prestwich were foremost, among others, in exposing this cruel hoax, to the great annoyance and discomfiture of Lyell, who was committed to it. A fact then transpired, which may serve to account for his silence in regard to the above articles.
It seems that Sir Charles, who was a convert to Mr. Horner's views, was induced to believe, from the depth at which the above pottery was found, that it must have been buried some 15,000 years ago. But before he had fully committed himself, by adding this new proof of a pre-Adamite man to the present volume, then in readiness for the press, he was informed by Sir Gardiner Wilkinson, that the marks of the Greek honeysuckle, discovered on some of the fragments, clearly indicated an age not exceeding 200 years prior to the christian era.
The discovery of this Grecian pottery had established, conclusively, two very important points,—first, the worthlessness of this testimony of the Nile mud, in regard to the antiquity of man, and secondly, the unsoundness, or at least the unreliableness of Lyell's pet theory, when applied to any question of absolute chronology.
The evidence of the Nile mud would seem, at first sight, to be conclusive, in establishing the pre-Adamite antiquity of man. The case is remarkably free from those suppositions and on this subject. An ancient piece of pottery is admitted to have been found at a certain depth in the Nile mud. The present rate of increase of this deposit, from existing causes, being ascertained or granted, the only thing assumed is, the correctness of Lyell's theory of gradual and uniform deposition; the depth, therefore, of the superincumbent mud being measured, the age of the pottery was determined by a simple sum in arithmetic, and fixed at 15,000 years. Already, timid Christians began to fear for the fate of the Bible; but needlessly. Sir Gardiner Wilkinson turns over the piece, and discerns marks which determine its age as certainly as if it had been recorded in figures, and which prove that this pottery is not over 2,000 years old. What now becomes of the evidence that man is 30,000 years old, drawn from (Roman) red burnt brick, found at every depth in the Nile mud, and which Lyell attempts to prove to be not Roman brick, solely from the fact that Mr. Birch has a small rectangular piece of baked clay, supposed, by the style of art and inscription, to be as old as about 1450 B. C.? It becomes mere chaff, without a single kernel of wheat.
There could not possibly be any more favorable formation for applying this theory of Lyell's. This pottery was not found, like most of his other relics, in drift or transported matter, bearing indisputable marks of disturbance; but it was taken from the homogeneous and uniform composition of a river deposit. Yet its testimony, interpreted by this theory, does not even approximate to the truth. The error lies in assuming that the rate, as well as the composition of this deposit, has always been uniform; or to express Lyell's theory in his own words, "that it has been formed very gradually, and by the uniform action of the same causes" now existing.
Now Lyell must admit, either that his theory is unsound in principle, or that it is unreliable in its application to absolute chronology, in consequence of unknown contingencies, or because the mean ratio of increase of a deposit, involving thousands of years, can never be obtained by the most diligent observation of existing causes during a life-time. He is constantly forced to admit, that existing causes may have acted with different degrees of energy at different times, and this implies such a modified presentation of his theory, as renders it inapplicable to the question of the absolute time required for a given formation. Admitting that the formation has been gradual, and due to the constant action of existing causes, yet the varying intensity of these causes during past ages, to say nothing of disturbing accidents, must always remain an unknown quantity. We might just as well attempt to determine the quantity of rain that has fallen during the previous century, by observations confined to a single day, as to try to estimate the deposit of a shifting river during thousands of years, by the most accurate observations of a life-time.
There is nothing stated in regard to the antiquity of the Ohio Mounds, which require notice; but the remarks made in connection with the Mounds of Brazil, respecting "certain human bones imbedded in a solid rock," demand a passing comment.
Lyell tells us, that he first imagined the deposit containing them to be of submarine origin; but that he has long ceased to entertain that opinion. Then, after reading Dr. Meigs'
Memoir, he "at first concluded that the whole deposit had been formed beneath the waters of the sea, or at least that it had been submerged after its origin, and again upheaved." But, on reading Dr. Meigs a second time, he has now no doubt that the deposit containing these bones, "may have been bound together into a solid stone, by the infiltration of the carbonate of lime." Here he confesses to the formation of several distinct hypotheses, involving supposed submerges and upheavals, to account for a simple, and by no means uncommon instance of petrifaction. We cannot help suspecting, that he was finally directed to the last solution, by the fact that the boasted pre-Adamite stone man, of Guadaloupe, turned out to be a comparatively modern petrified Indian. Such confessions are instructive, to show what little reliance is to be placed in the hypotheses of scientific men, whose proper business is always to observe and record facts, rarely to generalize, and never to speculate.
His remarks respecting the delta of the Mississippi, are exceedingly brief, but quite startling. From the depth of its deposits of several hundred feet, the immense extent of its area, the annual discharge of the river, and the mean annual amount of solid matter contained in its waters, he conjectures that the antiquity of the existing delta to be, "probably, more than 100,000 years." He states that a Dr. Dowler, whose opinion he quotes from Nott, who received it from somebody else, has calculated the antiquity of a human skeleton "of the Red Indian race," which was found sixteen feet below the surface of this deposit of several hundred feet, to be just 50,000 years old! Our brief reply is, be the age of the delta what it may, Dr. Dowler's calculation of the age of a red Indian's skeleton, found sixteen feet below its surface, is too wild for serious consideration. If the Dr. looks sharply about him, he will find relics of the present white race, buried still deeper beneath the swashed deposits of the Mississippi.
The next subject considered is, some fossil human remains, found by Count Pourtalis, "in a calcareous conglomerate," forming part of the Florida coral reef, "supposed, by Agassiz, in accordance with his mode of estimating the rate of growth of those reefs, to be about 10,000 years old." The inference
suggested is, that the said bones are 10,000 years old; but the truth is, they were imbedded in this calcareous conglomerate, and fossilized, in the same manner and by the same causes which operated to produce the stone man of Gaudaloupe, as well as the fossil remains of Santos, and are, probably, of more recent origin.
The remainder of this chapter is occupied in speculations regarding the assumed upheaval of the post-tertiary strata of part of Scotland, Cornwall, Sweden and Norway. It contains nothing that has any direct bearing on the question of man's age, though it indirectly suggests and insinuates his great antiquity. It furnishes, however, a very valuable argument to show the unsoundness of inferences which are frequently drawn in the subsequent part of the book, and exhibits, forcibly, what slender foundations our author requires for his generalizations and speculations in regard to time.
The fact that the sea has retired from the East and West coasts of Scotland, leaving bare a deposit of estuarine silt, on the margin of the present estuaries of the Forth and Clyde, is accounted for by a supposed upheaval of twenty-five feet, in the central district of the country, though it may have been due to another cause. According to Lyell, this upheaval was gradual and insensible, though he admits it may have been intermittent; and yielding to the force of Mr. Geikie's reasoning, he also concedes that the greater part, if not the whole of the elevation, has occurred since the Roman wall of Antoninus was built across this district. Buried in the silted sand and clay of the old coast line, there have been found, during the last eighty years, seventeen boats or canoes, an iron anchor, and other implements of iron, several skeletons of whales, with some pointed instruments of deer's horn. All the boats were found along the margin of the Clyde at Glasgow, five of them under the streets of the city, and twelve, a hundred yards back from the river. "In one of the canoes, a beautifully polished celt or axe of green stone was found; in the bottom of another, a plug of cork."* Most of these boats were canoes, hewed out of a single log, with different degrees of skill, but
* This cork could only have been brought from Spain, or other countries occupied by the Romans.
two of them were built with planks, one of which, having the beak of an antique galley, and a stern like those of our own day, was "very elaborately constructed," having the planks fastened to ribs, with oaken pins, and "nails of some kind of metal."
These are the facts, and our author immediately applies them to the corroboration of his inevitable hypothesis of successive chronological ages. He speculates thus:—"Nearly all these ancient boats were formed out of a single oak stem hollowed out by blunt tools, probably stone axes, aided by the action of fire; a few were cut beautifully smooth, evidently with metallic tools." And he then jumps to the conclusion that "There can be no doubt that some of these buried vessels are of far more ancient date than others. Those most roughly hewn may be relics of the stone period; those more smoothly cut, of the bronze age; and the regularly built boat of Bankton may perhaps come within the age of iron." To meet the objection that all of them were found in the same deposit, huddled together within a very circumscribed area, he tells us that this "fact by no means implies that they belong to the same era," because in such deposits "there are changes continually in progress, brought about by the deposition, removal, and redeposition of gravel, &c." He enforces this point by a long quotation from M. Geikie, going to prove that in transported and shifted deposits, juxtaposition is no proof of contemporaneous age, but that the most ancient relics may be found in contact with others of comparatively recent origin. We accept this statement as entirely correct; and the value of it will be seen when we come to consider the inferences which our author draws from human relics found in juxtaposition with the bones of extinct animals.
To a practical observer, having no hobbies to ride, the above difference in these boats, instead of proving successive ages and races of men, would simply indicate difference of skill on the part of the rude inhabitants, during that era which immediately preceded and succeeded the Roman occupation of their country. Precisely similar differences may this day be seen on hundreds of bayous, creeks, and small rivers, on our southern coast, or on the far western tributaries of the Mississippi and Missouri. We may now see, side by side, the rude "dug-out"
of the negro, with its stone anchor tied with a hickory with; the better hewed canoe of the white man; and the skiff of the Indian; the plank scow of the plantation, with its big brass padlock (proof of a bronze age); and occasionally a regularly built row boat, with its iron anchor. If any one of the numerous streams, whose whole marine is of this description, should be silted up, as they frequently are by change of channel during excessive freshets, or by other causes which are continually working changes, and after seventeen centuries should be reöpened, some future Lyell would find proof infinitely stronger than any which this book contains, of three successive ages of stone, bronze, and iron. Should he have the same powers of generalization as our author, he might, like him, point to a solitary "small, round, and very thick skull" of the negro, then to the more "elongated form and larger size" of that of the Indian, and lastly to a solitary cranium of a buried white man, in proof that three distinct races of men successively dwelt on the banks of this little river, and during countless ages advanced progressively from barbarism to civilization. This is precisely what the present Lyell aims to prove by evidence far less strong than the above data would give him.
As a believer in Revelation, we plead no religious scruples in opposition to Lyell's doctrine. But as a believer in the truth of Science, we are decidedly opposed to receiving it upon such evidence as he offers. Science deals with facts, not fancies. Only let him prove the truth of his hypothesis in regard to man's beginning on this earth, and we will adopt it; in the mean time, we hold it reasonable to suppose that no one but the Creator can reveal the secret of man's original state and the time of his creation.
We have not yet quite finished with this third chapter. The author, following his usual practice throughout the book, seeks, at the conclusion of the chapter, to establish from the geological record some fixed data in regard to man's existence. By supposing and assuming, he makes some shells on a hill, 600 feet high, on the coast of Norway, to be just 24,000 years old, but he cannot find there any human relic. The upheaval of the deposit in Scotland, in which the boats were found, he admits "may have been subsequent to the Roman occupation."
"But," he adds, "the twenty-five feet rise is only the last stage of a long antecedent process of elevation;" for, as he goes on to tell us, "Mr. Smith of Jordenhill informs [him] that a rude ornament, made of cannel coal," has been found on the coast fifty feet above the water, among some gravel containing marine shells, which prove that this land was once covered by the sea.
On the strength solely of this information from Mr. Smith, he proceeds to establish the age of this marine sand hill, for the purpose of deducing from it the age of this ornament, which he assumes to be an ancient relic. He says:
"If we suppose the upward movement to have been uniform in central Scotland before and after the Roman age, and assume that as twenty-five feet indicate seventeen centuries, so fifty feet imply a lapse of twice that number, or 3400 years, we should then carry back the date of the ornament in question to fifteen centuries before our era, or to the days of Pharaoh and the period usually assigned to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt."—p. 55.
We cite the above as a fair specimen of the kind of evidence and style of argument adopted throughout this book to prove the antiquity of man. The only fact in this case, is, that a piece of cannel coal, a mineral of not very ancient discovery,* fashioned into a ring or some other rude ornament, such as boys, in a cannel coal district, delight to whittle out of that material, was found on the surface of a marine sand hill 50 feet high. What legitimate connection is there between the date of this work of art, and the supposed age of the hill on which it was dropped? It presents in itself no marks of antiquity except its rudeness, and had it been whittled out and lost by some truant school-boy, which is the most reasonable supposition, a very few seasons would have sufficed to cover it with the loose gravel and sand in which it was found. Yet the date of this cannel coal ornament is carried back by suppositions and assumptions to the days of Pharaoh, and offered as an argument to prove the immense antiquity of man! The inference suggested very palpably, though not stated, is, that the Scots had begun to mine coal, and had made some progress in the æsthetic arts at "the period usually assigned to the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt."
* A bituminous substance called ampelion, from its use by the Greeks and Romans to anoint vines, is supposed by some to have been a species of cannel coal.
We are justified in concluding, from this case, that if some other Mr. Smith of Norway had informed our Author that a similar ornament had been found on the surface of the first mentioned marine sand hill of 600 feet high, he would have considered this information proof of the existence of a pre-Adamite 24,000 years ago, who had already advanced beyond the brutal state of the stone age, and also as furnishing evidence that the statements of Revelation in regard to the time of creation and original state of man are false.
Surely Napoleon uttered a profound truth when he said, "There are some men capable of believing every thing but the Bible."
Our limits will not permit us at present to continue the examination of this book; the part which we have already examined, is, we think, the strongest, and we have seen on what a slender foundation of facts the Author relies to support his assumptions in regard to the antiquity of man and his primeval state of brutal savagism. So far as we have advanced in it, we find nothing to excite, in the most timid mind, a reasonable doubt of the usual acceptation of the chronology of the Bible taken in its narrowest sense, although we consider such an acceptance of it open to reasonable doubt.
The book seems to be written with candor and frankness, for, in the prolixity of its details, it does not omit facts and opinions very damaging to the views entertained, and which would almost furnish, to an observant reader, the means requisite for their refutation. Yet the author writes under such an evident bias, and avails himself so readily of the most trivial facts to make out a case, that he is obnoxious to the severest criticism consistent with strict justice, and ought not to complain of a rigid and jealous scrutiny of his opinions.
Time and opportunity serving, we propose, on a future occasion, to pursue the analysis of this book to the end; then to turn the tables on these scientific skeptics, and show that the Bible, considered from a philosophical stand-point, is far more consonant with human reason than these "oppositions of science falsely so called," and vastly more entitled to belief than the fanciful hypotheses which have been offered as substitutes. "And this will we do, if God permit."
ART. II.—GENESIS OF SLANG AND STREET-SWEARING.
(1) Dictionary of Slang. JOHN CAMDEN HOLTEN. London: 1863.
(2) Life and Writings of Major Jack Downing of Downingsvill. Boston: 1834.
(3) Clockmaker; or the Sayings and Doings of Samuel Slick, of Slickville. London: 1840.
CANT words, slang and profane swearing may be set down as three of those 'inventions'* which the Scripture says we have 'found out,' in place of our original 'uprightness.' They are devices of close kindred; resulting either from defects of understanding or of speech. To improve an argument, we invent a term or twist a word; and to enforce it, we add an oath. The practices have, therefore, a common origin; and where not owing to a defective vocabulary, must be held as evidences of an imperfect or depraved intellect. Of these tricks, that of profane swearing is but too common among us; and although the habit may have been somewhat curtailed in our day and within our recollection, still there is room for question, whether it really has suffered any other change than that of patronage; and, whereas in former times it had been chiefly confined to men full-grown and in active life, it is now to be found more frequently among the idlers and the young;—an unsavory indication that the religious discipline and education of our fathers was better than our own. That such is the case, may, we think, be inferred from a comparison of the habits of our ancestors, as recorded and transmitted to us, with what we are accustomed to see and hear every day now. In former times, it required a beard and a sword, to excuse, or give occasion for an oath; but in our day, they greet us from lads in their sports, as well as in their quarrels, and a meer-
Eccl. vii. 29.
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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)
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