RECORD: [DuBois H. A.] 1865. The origin and antiquity of man: Darwin, Huxley and Lyell, part II. American Quarterly Church Review, and Ecclesiastical Register 17 (3) (October): 337-366.

REVISION HISTORY: Scanned by Angus Carroll, transcribed (single key) by AEL Data, corrections by John van Wyhe 8.2009. RN1

NOTE: See the record for this item in the Freeman Bibliographical Database by entering its Identifier here. From a copy in the collection of Angus Carroll.

[front cover]

The weight of this No. is under 12 ounces, and the postage is three cents only.











OCTOBER, 1865.







"Upon Newspapers, Magazines, and other periodical publications, each not exceeding the standard weight of four ounces, and passing through the mails and Post Offices of the United States, between any points therein, the rates for any such paper or Periodical shall be one cent; and an additional rate of one cent for each additional weight of four ounces or fraction thereof."—Postal Law, March 3, 1863.

[page 336]


ART. I. The Origin and Antiquity of Man: Darwin, Huxley and Lyell, 337
ART. II. Bishop Horatio Potter's Pastoral Letter, and its Assailants, 367
ART. III. Letters on Romish Errors and Corruptions, 407
ART. IV. Rev. Thomas Bacon, 430
ART. V. The Next General Convention, 452
ART. VI. The Desire for Unity, its Mistakes and its Means, 460
Notices of Books, 484
Summary of Home Intelligence, 497

This Review is published on the first of April, July, October, and January, at $3.00 per volume, in advance, to all subscribers. No subscriptions received for less than one volume.

All communications must be addressed to the "Editor of the American Quarterly Church Review," No. 37 Bible House, Astor Place, New York City.

Complete sets of the Review, from the beginning, can be furnished, in Nos.; sixteen Volumes at $32.00.

Copies of the Review, from Volume III. to XIII., excluding Vol. VIII., (ten Volumes,) will be sold only in sets, at $1.00 per Volume, or $10.00, cash. These Volumes include some of the ablest Articles and series of Articles that have been published. Recent subscribers who wish to add these Volumes to their list, should apply immediately. They will be neatly bound at from 75 cents to $1.00 per volume, according to style.

The Letters on Romish Errors and Corruptions, commenced in this Number, will be concluded in another Number, and published in pamphlet form. They will be sold at cost; or ten copies for a dollar. Orders may be addressed to Mr. JAMES POTT, Cooper Union, Fourth Avenue, New York City.

An Article on "The Canon of Scripture" is deferred until the next Number.

It is a standing rule of the Office to send the Review to those subscribers who do not give notice of discontinuance previous to the commencement of a new volume. And even when due notice is given, the work will not be discontinued till all arrearages are paid, unless at the option of the Proprietor.

Postage on the REVIEW is three cents per Number. (See Postal Law on the first page of the Cover.)

[page] 337





VOL. XVII. OCTOBER, 1865. No. 3.



Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature; by THOMAS H. HUXLEY, F. R. S., F. L. S. D. Appleton & Co. New York: 1863.

THIS work is especially designed for the popular mind. The author tells us, at the start, that he proposes to unfold his argument and set forth his facts, "in a form intelligible to those who possess no special acquaintance with anatomical science." Throughout his work, he carefully endeavors to bring his subject within the scope of the unlearned, though, at the same time, he affects to discuss it scientifically.

He had previously made an effort to influence the minds of the working classes of England, by oral and published Lectures "on the Origin of Species," in which he studiously seeks to disseminate the atheistical views embraced in Darwin's hypothesis, which we have already reviewed, in Part I. of this Essay.

In the present work, he continues this effort to bias the popular mind in favor of the doctrine of transmutation of species; and by an argument addressed to the unlearned, he aims to



[page] 338

prove that Man is either the lineal descendant from the Gorilla, or the progeny of a common stirps.

His book is divided into three parts:—

Part I. is a pleasant treatise "On the Natural History of the Man-like Apes,"—the evident intention of which is, to awaken an interest in his subject in the mind of the public, and prepare it for a favorable reception of his views. In regard to it we have nothing to say.

Part III. treats of the immense antiquity of some fossil remains of Man, with a view to establish the existence of a pre-Adamite race, holding a middle position between men and apes. As the same subject is more fully treated by Sir Charles Lyell, in his "Antiquity of Man," we will reserve our strictures on that head till we come to review his work.

Part II. of Mr. Huxley's book is by far the most important part, and contains all the evidence and the argument by which he attempts to establish his proposition. We shall therefore deal with this portion only,—the first Part being merely introductory, and the last, an application of his peculiar views.

Mr. Huxley opens his subject with these imposing words:

"The question of questions for mankind,—the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any other,—is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature, and of his relation to the universe of things. Whence our race has come; what are the limits of our power over nature, and of nature's power over us; to what goal we are tending;—are the problems which present themselves anew, and with undiminished interest, to every man born in the world."—page 71.

This statement is undoubtedly true in regard to Man's position as an intellectual and spiritual being; but it is in no manner true in regard to his anatomical position in the Animal Kingdom, as determined by his structural affinities to the brutes,—which is the only view of the question taken by Mr. Huxley.

He not only rejects from this question all recognition of Man's existence as a spiritual being,which alone gives it importance, but he also speaks, with ill-concealed contempt, of that Revelation which his spiritual nature demands, and which human reason declares to be the only source from which

[page] 339

any positive information can be derived in regard to the origin of our race, and the goal to which we are tending. It would seem to be a self-evident truth, that no power, save the Creator, can reveal the secret of man's origin, or his future destiny. Whether he has made such a revelation or not, is a fair subject for argument; but if He has not, then we must necessarily be satisfied to remain ignorance, for human investigation is incompetent to solve the problem.

Mr. Huxley gives us to understand, at the outset, that his effort is antagonistic to Revelation, and seems to think that his scepticism redounds to the credit of his originality as a scientific investigator. In connection with the passage above quoted, he adds:—

"Most of us, shrinking from the difficulties and dangers which beset the seeker after original answers to these riddles, are contented to ignore them altogether, or to smother the investigating spirit, under the feather-bed of respected and respectable tradition. But, in every age, one or two restless spirits, blessed with that constructive genius which can only build on a secure foundation, or cursed with the mere spirit of scepticism, are unable to follow in the well-worn and comfortable track of their forefathers and contemporaries, and, unmindful of thorns and stumbling-blocks, strike out into paths of their own."

He thinks the importance of such an inquiry as he proposes, is intuitively manifested by the "sudden and profound mistrust of time-honored theories and strongly-rooted prejudices," awakened in the least thoughtful man when "brought face to face with these blurred copies of himself,"—the man-like Apes; but, "for all who are acquainted with the recent progress of the anatomical and physiological sciences," such mistrust of honored theories and dim suspicion of man's true position in nature, become conclusions from a "vast argument fraught with the deepest consequences."

No lover of truth has a right to complain of the most searching ivestigation into any matter which legitimately belongs to the domain of science, even if such investigation has a tendency to overturn our most cherished convictions and pre-conceived views of revealed Truth. But when the investigator goes out of his way to attack our convictions and destroy our faith in Revelation, by invoking the aid of science in support

[page] 340

of his own speculations, he ought not to complain if his facts and his argument are also subjected to a destructive analysis;— and if his bantling cannot survive such a process, he must be content to see it perish.

If Mr. Huxley can prove that Man came not from the hand of his Creator, as a finished master-piece which was afterwards degraded through the machinations of the Devil,—but that he is the gradual development of a Marmoset, through a long series of monkies, baboons, and "man-like Apes," till, at last, he finds his immediate progenitor in the Gorilla,—if he can prove this, we must be content to acknowledge this origin, however ignominious, and however subversive it may be of Revelation. But it behoves us to examine, with the most jealous care, the so-called scientific grounds on which such an hypothesis is based, for it involves far more than the bare question of the origin of Man. Its establishment involves the destruction of the doctrine of the Fall of Man by sin, and of his restoration by Christ, which is doubtless one of those doctrines referred to by our author as "tolerable chiefly on account of the ignorance of those by whom it was accepted." Besides this, it is subversive of many other "respectable traditions," "time-honored theories and deeply rooted prejudices," with which the wisest and purest of mankind in every age have been persistently and consistently deluded, from the dawn of history, till 1863, when Mr. Huxley arose to dissipate, with the torch of science, these mists of ignorance and delusion.

We are not called upon for any countervailing argument in support of Revelation, for the burthen of proof rests entirely with Mr. Huxley, both as regards the falsity of the Scriptures and the truth of his own proposition. Our task is a plain one; it is to carefully sift the facts and to rigidly scrutinize the argument which he advances. The task is enhanced in importance, while at the same time it is mingled with melancholy regret, by the fact that thousands of young men, who will never see these pages, will continue to read this popular volume, and will readily accept its scientifie sophistry, as a conclusive argument against that revealed Law to which their unchastened pride of reason refuses to be subject, solely "because the car-

[page] 341

nal mind is enmity to God." The truth of this divine declaration is fully attested by the personal experience of every thoughtful moral man, whatever may be his views of Revelation.

The philosophical question propounded in the opening words of our author, is indeed a most important one, for it embraces Man's advent upon this earth, his proper relation to the rest of the universe, his present moral dignity and his future destiny. But the subject is divested of all its grandeur, and assumes an entirely different aspect, the moment Mr. Huxley attempts its consideration. We learn, with infinite surprise, that this momentous question is to be settled solely by the aid of the "scalpel," and that Man's true place in nature, involving, as it necessarily does, his moral relations and future destiny, is to be determined by his anatomical position in a system of Classification. He assumes that structural affinities are proofs of identity of nature, and that structural differences between animals classified in the same Order, are sufficiently accounted for by the doctrine of transmutation of species. He argues that, as Man differs in physical structure from the Monkey tribe no more widely than some members of this extensive family differ from one another, he must be classed in the same Order with them,—and therefore we are bound to conclude that he has been derived from a common origin.

This is truly, as our author asserts, "a vast argument, fraught with the deepest consequences,"—for, if it be a sound one, we must admit that men and brutes are identical as to their nature; that at present they are in different stages of development, but that they are alike tending to the same goal, and advancing to a common destiny.

To this conclusion of "unity of origin of men and brutes," Mr. Huxley arrives, after setting forth numerous anatomical facts in support of his argument, which he constantly repeats in proof of his conclusion. The vastness of such an argument we freely admit, but we propose to show its entire fallacy.

"The facts, (says Mr. Huxley,) I believe cannot be disputed; and if so, the conclusion appears to me to be inevitable. But if Man be separated by no greater structural barrier from the brutes than they



[page] 342

are from one another, then it seems to follow, that if any process of physical causation can be discovered, by which the genera and families of ordinary animals have been produced, that process of causation is amply sufficient to account for the origin of Man. In other words, if it could be shown that the Marmosets,* for example, have arisen by gradual modification of the ordinary Platyrhini,† or that both Marmosets and Platyrhini are modified ramifications of a primitive stock, then there would be no rational ground for doubting that man might have originated, in the one case, by the gradual modification of a man-like ape; or in the other case, as a ramification of the same primitive stock as those apes."—p. 125.

He asserts that such a process of physical causation has been discovered by Mr. Darwin, and that his hypothesis is just as true as the Copernican theory of the planetary motions.

As Mr. Huxley makes the acceptance of his own conclusions to depend upon the truth of Mr. Darwin's doctrine, we might safely leave the question of man's place in nature to this arbitrament, since we have proved, in the preceding part of this Essay, that this doctrine is a baseless and visionary hypothesis. But Mr. Huxley also rests his conclusion on the anatomical facts which he has set forth in proof of his fundamental proposition,—

"That the structural differences which separate Man from the Gorilla and the Chimpanzee, are not so great as those which separate the Gorilla from the lower apes."

Now, we are willing to admit all of Mr. Huxley's anatomical facts, though we shall take large exception to their application; but we entirely dissent from his "inevitable" conclusion, as being not only illogical in itself, but also as being a gratuitous corollary appended, inconsequentially, to his argument. We also undertake to prove that the argument itself is of no value in determining the great question propounded; and that it is not only devoid of scientific merit, but that it is also eminently sophistical.

The first facts cited by Mr. Huxley are those which relate to development. These are introduced, not so much in direct

* Marmoset—a small animal of South America resembling a squirrel, but classed among the monkeys.

† Platyrhini—(flat-nosed,) a group of South American animals classed among the monkeys.

[page] 343

support of his position, as to prepare the minds of his readers for the easy acceptance of the doctrine of transmutation of species,—for unless this doctrine be admitted, all his other facts would be unavailable. He therefore lays great stress on the similarity which the human ovum bears to that of the dog, and still more, to that of the ape, to prove what he calls the structural "unity" of man and brutes, and that the physical processes of development are "identical." While we object to the use of the terms "unity" and "identical," as being deceptious, when all he can pretend to claim is similarity, yet we have no difficulty in admitting the facts which he adduces. Nobody doubts the fact, that the physical organization of man has great affinity to that of all animals belonging to the same great structural type, and particularly to those who are nearest to him in rank. What then? This similarity of structure is no evidence of identity of nature or origin. Nobody doubts that man belongs to the Animal Kingdom,—to the class of Mammalia,—and it matters little in regard to the question propounded by Mr. Huxley, whether he is placed in the same Order with the Apes, or in a separate one. We admit that the ova of a snake, fish, bird, dog, ape, and man, are all, in a certain stage of their existence, undistinguishable. What then? This does not prove that the ova of these animals are identical. On the contrary, the diversity of their future development proves that each has been impressed with a different law of being. Mr. Huxley cannot deny, nor does he pretend to, that these different ova are all invariably developed into animals of entirely separate and distinct species. What he is driving at, however, by this indirect argument, is the identity of origin and gradual transmutation of species. But this is a question of fact, in regard to which there is not a particle of evidence. What logical or philosophical connection is there between the similarity in appearance of ova which are invariably developed into distinct species of animals,—and the idea that a man may have been derived from an ape, and that an ape was once a dog? When has such a change ever taken place, in a single instance, to warrant us in assuming its possibility? Invariability in development presupposes immutability of be-

[page] 344

ing. Similarity in the appearance or in the processes of development of the ova of two distinct animals, is no more evidence that these animals can change the invariable law of their being, than similarity in the appearance or the revolution of two planets, is evidence that they may mutually change their fixed orbits and relations.

Scientific facts in regard to the similarity of ova, of fetal development, and affinity of structure adduced to support, inferentially, the doctrine of transmutation of animals, furnish at best but a specious and sophistical argument in favor of identity of origin. They are calculated to mislead the unlearned into the belief that such a process is natural and feasible; but they have not the slightest scientific weight in deciding the question at issue. The question of transmutation is one of fact, and can only be determined by positive evidence.

Preparatory to his grand conclusion that the Gorilla is the parent of Man, Mr. Huxley first seeks, with great labor and ingenuity, to place him in the same natural Order. Most of his subsequent facts are adduced with this intention; and he argues for this point, as if this change of classification would establish the necessary consanguinity. This position might be safely granted to him, so far as it has any true bearing on the great question under consideration. Man would be no less distinctively human, by proving, as Mr. Huxley aims to do, that the Gorilla is also a bimanous biped, and should, accordingly, be ranked in the same Order of "Primates." The true position to be established is identity of nature, from which identity of origin might be properly inferred,—not anatomical similarity, which determines only the ordinal rank which we may deem proper to assign to an animal, in our varying systems of classification.

The argument by which our author attempts to prove this position, in order to deduce from it his preposterous corollary of Gorilla parentage, is precisely the same which he repeats in proof of every other point, and is founded solely on the proposition, "that the differences between Man and the Gorilla are of smaller value than those between the Gorilla and some other Apes." He argues that Man differs "less from them (the

[page] 345

Apes) than they from one another, and hence must take his place in the same Order with them."

Such an argument would be admissible, if the only point at issue were the correctness or consistency of an arbitrary scientific classification,—but applied, as it is by Mr. Huxley, to establish Man's unity of nature with the brutes and his descent from the Gorilla, it is certainly very illegitimate, if not absurd.

Having secured, in the Quadrumana,* a very extensive field of comparison, he proceeds to enumerate, consecutively and with great minuteness, the differences in the proportions of the arms, legs, hands, feet, vertebra, ribs, pelvis, skulls and teeth of men and gorillas, to show that the lower Quadrumana differ as much from the Gorilla in these respects, as the last does from Man. He argues that these facts seem to him "to leave us no choice," but to place Man and the Gorilla in the same Order; and the conclusion which he deduces from this argument, by way of corollary, is, that Man is descended from the Gorilla!

It must be borne in mind, that Mr. Huxley does not attempt to show a gradational elevation, in respect to the several parts enumerated, from the lowest to the highest Apes, culminating in the Gorilla, and the same gradational elevation continued in Man, with no greater difference between him and the Gorilla, than exists between the latter and the next highest Ape. Such a showing, if it could be made, would furnish a pertinent argument; but Mr. Huxley attempts nothing of the kind, though he gives to the unlearned reader the impression that such is his line of argument. But to understand the scientific value of the argument, as presented by Mr. Huxley, the reader must be informed that he takes for his field of comparison the whole Order of the Quadrumana, including even the Cheiromys, (Rat with hands,) which Cuvier classes with the Squirrels, and the Galeopithecus, (Flying Cat,) which Cuvier places among the Bats. This Order comprises over a hundred species of animals, widely differing from one another in form and structure, many of them approaching, in their characteristics, to carni-

* Quadrumana, (four-handed:) an Order comprising apes, monkeys, and many animals very diverse in form, but classed together (with some hesitancy) by Cuvier, from the fact that they all have prehensile feet or hand-like claws.

[page] 346

vora, insectivora, and rodentia, resembling dogs, cats, foxes, squirrels, and even bats, in general appearance, more than the highest Apes,—but all classed together in one Order, from the fact that all have four prehensile or hand-like paws. Now, Mr. Huxley, in comparing the differences between a man and the Gorilla, picks out some one of these hundred species, to show that it exhibits just as much or more difference. It makes no matter with Mr. Huxley, whether the particular difference under consideration be found in the lower animal in excess or defect,—in the ascending or descending scale, in reference to man as the standard,—it is sufficient for his argument, that the particular difference be as great or greater, than the same existing between Man and the Gorilla.

He might use precisely the same argument, and cite precisely the same particulars, to prove that Man is next of kin to the Bear, which stands in Cuvier's next Order of carnivora. This Order is still larger than the first, and is composed of denizens of the air, water, land, and under the land; comprising bats, sea-cows, kangaroos and moles, besides the numerous tribes of carnivorous quadrupeds inhabiting the surface of the earth. Now, in whatever respect a Bear differs from a man, it would be easy for him to find some animal in this miscellaneous category, differing still more widely from the Bear, and therefore, according to his argument, Bear and Man must be placed in the same Order. Appending his corollary with as much propriety in this case as in the other, he would come very satisfactorily to the conclusion, that Man is descended from the Bear. This would be rather an improvement upon his friend and tutor, Darwin, who can see no difficulty in a bear becoming the progenitor of whales.

In closing his citations of one set of examples, Mr. Huxley makes a very pertinent remark, which we underscore.

"These examples (he says) might be greatly multiplied, but they suffice to show, that in whatever proportion of its limbs the Gorilla differs from Man, the other Apes depart still more widely from the Gorilla, and that, consequently, such differences of proportion can have no ordinal value."

This is exactly the truth, and is, as we think, inconsistent with his argument. These, as well as all other differences enu-

[page] 347

merated by him, can have no ordinal value, either to advance the Gorilla into the same Order as Man, or to degrade Man into the same Order as the gorilla. It is not our intention, at present, to combat the opinion of Mr. Huxley, that Man and the Quadrumana ought to be placed in the same Order of Primates. Nor is there any necessity for doing so. This, or any other classification of Man's body in the Animal Kingdom, can have no proper bearing on the momentous question propounded by Mr. Huxley, nor has it any logical connection with his argument,—neither does it lend any support to the preposterous conclusion at which he arrives. We wish, at present, simply to expose the scientific invalidity of his argument, and show how his specious and deceptious presentation of it is calculated to mislead the unlearned reader, for whom this book, as the author informs us, is chiefly prepared.

Mr. Huxley reserves, for separate and special consideration, the Foot, Hand, and Brain, upon which, he says, so much stress has been laid for establishing supposed structural distinctions between Man and the Apes. He accordingly gives to each a careful examination, and derives from them his strongest reasons for placing Man and the Gorilla in the same Order, which, with him, is tantamount to establishing unity of origin and community of nature.

Mr. Huxley seems to think that if he can show that the foot, hand, and brain of the gorilla are similar in structure to the corresponding organs in man, and do not present any greater differences than those which occur among animals which are classified in the same Order as the gorilla—that he will then have proved man's consanguinity with this brute. He forgets that if he were able to show not only the similarity, but the absolute identity of structure of these organs—yet, if man possess distinctive attributes and characteristics which the gorilla does not possess, such differences would render nugatory all points of similarity which might be adduced to show unity of origin or identity of nature. Such differences, Mr. Huxley admits to exist, as we shall have occasion to point out in the sequel. Waiving all physiological, intellectual and moral differences—the argument that structural differences are not essen-

[page] 348

tial or fundamental, because as great or greater ones occur in animals which have been placed in the same Order as the gorilla, has no weight except in regard to a question of correct scientific classification. It has not the slightest scientific value in determining man's affinity to the gorilla.

The first of the three great points of anatomical resemblance upon which Mr. Huxley relies to prove man's descent from the gorilla, is the fact that the latter animal has a foot, and therefore has been improperly classified by Cuvier as quadrumanous, or four-handed.

He labors to prove that the hind paws of the gorilla are true feet, in order to bring man down from the isolated pedestal on which Cuvier and other naturalists have placed him, into the same rank as the apes; and by thus placing both in one and the same order of "Primates," he imagines that he has conclusively proved their unity of origin, and established man's true place in Nature.

He admits that

"At first sight the termination of the hind limb of the gorilla looks very hand-like, and as it is still more so in many of the lower apes, it is not wonderful that the appellation 'quadrumana,' or four-handed creatures, adopted from the older anatomists by Blumenbach, and unfortunately rendered current by Cuvier, should have gained such wide acceptance as a name for the Simian group."—p. 108.

Cuvier uses the word paws ("pattes") in speaking both of the fore and hind extremities of the quadrumana, which he describes as having four hands, but he was just as far from admitting that they had true hands, as that they had true feet, according to the human standard. He very justly considered the prehensile character of their hind paws more analogous in function to hands than to feet, and therefore classified them according to this peculiarity—in contradistinction to other brutes who were properly quadrupeds, and to separate them anatomically from man, who is the only proper two-handed or bimanous animal. The true bearing of Mr. Huxley's argument is against this classification of Cuvier, which, like all other classifications, is more or less arbitrary. It has really nothing to do with the great question which he proposes to solve, and

[page] 349

its only value is to show that Cuvier, according to Mr. Huxley's view of classification, committed a blunder by designating apes as quadrumanous; since they have feet as well as hands, and therefore, according to him, are as much entitled as man to be ranked as bimana. It is very apparent that his argument is based on a verbal quibble; a supposed misuse of a term, and its only logical bearing is against Cuvier's nomenclature. The fact which Cuvier recognized is, that these animals have neither true hands nor true feet, according to the human standard, but paws, which present many striking resemblances to human hands and feet.

In order to prove that the gorilla is a bimanous biped like man, Mr. Huxley first establishes a rule to enable us to have "distinct and clear ideas of what constitutes a hand and what a foot." He contrasts the bones of the human hand and foot, and shows, while there is a general similarity and "some singular resemblances" in their homologous parts, yet "there is a fundamental difference in the structure of the foot and hand," which constitutes them distinct organs. Among the singular resemblances he notices, in contrast with the artificial immobility of the "civilized great toe," the "great amount of mobility, and even some sort of opposability," of the great toe among uncivilized and barefooted people, which enable them to discharge with the foot some of the offices of the hand. The object of this remark is obvious. He would like to insinuate that there are some people who might, just as properly as the gorilla, be considered quadrumanous in consequence of the prehensile character of their feet. He concludes, however, that, notwithstanding such resemblance, there is a fundamental difference between the great toe and thumb—for he tells us, "though after all it must be recollected that the structure of its joints and the arrangement of its bones necessarily render its prehensile action far less perfect than the thumb."

It is important here to note, that if the human foot had been prehensile, like the hand, the above structural difference between the toe and the thumb would not have been considered by our author as fundamental. Admitting this, it follows legitimately, that if we find the hind paw of the ape as prehensile as the



[page] 350

fore paw, then there is no fundamental difference in the design and function of these organs, although differing in structure. It also follows, that if the hind paw of the ape is just as prehensile as the fore paw, there must necessarily be a fundamental difference between it and the human foot, which is not prehensile, however similar they may be in structure.

He next compares the muscles of the human hand and foot, showing the general similarity and special differences, and finally arrives at the conclusion, that a foot is distinguished from a hand by the three "following absolute anatomical differences:

"1st. By the arrangement of the tarsal bones.
2nd. By having a short flexor and a short extensor muscle of the
digits in place of a long one in hand.
3rd. By possessing the muscle termed peronœus longus."

He proceeds to apply these tests to the hind paw of the gorilla, and acknowledges that there are many important differences, some of which he specifies; but these give him no trouble whatever. They vanish in the presence of his unique argument which he uses as a panacea for all difficulties, and advances as proof on all disputed points. Whenever he encounters a troublesome difference between man and the gorilla, he calls up some other member of the ape family to show that he departs just as widely from the gorilla standard, and therefore (!) this difference between the gorilla and man is not fundamental. In regard to this point of difference he says,

"I have dwelt upon this point at length; because it is one regarding which much delusion prevails; but I might have passed it over without detriment to my argument, which only requires me to show that, be the differences between the hand and foot of Man and those of the Gorilla what they may—the differences between those of the Gorilla and those of the lower Apes are much greater." p. 110.

The absurdity of such an argument will unfold itself as we proceed.

Notwithstanding the many striking departures from the human standard, he comes to the conclusion that "The hind limb of the Gorilla, therefore, ends in a true foot with a very moveable great toe; it is a prehensile foot, indeed, but in no sense a hand." We entirely concur in the conclusion, that the go-

[page] 351

rilla has a prehensile foot; indeed, nobody has ever doubted the fact. But a prehensile foot is not a true foot, according to the human standard, which is the point he seeks to prove. The articulations and the arrangement of the bones and muscles of the human foot, according to his own showing, necessarily prevent its becoming prehensile. Nobody ever doubted that the hind paw of an ape was a foot in the general sense of the term, though it is not quite so human in aspect and function as the hind paw of the brown bear and other plantagrades. Cuvier frequently speaks of the hind paws of apes as "feet," and it was precisely because they had feet which were prehensile and grasping, like a hand, that he named them quadrumana. The above conclusion, which Mr. Huxley has arrived at so laboriously, would be agreed to by Cuvier and every one else, for it is a self-evident fact.

But Mr. Huxley goes somewhat further. He says this foot "is in no sense a hand." Here he is at variance with Cuvier and all the rest of the world. A foot which is prehensile, and can grasp with perfect facility, and perform other functions of the hand, is certainly, in some sense, a hand, according even to the human standard. But the hind paw of a gorilla, which can grasp and perform all the other functions of the hand, nearly, if not quite, as perfectly as the fore paw which Mr. Huxley asserts to be "a true hand," is, in function and design, completely a hand, according to the gorilla standard of a hand.

So far Mr. Huxley's effort to solve the momentous "question of questions for mankind," which he has proposed, seems to amount to nothing more than an attack upon Cuvier's nomenclature, based on a supposed misnomer of an ape's paw; but he goes a step further in the conclusion which we have partly quoted above. He adds: "It is a foot which differs from that of man not in any fundamental character, but in mere proportions, in the degree of mobility, and in the secondary arrangement of its parts."

The truth of this assertion we deny. Of all animals, the foot of man alone is so constructed that it is capable of supporting the body constantly in an erect position, and of serving exclusively as the natural organ of locomotion. This constitutes a

[page] 352

distinguishing peculiarity in the anatomical structure of man, which is in direct correlation with the rest of his organism, and bespeaks him an intellectural and spiritual being, as well as the only erect animal. For, in consequence of this structure, the superior limbs are withdrawn from locomotion, and are constantly free to obey the behests of the mind for æsthetical, intellectual, and spiritual purposes.

Professor Dana has been the first one, we believe, to recognize this "cephalization" of the anterior limbs as an authoritative basis for zoological classification and establishing man's isolation and preëminence in the animal kingdom. In a short article published in the "New Englander," for April, 1863, he says,—"Man is alone among mammals, in having the forelimbs withdrawn from the locomotive series and transferred to the cephalic series. The fore limbs in him serve primarily the purposes of the head, and are not for locomotion. A very large anterior portion of the body is thus turned over to the service of the head, so that the posterior or gastric portion of the animal reaches in man its minimum. Here, then, is a degree of cephalization of the body—that is, of subordination of its members and structure to head uses—which separates man widely from other animals, placing him, literally, alone."

Now the case is entirely different with the gorilla and the other "man-like apes." With them the anterior limbs are necessary organs of locomotion, as much so, indeed, as the posterior limbs. Both feet and hands perform this office very imperfectly on the surface of the ground, which is not the natural habitat of these animals. The structure of their feet does not admit of the easy application of the sole to the ground as in man, but the body is supported and propelled on the outside of the foot, aided by the knuckles of the hand. As the hand is a necessary organ of locomotion, so also the foot is designed by its structure to perform the functions of a hand, nearly, if not quite, as perfectly as the so-called hand. In fact, both are prehensile grasping organs, fitting these animals to climb and dwell in trees, which is their natural abode, justifying the appellation of quadrumanous, which Cuvier gives them in his classification. While the same bones and muscles which exist in the human

[page] 353

foot may be found in that of the gorilla, yet they are so arranged and modified as to perform very diverse functions, and indicate animals very diverse in nature.

But Mr. Huxley contends that similarity of anatomical parts, irrespective of functional or other differences, is proof that man belongs to the same Order as the gorilla, and therefore should be considered evidence of identity of nature and origin. He demands that there shall be some additional organ, or, what he calls, some absolute fundamental difference of structure of the same organ, in order to establish ordinal distinction and diversity of nature.

We will answer his demand for some specific anatomical difference of structure, by citing the flexor longus pollicis, which in man is inserted in the great toe alone, while in the gorilla it is distributed to the other toes, thus contributing to that prehensile of grasping faculty, which gives to the foot of this animal the function and character of a hand. We might also cite another fundamental difference belonging to the teeth, which organs have always been regarded as affording reliable distinctions for separate classification. The gorilla, in common with other apes, has invariably well-marked projecting tusks, with the accompanying diastema, or interval, in both jaws; while this brutal peculiarity is constantly wanting in the human dentition.

We cite these anatomical differences, to which many others might be added, not because we attach any importance to them in determining man's separation from the gorilla, but simply in compliance with Mr. Huxley's demand, and in order to show the weakness of his argument, which seeks to establish identity of nature from similarity of anatomical parts.

In order to appreciate fully the fallacy of his argument, let us suppose that a race of animals should be discovered similar to gorillas, equally devoid of speech and abstract reasoning, with feet as prehensile as their hands, fitting them to climb trees with equal facility, but presenting constantly the sole difference of an additional toe, thereby enabling them to walk the earth as erectly as a man. Now, upon his principles, such an animal must be considered, in virtue of this anatomical differ-



[page] 354

ence, superior to the gorilla, and be placed in a different and superior Order; while man, presenting characteristic differences vastly, nay, infinitely greater, must, for the want of this sixth toe, be classed amongst these lower brutes, as identical in nature and origin, and only differing from them in the degree of development.

Mr. Huxley examines the fore paw of the gorilla, or as he calls it, the terminal division of the fore limb, much less minutely than the foot, for he thinks there can be no question as to its being a true hand. He says:

"The terminal division of the fore limb presents no difficulty—bone for bone, and muscle for muscle are found to be arranged essentially as in man, or with such minor differences as are found as varieties in man. The Gorilla's hand is clumsier, heavier, and has a thumb somewhat shorter in proportion than that of man; but no one has ever doubted its being a true hand." p.108.

This is certainly a very bold assertion, as well as a very untrue one, in view of the contrary opinion held by many eminent naturalists; and the only evidence he brings in proof of it, is his usual catholicon, viz., that the hand of other members of the monkey tribe, especially of the marmoset, whose thumb, he says, is a mere "curved claw like the other digits"—"is more different from that of the Gorilla than the Gorilla's hand is from Man's"—which, he tells us, is all that this argument requires him to show! With the exception of the Cheiromys,* which he cites on another occasion, he could not have selected a better example to show the worthlessness of his argument. He picks out for a comparison of hands, a little squirrel-like quadruped, whose thumbless fore paws are just as much hands as a squirrel's and no more—and who, had he the teeth of his brother cheiromys, might also have been ranked among squirrels; but inasmuch as all four of his feet are prehensile claws,

* Cheiromys (Rat with hands), or Madagascar rat. This animal having the tail and teeth of a squirrel, is classed by Cuvier among the "Squirrels." Our author however, in virture of its prehensile claws, and some other resemblances, has placed it in the some Order as the gorilla; and he cites, on page 101, its difference from the gorilla, in regard to teeth, as evidence that man should be placed in the same Order as these animals!

[page] 355

he has been placed among the Quadrumana, which Order embraces also the gorilla, and thus enables Mr. Huxley to institute his comparison.

Mr. Huxley, however, contends that the gorilla is not a quadruman (though he is so called) inasmuch as he has proved that he has true feet and true hands, the same as man; but his argument requires him to go further, and prove that the marmoset (whose hand he terms a claw) is also not a quadruman, and that he too has true feet and true hands according to the human standard. If he cannot prove this he must leave the marmoset among the Quadruma, and place the gorilla in a different Order. But if he separates the gorilla from this Order of Quadrumana—then his comparison is not legitimate, and his argument falls to the ground;—for as it is based on the assertion "that the hand (of the marmoset) is more different from that of the gorilla than the gorilla's hand is from man's,"—it is only by showing that these animals, presenting such great differences, belong to the same natural Order, that he can advance it in proof that man also, despite his differences, should be included in the same Order with them. On the other hand, unless he proves that the marmoset, like the gorilla, is also a bimanous biped, he has no right to place him in the same Order for the purpose of instituting a comparison of hands. We think he will find it impossible to transmute the claws of this little animal into true hands and feet according to the human type; and until he brings proof to the contrary, the little fellow must remain either a quadruman or a quadruped. In either position, the marmoset cannot hold the same ordinal rank with his biped gorilla, and is therefore unavailable as a subject of comparison, and fatal to Mr. Huxley's argument, which demands that both animals shall be in the same Order.

We will, however, allow Mr. Huxley to assume, with manifest inconsistency, what he ought to have proved, and will grant him the right to institute his comparison, whatever may be the diversity of structure of these animals, and to consider them as being in the same Order, whatever name they may be called by. Under these circumstances, let us see what is his invariable argument in this case, as well as in all others, by which he seeks to

[page] 356

prove that man is in the self same Order as the gorilla, and has the self same origin and nature.

It stands thus: Because the anterior claws of the marmoset (which is called a quadruman) differ more widely from the fore-paws of a gorilla (which is also called a quadruman) than these do from the hands of man (who is not a quadruman);— therefore, the differences of the human hand, "be they what they may," are not fundamental nor distinctive! Hence man must take his place in the same Order as the gorilla and marmoset!! Consequently, the unity of origin and nature of man and the gorilla follows as a necessary corollary!!!

In other words, because certain differences in the organs of two animals which happen to be placed in the same Order, (one at the head and the other at the tail) are greater than those which are presented by similar organs of a third animal which is not in that Order—therefore, this latter animal must be ranked in the same Order as the other two, let the differences of these organs, as well as other differences, be what they may—and also be considered identical in nature. Mr. Huxley might just as well argue that, because the five-digited, not horny-hoofed foot of the elephant (a Pachyderm*) differs more widely from the single-cleft horny-hoofed foot of the hog (also a Pachyderm) than this last does from the single-cleft horny-hoofed foot of the sheep (a Ruminant).—Therefore the foot of the sheep is evidence that he belongs to the same Order as the hog—for be the differences between the foot of the sheep and the hog what they may, the differences between that of the hog and the elephant are much greater. Mutatis mutandis—this is precisely in his own terms, Mr. Huxley's plea for the gorilla, and this he thinks is all that his argument requires him to show in order to prove his unity with man!

Such an argument, in the way that it is presented by Mr. Huxley, would be illogical, as well as unscientific, if it were used simply to determine a question of correct classification; but applied, as it is by him, to establish man's unity with the

* Pachy dermata (thick-skinned); an order which comprises the elephant, rhinoceros, and the like animals, and also includes the hog and the horse.

[page] 357

brutes in regard to origin and nature,—it is not only worthless but absurd.

But Mr. Huxley thinks that argument is not necessary to prove that the terminal division of the gorilla's fore limb is a hand according to the human standard. He boldly asserts, "that no one has ever doubted its being a true hand." In flat contradiction to this bold assertion we cannot do better than quote the opinion of M. Gratiolet,* a French anatomist, whose scientific authority cannot be questioned by Mr. Huxley, since he frequently cites it in opposition to Professor Owen, in his "History of the Controversy respecting the Cerebral Structure of Man and the Apes."

According to Gratiolet there are—

"Profound and really typical differences between man and the most elevated apes. In the latter, the thumb is bent by an oblique division of the common tendon of the muscle, which moves the other fingers, and therefore is not free. This type is realized in the gorilla and chimpanzee, but the small tendon which moves the thumb is in these reduced to a tendinous thread, which exerts no action, for its action is lost in the synovial folds of the tendons, which bend the other fingers, and it abuts on no muscle; the thumb therefore in these apes is wonderfully enfeebled. In none of them is there a trace of the large independent muscle which gives movement to the human thumb. Far from becoming more strongly developed, the member so characteristic of the human hand, seems in the most elevated apes, the orangs, to incline to a complete annihilation. These apes, therefore, have nothing in the organization of their hand which indicates a passage into the human form, and I insist, in my memoir, on the profound differences revealed by the study of the movements in hands formed to accomplish objects of a totally distinct order. Besides, it is especially in the ape, in appearance most like man, the Indian orang, that the hands and the feet present the most striking degradations. This paradox—this default in the parallelism in man and the large apes, in the development of correlative organs, such as the brain and the hand, shows absolutely that other harmonies, and other destinies, are here in question."

In a discourse delivered at one of the free Scientific Soirees of the Sorbonne, M. Gratiolet says—

"The hand of an ape is but a prehensile hook. Is the liberty of the thumb, which is wanting in the small apes, present in the authropoids? Does the tendon which moves it, abutting on a distinct muscle, permit it to move more freely? Far from it,—this tendon is lost, and the

* See the "London Reader" for 1864, Nos. 66 and 87.

[page] 358

force of the thumb disappears. The organ, instead of being perfected, is degraded; scarcely can the long hooked fingers, when bent, touch one by one the unguial extremity of the thumb; the nail which terminates them is short, deformed, inflexible; it (the hand) is already a claw."

He goes on to show that it is not adapted to sense or touch, or to the acquisition of intellectual ideas,—but to the cylindrical boughs of a tree, from its curving and hook-like shape. Besides, this hand is the habitual organ of a quadrupedal motion, and its true resting place is not the ground, but trees. The hand is free only when the animal is at rest. He then remarks:—

"What a difference is there in the hand of man! The thumb becomes larger; it acquires a prodigious force and a freedom almost without bounds. Its tactile ball opposes itself with complete independence, simultaneously, or turn by turn, to those of all the other fingers. These, covered at their extremities with elastic nails, realize all the conditions of an organ proper to measure the intensity of pressure. The palm of the hand of an ape can only apply itself to a cylinder; that of the human hand is able to hollow itself into a longitudinal guter, or to fashion itself into a cup, in such a manner that it can apply itself to spherical surfaces. From a simple prehensile organ it becomes a measuring instrument;—from a hook it becomes a compass (an expression used by Blainville), and the compass presupposes the geometrician. Elle saisissait jusque là le sol ou l'aliment; desormais, passez moi le mot, elle pourra saisir aussi des idées."

Mr. Huxley concludes his essay by a critical examination of the Brain, which, he thinks, illustrates the truth of his proposition more clearly than either the Hand or Foot, and "enforces the same conclusion in a still more striking manner." In comparing the Simian brain with the human, he drops the Gorilla, and very properly takes the Chimpanzee and the Ourang, as the highest exemplars. We are surprised that he had not, from the first, recognized these animals as the most elevated of the Ape family, instead of the Gorilla. Apart from the statements of our countrymen, Dr. Savage and Mr. Ford, published in 1847 and 1852, little was known of this brute till Mr. Du Chaillu brought to this country his interesting collection. Those who have seen his skeletons and stuffed specimens of the Gorilla, will remember the exceedingly brutal aspect of this animal, which accords well with Du Chaillu's

[page] 359

statements in regard to its brutal ferocity. Except in size, and in the less length of its fore limbs, it departs much farther, in structure, from the human standard, than do the Chimpanzee, the Ourang, or even the Gibbon; and is much inferior to them in intelligence, as well as in physical organization.

Mr. Huxley demonstrates, in the Chimpanzee and the Ourang, the existence, to some extent, of the third lobe of the brain, the posterior cornu of the lateral ventricle, and the hippocampus minor, all of which were held by Owen to be peculiar characteristics of the human brain.

So far as cerebral structure goes, he says, "that the difference between the brains of the Chimpanzee and Man is almost insignificant, when compared with that between the Chimpanzee brain and that of a Lemur.*" This we may consider as true, since these animals, though embraced in the same Order, are almost as widely removed from one another as a Bear is from a Bat, which are also both in the same Order. But Mr. Huxley admits that there is a structural difference, though comparatively small, and freely acknowledges the "very striking difference in absolute mass and weight, between the lowest human brain, and that of the highest Ape."

This difference is indeed immense, when we consider that one of the skulls measured by Morton, contained 114 cubic inches, while the most capacious Gorilla skull, according to Mr. Huxley, contains not more than 34½ inches. An ordinary child of four years old has a brain, absolutely, twice as large, and relatively ten times as large as an adult Gorilla. Mr. Huxley considers that this immense difference of size "is a very noteworthy circumstance, and doubtless will one day help to furnish an explanation of the great gulf which intervenes between the lowest man and the highest ape, in intellectual power." p. 120.

We wish to call the reader's particular attention to this quotation, in connection with the note which accompanies it, in order to show the specious sophistry with which Mr. Huxley, throughout this book, endeavors to get up a case for the popu-

* Lemur, a nocturnal carniverous animal, resembling the fox, but presenting many varieties of form. They are classed among the Quadrumana,—but Cuvier classes the flying Lemur among the Bats.

[page] 360

lar mind, and in order also to point out an admission, fatal to his doctrine, of man being a developed ape.

From this quotation we might infer that he considered the brain of an ape and that of a man to differ only in quantity or quality, and not in structure, and that the present "great gult" would be bridged over, when we discovered other apes, recent or fossil, with more capacious skulls. But in the note, he tells us plainly, that this is not his meaning:—

"For I by no means believe (he says) that it was any original difference of cerebral quality or quantity, which caused that divergence between the human and the pithecoid stirpes, which has ended in the present enormous gulf between them."

The long note from which the above is extracted, is directed against an objection founded on the argument that all difference of function is a result of difference of structure (which he does not deny) and therefore that "the vast intellectual chasm," which he admits to exist between Man and the Apes, implies a correspondingly vast structural chasm between their brains. In combating this argument, he incautiously goes on to show, that the immense difference between a Man's intelligence and an Ape's, is caused by speech and some peculiarity in the structure of their brains, so slight as to escape notice. He illustrates his own opposing argument by the example of the "great gulf" existing between a watch that keeps accurate time, and one that will not go at all, in consequence of some very slight physical alteration. Thus, he says,—

"A hair in the balance-wheel, a little rust on a pinion, a bend in a tooth of the escapement, a something so slight that only the practised eye of the watch-maker can discover it, may be the source of all the difference. And believing as I do with Cuvier, that the possession of articulate speech is the grand distinctive character of man, (whether it be absolutely peculiar to him or not,) I find it very easy to comprehend, that some equally inconspicuous structural difference may have been the primaary cause of the immeasurable and practically infinite divergence of the Human from the Simian Stirps." See Note on p. 122.

Now Mr. Huxley, in the above note, very plainly admits a distinctive fundamental difference between men and apes; and the reader might reasonably conclude, that he had abandoned,

[page] 361

in despair, his position of Man's unity with the brutes, since he acknowledges a structural difference, which places an immeasurable chasm between them. Such is the clear teaching of the note; but we have yet to learn all the capabilities of Mr. Huxley's "vast argument," and the flexibility of his peculiar logic. Notwithstanding the fatal concessions contained in his foot note, he maintains in his text precisely the same position of Man's unity with the Apes, and finds in the immense disparity in the weight of their brains, additional confirmation. He also employs precisely the same invariable argument, save only in this case he bases it, not as before on differences among apes, but on differences among men themselves.

Taking the admissions in his note, in connection with the text to which it is appended, his position and argument stand thus:—The immense size of the human brain, the peculiarity of its structure, and the distinctive faculty of speech, which cause an "immeasurable and practically infinite divergence of the Human from the Simian Stirps," are all of "little systematic value," in assigning to Man a distinct place in Nature, or a different origin from an Ape. Why? Because "the difference in the weight of brain between the highest and the lowest men is far greater, both relatively and absolutely, than that between the lowest man and the highest ape." In other words, because the largest brained man among European philosophers (Cuvier* for instance,) surpasses, in the size of his brain and intelligence, the most debased specimen of a semi-idiotic tribe of Bosjemen, as much as the latter surpasses the highest ape, therefore, be concludes that this fact furnishes additional proof that Man belongs to the same Order as the monkey, and is the production of a gorilla!

According to this reasoning, the more a civilized man becomes developed by cultivation, and the more strongly he manifests that unlimited capability of improvement which is distinctive of human nature, the greater is the evidence of his bestial origin. For it is apparent, that if the human race

* Cuvier's brain (the heaviest male brain on record) weighed 1861 French grammes, nearly 5 lbs., Troy weight.



[page] 362

were now composed entirely of men as degraded as the lowest Bosjeman, there would be no room for Mr. Huxley's comparison of differences, nor for the illogical inference which he draws from the superiority of the civilized over the savage brain. Under this condition of universal degradation, the "infinite divergence" which he admits to exist between the lowest Bosjeman and the highest Ape, would have to be considered evidence for diversity of nature and origin. For, even if he maintained, as he does in the text, that the size of the brain is of little systematic value, yet its "structural difference" and the faculty of speech, which he acknowledges in his note, and to which other still more distinctive characteristics might be added, would, upon Mr. Huxley's own principles, sufficiently establish this diversity.

But, because Man has been degraded from a superior state to the condition of a semi-idiotic Bosjeman, or because from some inherent principle of improvableness, he is capable of unlimited progress in the scale of elevation,—for it matters not which theory is adopted,—therefore, according to Mr. Huxley, the great disparity between the civilized and the savage brain, becomes a logical part of that "vast argument, fraught with the deepest consequences," which he proposes to unfold, in order to prove that Man is descended from a monkey!

Is the "enormous gulf" between the lowest Bosjeman and the highest ape rendered any less, because there are Europeans who exceed him in the size of the brain and in intelligence, as much as he exceeds a gorilla? Is savage man to be classed with the brutes because civilized man is proportionally elevated above him? Does his capability of unlimited improvement bridge the "great gulf" between him and the gorilla, and prove identity of nature? What logical connection is there between his premiss, based upon this superiority of Man's nature, and his conclusion that he is therefore of bestial origin? Who can fail to see the utter absurdity of such an argument, applied to determine Man's true position in nature, and his relationship to the universe of things? For it must be well remembered that this is the great question (not his anatomical position) which our author proposes to solve by this argument,

[page] 363

and to the solution of which he says every good citizen ought to feel bound to contribute, "even if he have nothing but a scalpel to work withal." Yet such reasoning, and such style of argument, is the only contribution which he makes towards its solution.

We think Mr. Huxley would have acted more wisely if he had stuck to his scalpel, as a good practical anatomist, as he undoubtedly is, instead of ambitiously attempting to solve a great philosophical question, by arguments which prove that he has yet to learn the very alphabet of a sound logical philosophy. As a general rule, he argues that Man ought to be classed with the Apes, because some members of the extensive Order of Quadrumana, as for instance the Flying Cat, or the Madagascar Rat, or the squirrel-like Marmoset, differ from a gorilla, as much as a gorilla differs from a Bosjeman. But, when he is forced to admit that there is an "infinite divergence" between a gorilla and a Bosjeman, dependent upon what he acknowledges to be distinctive and structural differences, he would have us to believe that this is of no account, because there are cultivated men who surpass the most debased specimens of the race, as much as these last surpass the highest Apes.

This argument of differences, in the manner in which he employed it before, was, as we have seen, absurd enough; but when he undertakes to make the differences among men, arising from their capability of indefinite progress,—which is a distinctive characteristic of the superiority of human nature,—an argument to prove man's inferiority and unity with the brutes, its illogical absurdity becomes so intense, that there is no word in the language sufficiently strong to characterize it.

The fact that men differ so widely from one another in elevation, and are so capable of indefinite improvement,—while the identity of nature of all men is universally admitted,—is of itself conclusive proof that their nature, and consequently, that their origin must be diverse from that of the brutes, which admit of no such progress, and of no such corresponding debasement.

Mr. Huxley, in his concluding remarks, offers a defense

[page] 364

which sounds more like an apology for his preposterous conclusion. He says that the opposing argument, founded on Man's moral differences, "would have my entire sympathy, if it were only relevant," and that it is not he that "seeks to base Man's dignity on his great toe, or insinuate that we are lost, if an Ape has a hippocampus minor." In the next breath he exclaims:—"At the same time, no one is more strongly convinced than I am, of the vastness of the gulf between civilized man and the brutes; or is more certain that whether from them or not, he is assuredly not of them." What is this but an involuntary confession on his part, that there is an impassable separation between man's nature and that of brutes, arising either from moral or structural differences; and, in either case, how can he consistently contend for their unity of origin and identity of place in Nature?

He scouts at the idea, "that the belief in the unity of origin of man and brutes, involves the brutalization and degradation of the former." He thinks a sensible child could confute such an opinion. So he might, if he could prove that unity of origin was properly connected with entire diversity of nature and characteristic attributes. The argument which he himself uses to confute this opinion, is in these words:—

"Is it indeed true that the Poet or the Philosopher or the Artist, whose genius is the glory of his age, is degraded from his high estate by the undoubted historical probability, not to say certainty, that he is the direct descendant of some naked and bestial savage, whose intelligence was just sufficient to make him a little more cunning than the Fox, and by so much more dangerous than the Tiger."

His "sensible child" would very promptly reply, 'certainly not, because in this case, unity of origin is very properly connected with identity of nature, and that nature is characteristically susceptible of indefinite improvement, which accounts for all the difference.'

Besides, it is entirely a gratuitous assumption on the part of Mr. Huxley, to suppose that the civilized man is, ab origine, the direct descendant of the savage. The records of man, historic and monumental, in every nation and in every race, pro-

[page] 365

claim that barbarism is the result of moral degradation, and that savage tribes are the isolated offshoots of more civilized nations. Whether this be so or not, the undoubted fact of the improvability of the race, from the lowest stage of degradation to the highest pinnacle of excellence, is conclusive evidence, irrespective of any absolute anatomical difference, that man's nature is entirely diverse from that of brutes, and that he must, necessarily, have had a different origin. This fact alone, instead of supporting, would be a sufficient refutation of Mr. Huxley's conclusion.

Some of our readers may think that we have been at unnecessary pains in combating so fully a doctrine which seems so preposterous in itself, and which is supported by an argument so illogical. But this opinion will be changed, when the reader learns, with surprise, that this doctrine, however absurd it may seem to him, has been received with favor by many scientific men, and that it has been endorsed, we may even say, laboriously supported, by Sir Charles Lyell. What, however, has chiefly induced us to spare no pains in exposing the false philosophy of this book, is the fact, that its plausible but deceptious reasoning in regard to scientific facts, is readily received by the unlearned,—for whom it is expressly written,—as a conclusive scientific argument against the truth of Revelation.

It was our intention to establish, directly, the distinct nature and origin of man, by an argument founded on his faculty of speech; on his power of abstract reason, enabling him to ascend from facts to principles; and on his spiritual endowments, which are his true characteristics, and which, notwithstanding Mr. Huxley's assertion, are the only considerations which are truly germane to the great question he has propounded and belittled.

But the utter fallacy of the only argument which he has advanced to prove Man's unity with the brutes, and consequent bestiality of nature, render this task unnecessary. We will conclude this Article, already too long, but which could not have been shorter, in justice to Mr. Huxley and his subject, by quoting the forcible words of the distinguished French anatomist whom we have already cited.



[page] 366

"The facts upon which I insist, permit me to affirm, with a conviction founded on personal and attentive study of all at present known, that anatomy gives no ground for the idea, so violently defended now-a-days, of a close relationship between man and ape. One may invoke in vain some ancient skulls, evident monstrosities, found by chance, such as that of Neanderthal; and here and there similar forms may now be found; they belong to idiots. One of them was discovered, a few years ago, by Dr. Binder, who, at the request of M. Macé, presented it to me. It is now in the collection of the Museum. It will henceforth be counted among the elements of the great discussion on the nature of man, which now agitates philosophers and troubles consciences; out of which discussion, some day, the divine majesty of man shall arise, consecrated by combat, and ever henceforth be inviolable and triumphant."

[page] 367


A Pastoral Letter to the Clergy of the Diocese of New York,
from the Bishop
, May, 1865.

THIS Pastoral Letter of Bishop Potter came none too soon. It has been manifest for some time, that Ecclesiastical matters were approaching a crisis in New York city and its immediate vicinity, and that an issue of some sort was about to be made; though in what form it would present itself, of course, no body could tell. The only question, now, concerning this Pastoral, is, whether it will answer the end for which its amiable and peace-loving author designed it. We confess to some doubt on this point. Positive treatment, vigorously applied, is sometimes the mildest, most judicious, and only effective method, in dealing with physical diseases; it has seemed to us that there was a degree of virulence manifested in the spiritual distempers of our time, which would be much more likely to feed and grow on gentle remedies, than be subdued by them. We may be mistaken.

The Church in New York city has always been strong enough to be secure against open assaults. Churchmen in New England were persecuted, fined, and imprisoned, simply because they were Churchmen; and the vilest placards were once posted in Boston to stir up the mob in resistance to the landing of a Bishop at that home of "Freedom of Conscience!" Here, in New York, the hatred of the Church has been bitter enough; but it has vented itself in milder and more harmless ways. It has usually been content with snubbing such men as Bishop Wain-wright when it could get them into one of its "Fore-fathers" Meetings; or, with publishing and puffing such stupid octavos as Mr. Shimeall's "End of Prelacy." It is, however, a little amusing, that the same sort of men who set Mr. Shimeall to write his ridiculous book,—a book filled with the most scurrilous charges and historical misstatements, and then gave to that book their public written endorsement, and who seemed

This document has been accessed 29778 times

Return to homepage

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

File last updated 25 September, 2022