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We might much enlarge, were it needful, on this incapacity of History to satisfy our just curiosity as to the primitive condition of the human race on earth. But we shall confine ourselves to
but we do this purposely, that the attention of our readers may be better concentrated afterwards on the two other topics, on which the solution of the inquiry chiefly depends.
of which the species is susceptible and the diver- scured than enlightened by human tradition. Its sities it actually exhibits. Various instincts- line, broken and interrupted even before, stops belonging especially to the early stage of life, where the more arduous part of the ascent begins, before his higher faculties have risen into action and gives us no guidance into the earlier ages -further attest this great natural relation, which beyond. human pride can neither deny nor discard. But beyond and above this comes in the peculiar condition of Man as an intellectual being, richly provided by his Maker with those endowments which, in their highest elevation from nature or culture, a few general remarks, such as may obviate mishave bequeathed to the admiration of all ages conception as to the bearing and value of this part names made immortal by their genius and attain- of the evidence. In placing them here, we deviments-Homer, Aristotle, Dante, Bacon, Shak-ate from the order of arguments just laid down; speare, Milton, Newton, Leibnitz, Pascal, Laplace, and others which crowd on the memory-and gifted yet further with that moral sense, those faculties and sensibilities of feeling and passion, to which, duly guarded and governed, we owe our understanding of virtue and conscience, and of all that is beautiful and sublime in the world aroundforming what Milton has well called "a piece of divinity within us; something that was before the elements, and owing no homage to the sun." The consideration of these higher attributes of man, and of the organs adapted to the faculty of speech, carries us naturally to the second, or philological part of the inquiry. Human language, derived from these conditions, has become a main index to the history of mankind. Its numerous forms, as we find them in existence and maturity among different communities of men-forms, in many cases, so remote in the roots of words, in grammatical structure and idiom, that the doubt may well arise whether they can have any common origin-these very diversities, as well as the connections of languages, are all subservient to the inquiry before us. We have already spoken of the many eminent men who have devoted themselves to this part of the subject; collating on philosophical principles the detached records of the numerous languages which crowd the globe; and giving to the history of races and nations, irrespectively of all other tradition, a new and wider basis than heretofore. The progress of such researches of late years is the best exponent, as we shall see, of what may be attained by their future prosecution.
To the physiological and philological succeeds the historical part of the argument. It might seem on superficial view that this would be the most copious source of knowledge as to the physical history of man, and his original dispersion over the earth. We might expect here to verify and extend the conclusions derived from the former methods of inquiry, and to give to the whole science more certainty and completeness. And so it is, whenever we can obtain concurrence, or even approximation of results, from these different sources. But, pursuing the investigation on this principle, we shall find ourselves speedily and continually at fault. History, as we have it in our hands, is rarely capable of conducting us to the heights of this great argument, seen dimly through the mists of time, and often rather ob
We have already spoken generally of the bearing of sacred history on this subject. In the Old Testament we have a record of the creation of man upon the earth, and of a line of successive generations down to the period of the great deluge; from which we are led to date a second growth and dispersion of mankind. But it would wrong the proper objects and influence of the sacred volume to regard it as a physical history of man, or to seek in its pages for the facts with which this science has especial concern. A few passages only can be brought to bear directly on the conclusions we seek to obtain; and there is constant danger, as well as difficulty, in tampering with words and phrases so alien in their objects and manner of use. The Mosaic writings are the record of the origin and progress of one people, wonderful in every age of its history, and by the dispensation of Providence signal in its influence on the whole human race. All that is given to us, apart from this main object, is incidental, brief, and obscure; and the chronology of the Jewish people itself rendered ambiguous by the recognized differences of the Hebrew, Samaritan, and Septuagint texts; amounting in the whole to a period longer than that which has elapsed from the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon monarchy to the present day. Even in an early part of these books we find allusion to nations which had grown into existence and power; but without any sign to mark their origin, beyond some single name, or the general statement of the multiplication of man on the earth. It is, however, this affirmation of the origin and multiplication of mankind from a single pair of created beings which forms the great link between the Scripture narrative and the subject before us. We have already stated this as the basis of the inquiry-the ques tion to which all others are subordinate; and expressed our belief that the evidence derived from other sources concurs with what is thus delivered to us in the Mosaic history. We must not look to Scripture for description of the primitive physical characters of the human species, or for details as to the origin of human languages. But it is much to arrive at the same point through paths thus diverse; and we shall do well for the cause of truth to hold the sacred volume ever in our hands,
seeing where it fairly comes into contact with other sunk in obscurity. Fragmentary notices in Scripknowledge, but never forcing its peculiar objects ture and in Greek authors have told us of its greatand phraseology into conclusions with which it hasness and conquests, the magnitude and decorations
of its capital. But we have only just begun to Passing from the Scriptural to other history, disentomb the great Nineveh, and can only parwhether of writings, tradition, or mythology, we tially decipher the peculiar cuneiform characters lose this distinct affirmation of the unity of man- which designate and give date to its wonderful kind, without any equivalent in the more certain works of art. The intrepid zeal and ability of record of the primitive state of the species. The Mr. Layard, already re-directed to the spot, will, notices indeed multiply as to the growth and spread we doubt not, achieve further successes on the of particular tribes; but even if possessing much same fertile soil; but when all is done, there will more authority than belongs to them, they would yet remain the void of time beyond, in which go short way to satisfy our seeking for knowledge genius and diligence are alike lost and fruitless. of that mysterious period which intervenes between The vast empires of China and India offer yet the creation of man and the formation of nations more striking examples of this imperfection of and empires. We lose ourselves in utter darkness history, as bearing on the early condition and when we seek to go beyond certain epochs, remark-diffusion of the human race. Native records, aided able in the ancient world as the periods of great movements and migrations among the people best known to us. One of these may especially be denoted, as comprising within a very brief time the record of six migrations and settlements, each containing some germ of future history. Yet even this period, in which were sown the seeds that ripened into Grecian genius and civilization, how vaguely and scantily is it known to us! How much more obscurely still those vast Celtic, Teutonic, and Sclavonic migrations which have given cast and color to all the succeeding destinies of Europe! Here we have hardly the ground of tradition to stand upon; all measure of time is lost we are obliged to come at once to the relations of language, as the only index we possess to these mysteries of the ancient world.
here also by astronomy, carry us obscurely back to dates as remote as those of Egypt and Assyria; but beyond this all is lost in the depths of time, or in the still darker depths of mythology. And to take another instance, from a different source, but not less cogent for our object, where do we find the faintest authentic trace of those maritime migrations, seemingly not single, but successive, which peopled the great American continent; giving birth to numerous nations and languages, and to various monuments of power and civilization still only partially explored? Here only one or two vague traditions float before us, which poetry may adopt, but which history refuses to appropriate to its graver purposes.
These few examples will show how scantily we can draw from ancient history the peculiar inforOf the grandeur of Egypt at a remote period mation required. We nowhere get high enough. we have numerous proofs; and the genius and The regions of tradition or mythology are reached; industry of the present age have derived from its but it is still the selva oscura, the basso loco of the sublime monuments, its hieroglyphics and paint-poet, and we do not obtain access to the clear sky ings, the evidences of vast extent of power, of vari- above. It may even be affirmed that we gain less ous refinements of policy and civilization. But certain knowledge of the early races of mankind in this very point lies the deficiency of history. from direct history than from those relations and Whence, and how, this growth of grandeur, unre- resemblances of custom which often remain infixed vealed in its origin, and so faintly traced in its for ages, when all other connections are lost-the earlier progress? Long series of sovereigns have usages pertaining to birth and death—the methods been determined through hieroglyphic inscriptions, of warfare-the regulations of property-the compared with the fragments of history; the found- punishment of offences-the manner of habitation ers and dates of many of the great monuments--and yet more remarkably the bodily mutilations "those wild enormities of ancient magnanimity," which are found so strangely to exist in common as Sir T. Browne calls them-similarly fixed; certain astronomical periods ascertained; and a chronology of much exactness carried back to a remote antiquity. But antiquity is a relative term; and the researches of Bunsen and Lepsius, the latest laborers in this great field, though stretching backwards nearly 5000 years, are arrested at a period far short of the origin of the remarkable nation on whose history they have bestowed so much learning and toil.
The history of the Assyrian Empire, contemporary with that of Egypt, has been more deeply
* Cuvier has particularly marked this period, extending from about 1550 A. c. to 1450 A. c., and including, besides the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, some of the most noted epochs of settlement in Greece.
among nations widely separate on the earth. Much caution is obviously needful in dealing with indications from this source. There is the same liability to deception here as in the case of etymology, where ingenuity so often deceives itself by a shadow of resemblance alone. But pursued with discretion and the multiplication of authentic facts, wherewith to correct hasty conclusions, this method of research becomes fruitful of curious results; and, like those branches of the inquiry to which we are now hastening, gives yet more abundant promise for the future, aided as it now is by a thousand facilities, unknown and unsurmised heretofore.
We have dwelt thus long on preliminary parts of the subject, under the conviction that many, even of those conversant with other sciences, scarcely
appreciate the entire scope of that under our review. |ization. We have not room to dwell on this topic, We come now to the two main sources of knowl- or to detail the different expressions which naturaledge as to the natural history of man, viz., humanists have given to the general fact; but its bearing physiology and human language; lines of argu- upon our subject-the natural history of manment distinct in themselves, yet parallel in direc- will be obvious at first sight, and rises in importion, and mutually giving force to every conclusion tance as we pursue and enlarge the inquiry. in which they concur. Through these channels alone can we proceed upwards when history deserts us, and tradition throws a light too flickering or false to be safely trusted. Even admitting that certainty is unattainable, we may yet reach a degree of probability fully warranting the attempt, a timid abandonment of which would be treason against all true philosophy :
Ardua dum metuunt, amittunt vera viai.
For what is the position of man in the scheme and series thus described? The answer is written in clear characters in the same great volume of nature-the evidence negative indeed in part, but not on that account less certain. While all anterior conditions of animal life, as they have successively occurred, are represented to us by innumerable vestiges and fossil remains, no trace whatsoever is found of the human being until the epoch in which we have our present existence. Human physiology ranks as the highest depart- Bones, shells, impressions of the most delicate ment of that great science of organic life which structure, even the passing footsteps of animals has made such astonishing progress of late years, over a moist surface, all these things have been compassing conclusions and general results which wonderfully preserved to the inspection of this would once have been deemed impossible to human later age. The most minute as well as the most research. The closer study of comparative anatomy gigantic forms of the ancient animal world, in its -the improved use of the microscope-the in- several periods, are familiar to our present knowlcreased resources of chemical analysis-the wider edge. If in one spot the remains have been too sphere of actual observation—and greater exacti- | imperfect to allow the naturalist to complete his tude in the collection and classification of facts- delineation, such is the rich exuberance of this all have concurred to this result. Other sciences, fossil world that he rarely fails to obtain what is moreover, and especially geology, have lately wanting from some contemporaneous strata elsefurnished new and extraordinary aids to this where on the globe. Even the lacune which still branch of knowledge. What space is to the as-exist in the series of zoological types are in progtronomer, time is to the geologist-vast beyond human comprehension, yet seen and comprised by the conclusions of the science. The astronomer indeed throws his line of numbers more boldly and securely into the depths of the infinite before him. The geologist can rarely give this mathematical certainty to his subject, or express the vastness of time more definitely than by the relation and succession of periods. But this result, and the methods by which it is attained, are such as well attest the value and grandeur of the science. The study of fossil remains, in representing successive epochs of change, and renewed creations of organic life on the surface of the globe, becomes the interpreter of facts of transcendent interest. What more wonderful than to extricate from the depths of the earth those mute yet expressive evidences of time far anterior to the creation of man!—of ages to which no human estimate can ascend, save as respects the mere order of succession in the series! What nearer material approach can man find to his Maker, than in deciphering those re-greater than any antecedent one; but still we are peated epochs and acts of creative power, and those Buccessive modifications of animal life, which, while still including its simpler forms, gradually acquire higher types of organization, and express a scheme of fixed and constant progress, however imperfect our view of the steps by which this is attained? Dividing these periods by the geological characters which clearly denote their relative age and succession, and the altered conditions of the earth in each, we may affirm that each period, amidst a general change of species, contains some element of higher life and more consummate organ
ress of being filled up from the same fertile source-yet of man, we repeat, no one vestige is to be found; certain though it is that this must have happened, had his existence been laid among any of these first creations on the earth. A single bone, distinctly discovered in a certain geological site, and attested as human by Cuvier or Owen, would have decided the question. But none such have been found—a few alleged instances have been subsequently disproved-and the creation of man, as well as of the various species of animal life by which he is now surrounded, may distinctly be referred to the actual surface of the globe, as the latest of those acts of creation of which geology furnishes the record and the proof.
Though less certain in evidence, it is reason able to add, in confirmation of this view, what we have just stated as to the introduction of certain higher organizations at each of the periods in question. The step from the most advanced genera of the mammalia to man may be much
not entitled to disregard this relation as possibly forming part of the great scheme which we humbly contemplate with the faculties permitted us to use. The simple fact that human reason is rendered capable of contemplating such objects, attests more strongly than any other the actual preeminence of man over all besides of the existing creation.
This point then settled, we come to the particular questions regarding the first condition of man on the earth, which we formerly indicated as lying at the root of the whole inquiry. Is the human
being a single species of what naturalists call the genus Homo? or do the diversities of physical character which we see in different races compel the admission that there were more species than one in the original act of creation? Again, if the unity of the species be proved, are we to look for the origin of this species in a single pair placed in some one locality of the globe, and thence diffusing the human race over its surface? or do the facts observed make it probable that there were more than one-possibly several distinct pairs-representing the more prominent diversities of the species, and located in different points, so as to become so many centres of diffusion and admixture of these varieties?
which most concerns our present subject is the view he hazards of the transformation of the orangoutang into man; and the sketch he gives, with a rare intrepidity, of the means by which this wonderful change has been worked out. He has not been careful to take the best instance for his case-the Chimpanzee, or Simia troglodytes of Angola, being a closer approach to the human form than the Orang-outang of Borneo, and fully justifying the old line of Ennius
Simia, quam similis, turpissima bestia, nobis ! But whichsoever be taken as the point of departure in this change from the monkey to the man, the deficiency in argument and fact is the same. ficult or impossible though it is for human reason The questions thus generally stated may be said to include all others appertaining to the subject; acts of creation, it is in nowise more difficult than to comprehend successive or innumerable specifie save one perhaps, already adverted to slightly, but to conceive creation at all:—easier, indeed, than to which we must here notice further, inasmuch as conceive laws primitively impressed upon matter, it involves the very definition of a species, and rendering it capable, by any feeling, appetence, or suggests contingencies which, if admitted, change necessity of its own temporary organization, of the whole aspect of the inquiry. We allude to evolving new organs and instruments of action. the opinion of certain naturalists, avowed or anony- For it must be kept in mind, though Lamarck mous,* who, holding that there is no sufficient himself leaves it out of sight, that this theory reason to suppose the immutability of species, believe it possible or probable that what have hitherto implies not merely variations of form and power in organs previously existing, but the progressive been considered such, may, by the operation of creation or substitution of organs and powers various causes, acting through long periods of entirely new. Such changes as these we nowhere time, be gradually transmuted into other and very different forms, or species as we now regard them. of certain animal and vegetable species during a see in progress. The exact knowledge obtained The most eminent advocate of this doctrine, Lamarck, hardly cares to shelter himself under those period of 3000 years tells us of no such mutations. To avoid difficulties which belong to the limited vague generalities by which others have sought comprehension of man, and which meet us equally to temper their conclusions and reconcile them to the common belief. He lets it be understood that on the confines of all human science, we are called he imposes no limit on this principle of progres-culties, and gives us only vague words with which upon to adopt a system which doubles these diffsive transmutation. From the simplest primitive germs or rudiments may be evolved, by what has been termed spontaneous generation, all the various forms of vegetable and animal organic life; the particular forms being determined by the conditions to which the germs are incidentally subjected; and the development, multiplication, and variation of species depending on the same contingencies, acting through unbounded time, and aided by certain principles of action and change within the beings thus developed. These principles, which have been variously termed appetencies, plastic powers, efforts of internal sentiment, subtle fluids, &c., betray in the outset the weakness of the system. They are phrases unmeaning in themselves ruinous to all true philosophy. Yet Lamarck, boldly appropriating them, pushes his conclusions into numerous particular instances of this presumed transmutation of species. That
We use the term anonymous here in reference to the volume entitled "Vestiges of Creation," well known to many of our readers, in which all that can be alleged on behalf of this doctrine, and more than can reasonably be alleged, is stated by the unknown writer with skilful plausibility, in language of great vigor and clearness. Those who first encounter the subject under his guidance ought to read also se of the able replies the work has provoked, and which have led the author in his later editions to adopt various modifications, not so explicitly acknowledged, we think, as they might have been.
to solve them. We are much inclined here to adopt the language of Cicero-Utinam tam facik vera invenire possim quam falsa convincere !
One familiar instance will often illustrate better than a thousand arguments. From the window at which we are sitting we see at this moment a large spider weaving its subtle web for the entanglement of its prey. The system before us supposes that some inferior organization feeling the appetency for this particular food, and the need the growth of that beautiful mechanism of strueof means for obtaining it, there thence resulted ture belonging to the spider, and that wonderful instinct by which the web is woven with such exquisite exactness and adaptation to its use. But this is not all-our speculator cannot rest here. The material of the web is a chemical compound of the most definite kind and definite purpose, and requires especial organs for its elaboration. This material must be alike provided for by the theory in question, and no subterfuge of phrases can save it from the demand. Thus taxed-and we might endlessly multiply such instances the doctrine becomes a nullity to our comprehension or use; and we may wisely acquiesce in that simpler and more intelligible view, which refers all these wonders of subordinate intelligence to the will and
ever present and active power of the great Author transmutation of species, or spontaneous generaof nature.
The relation of this particular question to the subject before us will now be obvious. Those of our readers who wish to pursue it further may refer to all that Cuvier has so admirably written on the permanence of species; to the works of Dr. Prichard; and to the excellent chapters in Lyell's "Principles of Geology," which we have placed at the head of this article. While we concur, however, with Sir C. Lyell in rejecting this theory as inadmissible in reason, we freely acknowledge that its discussion among men of science has done much to enlarge our views as to all that concerns the definition of species in nature, the conditions establishing their identity, and the changes more or less permanent of which they are susceptible, either from natural causes, from education, or from forced union with each other in the production of hybrids. The topic is one of deep interest, carrying us by divers paths into the midst of the most profound questions which can legitimately exercise our reason. It is associated closely with many of the natural sciences, as especially with all that relates to the physical history of man.
tion and present creation of new species, we might expect to find it among these minute and simple organisms, or germs, which seem to have some common relation to vegetable and animal life; and may be presumed more liable to change in evolution from the influences surrounding them. Yet we have no certain evidence of this having ever occurred, and many facts adverse to it. The sudden appearance of known species in new situations, accepted by some as a proof, shows only the exquisite minuteness of the primitive germs of life, and their tenacity of existence until the conditions occur necessary to evolve them. Of this tenacity we have proof in many remarkable cases, and it is probably in some inverse ratio to the elevation of the species.*
The questions which regard the individuality, the permanence, and the capacity for variation in species, are, however, so vast and various, that it would be vain for us to seek to discuss them in detail. They are, moreover, the subject of much recent controversy, resulting from the minute researches into the simpler primitive forms of animal and vegetable life, of which we have just spoken. Doubts have been started as to the actual existence of true species in nature; that is, of separate tribes of beings with specific organization and incapable of transmutation into one another; and though few have ventured as far as Lamarck, many have trodden on his traces, and resting on some singular
No one of common reflection can enter the walls of a great zoological museum without some sentiment of awe in looking on the innumerable forms of life around-cette richesse effrayante, as Cuvier well calls it, when speaking of insects alone as one class in the vast series. The won-phenomena of hybrids, particularly as disclosed in der is augmented when considering that this is only the visible world of life. The microscope has now disclosed to us the waters of the earth tenanted by hosts of living beings before unseen; and the most recent researches of Ehrenberg show the atmosphere around us peopled with genera and species not recognized by the most delicate human sense, yet probably affecting in various ways the physical condition of man.* If there be any real
*These researches, which are recorded in two or three
memoirs presented to the Berlin Academy of Sciences during the past year, appear to have been suggested to Ehrenberg by the prevalence of the cholera in Berlin towards the end of 1848. They offer the extraordinary result of nearly 400 species of organic life existing in different strata of the atmosphere as examined on this spot. Another memoir about the same time relates the singular phenomenon of a vivid vermilion matter, which, on the 26th of October, 1848, suddenly showed itself on the bread and other farinaceous substances in different parts of Berlin; and which was found, on examination, both there and in England, to consist of two fungi and one animal organism-the latter called by Ehrenberg the Menas prodigiosa. It is a curious, though presumably casual coincidence, that precisely the same phenomenon occurred in Philadelphia when the cholera was raging there in 1832. We have it in the relation of Quintus Curtius that during the siege of Tyre by Alexander the bread in the city was found suddenly stained with blood; a miracle then-now explained (as may be many similar phenomena of former times) in a manner scarcely less miraculous, but in accordance with the natural laws that pervade and govern the world.
the experiments of Weigmann and others on hybrid plants, have supposed the power of transmutation within a more limited range. It is curious to observe how closely some of these recent views approach to the discarded notions of the ancient philosophy. Atoms begin to have currency and favor again; and many a line of the magnificent poetry of Lucretius might be taken as the text of modern theory on these subjects. The definitions of species by Buffon, Cuvier, De Candolle, &c., though essentially alike as involving the facts of resemblance and constant reproduction of the same beings, are yet open to some critical cavil; and it has been doubted whether the term species might not be expediently exchanged for some other more free from ambiguity. We fully admit the influence of names upon things, and that "words do mightily entangle and pervert the
*The same general reasoning will apply to the seeming identity of the curious cellular structure which appears, from recent research, to form the nucleus of all the textures of organic life. That species so numerous and distinct are actually evolved from that structure, proves that there is an agent of life, independent of the cell, though working through it as an instrument or medium. It is conceivable that different combinations of cells may modify the result in the simpler forms of life. Such would seem to be the case in the recent observations of Professors Forbes and Steenstrup, commented upon by It is impossible not to suppose that these living organ- Professor Owen in his recent volume entitled "Parthenoisms, tenanting the atmosphere in which we ourselves genesis." But the cases of this kind hitherto made live, may have, in their existence and changes, many im-known are few in number-the effects, as far as we can portant effects on the human economy. Though not yet explicitly placed among the causes of disease, it is likely that future research will show them to be so. VOL. XXIV.
see, are only temporary-and the type of the species appears to be maintained ainidst the variations unpressed