페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

age; Post-glacial Dislocations and Foldings of Cretaceous and Drift Strata in the Island of Möen in Denmark; The Glacial Period in North America.

From these chapters we only make one extract; but we cannot help remarking that it was hardly necessary to have extended the subject of these chapters as the author has done. The following extract, we trust, is sound geology :

“I cannot doubt that these large erratics of Upsala were brought into their present position during the recent period, not only because of their moderate elevation above the sea level, in a country where the land is now rising every century, but because I observed signs of a great oscillation of level which had taken place at Södertelje, south of Stockholm, (about forty-five miles distant from Upsala), after the country had been inhabited by man. I described, in the Philosophical Transactions for 1835, the section there laid open in digging a level in 1819, which showed that a subsidence followed by a re-elevation of land each movement, amounting to more than sixty feet, had occurred since the time when a rude hut had been built on the ancient shore. The wooden frame of the hut, with a ring of hearthstones on the floor, and much charcoal were found, and over them marine strata, more than sixty feet thick, containing the dwarf variety of Mytilus edulis, and other brackish-water shells of the Bothnian Gulf Some vessels put together with wooden pegs, of anterior date to the use of metals, were also embedded in parts of the same marine formation, which has since been raised, so that the upper beds are more than sixty feet above the sea-level, the hut being thus restored to about its original position relatively to the sea.

Chapter the nineteenth is a recapitulation of “ the geological proofs of Man's Antiquity.”

“The opinion entertained, generally, by classical writers of Greece and Rome, that man in the first stage of his existence was but just removed from the brutes, is faithfully expressed by Horace in his celebrated lines, which begin:

Quum prorepserunt primis animalia terris:-Sat. lib. i, 399. The picture of transmutation given in these verses, however severe and contemptuous the strictures lavishly bestowed on it by Christian commentators, accord singularly with the train of thought which the modern doctrine of progressive development has encouraged. When animals,' he says, 'first crept forth from the newly formed earth, a dumb and filthy herd, they fought for acorns and lurking places with their nails and fists, then with clubs, and at last with arms, which, taught by experience, they had forged. They then invented names for things, and words to express their thoughts, after which they began to desist from war, to fortify cities, and enact laws.' They who in later times have embraced a similar theory, have been led to it by no deference to the opinions of their Pagan predecessors, but rather in spite of very strong prepossessions in favour of an opposite hypothesis, namely, that of the superiority of their original progenitors, of whom they believe themselves to be the corrupt and degenerate descendants. So far as they are guided by paleontology, they arrive at this result by an independent course of reasoning; but they have been conducted partly to the same goal as the ancients, by ethnological considerations common to both, or by reflecting in what darkness the infancy of every nation is enveloped, and that true history and chronology are the creation, as it were, of yesterday.”

Sir Charles Lyell must simply speak for himself when he talks of the “ corrupt and degenerate descendants.” The whole of this part of the extract is far from clear. This chapter ends with a reference to the late Sir G. C. Lewis's Astronomy of the Ancient and Early Egyptian Dates.

So far the work on the “ Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man” is completed; the remainder of the book treats on theories of progression and development. That subject has nothing to do with the antiquity of man. It is true, however, that no theory of development can be true without an enormous antiquity; but any amount of antiquity for the appearance of man or his works does not give any support to the theory of progressive transmutation. In taking leave of this work we feel bound to confess that Sir Charles has done his best to write a work which should be for the advancement of truth and the benefit of science. The time, however, has not yet arrived when a exhaustive treatise, like Sir Charles Lyell's attempt, could be written, If Sir C. Lyell would compile a small work purely on the geological evidence of the antiquity of man, he would be really doing good service, as such a work is now much needed. The present work is indis. pensable to the geologist, but it is far too diffuse for the public generally. The book, as it stands, would be greatly improved if the archæological evidence were omitted, such as the ancient account of the lake habi. tations and mounds, and especially the chapters on the development theories. Sir Charles writes as though it were only within the last few years that we had any reason to believe in a great antiquity for man. Anthropologists, however, have long been convinced that the recent origin of man rested simply on negative evidence, and they always anticipated that time and researches would bring to light the remains of man with the extinct mammalia. All the conditions of man's existence were then in operation, and every branch of Anthropology indicated a very considerable antiquity for man's first appearance; and the following extract from Steffen's Anthropologie, published more than forty years ago, will show what was held by Anthropologists at that period, and we believe by nearly all the leading writers, not excepting Dr. Prichard, since that time.

“The question arises, has this vast catastrophe occurred before or after the creation of man? According to the opinion of our naturalists the inquiry is perfectly useless. They are all convinced that the revolution which destroyed the monstrous animals took place before man's advent, and they support their opinions by the circumstance that no anthropoliths (petrifactions of man), are to be found. Recent discoveries have raised great doubts on this subject. There is one circumstance which must not be overlooked. Animals are more fettered by certain conditions, especially limited as they are to certain kinds of food. A beast of prey, though driven by hunger, cannot live on plants, nor will an elephant consume animal food. The sud. den change of external conditions rendered the extinction of these animals imperative. Not so with man. Just as at present, he can live in every climate, and feed on animals or plants, so could he then. He had also the power of saving himself from destruction by ascending the hills. We must, therefore, not wonder if human bones are very rare. I take it to be a fact that the human race existed before the great catastrophe which destroyed a gigantic vegetation and monstrous mammals.”

In conclusion, we have only again to express our high sense of the value of Sir Charles Lyell's book, and our pleasure that it has already reached a second edition.

WILSON'S PRE-HISTORIC MAN.*

Dr. Wilson is known by his Pre-Historic Annals of Scotland, published some years ago. He was a practised archæologist, familiar with the antiquities of Great Britain, before he accepted a professorship in University College, Toronto. A full acquaintance with a well-worked field in the Old World was, of course, a most useful introduction to the study of American Ethnology, and his previous experience gives him the power, often wanting among American antiquaries, of explaining and classing facts by reference to the archæology of other regions.

It is, however, most unfortunate that Dr. Wilson should have undertaken in his present work a task more fitted for the crowning labour of such a life as Humboldt's, than for the occupation of the leisure hours of an antiquary, whose solid basis of knowledge consists only in a familiarity with the archæology of Great Britain, and of that

Pre-Historic Man; Researches into the Origin of Civilization in the Old and the New World. By Daniel Wilson, LL.D., Cambridge. London: Macmillan, 1862.

part of North America which lies above the tropics. As to Mexico, Central America, and South America, he mostly compiles from wellknown authors, and though his observations are often highly amusing and instructive, they are not what so important a subject demands, the well-digested opinions of a student thoroughly acquainted with all that has been already done by workers in the same field.

The first volume contains (chapter viii) the best description we have met with of the ancient workings of the native copper veins of Lake Superior, drawn from personal investigation as well as books, Dr. Wilson demolishes the notion, so often entertained in America, that the old copper-workers had some other means of hardening tools of native copper than hammering them, and describes well the simple processes they must have employed by cracking the rock by fire, and getting the copper clear by beating with stone hammers. It is to be observed that he believes the greater copper-workings to have been done, not by the present race of Indians, but probably by the extinct race known as the Mound-Builders, who have left remains so remarkable for size, symmetry, and number, in the valleys of the Mississippi and its tributaries. These mound-builders Dr. Wilson discusses at length, drawing his information, of course, for the most part, from Squier and Davis, in vol. i of the Smithsonian Contributions, and attacking energetically the theory supported by some American antiquaries, as, for example, Schoolcraft, who thus sums up his opinion on this subject at the end of his great work : “The mound-builders were the ancestors of the existing Indian race. The theory of there having been prior races of superior civilization and arts, has no countenance from examinations made in his work” (Part 111, p. 393). Dr. Wilson's view is exactly contrary to this, and we think the best of the argument is on his side. He dwells upon the importance of their earthworks used for defence and worship, so different from their mean representatives among the modern Indians; the accuracy of their squares and circles in works many acres in area; the curious correspondence of their dimensions in different parts of the country, which makes it likely, though not certain, that they had a unit of measurement; their remarkable sacrificial system; the extraordinary excellence of their characteristic pipe sculpture, etc.

When Dr. Wilson quits the beaten track of Squier and Davis, and strikes into a new path of his own, he gets, in one instance at least, upon what seems to us very unsafe ground. Certain copper bracelets occur in a mound, which Squier and Davis describe (p. 204-5) as "of uniform size and weight,” and which “ weigh four ounces each,"

and Dr. Wilson says that they “when perfect weigh exactly four ounces each. This becomes a proof to his mind that the mouldbuilders knew the art of weighing, which even the Aztecs did not possess. At least in vol. ii, p. 453, he sets down, on the strength of this, “standard weights," as known to the inhabitants of North America. The assumption seems to us to rest on no sure foundation, at least so far as Dr. Wilson gives the data. The bracelets appear to have belonged to one person, so that there is nothing very surpris, ing in their being pretty nearly alike; but Dr. Wilson does not give the weight in grains, and the even quantity, four ounces, shows how rough the observation is. He may have formed his opinion upon more accurate evidence than this, but, if so, this evidence should have been given.

We find Dr. Wilson repeating the usual statement in describing the evidences of commerce with distant parts found in the moundbuilders' tumuli; "objects formed from the mica of the Alleghanies, and the native copper of Lake Superior, mingling with others made of the obsidian of Mexico, or modelled from tropical fauna of the southern continent” (vol. i, p. 223). The latter important point is treated at p. 476, etc., but we think does not rest on sufficient evidence; and the same objection holds as to the “obsidian of Mexico," which might be supposed to prove intercourse, direct or indirect, between the mound-builders and the Mexicans. But obsidian is not only found but used by the natives for weapons, etc., in other places on the Continent, and why may not this obsidian have come from Northern California or Oregon?

The chapters in this work headed “The American Cranial Type" and “ Artificial Cranial Distortion” are verbose, superficial, and unsatisfactory. It is difficult to give any intelligible account of the wilderness of undigested facts which are comprised in the hundred and twenty-five weary pages on the subject. Suffice it to say, that we have carefully examined Dr. Wilson's compilation, and fail to perceive either a single new fact, or a single old one placed in an intelligible and instructive form. Moreover, it is but too evident that the author has not taken care to render himself familiar with the best authorities on the subject. He adopts the careless and inaccurate observations of Mr. J. H. Blake, and gives a figure of a skull (p. 242) which he terms a “well proportioned symmetrical skull, unaltered by any artificial appliances.” This skull appears to us merely an example of Forille's tête annulaire, and undoubtedly due to circularconstriction behind the coronal suture. The manner in which the

« 이전계속 »