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MAN AND BEAST.
LINNÆus begins his division of the animal world in this way: A. Mammalia ; I. Primates : (1) Homo, a. diurnus—man; b. nocturnus—orang-outang and chimpanzee; (2.) Simia ; (3) Lemur; (4) Vespertilio, etc. More modern zoologists give the following division : A. Vertebrata ; I. Mammalia; (1) Man; (2) Apes, etc.
This division is as objectionable as possible. Man does not form a species which is co-ordinate with the apes, and which can be classed with these and other animals as units of the higher terms mammals and vertebrata. The only higher term in which both man and animals can be comprised is animal in the sense of a living visible being. The first division which can be made according to this theory is animal, rational and irrational ; for the fact that man is a being gifted with reason is undoubtedly more fitted to be used as differentia specifica than the fact that he has a vertebral column and brings forth living young. It is much more correct to say, with Isidor Geoffroy St. Hilaire,
1“Very eminent zoologists think that because the children of men come into the world alive, and are suckled, and because man's anatomical structure resembles that of the mammals, he is nothing but a mammal with two feet and two hands. There lies between man and the most reasonable (1) animal an immeasurable gulf which can never be bridged over by any other creature. The spiritual power which certainly forms part of the organization is nowhere displayed more clearly in man than in his recognition of the all-powerful Creator, in his power of investigating the laws of the immense universe, and of using the forces of nature for his
province in nature which is distinguished from the animal world just as clearly as and even more clearly than the animal world is distinguished from the vegetable or mineral worlds.
But the question as to man's rightful place in the system of nature is comparatively unimportant when we consider the efforts which have been made to connect man genealogically with animals in general and with apes in particular. I need not discuss the earlier efforts to prove this, made by Lamarck, the author of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, and others, because this question has been more fully and in a certain sense more fundamentally debated recently than was even possible in former times. The theory that man is related to the ape has not only received fresh support from the development in the theory of descent which has taken place since it was first promulgated by Darwin, but has also been apparently strengthened by the fact that in the last few decades we have acquired more knowledge of the apes which most resemble man, the so-called anthropoid apesthe gibbon and the orang in South-eastern Asia, the chimpanzee and the gorilla in Western Africa.”
service.”—H. von Meyer, Die Reptilien, etc. p. 115. Giebel, Tagesfragen, p. 50, says: “According to his essential zoological characteristics man is a mammal, and a mammal with nails, whose little toe is furnished with a nail ;” but on p. 58 he adds: “The essential part of man is his spirit, and in comparison with this the zoological characteristics lose their importance. Things can only be compared with their equals, stones with stones, plants with plants, animals with animals, and man with man,"
1 Unité de l'espèce hum, p. 15; Rapport, p. 71.
Darwin himself, as I have said before, only extended his theory of descent specially to man in his later work “ The Descent of Man," which appeared in 1871. His followers propounded this development of his theory even before he did. Huxley discussed the question in 1863 in a very learned book, which, as we must acknowledge with praise, is written without any of the frivolity so disagreeable in others ; on the contrary it is earnest and, in so far as is compatible with its tendency, exalted in tone. After him Vogt discussed the subject in his Vorlesungen über den Menschen. A writer in criticizing this book” observes : “Any one who knows Karl Vogt will guess even before he has cut the two volumes that he seizes on this relationship to the ape with great gusto. And in fact he sometimes seems to have a cannibal delight in it. But,” adds the writer truly, “one could not be prepared for his really admirable portrayal of the differences between men and apes. We have never read anything more exhaustive on this question ; we have never felt more deeply the enormous gulf which divides us from
1 At first man was only included in the circle of observation in order to make the theory consistent; but it was very natural that when once this step had been taken, efforts should be made to justify it by facts. In a short time so many observations were forthcoming, all of which seemed so undoubtedly to prove that the lord of creation was descended from the mammals most nearly related to him, that a great deal of prejudice and stupidity seemed to be required in order to dispute this new doctrine. Some even went so far as to assert that no real difference existed between man and the ape. The more decided these statements are, the more are we justified in inquiring whether they are founded on fact. No doubt in doing this we occasionally get rather strange notions of the proceedings of exact science, for we find that in reality what it gives us as proofs of the most startling conclusions are really only unconnected and sometimes simply contradictory fragments. Aeby, Die Schädelformen, p. 71.
? Ausland, 1864, p. 697.
the most highly organized animals, than in reading the pages of this atheistic cynic.” This is not a joke, but sober earnest, and although a little exaggerated is on the whole correct. I shall often make use of Vogt's description in what follows. But, as we have seen, Hæckel is the most enthusiastic preacher of the doctrine of man's relationship to the ape. Many writers of lesser note and bookmakers have joined these three principal allies of Darwin.
Most of those who defend the theory of man's relationship to the apes think it well to begin or to end their argument by assuring us that there is nothing lowering or disgraceful to man in their theory. Hæckel even says that it will “ everywhere have an enlightening and ennobling effect, and thus will lead men more and more towards their eternal goal through the light of truth to the joy of liberty.” “There is one thought,” says another apostle of this doctrine, “ which reconciles us to the conclusions of science so startling to human feeling; man is not descended from the ape, this form was the last he broke through, the last veil he threw off, the mark beneath which the finer form developed, as the butterfly from its chrysalis, which came from the caterpillar as did the caterpillar from the egg. Thus everything in nature becomes a parable, because one law governs the whole.» Natural science places man just as high as do the philosopher and the poet; but natural science alone can trace the way by which he has attained to this height. When we see at the height of his fame a man who was born in a poor cottage, and has attained to might and happiness through his own efforts, do we not admire him much more than the man who boasts of his inherited riches. So it is with our race. For this reason we are not ashamed to look back into the past; it is our surest proof of a better future. We have ideals beyond our own nature, but we try to reach them, and we can in reality approach them. Is not the golden age, which our poets sing of as a lost good, as a past splendour, and also as an undeserved happiness, is not that golden age more beautiful if it lies before instead of behind us, if we must first win that which we have never possessed ?”.
1 Entstehung, pp. 35, 36.
2 Schaaffhausen in the Archiv für Anthropologie, ii. 336, 340 ; cf. Darwin, Descent of Man ; Strauss, Der alte und der neue Glaube, p. 194.
3 “The frog is but a humble offshoot of the main line terminating in the Primates. There is something more like a lineal predecessor of the order in the Labyrinthodon of Owen, that massive batrachian which leaves its hand-like footsteps in the new red sandstone, and then is seen no more. Not for nothing is it that we start at the picture of that strange impression,-ghost of anticipated humanity,--for apparently it really is 80. In these things the superficial thinker will only see matter of ridicule; the large-hearted and truly devout man, who puts nothing of nature away from him, will, on the contrary, discover in them interesting traces of the ways of God to man, and a deeper breathing of the lesson that whatever lives is to him kindred.” — Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, 6th ed. p. 217.
No Christian at any rate will be able to tranquillize himself with such edifying thoughts as these, and if it were as true as it is false that man's descent from the beast is “a scientific conclusion,” with this would vanish, as Frohschammer and others have well said, not only the poets' descriptions of the Golden Age, but also the Christian doctrines of the creation, and the original state of man. Theologians therefore have every reason, not to “ become enthusiastic about the
i Das Christenthum, p. 126.