« PreviousContinue »
conclusion on the origin of Man, is the high standard of intellectual power, and of the moral disposition which he has attained.” Yet to this, his greatest difficulty, he gives in his book but a few pages' consideration. He has brought forward a number of facts to prove the similarity of the human frame and that of animals. But proximity is not identity. For Man's individuality is asserted by his unlikeness to the lower animals. If there is so little difference in body why is there so vast a difference in mind ? “For after all,” says Plato, “it is the mind which makes the man.” As far as regards intelligence the dog is much nearer to man than the ape. If Mr. Darwin's theory is true, our study of humanity must be made entirely from another stand-point. We must regard him, not as a “little lower than the angels," but as a little higher than the beast. Instead of studying him in his highest and noblest attributes we must trace him downwards, evolving slowly from a dot of animated jelly. If Science repudiates miracles, what a miracle is this! If Faith has its enigmas, what enigmas are here! Mr. Darwin finds his theory of Natural Selection when applied to Man imperfect, and he has added another important agency, or, we might say, he has developed
new theory, which he calls “ Sexual Selection ;" for he now acknowledges that in his former works “he attributed too much to the action of Natural Selection.” These chapters on Sexual Selection are very interesting in themselves ; for we have a minute account of the “loves of insects," "the loves of fishes, of birds, and of mammals," reminding us of his grandfather, who wrote a poem on
“ The Loves of the Plants” and who
also had his curious speculations on the origin of Life. One of his speculations was “that the first insects were the anthers or the stigmas of flowers, which had by some means loosed themselves from their parent plant, and that many other insects have in long process of time been formed from these, some acquiring wings, others claws, and others fins, from their ceaseless efforts to procure their food, or to secure themselves from injury."
Nursed in such speculations as these, it is no wonder that his grandson should have inherited the same ideas, and, with his far greater scientific knowledge, should have pushed his theories in the same direction. As we said before, Mr. Darwin has but briefly treated that part of his subject which points to the great distinction between man and the lower animals, viz., in the higher mental qualities of "abstraction, individuality, and selfconsciousness.” Mr. Darwin evades this difficulty by saying that “it would be useless to attempt discussing these higher qualities, which, according to several recent writers, make the sole and complete distinction between man and the brutes, for hardly two authors agree in their definitions." This mode of reasoning is most unsatisfactory and unscientific. For he looks almost exclusively upon the animal side of man's nature, and nearly loses sight of what chiefly distinguishes him from the lower animals—his moral and religious sentiments. And if man has a soul, with all its glorious attributes, it would be interesting to know, according to Mr. Darwin's theory, how he became possessed of it. Did he acquire it by Natural or Sexual Selection ? This is a question Mr.
Darwin does not once raise, much less attempt to solve.
The highest and noblest attributes of man are attributed to mere animal instincts. For instance, he does not rest morality upon any immutable laws-his conceptions of right and wrong are based upon instinctive impulses, which vary according to circumstances. “If," says he, to take an extreme case, “men were reared under precisely the same conditions as hive bees, there can be no doubt that our unmarried females would, like the working bees, think it a sacred duty to kill their brothers, and mothers would strive to kill their fertile daughters, and no one would think of interfering." And yet after this Mr. Darwin can quote with admiration Kant's words —“Duty! wondrous thought, that workest neither by fond insinuation, flattery, nor by any threat, but merely by holding up the naked law in the soul, and so extorting for thyself always reverence, if not always obedience; before which all appetites are dumb, however secretly they rebel.”
Mr. Darwin admits that the difference between the mental powers of men and of all other animals is enor. mous, even when we contrast the mind of one of the lowest savages with that of the most highy organized ape; and, according to Mr. Wallace, “the brain of the savage is vastly superior to any of the iower animals in size and complexity; and this brain gives him, in an undeveloped state, faculties which he never requires to use.” “The savage,” says Dr. Reid, “hath within him the seeds of the logician, the man of taste and breeding, the orator, the statesman, the man of virtue, and the saint. Nature hath planted the seeds in our minds, and left the rearing of them to human culture.” Mr. Darwin would seem to, admit this, for he says—"The Fuegians rank among the lowest barbarians, but I was continually struck with surprise how closely the three natives on board H.M.'s ship 'Beagle,' who had lived some years in England, and could talk a little English, resembled us in disposition, and in most of our mental faculties.”
“Man alone,” says Archbishop Sumner, “is capable of progressive improvement." The savage, when young, is susceptible of educational influences; you can make a reasonable being of him, but try to educate a young monkey, and if Mr. Darwin's theory is true, this might be worthy of the consideration of our School Boards. And if we cannot educate them, how did they educate one another?' Sydney Smith humorously says" I feel so sure that the blue ape without a tail will never rival us in poetry, painting, and music, that I see no reason whatever why justice may not be done to the few fragments of soul and tatters of understanding which they may really possess. I have sometimes felt a little uneasy at Exeter 'Change from contrasting the monkeys with the 'prentice boys who are teasing them; but a few pages of Locke, or a few lines of Milton, have always restored me to tranquillity, and convinced me that the superiority of man had nothing to fear.” Respecting language, Mr. Darwin says that the mental powers in some early progenitors of man must have been more highly developed than in any existing ape before the most imperfect form of speech could have come into use. For he admits that there can be no language without thought. Now, this is
the missing link. Where is the trace of these intermediate animals? They belong only to his imagination. For science at present gives us no more trace of any such individuals than it does of the vile conception of the race of Yahoos, which emanated from Swift's brain, unless we go back and give credence to some of the monsters we find in Pliny's Natural History, where, among other wonders, he describes some of the fables of Grecian travellers, “ such as the existence of headless and mouthless men, men with only one foot, and men with very long ears ;” and if they ever existed, they must have shared the fate of the Kilkenny cats, without leaving even a vestige. of their tails.
Now, according to the principle of Natural Selection, some of these races ought to have survived. How is it that the monkey survives while "a series of forms graduating insensibly from some ape-like creature to man,” are destroyed ? According to his hypothesis, the strongest should survive ; according to his facts the strongest have perished.
It is in these higher mental qualities, which Mr. Darwin nearly ignores, we place the wide and impassable gulf between man and the brute, which science at present cannot bridge over. And the question arises: Is the savage the original or the degenerate man ? Is the rude maker of flint implements the original being into whose nostrils was breathed “the breath of life"-the man whom we have been taught was created in the image of his Maker ? And the question to be solved also is this: Did man acquire the moral and religious sense through his animal nature, or was it implanted in him by a higher