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ON THE RELATIONS OF MAN TO THE INFERIOR
PROFESSOR HUXLEY has recently published a small volume of essays which seem destined to create no little sensation amongst the British public. Whatever, however, may be its present popularity, it is not a work like Darwin's Origin of Species, born to a somewhat enduring fame. Professor Huxley has lost a grand chance of now producing a book which would be for a quarter of a century connected with his name; but instead of writing a serious and painstaking work he has published three very incomplete essays. We are sorry for Professor Huxley's fame that he should have done this ; because the time has, perhaps, now come when a great deal of the evidence on this subject could be brought together. However, the work is published, and we must now give our readers some account of its contents. The first chapter is on the natural history of the man-like apes, chiefly taken from Dr. Savage and Mr. Wallace. We then have a note, with a well-known woodcut from Pigafetta, respecting African cannibalism in the sixteenth century. We have only to observe that this is most unnecessarily introduced at this place. Then comes the second, and most important chapter in the book, on the relation of man to the lower animals.
We shall let Professor Huxley, as far as possible, speak for himself. He thus introduces this subject.
“ The question of questions for mankind- the problem which underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any otheris the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies in nature and of his relations 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 into the world. 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 featherbed 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 contem
* Man's Place in Nature, by T. H. Huxley, 1863.
poraries, and unmindful of thorns and stumbling blocks, strike out into paths of their own. The sceptics end in the infidelity which asserts the problem to be insoluble, or in the atheism which denies the existence of any orderly progress and governance of things : the men of genius propound solutions which grow into systems of Theology or of Philosophy, or veiled in musical language which suggests more than it asserts, take the shape of the Poetry of an epoch.
“ Each such answer to the great question, invariably asserted by the followers of its propounder, if not by himself, to be complete and final, remains in high authority and esteem, it may be for one century, or it may be for twenty : but, as invariably, Time proves each reply to have been a mere approximation to the truth-tolerable chiefly on account of the ignorance of those by whom it was accepted, and wholly intolerable when tested by the larger knowledge of their successors.
“In a well-worn metaphor, a parallel is drawn between the life of man and the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly; but the comparison may be more just as well as more novel, if for its former term we take the mental progress of the race. History shows that the human mind, fed by constant accessions of knowledge, perio. dically grows too large for its theoretical coverings, and bursts them asunder to appear in new habiliments, as the feeding and growing grub, at intervals, casts its too narrow skin and assumes another, itself but temporary Truly the imago state of Man seems to be terribly distant, but every moult is a step gained, and of such there have been many.
“Since the revival of learning, whereby the Western races of Europe were enabled to enter upon that progress towards true knowledge, which was commenced by the philosophers of Greece, but was almost arrested in subsequent long ages of intellectual stagnation, or, at most, gyration, the human larva has been feeding vigorously, and moulting in proportion. A skin of some dimension was cast in the sixteenth century, and another towards the end of the eighteenth, while, within the last fifty years, the extraordinary growth of every department of physical science has spread among us mental food of so nutritious and stimulating a character that a new ecdysis seems imminent. But this is a process not unusually accompanied by many throes and some sickness and debility, or, it may be, by graver disturbances; so that every good citizen must feel bound to facilitate the process, and even if he have nothing but a scalpel to work withal, to ease the cracking integument to the best of his ability.”
After touching on the development of the lower vertebrate animals, “one turns with impatience to inquire what results are yielded by the study of the development of man. Is he something apart ?”
Professor Huxley continues.
“It is quite certain that the Ape which most nearly approaches man, in the totality of its organization, is either the Chimpanzee or the Gorilla ; and as it makes no practical difference, for the purposes of my present argument, which is selected for comparison, on the one hand, with Man, and on the other hand, with the rest of the Primates, I shall select the latter (so far as its organization is known)as a brute now so celebrated in prose and verse, that all must have heard of him, and have formed some conception of his appearance. I shall take up as many of the most important points of difference between man and this remarkable creature, as the space at my disposal will allow me to discuss, and the necessities of the argument demand; and I shall inquire into the value and magnitude of these differences, when placed side by side with those which separate the Gorilla from other animals of the same order.
“In the general proportions of the body and limbs there is a remarkable difference between the Gorilla and Man, which at once strikes the eye. The Gorilla's brain-case is smaller, its trunk larger, its lower limbs shorter, its upper limbs longer in proportion than those of Man.
“I find that the vertebral column of a full grown Gorilla, in the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, measures 27 inches along its anterior curvature, from the upper edge of the atlas, or first vertebra of the neck, to the lower extremity of the sacrum; that the arm, without the hand, is 31} inches long; that the leg, without the foot, is 264 inches long; that the hand is 94 inches long; the foot 111 inches long.
“In other words, taking the length of the spinal column as 100, the arm equals 115, the leg 96, the hand 36, and the foot 41.
“In the skeleton of a male Bosjesman, in the same collection, the proportions, by the same measurement, to the spinal column, taken as 100, are—the arm 78, the leg 110, the hand and the foot 32. In a woman of the same race the arm is 83, and the leg 120, the hand and foot remaining the same. In a European skeleton I find the arm to be 80, the leg 117, the hand 26, and the foot 35.
"Thus the leg is not so different as it looks as first sight, in its proportions to the spine in the Gorilla and in the Man-being very slightly shorter than the spine in the former, and between 1-10th and 1-5th longer than the spine in the latter. The foot is longer and the hand much longer in the Gorilla; but the great difference is caused by the arms, which are very much longer than the spine in the Gorilla, very much shorter than the spine in Man.
"The question now arises how are the other apes related to the Gorilla in these respects-taking the length of the spine, measured in the same way, at 100. In an adult Chimpanzee, the arm is only 96, the leg 90, the hand 43, the foot 39——so that the hand and the leg depart more from the human proportion and the arm less, while the foot is about the same as in the Gorilla.
“In the Orang, the arms are very much longer than in the Gorilla (122), while the legs are shorter (88); the foot is longer than the hand (52 and 48), and both are much longer in proportion to the spine.
"In the other man-like Apes again, the Gibbons, these proportions are still further altered; the length of the arms being to that of the spinal column as 19 to 11; while the legs are also a third longer than the spinal column, so as to be longer than in Man, instead of shorter. The hand is half as long as the spinal column, and the foot, shorter than the hand, is about 5-11ths of the length of the spinal column.
“ Thus Hylobates is as much longer in the arms than the Gorilla, as the Gorilla longer in the arms than Man; while, on the other hand, it is as much longer in the legs than the Man, as the Man is longer in the legs than the Gorilla, so that it contains within itself the extremest deviations from the average length of both pairs of limbs.
“The Mandrill presents a middle condition, the arms and legs being nearly equal in length, and both being shorter than the spinal column; while hand and foot have nearly the same proportions to one another and to the spine, as in man.
“ In the Spider monkey, (Ateles) the leg is longer than the spine, and the arm than the leg; and, finally, in that remarkable Lemurine form, the Indri, (Lichanotus) the leg is about as long as the spinal column, while the arm is not more than 11-18ths of its length; the hand having rather less and the foot rather more, than one-third the length of the spinal column.
“These examples 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."
After touching on the difference of human crania, the author observes :
“Thus, even in the important matter of cranial capacity, Men differ more widely from one another than they do from the Apes; while the lowest Apes differ as much, in proportion, from the highest, as the latter does from Man. The last proposition is still better illustrated by the study of the modifications which other parts of the cranium undergo in the Simian series."
A comparative examination is then made of the dental characters, the hand, and the foot of man and apes. When speaking of the brain of man, the author observes :
" When the gravest errors respecting points so easily settled as this question respecting the posterior lobes, can be authoritatively propounded, it is no wonder that matters of observation, of no very complex character, but still requiring a certain amount of care, should have fared worse. Any one who cannot see the posterior lobe in an ape's brain is not likely to give a very valuable opinion respecting the posterior cornu or the hippocampus minor. If a man cannot see church, it is preposterous to take his opinion about its altar-piece or painted window so that I do not feel bound to enter upon any discussion of these points, but content myself with assuring the reader that the posterior cornu and the hippocampus minor, have now been seen-usually, at least as well developed as in man, and often betternot only in the Chimpanzee, the Orang, and the Gibbon, but in all
the genera of the old world baboons and monkeys, and in most of the new world forms, including the Marmosets.
“In fact, all the abundant and trustworthy evidence (consisting of the results of careful investigations directed to the determination of these very questions, by skilled anatomists), which we now possess, leads to the conviction that, so far from the posterior lobe, the posterior cornu, and the hippocampus minor, being structures peculiar to and characteristic of man, as they have been over and over again asserted to be, even after the publication of the clearest demonstration of the reverse, it is precisely these structures which are the most marked cerebral characters common to man with the apes. They are among the most distinctly Simian peculiarities which the human organism exhibits.”
Again, we read.
“So far as cerebral structure goes, therefore, it is clear that Man differs less from the Chimpanzee or the Orang, than these do even from the Monkeys, and that the difference between the brains of the Chimpanzee and of Man is almost insignificant, when compared with that between the Chimpanzee brain and that of a Lemur.
“ It must not be overlooked, however, that there is a very striking difference in absolute mass and weight between the lowest human brain and that of the highest ape-a difference which is all the more remarkable when we recollect that a full grown Gorilla is probably pretty nearly twice as heavy as a Bosjesman, or as many an European woman. It may be doubted whether a healthy human adult brain ever weighed less than thirty-one or -two ounces, or that the heaviest Gorilla brain has exceeded twenty ounces.
« This 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; but it has little systematic value, for the simple reason that, as may be concluded from what has already been said respecting cranial capacity, the difference in 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.”
On this subject, Professor Huxley makes the following note, which will afford a subject for future discussion.
“I say help to furnish: for I by no means believe 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. It is no doubt perfectly true, in a certain sense, that all difference of function is a result of difference of structure; or, in other words, of difference in the combination of the primary molecular forces of living substance; and, starting from this undeniable axiorn, objectors occasionally, and with much seeming plausibility, argue that the vast intellectual chasm between the Ape and Man implies a corresponding structural chasm in the organs of the intellectual functions; so that, it is said, the non