Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

I.—THE DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RACES UNDER THE

LAW OF SELECTION.
II.—THE LIMITS OF NATURAL SELECTION AS APPLIED

ΤΟ ΜΑΝ. .

NEW IIAVEN, CONN. :
CHARLES C. CIIATFIELD & CO.

1871.

[blocks in formation]

THE ACTION OF

Natural Selection on Man.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF HUMAN RACES UNDER THE LAW OF NATURAL SELECTION.

Among the most advanced students of man, there exists a wide difference of opinion on some of the most vital questions respecting his nature and origin. Anthropologists are now, indeed, pretty well agreed that man is not a recent introduction into the earth. All who have studied the question now admit that his antiquity is very great; and that, though we have to some extent ascertained the minimum of time during which he must have existed, we have made no approximation towards determining that far greater period during which he may have, and probably has existed. We can with tolerable certainty affirm that man must have inhabited the earth a thousand centuries ago, but we cannot assert that he positively did not exist, or that there is any good evidence against his having existed, for a period of ten thousand centuries. We know positively that he was contemporaneous with many now extinct animals, and has survived changes of the earth's sur

face fifty or a hundred times greater than any that have occurred during the historical period; but we cannot place any definite limit to the number of species he may have outlived, or to the amount of terrestrial change he « may have witnessed.

WIDE DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AS TO MAN'S ORIGIN.

But while on this question of man's antiquity there is a very general agreement,--and all are waiting eagerly for fresh evidence to clear up those points which all admit to be full of doubt,-on other, and not less obscure and difficult questions, a considerable amount of dogmatism is exhibited ; doctrines are put forward as established truths, no doubt or hesitation is admitted, and it seems to be supposed that no other further evidence is required, or that any new facts can modify our convictions. This is especially the case when we inquireAre the various forms under which man now exists primitive, or derived from pre-existent forms; in other words, is man of one or many species ? To this question we immediately obtain distinct answers diametrically opposed to each other : the one party positively maintaining that man is a species and is essentially onethat all differences are but local and temporary variations, produced by the different physical and moral conditions by which he is surrounded ; the other party maintaining with equal confidence, that man is a genus of many species, each of which is practically unchangeable, and has ever been as distinct, or even more distinct, than we now behold them. This difference of opinion is somewhat remarkable, when we consider that both parties are well acquainted with the subject; both use the same vast accumulation of facts; both reject those

early traditions of mankind which profess to give an account of his origin; and both declare that they are seeking fearlessly after truth alone ; yet each will persist in looking only at the portion of truth on his own side of the question, and at the error which is mingled with his opponent's doctrine. It is my wish to show how the two opposing views can be combined, so as to eliminate the error and retain the truth in each, and it is by means of Mr. Darwin's celebrated theory of Natural Selection” that I hope to do this, and thus to harmonize the conflicting theories of modern anthropologists.

Let us first see what each party has to say for itself. In favor of the unity of mankind it is argued, that there are no races without transitions to others; that every race exhibits within itself variations of color, of hair, of feature, and of form, to such a degree as to bridge over, to a large extent, the gap that separates it from other races. It is asserted that no race is homogeneous ; that there is a tendency to vary; the climate, food, and habits produce, and render permanent, physical peculiarities, which, though slight in the limited periods allowed to our observation, would, in the long ages during which the human race has existed, have sufficed to produce all the differences that now appear. It is further asserted that the advocates of the opposite theory do not agree among themselves; that some would make three, some five, some fifty or a hundred and fifty species of man; some would have had each species created in pairs, while others require nations to have at once sprung into existence, and that there is no stability or consistency in any doctrine but that of one primitive stock.

The advocates of the original diversity of man, on the

« EelmineJätka »