Page images
PDF
EPUB

volume of brain is one, and perhaps the most important, measure of intellect ; and this being the case, we cannot fail to be struck with the apparent anomaly, that many of the lowest savages should have as much brains as average Europeans. The idea is suggested of a surplusage of power; of an instrument beyond the needs of its possessor. Comparison of the Brains of Man and of Anthropoid Apes.—In order to discover if there is any foundation for this notion, let us compare the brain of man with hat of animals. The adult male Orang-utan is quite as bulky as a small sized man, while the Gorilla is considerably above the average size of man, as estimated by bulk and weight; yet the former has a brain of only 28 cubic inches, the latter, one of 30, or, in the largest specimen yet known, of 34} cubic inches. We have seen that the average cranial capacity of the lowest savages is probably not less than five-sivths of that of the highest civilized races, while the brain of the anthropoid apes scarcely amounts to one-third of that of man, in both cases taking the average; or the proportions may be more clearly represented by the following figures—anthropoid apes, 10; savages, 26; civilized man, 32. But do these figures at all approximately represent the relative intellect of the three groups? Is the Savage really no further removed from the philosopher, and so much removed from the ape, as these figures would indicate? In considering this question, we must not forget that the heads of savages vary in size, almost as much as those of civilized Europeans. Thus, while the largest Teutonic skull in Dr. Davis’ collection is 1124 cubic inches, there is an Araucanian of 115-5, an Esquimaux of 113-1, a Marquesan of 110-6, a Negro of 105-8, and even an Australian of 104.5 cubic inches. We may, therefore, fairly compare the savage with the highest European on the one side, and with the Orang, Chimpanzee, or Gorilla, on the other, and see whether there is any relative proportion between brain and intellect. Range of intellectual power in Man.—First, let us consider what this wonderful instrument, the brain, is capable of in its higher developments. In Mr. Galton's interesting work on “Hereditary Genius,” he remarks on the enormous difference between the intellectual power and grasp of the well-trained mathematician or man of science, and the average Englishman. The number of marks obtained by high wranglers, is often more than thirty times as great as that of the men at the bottom of the honour list, who are still of fair mathematical ability; and it is the opinion of skilled examiners, that even this does not represent the full difference of intellectual power. If, now, we descend to those savage tribes who only count to three or five, and who find it impossible to comprehend the addition of two and three without having the objects actually before them, we feel that the chasm between them and the good mathematician is so vast, that a thousand to one will probably not fully express it. Yet we know that the mass of brain might be nearly the same in both, or might not differ in a greater proportion than as 5 to 6; whence we may fairly infer that the savage possesses a brain capable, if cultivated and developed, of performing work of a kind and degree far beyond what he ever requires it to do. Again, let us consider the power of the higher or even the average civilized man, of forming abstract ideas, and carrying on more or less complex trains of reasoning. Our languages are full of terms to express abstract conceptions. Our business and our pleasures involve the continual foresight of many contingencies. Our law, our government, and our science, continually require us to reason through a variety of complicated phenomena to the expected result. Even our games, such as chess, compel us to exercise all these faculties in a remarkable degree. Compare this with the savage languages, which contain no words for abstract conceptions; the utter want of foresight of the savage man beyond his simplest necessities; his inability to combine, or to compare, or to reason on any general subject that does not immediately appeal to his senses. So, in his moral and aesthetic faculties, the savage has none of those wide sympathies with all nature, those conceptions of the infinite, of the good, of the sublime and beautiful, which are so largely developed in civilized man. Any considerable development of these would, in fact, be useless or even hurtful to him, since they would to some extent interfere with the supremacy of those perceptive and animal faculties on which his very existenee often depends, in the severe struggle he has to carry on against nature and his fellow-man. Yet the rudiments of all these powers and feelings undoubtedly exist in him, since one or other of them frequently manifest themselves in exceptional cases, or when some special circumstances call them forth. Some tribes, such as the Santals, are remarkable for as pure a love of truth as the most moral among civilized men. The Hindoo and the Polynesian have a high artistic feeling, the first traces of which are clearly visible in the rude drawings of the palaeolithic men who were the contemporaries in France of the Reindeer and the Mammoth. Instances of unselfish love, of true gratitude, and of deep religious feeling, sometimes occur among most Savage I’8 CéS. On the whole, then, we may conclude, that the general moral and intellectual development of the savage, is not less removed from that of civilized man than has been shown to be the case in the one department of mathematics; and from the fact that all the moral and intellectual faculties do occasionally manifest themselves, we may fairly conclude that they are always latent, and that the large brain of the savage man is much beyond his actual requirements in the Savage state. Intellect of Savages and of Animals compared.—Let us now compare the intellectual wants of the savage, and the actual amount of intellect he exhibits, with those of the higher animals. Such races as the Andaman Islanders, the Australians, and the Tasmanians, the Digger Indians of North America, or the natives of Fuegia, pass their lives so as to require the exercise of few faculties not possessed in an equal degree by many animals. In the mode of capture of game or fish, they by no means surpass the ingenuity or forethought of the jaguar, who drops saliva into the water, and seizes the fish as they come to eat it; or of wolves and jackals, who hunt in packs; or of the fox, who buries his surplus food till he requires it. The sentinels placed by antelopes and by monkeys, and the various modes of building adopted by field mice and beavers, as well as the sleeping place of the orang-utan, and the tree-shelter of some of the African anthropoid apes, may well be compared with the amount of care and forethought bestowed by many savages in similar circumstances. His possession of free and perfect hands, not required for locomotion, enable man to form and use weapons and implements which are beyond the physical powers of brutes; but having done this, he certainly does not exhibit more mind in using them than do many lower animals. What is there in the life of the savage, but the satisfying of the cravings of appetite in the simplest and easiest way ? What thoughts, ideas, or actions are there, that raise him many grades above the elephant or the ape 2 Yet he possesses, as we have seen, a brain vastly superior to theirs in size and complexity; and this brain gives him, in an undeveloped state, faculties which he never requires to use. And if this is true of existing savages, how much more true must

« EelmineJätka »