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Descent of Man [ 1871 ]

Charles Darwin [ 1809 - 1882 ]

 

Chapter XXI - General Summary and Conclusion


  A BRIEF summary will be sufficient to recall to the reader's mind
the more salient points in this work. Many of the views which have
been advanced are highly speculative, and some no doubt will prove
erroneous; but I have in every case given the reasons which have led
me to one view rather than to another. It seemed worth while to try
how far the principle of evolution would throw light on some of the
more complex problems in the natural history of man. False facts are
highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure
long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little
harm, for every one takes a salutary pleasure in proving their
falseness: and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and
the road to truth is often at the same time opened.
  The main conclusion here arrived at, and now held by many
naturalists who are well competent to form a sound judgment is that
man is descended from some less highly organised form. The grounds
upon which this conclusion rests will never be shaken, for the close
similarity between man and the lower animals in embryonic development,
as well as in innumerable points of structure and constitution, both
of high and of the most trifling importance,- the rudiments which he
retains, and the abnormal reversions to which he is occasionally
liable,- are facts which cannot be disputed. They have long been
known, but until recently they told us nothing with respect to the
origin of man. Now when viewed by the light of our knowledge of the
whole organic world, their meaning is unmistakable. The great
principle of evolution stands up clear and firm, when these groups
or facts are considered in connection with others, such as the
mutual affinities of the members of the same group, their geographical
distribution in past and present times, and their geological
succession. It is incredible that all these facts should speak
falsely. He who is not content to look, like a savage, at the
phenomena of nature as disconnected, cannot any longer believe that
man is the work of a separate act of creation. He will be forced to
admit that the close resemblance of the embryo of man to that, for
instance, of a dog- the construction of his skull, limbs and whole
frame on the same plan with that of other mammals, independently of
the uses to which the parts may be put- the occasional re-appearance
of various structures, for instance of several muscles, which man does
not normally possess, but which are common to the Quadrumana- and a
crowd of analogous facts- all point in the plainest manner to the
conclusion that man is the co-descendant with other mammals of a
common progenitor.
  We have seen that man incessantly presents individual differences in
all parts of his body and in his mental faculties. These differences
or variations seem to be induced by the same general causes, and to
obey the same laws as with the lower animals. In both cases similar
laws of inheritance prevail. Man tends to increase at a greater rate
than his means of subsistence; consequently he is occasionally
subjected to a severe struggle for existence, and natural selection
will have effected whatever lies within its scope. A succession of
strongly-marked variations of a similar nature is by no means
requisite; slight fluctuating differences in the individual suffice
for the work of natural selection; not that we have any reason to
suppose that in the same species, all parts of the organisation tend
to vary to the same degree. We may feel assured that the inherited
effects of the long-continued use or disuse of parts will have done
much in the same direction with natural selection. Modifications
formerly of importance, though no longer of any special use, are
long-inherited. When one part is modified, other parts change
through the principle of correlation, of which we have instances in
many curious cases of correlated monstrosities. Something may be
attributed to the direct and definite action of the surrounding
conditions of life, such as abundant food, heat or moisture; and
lastly, many characters of slight physiological importance, some
indeed of considerable importance, have been gained through sexual
selection.
  No doubt man, as well as every other animal, presents structures,
which seem to our limited knowledge, not to be now of any service to
him, nor to have been so formerly, either for the general conditions
of life, or in the relations of one sex to the other. Such
structures cannot be accounted for by any form of selection, or by the
inherited effects of the use and disuse of parts. We know, however,
that many strange and strongly-marked peculiarities of structure
occasionally appear in our domesticated productions, and if their
unknown causes were to act more uniformly, they would probably
become common to all the individuals of the species. We may hope
hereafter to understand something about the causes of such
occasional modifications, especially through the study of
monstrosities: hence the labours of experimentalists such as those
of M. Camille Dareste, are full of promise for the future. In
general we can only say that the cause of each slight variation and of
each monstrosity lies much more in the constitution of the organism,
than in the nature of the surrounding conditions; though new and
changed conditions certainly play an important part in exciting
organic changes of many kinds.
  Through the means just specified, aided perhaps by others as yet
undiscovered, man has been raised to his present state. But since he
attained to the rank of manhood, he has diverged into distinct
races, or as they may be more fitly called, sub-species. Some of
these, such as the Negro and European, are so distinct that, if
specimens had been brought to a naturalist without any further
information, they would undoubtedly have been considered by him as
good and true species. Nevertheless all the races agree in so many
unimportant details of structure and in so many mental peculiarities
that these can be accounted for only by inheritance from a common
progenitor; and a progenitor thus characterised would probably deserve
to rank as man.
  It must not be supposed that the divergence of each race from the
other races, and of all from a common stock, can be traced back to any
one pair of progenitors. On the contrary, at every stage in the
process of modification, all the individuals which were in any way
better fitted for their conditions of life, though in different
degrees, would have survived in greater numbers than the less
well-fitted. The process would have been like that followed by man,
when he does not intentionally select particular individuals, but
breeds from all the superior individuals, and neglects the inferior.
He thus slowly but surely modifies his stock, and unconsciously
forms a new strain. So with respect to modifications acquired
independently of selection, and due to variations arising from the
nature of the organism and the action of the surrounding conditions,
or from changed habits of life, no single pair will have been modified
much more than the other pairs inhabiting the same country, for all
will have been continually blended through free intercrossing.
  By considering the embryological structure of man,- the homologies
which he presents with the lower animals,- the rudiments which he
retains,- and the reversions to which he is liable, we can partly
recall in imagination the former condition of our early progenitors;
and can approximately place them in their proper place in the
zoological series. We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy,
tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant
of the Old World. This creature, if its whole structure had been
examined by a naturalist, would have been classed amongst the
Quadrumana, as surely as the still more ancient progenitor of the
Old and New World monkeys. The Quadrumana and all the higher mammals
are probably derived from an ancient marsupial animal, and this
through a long series of diversified forms, from some amphibian-like
creature, and this again from some fish-like animal. In the dim
obscurity of the past we can see that the early progenitor of all
the Vertebrata must have been an aquatic animal provided with
branchiae, with the two sexes united in the same individual, and
with the most important organs of the body (such as the brain and
heart) imperfectly or not at all developed. This animal seems to
have been more like the larvae of the existing marine ascidians than
any other known form.

  The high standard of our intellectual powers and moral disposition
is the greatest difficulty which presents itself, after we have been
driven to this conclusion on the origin of man. But every one who
admits the principle of evolution, must see that the mental powers
of the higher animals, which are the same in kind with those of man,
though so different in degree, are capable of advancement. Thus the
interval between the mental powers of one of the higher apes and of
a fish, or between those of an ant and scale-insect, is immense; yet
their development does not offer any special difficulty; for with
our domesticated animals, the mental faculties are certainly variable,
and the variations are inherited. No one doubts that they are of the
utmost importance to animals in a state of nature. Therefore the
conditions are favourable for their development through natural
selection. The same conclusion may be extended to man; the intellect
must have been all-important to him, even at a very remote period,
as enabling him to invent and use language, to make weapons, tools,
traps, &c., whereby with the aid of his social habits, he long ago
became the most dominant of all living creatures.
  A great stride in the development of the intellect will have
followed, as soon as the half-art and half-instinct of language came
into use; for the continued use of language will have reacted on the
brain and produced an inherited effect; and this again will have
reacted on the improvement of language. As Mr. Chauncey Wright* has
well remarked, the largeness of the brain in man relatively to his
body, compared with the lower animals, may be attributed in chief part
to the early use of some simple form of language,- that wonderful
engine which affixes signs to all sorts of objects and qualities,
and excites trains of thought which would never arise from the mere
impression of the senses, or if they did arise could not be followed
out. The higher intellectual powers of man, such as those of
ratiocination, abstraction, self-consciousness, &c., probably follow
from the continued improvement and exercise of the other mental
faculties.

  * "On the Limits of Natural Selection," in the North American
Review, Oct., 1870, p. 295.

  The development of the moral qualities is a more interesting
problem. The foundation lies in the social instincts, including
under this term the family ties. These instincts are highly complex,
and in the case of the lower animals give special tendencies towards
certain definite actions; but the more important elements are love,
and the distinct emotion of sympathy. Animals endowed with the
social instincts take pleasure in one another's company, warn one
another of danger, defend and aid one another in many ways. These
instincts do not extend to all the individuals of the species, but
only to those of the same community. As they are highly beneficial
to the species, they have in all probability been acquired through
natural selection.
  A moral being is one who is capable of reflecting on his past
actions and their motives- of approving of some and disapproving of
others; and the fact that man is the one being who certainly
deserves this designation, is the greatest of all distinctions between
him and the lower animals. But in the fourth chapter I have
endeavoured to shew that the moral sense follows, firstly, from the
enduring and ever-present nature of the social instincts; secondly,
from man's appreciation of the approbation and disapprobation of his
fellows; and thirdly, from the high activity of his mental
faculties, with past impressions extremely vivid; and in these
latter respects he differs from the lower animals. Owing to this
condition of mind, man cannot avoid looking both backwards and
forwards, and comparing past impressions. Hence after some temporary
desire or passion has mastered his social instincts, he reflects and
compares the now weakened impression of such past impulses with the
ever-present social instincts; and he then feels that sense of
dissatisfaction which all unsatisfied instincts leave behind them,
he therefore resolves to act differently for the future,- and this
is conscience. Any instinct, permanently stronger or more enduring
than another, gives rise to a feeling which we express by saying
that it ought to be obeyed. A pointer dog, if able to reflect on his
past conduct, would say to himself, I ought (as indeed we say of
him) to have pointed at that hare and not have yielded to the
passing temptation of hunting it.
  Social animals are impelled partly by a wish to aid the members of
their community in a general manner, but more commonly to perform
certain definite actions. Man is impelled by the same general wish
to aid his fellows; but has few or no special instincts. He differs
also from the lower animals in the power of expressing his desires
by words, which thus become a guide to the aid required and
bestowed. The motive to give aid is likewise much modified in man:
it no longer consists solely of a blind instinctive impulse, but is
much influenced by the praise or blame of his fellows. The
appreciation and the bestowal of praise and blame both rest on
sympathy; and this emotion, as we have seen, is one of the most
important elements of the social instincts. Sympathy, though gained as
an instinct, is also much strengthened by exercise or habit. As all
men desire their own happiness, praise or blame is bestowed on actions
and motives, according as they lead to this end; and as happiness is
an essential part of the general good, the greatest-happinesss
principle indirectly serves as a nearly safe standard of right and
wrong. As the reasoning powers advance and experience is gained, the
remoter effects of certain lines of conduct on the character of the
individual, and on the general good, are perceived; and then the
self-regarding virtues come within the scope of public opinion, and
receive praise, and their opposites blame. But with the less civilised
nations reason often errs, and many bad customs and base superstitions
come within the same scope, and are then esteemed as high virtues, and
their breach as heavy crimes.
  The moral faculties are generally and justly esteemed as of higher
value than the intellectual powers. But we should bear in mind that
the activity of the mind in vividly recalling past impressions is
one of the fundamental though secondary bases of conscience. This
affords the strongest argument for educating and stimulating in all
possible ways the intellectual faculties of every human being. No
doubt a man with a torpid mind, if his social affections and
sympathies are well developed, will be led to good actions, and may
have a fairly sensitive conscience. But whatever renders the
imagination more vivid and strengthens the habit of recalling and
comparing past impressions, will make the conscience more sensitive,
and may even somewhat compensate for weak social affections and
sympathies.
  The moral nature of man has reached its present standard, partly
through the advancement of his reasoning powers and consequently of
a just public opinion, but especially from his sympathies having
been rendered more tender and widely diffused through the effects of
habit, example, instruction, and reflection. It is not improbable that
after long practice virtuous tendencies may be inherited. With the
more civilised races, the conviction of the existence of an all-seeing
Deity has had a potent influence on the advance of morality.
Ultimately man does not accept the praise or blame of his fellows as
his sole guide, though few escape this influence, but his habitual
convictions, controlled by reason, afford him the safest rule. His
conscience then becomes the supreme judge and monitor. Nevertheless
the first foundation or origin of the moral sense lies in the social
instincts, including sympathy; and these instincts no doubt were
primarily gained, as in the case of the lower animals, through natural
selection.

  The belief in God has often been advanced as not only the
greatest, but the most complete of all the distinctions between man
and the lower animals. It is however impossible, as we have seen, to
maintain that this belief is innate or instinctive in man. On the
other hand a belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems to be
universal; and apparently follows from a considerable advance in man's
reason, and from a still greater advance in his faculties of
imagination, curiosity and wonder. I am aware that the assumed
instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument
for His existence. But this is a rash argument, as we should thus be
compelled to believe in the existence of many cruel and malignant
spirits, only a little more powerful than man; for the belief in
them is far more general than in a beneficent Deity. The idea of a
universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of
man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture.
  He who believes in the advancement of man from some low organised
form, will naturally ask how does this bear on the belief in the
immortality of the soul. The barbarous races of man, as Sir J. Lubbock
has shewn, possess no clear belief of this kind; but arguments derived
from the primeval beliefs of savages are, as we have just seen, of
little or no avail. Few persons feel any anxiety from the
impossibility of determining at what precise period in the development
of the individual, from the first trace of a minute germinal
vesicle, man becomes an immortal being; and there is no greater
cause for anxiety because the period cannot possibly be determined
in the gradually ascending organic scale.*

  * The Rev. J. A. Picton gives a discussion to this effect in his New
Theories and the Old Faith, 1870.

  I am aware that the conclusions arrived at in this work will be
denounced by some as highly irreligious; but he who denounces them
is bound to shew why it is more irreligious to explain the origin of
man as a distinct species by descent from some lower form, through the
laws of variation and natural selection, than to explain the birth
of the individual through the laws of ordinary reproduction. The birth
both of the species and of the individual are equally parts of that
grand sequence of events, which our minds refuse to accept as the
result of blind chance. The understanding revolts at such a
conclusion, whether or not we are able to believe that every slight
variation of structure,- the union of each pair in marriage, the
dissemination of each seed,- and other such events, have all been
ordained for some special purpose.

  Sexual selection has been treated at great length in this work; for,
as I have attempted to shew, it has played an important part in the
history of the organic world. I am aware that much remains doubtful,
but I have endeavoured to give a fair view of the whole case. In the
lower divisions of the animal kingdom, sexual selection seems to
have done nothing: such animals are often affixed for life to the same
spot, or have the sexes combined in the same individual, or what is
still more important, their perceptive and intellectual faculties
are not sufficiently advanced to allow of the feelings of love and
jealousy, or of the exertion of choice. When, however, we come to
the Arthropoda and Vertebrata, even to the lowest classes in these two
great sub-kingdoms, sexual selection has effected much.
  In the several great classes of the animal kingdom,- in mammals,
birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, and even crustaceans,- the
differences between the sexes follow nearly the same rules. The
males are almost always the wooers; and they alone are armed with
special weapons for fighting with their rivals. They are generally
stronger and larger than the females, and are endowed with the
requisite qualities of courage and pugnacity. They are provided,
either exclusively or in a much higher degree than the females, with
organs for vocal or instrumental music, and with odoriferous glands.
They are ornamental with infinitely diversified appendages, and with
the most brilliant or conspicuous colours, often arranged in elegant
patterns, whilst the females are unadorned. When the sexes differ in
more important structures, it is the male which is provided with
special sense-organs for discovering the female, with locomotive
organs for reaching her, and often with prehensile organs for
holding her. These various structures for charming or securing the
female are often developed in the male during only part of the year,
namely the breeding-season. They have in many cases been more or
less transferred to the females; and in the latter case they often
appear in her as mere rudiments. They are lost or never gained by
the males after emasculation. Generally they are not developed in
the male during early youth, but appear a short time before the age
for reproduction. Hence in most cases the young of both sexes resemble
each other; and the female somewhat resembles her young offspring
throughout life. In almost every great class a few anomalous cases
occur, where there has been an almost complete transposition of the
characters proper to the two sexes; the females assuming characters
which properly belong to the males. This surprising uniformity in
the laws regulating the differences between the sexes in so many and
such widely separated classes, is intelligible if we admit the
action of one common cause, namely sexual selection.
  Sexual selection depends on the success of certain individuals
over others of the same sex, in relation to the propagation of the
species; whilst natural selection depends on the success of both
sexes, at all ages, in relation to the general conditions of life. The
sexual struggle is of two kinds; in the one it is between
individuals of the same sex, generally the males, in order to drive
away or kill their rivals, the females remaining passive; whilst in
the other, the struggle is likewise between the individuals of the
same sex, in order to excite or charm those of the opposite sex,
generally the females, which no longer remain passive, but select
the more agreeable partners. This latter kind of selection is
closely analogous to that which man unintentionally, yet
effectually, brings to bear on his domesticated productions, when he
preserves during a long period the most pleasing or useful
individuals, without any wish to modify the breed.
  The laws of inheritance determine whether characters gained
through sexual selection by either sex shall be transmitted to the
same sex, or to both; as well as the age at which they shall be
developed. It appears that variations arising late in life are
commonly transmitted to one and the same sex. Variability is the
necessary basis for the action of selection, and is wholly independent
of it. It follows from this, that variations of the same general
nature have often been taken advantage of and accumulated through
sexual selection in relation to the propagation of the species, as
well as through natural selection in relation to the general

purposes of life. Hence secondary sexual characters, when equally
transmitted to both sexes can be distinguished from ordinary
specific characters only by the light of analogy. The modifications
acquired through sexual selection are often so strongly pronounced
that the two sexes have frequently been ranked as distinct species, or
even as distinct genera. Such strongly-marked differences must be in
some manner highly important; and we know that they have been acquired
in some instances at the cost not only of inconvenience, but of
exposure to actual danger.
  The belief in the power of sexual selection rests chiefly on the
following considerations. Certain characters are confined to one
sex; and this alone renders it probable that in most cases they are
connected with the act of reproduction. In innumerable instances these
characters are fully developed only at maturity, and often during only
a part of the year, which is always the breeding-season. The males
(passing over a few exceptional cases) are the more active in
courtship; they are the better armed, and are rendered the more
attractive in various ways. It is to be especially observed that the
males display their attractions with elaborate care in the presence of
the females; and that they rarely or never display them excepting
during the season of love. It is incredible that all this should be
purposeless. Lastly we have distinct evidence with some quadrupeds and
birds, that the individuals of one sex are capable of feeling a strong
antipathy or preference for certain individuals of the other sex.
  Bearing in mind these facts, and the marked results of man's
unconscious selection, when applied to domesticated animals and
cultivated plants, it seems to me almost certain that if the
individuals of one sex were during a long series of generations to
prefer pairing with certain individuals of the other sex,
characterised in some peculiar manner, the offspring would slowly
but surely become modified in this same manner. I have not attempted
to conceal that, excepting when the males are more numerous than the
females, or when polygamy prevails, it is doubtful how the more
attractive males succeed in leaving a large number of offspring to
inherit their superiority in ornaments or other charms than the less
attractive males; but I have shewn that this would probably follow
from the females,- especially the more vigorous ones, which would be
the first to breed,- preferring not only the more attractive but at
the same time the more vigorous and victorious males.
  Although we have some positive evidence that birds appreciate bright
and beautiful objects, as with the bower-birds of Australia, and
although they certainly appreciate the power of song, yet I fully
admit that it is astonishing that the females of many birds and some
mammals should be endowed with sufficient taste to appreciate
ornaments, which we have reason to attribute to sexual selection;
and this is even more astonishing in the case of reptiles, fish, and
insects. But we really know little about the minds of the lower
animals. It cannot be supposed, for instance, that male birds of
paradise or peacocks should take such pains in erecting, spreading,
and vibrating their beautiful plumes before the females for no
purpose. We should remember the fact given on excellent authority in a
former chapter, that several peahens, when debarred from an admired
male, remained widows during a whole season rather than pair with
another bird.
  Nevertheless I know of no fact in natural history more wonderful
than that the female Argus pheasant should appreciate the exquisite
shading of the ball-and-socket ornaments and the elegant patterns on
the wing-feather of the male. He who thinks that the male was
created as he now exists must admit that the great plumes, which
prevent the wings from being used for flight, and which are
displayed during courtship and at no other time in a manner quite
peculiar to this one species, were given to him as an ornament. If so,
he must likewise admit that the female was created and endowed with
the capacity of appreciating such ornaments. I differ only in the
conviction that the male Argus pheasant acquired his beauty gradually,
through the preference of the females during many generations for
the more highly ornamented males; the aesthetic capacity of the
females having been advanced through exercise or habit, just as our
own taste is gradually improved. In the male through the fortunate
chance of a few feathers being left unchanged, we can distinctly trace
how simple spots with a little fulvous shading on one side may have
been developed by small steps into the wonderful ball-and-socket
ornaments; and it is probable that they were actually thus developed.
  Everyone who admits the principle of evolution, and yet feels
great difficulty in admitting that female mammals, birds, reptiles,
and fish, could have acquired the high taste implied by the beauty
of the males, and which generally coincides with our own standard,
should reflect that the nerve-cells of the brain in the highest as
well as in the lowest members of the vertebrate series, are derived
from those of the common progenitor of this great kingdom. For we
can thus see how it has come to pass that certain mental faculties, in
various and widely distinct groups of animals, have been developed
in nearly the same manner and to nearly the same degree.
  The reader who has taken the trouble to go through the several
chapters devoted to sexual selection, will be able to judge how far
the conclusions at which I have arrived are supported by sufficient
evidence. If he accepts these conclusions he may, I think, safely
extend them to mankind; but it would be superfluous here to repeat
what I have so lately said on the manner in which sexual selection
apparently has acted on man, both on the male and female side, causing
the two sexes to differ in body and mind, and the several races to
differ from each other in various characters, as well as from their
ancient and lowly-organised progenitors.
  He who admits the principle of sexual selection will be led to the
remarkable conclusion that the nervous system not only regulates
most of the existing functions of the body, but has indirectly
influenced the progressive development of various bodily structures
and of certain mental qualities. Courage, pugnacity, perseverance,
strength and size of body, weapons of all kinds, musical organs,
both vocal and instrumental, bright colours and ornamental appendages,
have all been indirectly gained by the one sex or the other, through
the exertion of choice, the influence of love and jealousy, and the
appreciation of the beautiful in sound, colour or form; and these
powers of the mind manifestly depend on the development of the brain.

  Man scans with scrupulous care the character and pedigree of his
horses, cattle, and dogs before he matches them; but when he comes
to his own marriage he rarely, or never, takes any such care. He is
impelled by nearly the same motives as the lower animals, when they
are left to their own free choice, though he is in so far superior
to them that he highly values mental charms and virtues. On the
other hand he is strongly attracted by mere wealth or rank. Yet he
might by selection do something not only for the bodily constitution
and frame of his offspring, but for their intellectual and moral
qualities. Both sexes ought to refrain from marriage if they are in
any marked degree inferior in body or mind; but such hopes are Utopian
and will never be even partially realised until the laws of
inheritance are thoroughly known. Everyone does good service, who aids
towards this end. When the principles of breeding and inheritance
are better understood, we shall not hear ignorant members of our
legislature rejecting with scorn a plan for ascertaining whether or
not consanguineous marriages are injurious to man.
  The advancement of the welfare of mankind is a most intricate
problem: all ought to refrain from marriage who cannot avoid abject
poverty for their children; for poverty is not only a great evil,
but tends to its own increase by leading to recklessness in
marriage. On the other hand, as Mr. Galton has remarked, if the
prudent avoid marriage, whilst the reckless marry, the inferior
members tend to supplant the better members of society. Man, like
every other animal, has no doubt advanced to his present high
condition through a struggle for existence consequent on his rapid
multiplication; and if he is to advance still higher, it is to be
feared that he must remain subject to a severe struggle. Otherwise
he would sink into indolence, and the more gifted men would not be
more successful in the battle of life than the less gifted. Hence
our natural rate of increase, though leading to many and obvious
evils, must not be greatly diminished by any means. There should be
open competition for all men; and the most able should not be
prevented by laws or customs from succeeding best and rearing the
largest number of offspring. Important as the struggle for existence
has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man's
nature is concerned there are other agencies more important. For the
moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more
through the effects of habit, the reasoning powers, instruction,
religion, &c., than through natural selection; though to this latter
agency may be safely attributed the social instincts, which afforded
the basis for the development of the moral sense.

  The main conclusion arrived at in this work, namely, that man is
descended from some lowly organised form, will, I regret to think,
be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we
are descended from barbarians. The astonishment which I felt on
first seeing a party of Fuegians on a wild and broken shore will never
be forgotten by me, for the reflection at once rushed into my mind-
such were our ancestors. These men were absolutely naked and
bedaubed with paint, their long hair was tangled, their mouths frothed
with excitement, and their expression was wild, startled, and
distrustful. They possessed hardly any arts, and like wild animals
lived on what they could catch; they had no government, and were
merciless to every one not of their own small tribe. He who has seen a
savage in his native land will not feel much shame, if forced to
acknowledge that the blood of some more humble creature flows in his
veins. For my own part I would as soon be descended from that heroic
little monkey, who braved his dreaded enemy in order to save the
life of his keeper, or from that old baboon, who descending from the
mountains, carried away in triumph his young comrade from a crowd of
astonished dogs- as from a savage who delights to torture his enemies,
offers up bloody sacrifices, practices infanticide without remorse,
treats his wives like slaves, knows no decency, and is haunted by
the grossest superstitions.
  Man may be excused for feeling some pride at having risen, though
not through his own exertions, to the very summit of the organic
scale; and the fact of his having thus risen, instead of having been
aboriginally placed there, may give him hope for a still higher
destiny in the distant future. But we are not here concerned with
hopes or fears, only with the truth as far as our reason permits us to
discover it; and I have given the evidence to the best of my
ability. We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man
with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most
debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to
the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has
penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system-
with all these exalted powers- Man still bears in his bodily frame the
indelible stamp of his lowly origin.


Bank of Wisdom

The Bank of Wisdom is run by Emmett Fields out of his home in Kentucky. He painstakingly scanned in these works and put them on disks for others to have available. Mr. Fields makes these disks available for only the cost of the media.

Files made available from the Bank of Wisdom may be freely reproduced and given away, but may not be sold.

Reproducible Electronic Publishing can defeat censorship.

Bank of WisdomThe Bank of Wisdom is a collection of the most thoughtful, scholarly and factual books. These computer books are reprints of suppressed books and will cover American and world history; the Biographies and writings of famous persons, and especially of our nations Founding Fathers. They will include philosophy and religion. all these subjects, and more, will be made available to the public in electronic form, easily copied and distributed, so that America can again become what its Founders intended --

The Free Market-Place of Ideas.

The Bank of Wisdom is always looking for more of these old, hidden, suppressed and forgotten books that contain needed facts and information for today. If you have such books please contact us, we need to give them back to America.

Bank of Wisdom
Box 926
Louisville, KY 40201

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