Pagina:Scientia - Vol. IX.djvu/126

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126 scientia


When Darwin wrote the Origin of Species he proposed to omit all reference to Man, because, as he said, the question was so beset with prejudice. But no great interval was allowed to elapse before Huxley, who was not afraid of prejudice, boldly attacked the problem, and endeavoured to show from anatomical evidence that Man’s place in nature is with the anthropoid apes, and that he is more closely allied to these animals than they are to the monkeys next below them in the organic scale.

At that time the resuscitated hypothesis of evolution was a discredited heresy contending for recognition ; it has now become an orthodox dogma, respectable beyond reproach. Our consulship with the apes, more or less remote, is acknowledged without shame on our part, and let us hope without reason for shame on theirs.

Darwin’s great work was published half a century ago, and at about the same time Prestwich and Evans returned from their visit to the scene of Boucher de Perthes’s discoveries, and proclaimed their belief in the Antiquity of Man. The question of the antiquity of our race, though involved in the doctrine of descent, was open to separate consideration, and was investigated not only by the biologists but by students of our own science. It offered an independent challenge to

  1. Being the substance of an address delivered before the Geological Society of London.