Man, Ancient And Modern
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE student who seeks to understand how mankind came to be as they are, and to live as they do, ought first to know clearly whether men are newcomers on the earth, or old inhabitants. Did they appear with their various races and ways of life ready-made, or were these shaped by the long, slow growth of ages? In order to answer this question, our first business will be to take a rapid survey of the varieties of men, their languages, their civilization, and their ancient relics, to see what proofs may thus be had of man's age in the world. The outline sketch thus drawn will also be useful as an introduction to the fuller examination of man and his ways of life.
First, as to the varieties of mankind. Let us suppose ourselves standing at the docks in Liverpool or London, looking at groups of men of races most different from our own. There is the familiar figure of the African negro, with skin so dark-brown as to be popularly called black, and black hair so naturally frizzed as to be called woolly. Nor are these the only points in which he is unlike us. Indeed, the white men who blacken their faces and frizz their hair to look like negroes make a very poor imitation, for the negro features are quite distinct; we well know the flat nose, wide nostrils, thick protruding lips, and, when the face is seen in profile, the remarkable projecting jaws. A hatter would at once notice that the negro's head is narrower in proportion than the usual oval of the hats made for Englishmen. It would be possible to tell a negro from a white man even in the dark by the peculiar satiny feel of his skin, and the yet more peculiar smell which no one who has noticed it is ever likely to mistake. In the same docks, among the crews of Eastern steamers, we observe other well-marked types of man. The Coolie of South India (who is not of Hindu race, but belongs to the so-called hill-tribes) is dark-brown of skin, with black, silky, wavy hair, and a face wide-nosed, heavy-jawed, fleshy-lipped. More familiar is the Chinese, whom the observer marks down by his less than European stature, his jaundice-yellow skin, and coarse, straight black hair; the special character of his features is neatly touched off on his native china-plates and paper-screens, which show the snub nose, high cheek-bones, and that curious slanting set of the eyes which we can imitate by putting a finger near the outer corners of our own eyes and pushing upward. By comparing such a set of races with our own countrymen, we are able to make out the utmost differences of complexion and feature among mankind. While doing so, it is plain that white men, as we agree to call ourselves, show at least two main race-types. Going on board a merchant-ship from Copenhagen, we find the crew mostly blue-eyed men of fair complexion and hair, a remarkable contrast to the Genoese vessel moored alongside, whose sailors show almost to a man swarthy complexions and lustrous black eyes and hair. These two types of man have been well described as the fair-whites and the dark-whites.
It is only within modern times that the distinctions among races have been worked out by scientific methods. Yet since early ages, race has attracted notice from its connection with the political questions of countryman or foreigner, conqueror or conquered, freeman or slave, and in consequence its marks have been watched with jealous accuracy. In the Southern United States, till slavery was done away a few years ago, the traces of negro descent were noted with the utmost nicety. Not only were the mixed breeds regularly classed as mulattoes, quadroons, and down to octaroons, but even where the mixture was so slight that the untrained eye noticed nothing beyond a brunette complexion, the intruder who had ventured to sit down at a public dinner table was called upon to show his hands, and the African taint detected by the dark tinge at the root of the finger-nails.
Seeing how striking the broad distinctions of race are, it was to be expected that ancient inscriptions and figures should give some view of the races of man as they were at the beginning of historical times. It is so in Egypt, where the oldest writings of the world appear. More than 4,000 years ago we begin to find figures of the Egyptians themselves, in features much the same as in later times. In the sixth dynasty, about 2,000 B.C., the celebrated inscription of Prince Una makes mention of the Nahsi, or negroes, who were levied and drilled by ten thousands for the Egyptian army. Under the twelfth dynasty, on the walls of the tomb of Knumhetp, there is represented a procession of Amu, who are seen by their features to be of the race to which Syrians and Hebrews belonged. Especially the wall-paintings of the tombs of the kings of Thebes, of the nineteenth dynasty, have pre-served colored portraits of the four great races distinguished by the Egyptians. These are the red-brown Egyptians themselves, the people of Palestine with their aquiline profile and brownish complexion, the flat-nosed, thick-lipped African negroes, and the fair-skinned Libyans. Thus mankind was already divided into well-marked races, distinguished by color and features. It is surprising to notice how these old-world types of man are still to be recognized. The Ethiopian of the ancient monuments can at this day be closely matched. Notwithstanding the many foreign invasions of Egypt, the mass of the village population is true-bred enough for men to be easily picked out as representatives of the times of the Pharaohs. Their portraits have only to be drawn in the stiff style of the monuments, with the eye convention-ally shown full-front in the profile face, and we have before us the very Egyptians as they depicted themselves in the old days when they held the Israelites in bondage. In the same way the ancient Egyptian portraits of captives from Palestine, whether Syrians, Phoenicians, or Hebrews, show the strongly-marked Israelite type of features to be seen at this day in every city of Europe. Altogether, the evidence of ancient monuments, geography and history, goes to prove that the great race-divisions of mankind are of no recent growth, but were already settled before the beginning of the historical period. Since then their changes seem to have been comparatively slight, except in the forming of mixed races by inter-marriage.
Hence it follows that the historic ages are to be looked on as but the modern period of man's life on earth. Be-hind them lies the prehistoric period, when the chief work was done of forming and spreading over the world the races of mankind. Though there is no scale to measure the length of this period by, there are substantial reasons for taking it as a long stretch of time. Looking at an ethnological map, colored to show what race of men inhabits each region, it is plain at a glance that the world was not peopled by mere chance scattering of nations, a white tribe here and a brown tribe there, with perhaps a black tribe in between. Far from this, whole races are spread over vast regions as though they grew there, and the peculiar type of the race seems more or less connected with the climate it lives in. Especially it is seen that the mass of black races belong to the equatorial regions in Africa and the Eastern Archipelago, the yellow race to Central and Southern Asia, the white race to temperate Asia and Europe. Some guess may even be made from the map which district was the primitive centre where each of these races took shape, and whence it spread far and wide. Now if, as some have thought, the Negroes, Mongolians, Whites, and other races, were distinct species, each sprung from a separate origin in its own region, then the peopling of the globe might require only a moderate time, the races having only to spread each from its own birthplace. But the opinion of modern zoologists, whose study of the species and breeds of animals makes them the best judges, is against this view of several origins of man, for two principal reasons. First, that all tribes of men, from the blackest to the whitest, the most savage to the most cultured, have such general likeness in the structure of their bodies and the working of their minds, as is easiest and best accounted for by their being descended from a common ancestry, however distant. Second, that all the human races, notwithstanding their form and color, appear capable of freely intermarrying and forming crossed races of every combination, such as the millions of mulattoes and mestizos sprung in the New World from the mixture of Europeans, Africans, and native Americans ; this again points to a common ancestry of all the races of man. We may accept the theory of the unity of mankind as best agreeing with ordinary experience and scientific research. As yet, however, the means are very imperfect of judging what man's progenitors were like in body and mind, in times before the forefathers of the present Negroes, and Tatars, and Australians, had become separated into distinct stocks. Nor is it yet clear by what causes these stocks or races passed into their different types of skull and limbs, of complexion and hair. It cannot be at present made out how far the peculiarities of single ancestors were inherited by their descendants and became stronger by inbreeding; how far, when the weak and dull-witted tribes failed in the struggle for land and life, the stronger, braver, and abler tribes survived to leave their types stamped on the nations sprung from them; how far whole migrating tribes underwent bodily alteration through change of climate, food, `and habits, so that the peopling of the earth went on together with the growth of fresh races fitted for life in its various regions. What-ever share these causes and others yet more obscure may have had in varying the races of man, it must not be sup-posed that such differences as between an Englishman and a Gold Coast negro are due to slight variations of breed. On the-contrary, they are of such zoological importance as to have been compared with the differences between animals which naturalists reckon distinct species, as between the brown bear with its rounded fore-head, and the polar bear with its whitish fur and long flattened skull. If then we are to go back in thought to a time when the ancestors of the African, the Australian, the Mongol, and the Scandinavian, were as yet one undivided stock, the theory of their common descent must be so framed as to allow causes strong enough and time long enough to bring about changes far beyond any known to have taken place during historical ages. Looked at in this way, the black, brown, yellow, and white men whom we have supposed ourselves examining on the quays, are living records of the remote past, every Chinese and Negro bearing in his face evidence of the antiquity of man.
Next, what has language to tell of man's age on the earth? It appears that the distinct languages known number about a thousand. It is clear, however, at the first glance that these did not all spring up separately. There are groups of languages which show such close likeness in their grammars and dictionaries as proves each group to be descended from one ancestral tongue. Such a group is called a family of languages, and one of the best known of such families may be taken as an example of their way of growth. In ancient times Latin (using the word in a rather wide sense) was the language of Rome and other Italian districts, and with the spread of the Roman empire it was carried far and wide, so as to oust the early languages of whole provinces. Undergoing in each land a different course of change, Latin gave rise to the Romance family of languages, of which Italian, Spanish, and French are well-known members. How these languages have come to differ after ages of separate life, we judge by seeing that sailors from Dieppe cannot make themselves understood in Malaga, nor does a knowledge of French enable us to read Dante. Yet the Romance languages keep the traces of their Roman origin plainly enough for Italian, Spanish, and French sentences to be taken and every word referred to something near it in classical Latin, which may be roughly treated as the original form. Familiar proverbs are here given as illustrations, with the warning to the reader that, for convenience' sake, the comparisons are not all carried out in precise grammatical form.
It is plain on the face of such sentences as these, that Italian, Spanish, and French are in fact transformed Latin, their words having been gradually altered as they descended, generation after generation, from the parent tongue. Now even if Latin were lost, philologists would still be able, by comparing the set of Romance languages, to infer that such a language must have existed to give rise to them all, though no doubt such a reconstruction of Latin would give but a meagre notion, either of its stock of words or its grammatic inflections. This kind of argument by which a lost parent-language is discovered from the likeness among its descendants, may be well seen in another set of European tongues. Let us suppose our-selves listening to a group of Dutch sailors ; at first their talk may seem unintelligible, but after a while a sharp ear will catch the sound of well-known words, and perhaps at last whole sentences like these :—Kom hier! Wat zegt gij? Hoe is het weder? Het is een hevige storm, ik ben zeer koud. Is de maan op? Ik weet niet. The spelling of these words, different from our mode, disguises their resemblance, but as spoken they come very near corresponding sentences in English, somewhat old-fashioned or provincial, thus :—Come here! What say ye? How is the weather? It is a heavy storm, I be sore cold. Is the moon up? I wit not. Now it stands to reason that no two languages could have come to be so like, unless both were descended from one parent tongue. The argument is really much like that as to the origin of the people themselves. As we say, these Dutch and English are beings so nearly alike that they must have descended from a common stock, so we say, these languages are so like that they must have been derived from a common language. Dutch and English are accordingly said to be closely related to one another, and the language of Friesland proves on examination to be another near relative. Thence it is inferred that a parent language or group of dialects, which may be called the original Low-Dutch, or Low-German, must once have been spoken, though it is not actually to be found, not happening to have been written down and so preserved.
Now it is easy to see that as ages go on, and the languages of a family each take their separate course of change, it must become less and less possible to show their relationship by comparing whole sentences. Philologists have to depend on less perfect resemblances, but such are sufficient when not only words from the dictionary correspond in the two languages, but also these are worked up into actual speech by corresponding forms of grammar. Thus when Sanskrit, the ancient language of the Brahmans in India, is compared with Greek and Latin, it appears that the Sanskrit verb dâ expresses the idea to give, and makes its present tense by reduplicating and adding a person-affix, so becoming dadâmi, nearly as Greek makes didômi; from the same root Sanskrit makes a future participle dâsyamânas, corresponding to Greek dosomenos, while Sanskrit dâtâr matches Greek dotér= giver. So where Latin has vox vocis, vocem, votes, vocem, vocibus, Sanskrit has vâk, vâcas, vâcam, vacas, vacâm, vâgbhyas. When such thoroughgoing analogy as this is found to run through several languages, as Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, no other explanation is possible but that an ancient parent language gave rise to them all, they having only varied off from it in different directions. In this way it is shown that not only are these particular languages related by descent, but that groups of ancient and modern languages in Asia and Europe, the Indian group, the Persian group, the Hellenic or Greek group, the Italic or Latin group, the Slavonic group to which Russian belongs, the Teutonic group which English is a member of, the Keltic group which Welsh is a member of, are all descendants of one common ancestral language, which is now theoretically called the Aryan, though practically its nature can only be made out in a vague way by comparing its descendant languages. Some of these have come down to us in forms which are extremely ancient, as antiquity goes in our limited chronology. The sacred books of India and Persia have preserved the Sanskrit and Zend languages, which by their structure show to the eye of the philologist an antiquity beyond that of the earliest Greek and Latin inscriptions and the old Persian cuneiform rock-writing of Darius. But the Aryan languages even in their oldest known states had already become so different that it was the greatest feat of modern philology to demonstrate that they had a common origin at all. The faint likeness by which Welsh still shows its relationship to Greek and German may give some idea of the time that may have elapsed since all three were developed off from the original Aryan tongue, which itself probably ceased to exist long before the historical period began.
Among the languages of ancient nations, another great group holds a high place in the world's history. This is the Semitic family which includes the Hebrew and Phoenician, and the Assyrian deciphered from the wedge-characters of Nineveh. Arabic, the language of the Koran, is the great modern representative of the family, and the closeness with which it matches Hebrew may be shown in familiar phrases. The Arab still salutes the stranger with salâm alaikum, "peace upon you," nearly as the ancient Hebrew would have said shâlôm lâchem, that is, "peace to you," and the often-heard Arabic exclamation bismillah may be turned into Hebrew, as be-shęm hâ-Elohim, "in the name of God." So the Hebrew names of persons mentioned in the Bible give the interpretation of many Arabic proper names, as where Ebed-melech, "servant of the king," who took Jeremiah out of the dungeon, bore a name nearly like that of the khalif Abdel-Melik, in Mohammedan history. But no one of these Semitic languages has any claim to be the original of the family, standing to the others as Latin does to Italian and French. All of them, Assyrian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Arabic, are sister-languages, pointing back to an earlier parent language which has long disappeared. The ancient Egyptian language of the hieroglyphics cannot be classed as a member of the Semitic family, though it shows points of resemblance which may indicate some remote connection. There are also known to have existed before 2000 B.C. two important languages not belonging to either the Aryan or Semitic family; these were the ancient Babylonian and the ancient Chinese. As for the languages of more outlying regions of the world, such as America, when they come into view they are found likewise to consist of many separate groups or families.
This slight glimpse of the earliest known state of language in the world is enough to teach the interesting lesson that the main work of language-making was done in the ages before history. Going back as far as philology can take us, we find already existing a number of language-groups, differing in words and structure, and if they ever had any relationship with one another no longer showing it by signs clear enough for our skill to make out. Of an original primitive language of mankind, the most patient research has found no traces. The oldest types of language we can reach by working back from known languages show no signs of being primitive tongues of mankind. Indeed, it may be positively asserted that they are not such, but that ages of growth and decay have mostly obliterated the traces how each particular sound came to express its particular sense. Man, since the historical period, has done little in the way of absolute new creation of language, for the good reason that his wants were already supplied by the words he learnt from his fathers, and all he had to do when a new idea came to him was to work up old words into some new shape. Thus the study of languages gives much the same view of man's antiquity as has been already gained from the study of races. The philologist, asked how long he thinks mankind to have existed, answers that it must have been long enough for human speech to have grown from its earliest beginnings into elaborate languages, and for these in their turn to have developed into families spread far and wide over the world. This immense work had been already accomplished in ages before the earliest inscriptions of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Phoenicia, Persia, Greece, for these show the great families of human speech already in full existence.
Next, we have to look at culture or civilization, to see whether this also shows signs of man having lived and labored in ages earlier than the earliest which historical records can tell of. For this purpose it is needful to understand what has been the general course of arts, knowledge, and institutions. It is a good old rule to work from the known to the unknown, and all intelligent people have much to tell from their own experience as to how civilization develops. The account which an old man can give of England as he remembers it in his schoolboy days, and of the inventions and improvements he has seen come in since, is in itself a valuable lesson. Thus, when starting from London by express train to reach Edinburgh by dinner-time, he thinks of when it used to be fair coach-travelling to get through in two days and nights. Catching sight of a signal-post on the line, he remembers how such semaphores (that is, sign-bearers) were then the best means of telegraphing, and stood waving their arms on the hills between London and Plymouth, signal-ling the Admiralty messages. Thinking of the electric telegraph which has superseded them, reminds him that this invention arose out of a discovery made in his youth as to the connection between electricity and magnetism. This again suggests other modern scientific discoveries that have opened to us the secrets of the universe, such as the spectrum-analysis which now makes out with such precision the materials of the stars, which is just what our fathers were quite certain no man on earth ever could know. Our informant can tell us, too, how knowledge has not only increased, but is far more widely spread than formerly, when the thriving farmer's son could hardly get schooling practically so good as the laborer's son is now entitled to of right. He may then go ou to explain to his hearers how, since his time, the laws of the land have been improved and better carried out, so that men are no longer hanged for stealing, that more is done to reform the criminal classes instead of merely punishing them, that life and property are safer than in old times. Last, but not least, he can show from his own recollection that people are morally a shade better than they were, that public opinion demands a somewhat higher standard of conduct than in past generations, as may be seen in the sharper disapproval that now falls on cheats and drunkards. From such examples of the progress in civilization that has come in a single country and a single lifetime, it is clear that the world has not been standing still with us, but new arts, new thoughts, new institutions, new rules of life, have arisen or been developed out of the older state of things.
Now this growth or development in civilization, so rapid in our own time, appears to have been going on more or less actively since the early ages of man. Proof of this comes to us in several different ways. History, so far as it reaches back, shows arts, sciences, and political institutions beginning in ruder states, and becoming in the course of ages more intelligent, more systematic, more perfectly arranged or organized, to answer their purposes. Not to give many instances of a fact so familiar, the history of parliamentary government begins with the old-world councils of the chiefs and tumultuous assemblies of the whole people. The history of medicine goes back to the time when epilepsy or "seizure" (Greek epilepsy) was thought to be really the act of a demon seizing and convulsing the patient. But our object here is to get beyond such ordinary information of the history books, and to judge what stages civilization passed through in times yet earlier. Here one valuable aid is archeology, which for instance shows us the stone hatchets and other rude instruments which belonged to early tribes of men, thus proving how low their state of arts was. Another useful guide is to be had from survivals in culture. Looking closely into the thoughts, arts, and habits of any nation, the student finds every-where the remains of older states of things out of which they arose. To take a trivial example, if we want to know why so quaintly cut a garment as the evening dress-coat is worn, the explanation may be found thus. The cutting away at the waist had once the reasonable purpose of preventing the coat skirts from getting in the way in riding, while the pair of useless but-tons behind the waist are also relics from the times when such buttons really served the purpose of fastening these skirts behind; the curiously cut collar keeps the now misplaced notches made to allow of its being worn turned up or down, the smart facings represent the ordinary lining, and the sham cuffs now made with a seam round the wrist are survivals from real cuffs when the sleeve used to be turned back. Thus it is seen that the present ceremonial dress-coat owes its peculiarities to being descended from the old-fashioned practical coat in which a man rode and worked. Or again, if one looks in mod-ern English life for proof of the Norman Conquest eight centuries ago, one may find it in the "Oh yes! Oh yes!" of the town-crier, who all unknowingly keeps up the old French form of proclamation, "Oyez! Oyez!" that is, "Hear ye ! Hear ye!" To what yet more distant periods of civilization such survivals may reach back, is well seen in an example from India. There, though people have for ages kindled fire for practical use with the flint and steel, yet the Brahmans, to make the sacred fire for the daily sacrifice, still use the barbaric art of violently boring a pointed stick into another piece of wood till a spark comes. Asked why they thus waste their labor when they know better, they answer that they do it to get pure and holy fire. But to us it is plain that they are really keeping up by unchanging custom a remnant of the ruder life once led by their remote ancestors. On the whole, these various ways of examining arts and sciences all prove that they never spring forth perfect, like Athene out of the split head of Zeus. They come on by successive steps, and where other information fails, the observer may often trust himself to judge from the mere look of an invention how it probably arose. Thus no one can look at a cross-bow and a common long-bow without being convinced that the long-bow was the earlier, and that the cross-bow was made afterwards by fitting a common bow on a stock, and arranging a trigger to let go the string after taking aim. Though history fails to tell us who did this and when, we feel almost as sure of it as of the known historical facts that the cross-bow led up to the match-lock, and that again to the flint-lock musket, and that again to the percussion musket, and that again to the breech-loading rifle.
Putting these various means of information together, it often becomes possible to picture the whole course of an art or an institution, tracing it back from its highest state in the civilized world till we reach its beginnings in the life of the rudest tribes of men. For instance, let us look at a course of modern mathematics, as represented in the books taken in for university honors. A student Iiving in Queen Elizabeth's time would have had no infinitesimal calculus to study, hardly even algebraic geometry, for what is now called the higher mathematics was invented since then. Going back into the Middle Ages, we come to the time when algebra had been just brought in, a novelty due to the Hindu mathematicians and their scholars, the Arabs ; and next we find the numeral ciphers, 0, 1, 2, 3, etc., beginning to be known as an improvement on the old calculating board and the Roman I., II., III. In the classic ages yet earlier, we reach the time when the methods of Euklid and the other Greek geometers first appeared. So we get back to what was known to the mathematicians of the earliest historical period in Babylonia and Egypt, an arithmetic clumsily doing what children in the lower standards are taught with us to do far more neatly, and a rough geometry consisting of a few rules of practical mensuration. This is as far as history can go toward the beginnings of mathematics, but there are other means of discovering through what lower stages the science arose. The very names still used to denote length, such as cubit, hand, foot, span, nail, show how the art of mensuration had its origin in times when standard measures had not yet been invented, but men put their hands and feet alongside objects of which they wished to estimate the size. So there is abundant evidence that arithmetic came up from counting on the fingers and toes, such as may still be seen among savages. Words still used for numbers in many languages were evidently made during the period when such reckoning on the hands and feet was usual, and they have lasted on ever since. Thus a Malay expresses five by the word lima, which (though he does not know it) once meant "hand," so that it is seen to be a survival from ages when his ancestors, wanting a word for five, held up one hand and said "hand." Indeed, the reason of our own decimal notation, why we reckon by tens instead of the more convenient twelves, appears to be that our forefathers got from their own fingers the habit of counting by tens which has been since kept up, an unchanged relic of primitive man. [There are] . . . many other cases of such growth of arts from the simplest origins. Thus, in examining tools, it will be seen how the rudely chipped stone grasped in the hand to hack with, led up to the more artificially shaped stone chisel fitted as a hatchet in a wooden handle, how afterwards when metal came in there was substituted for the stone a bronze or iron blade, till at last was reached the most perfect modern foresters' axe, with its steel blade socketed to take the well-balanced handle. These great moves in the development of the axe, which began before chronology and history, have been from the first one of man's chief aids in civilizing himself.
It does not follow from such arguments as these that civilization is always on the move, or that its movement is always progress. On the contrary, history teaches that it remains stationary for long periods, and often falls back. To understand such decline of culture, it must be borne in mind that the highest arts and the most elaborate arrangements of society do not always prevail, in fact they may be too perfect to hold their ground, for people must have what fits with their circumstances. There is an instructive lesson to be learnt from a remark made by an Englishman at Singapore, who noticed with surprise two curious trades flourishing there. One was to buy old English-built ships, cut them down and rig them as junks; the other was to buy English percussion muskets and turn them into old-fashioned flintlocks. At first sight this looks like mere stupidity, but on consideration it is seen to be reasonable enough. It was so difficult to get Eastern sailors to work ships of European rig, that it answered better to provide them with the clumsier craft they were used to; and as for the guns, the hunters far away in the hot, damp forests were better off with gunflints than if they had to carry and keep dry a stock of caps. In both cases, what they wanted was not the highest product of civilization, but something suited to the situation and easiest to be had. Now the same rule applies both to taking in new civilization and keeping up old. When the life of a people is altered by emigration into a new country, or by war and distress at home, or mixture with a lower race, the culture of their forefathers may be no longer needed or possible, and so dwindles away. Such degeneration is to be seen among the descendants of Portuguese in the East Indies, who have intermarried with the natives and fallen out of the march of civilization, so that newly-arrived Europeans go to look at them lounging about their mean hovels in the midst of luxuriant tropical fruits and flowers, as if they had been set there to teach by example how man falls in culture where the need of effort is wanting. Another frequent cause of loss of civilization is when people once more prosperous are ruined or driven from their homes, like those Shoshone Indians who have taken refuge from their enemies, the Blackfeet, in the wilds of the Rocky Mountains, where they now roam, called Digger Indians from the wild roots they dig for as part of their miserable subsistence. Not only the degraded state of such out-casts, but the loss of particular arts by other peoples, may often be explained by loss of culture under unfavorable conditions. For instance, the South Sea Islanders, though not a very rude people when visited by Captain Cook, used only stone hatchets and knives, being indeed so ignorant of metal that they planted the first iron nails they got from the English sailors, in the hope of raising a new crop. Possibly their ancestors never had metals, but it seems as likely that these ancestors were an Asiatic people to whom metal was known, but who, through emigration to ocean islands and separation from their kinsfolk, lost the use of it and fell back into the stone age. It is necessary for the student to be alive to the importance of decline in civilization, but it is here more particularly mentioned in order to point out that it in no way contradicts the theory that civilization itself is developed from low to high stages. One cannot lose a thing without having had it first, and wherever tribes are fallen from the higher civilization of their ancestors, this only leaves it to be accounted for how that higher civilization grew up.
On the whole it appears that wherever there are found elaborate arts, abstruse knowledge, complex institutions, these are results of gradual development from an earlier, simpler, and ruder state of life. No stage of civilization comes into existence spontaneously, but grows or is developed out of the stage before it. This is the great principle which every scholar must lay firm hold of, if he intends to understand either the world he lives in or the history of the past. Let us now see how this bears on the antiquity and early conditions of mankind. The monuments of Egypt and Babylonia show that toward 5,000 years ago certain nations had already come to an advanced state of culture. No doubt the greater part of the earth was then peopled by barbarians and savages, as it remained afterwards. But in the regions of the Nile and the Euphrates there was civilization. The ancient Egyptians had that greatest mark of a civilized nation, the art of writing; indeed the hieroglyphic characters of their inscriptions appear to have been the origin of our alpha-bet. They were a nation skilled in agriculture, raising from their fields fertilized by the yearly inundation those rich crops of grain that provided subsistence for the dense population. How numerous and how skilled in constructive art the ancient Egyptians were, is seen by every traveller who looks on the pyramids which have made their name famous through all history. The great pyramid of Gizeh still ranks among the wonders of the world, a mountain of hewn limestone and syenite, whose size Londoners describe by saying that it stands on a square the size of Lincoln's-Inn Fields, and rises above the height of St. Paul's. The perfection of its huge blocks and the beautiful masonry of the inner chambers and passages show the skill not only of the stonecutter but of the practical geometer. The setting of the sides to the cardinal points is so exact as to prove that the Egyptians were excellent observers of the elementary facts of astronomy; the day of the equinox can be taken by observing the sunset across the face of the pyramid, and the neighboring Arabs still adjust their astronomical dates by its shadow. As far back as anything is known of them, the Egyptians appear to have worked in bronze and iron, as well as gold and silver. So their arts and habits, their sculpture and carpentry, their reckoning and measuring, their system of official life with its governors and scribes, their religion with its orders of priest-hood and its continual ceremonies, all appear the results of long and gradual growth. What, perhaps, gives the highest idea of antiquity, is to look at very early monuments, such as the tomb of Prince Teta of the 4th dynasty in the British Museum, and notice how Egyptian culture had even then begun to grow stiff and traditional. Art was already reaching the stage when it seemed to men that no more progress was possible, for their ancestors had laid down the perfect rule of life, which it was sin to alter by way of reform. Of the early Babylonians or Chaldeans less is known, yet their monuments and inscriptions show how ancient and how high was their civilization. Their writing was in cuneiform or wedge-shaped characters, of which they seem to have been the inventors, and which their successors, the Assyrians, learnt from them. They were great builders of cities, and the bricks inscribed with their kings' names remain as records of their great temples, such, for instance, as that dedicated to the god of Ur, in the city known to Biblical history as Ur of the Chaldees. Written copies of their laws exist, so advanced as to have provisions as to the property of married women, the imprisonment of a father or mother for denying their son, the daily fine of a half-measure of corn levied on the master who killed or ill-used his slaves. Their astrology, which, made the names of Chaldaean and Babylonian famous ever since, led them to make those regular observations of the heavenly bodies which gave rise to the science of astronomy. The nation which wrote its name thus largely in the book of civilization, dates back into the same period of high antiquity as the Egyptian. These then are the two nations whose culture is earliest vouched for by inscriptions done at the very time of their ancient grandeur, and, therefore, it is safer to appeal to them than to other nations which can only show as proofs of their antiquity writings drawn up in far later ages. Looking at their ancient civilization, it seems to have been formed by men whose minds worked much like our own. No superhuman powers were required for the work, but just human nature groping on by roundabouts ways, reaching great results, yet not half knowing how to profit by them when reached; solving the great problem of writing, yet not seeing how to simplify the clumsy hieroglyphics into letters; devoting earnest thought to religion and yet keeping up a dog and cat worship which was a jest even to the ancients; cultivating astronomy and yet remaining mazed in the follies of astrology. In the midst of their most striking efforts of vol. vII—s civilization, the traces may be discerned of the barbaric condition which prevailed before; the Egyptian pyramids are burial-mounds like those of prehistoric England, but huge in size and built of hewn stone or brick; the Egyptian hieroglyphics, with their pictures of men and beasts and miscellaneous things, tell the story of their own invention, how they began as a mere picture-writing like that of the rude hunters of America. Thus it appears that civilization, at the earliest dates where history brings it into view, had already reached a level which can only be accounted for by growth during a long prehistoric period. This result agrees with the conclusions already arrived at by the study of races and language.
Without attempting here to draw a picture of life as it may have been among men at their first appearance on the earth, it is important to go back as far as such evidence of the progress of civilization may fairly lead us. In judging how mankind may have once lived, it is also a great help to observe how they are actually found living. Human life may be roughly classed into three great stages, Savage, Barbaric, Civilized, which may be de-fined as follows. The lowest or savage state is that in which man subsists on wild plants and animals, neither tilling the soil nor domesticating creatures for his food. Savages may dwell in tropical forests where the abundant fruit and game may allow small clans to live in one spot and find a living all the year round, while in barer and colder regions they have to lead a wandering life in quest of the wild food which they soon exhaust in any place. In making their rude implements, the materials used by savages are what they find ready to hand, such as wood, stone, and bone, but they cannot extract metal from the ore, and therefore belong to the Stone Age. Men may be considered to have risen into the next or barbaric state when they take to agriculture. With the certain supply of food which can be stored till next harvest, settled village and town life is established, with immense results in the improvement of arts, knowledge, manners, and government. Pastoral tribes are to be reckoned in the barbaric stage, for though their life of shifting camp from pasture to pasture may prevent settled habitation and agriculture, they have from their herds a constant supply of milk and meat. Some barbaric nations have not come beyond using stone implements, but most have risen into the Metal Age. Lastly, civilized life may be taken as beginning with the art of writing, which by recording history, law, knowledge, and religion for the service of ages to come, binds together the past and the future in an unbroken chain of intellectual and moral progress. This classification of three great stages of culture is practically convenient, and has the advantage of not describing imaginary states of society, but such as are actually known to exist. So far as the evidence goes, it seems that civilization has actually grown up in the world through these three stages, so that to look at a savage of the Brazilian forests, a barbarous New Zealander or Dahoman, and a civilized European, may be the student's best guide to understanding the progress of civilization, only he must be cautioned that the comparison is but a guide, not a full explanation.
In this way it is reasonably inferred that even in countries now civilized, savage and low barbaric tribes must have once lived. Fortunately it is not left altogether to the imagination to picture the lives of these rude and ancient men, for many relics of them are found which may be seen and handled in museums. It has now to be considered what sort of evidence of man's age is thus to be had from archćology and geology, and what it proves.
When an antiquary examines the objects dug up in any place, he can generally judge in what state of civilization its inhabitants have been. Thus if there are found weapons of bronze or iron, bits of fine pottery, bones of domestic cattle, charred corn, and scraps of cloth, this would be proof that people lived there in a civilized, or at least a high barbaric condition. If there are only rude implements of stone and bone, but no metal, no earthen-ware, no remains to show that the land was tilled or cattle kept, this would be evidence that the country had been inhabited by some savage tribe. One of the chief questions to be asked about the condition of any people is, whether they have metal in use for their tools and weapons. If so, they may be said to be in the metal age. If they have no copper or iron, but make their hatchets, knives, spear-heads, and other cutting and piercing instruments of stone, they are said to be in the stone age. Wherever such stone implements are picked up, as they often are in our own ploughed fields, they prove that stone-age men have once dwelt in the land. It is an important fact that in every region of the inhabited world ancient stone implements are thus found in the ground, showing that at some time the inhabitants were in this respect like the modern savages. In countries where the people have long been metal-workers, they have often lost all memory of what these stone things are, and tell fanciful stories to account for their being met with in ploughing or digging. One favorite notion, in England and else-where, is that the stone hatchets are "thunderbolts "fallen from the sky with the lightning flash. It has been imagined that in the East, the seat of the most ancient civilizations, some district might be found without any traces of man having lived there in a state of early rudeness, so that in this part of the world he might have been civilized from the first. But it is not so. In Assyria, Palestine, Egypt, as in other lands, one may find sharp-chipped flints which show that here also tribes in the stone age once lived, before the use of metal brought in higher civilization.
Whether it may be considered or not that Europe was a quarter of the globe inhabited by the earliest tribes of men, it so happens that remains found in Europe furnish at present the best proofs of man's antiquity. To under-stand these, it must be explained that the stone age had an earlier and a later period, as may be plainly seen in looking at a good collection of stone implements. On the whole, these stone implements are much like those which the North American Indians have been using to our own day. The question is, how long ago tribes who made such stone implements were living in Europe. As to this, we may fairly judge from the position in which they are found in Denmark. The forests of that country are mainly of beeches, but in the peat-mosses lie innumerable trunks of oaks, which show that at an earlier period oak forests prevailed, and deeper still there lie trunks of pine trees, which show that there were pine forests still older than the oak forests. Thus there have been three successive forest-periods, the beech, the oak, and the pine, and the depth of the peat-mosses, which in places is as much as thirty feet, shows that the period of the pine trees was thousands of years ago. While the forests have been changing, the condition of the people living among them has changed also. The modern wood-man cuts down the beech trees with his iron axe, but among the oak trunks in the peat are found bronze swords and shield-bosses, which show that the inhabitants of the country were then in the bronze age, and lastly, a flint hatchet taken out from where it lay still lower in the peat beneath the pine trunks, proves that stone-age men in Denmark lived in the pine-forest period, which carries them back to high antiquity. In England, the tribes which have left such stone implements— were in the land before the invasion of that Keltic r,. whom we call the ancient Britons, and who no doubt came armed with weapons of metal. The stone hatchet-blades and arrow-heads of the older population lie scattered over our country, hill and dale, moor and fen, near the surface of the ground, or deeper underground in peat-mosses, or beds of mud and silt. Such bogs or mud-flats began at a date which chronologists would call ancient. But they are what geologists, accustomed to vaster periods of time, consider modern. They belong to the newer alluvial deposits, that is, they were formed within the times when the lay of the land and the flow of the streams were much as they are now. To get an idea of this, one has only to look down from a hillside into a wide valley below, and notice how its flat flooring of mud and sand, stretching right across, must have been laid down by flood-waters following very much their present course along the main stream and down the side slopes. The people of the newer stone age lived within this historically ancient, but geologically modern period, and relics of them are found only in places where man or nature could then have placed them.
But there had been a still earlier period of the stone age, when yet ruder tribes of men lived in our parts of the world, when the climate and the face of the country were strangely different from the present state of things. On the slopes of river valleys such as that of the Ouse, in England, and the Somme, in France, 50 or 100 feet above the present river-banks, and thus altogether out of the reach of any flood now, there are beds of so-called drift-gravel. Out of these beds have been dug numerous rude implements of flint, chipped into shape by the hands of men who had gained no mean dexterity in the art, as any one will find who will try his hand at making one, with any tools he thinks fit. The most remarkable implements of this earlier stone age are the picks or hatchets. The coarseness of their finish, and the absence of any signs of grinding even at the edges of hacking or cutting instruments, show that the makers had not come nearly to the skill of the later stone age. It is usual to distinguish the two kinds of implements, and the periods they belong to, by the terms introduced by Sir J. Lubbock, palholithic and neolithic, that is "old-stone" and "new-stone."
Looking at the high gravel-beds in which paheolithic implements such as these occur, it is evident from their position that they had nothing to do with the water-action which is now laying down and shifting sand-banks and mud-flats at the bottom of the valleys, nor with the present rain-wash which scours the surface of the hillsides. They must have been deposited in a former period when the condition of land and water was different from what it is now. How far this state of things was due to the valleys not being yet cut out to near their present depth, to the whole country lying lower above the sea-level, or to the rivers being vastly larger than at present from the heavier rainfall of a pluvial period, it would be raising too intricate geological questions to discuss here. Geology shows the old drift-gravels to belong to times when the glacial or icy period with its arctic climate was passing, or had passed away, in Europe. From the bones and teeth found with the flint implements in the gravel beds, it is known what animals inhabited the land at the same time with the men of the old stone age. The mammoth, or huge woolly elephant, and several kinds of rhinoceros, also extinct, browsed on the branches of the forest trees, and a species of hippopotamus much like that at present living frequented the rivers. The musk-ox and the grizzly bear, which England harbored in this remote period, may still be hunted in the Rocky Mountains, but the ancient cave-bear, which was one of the dangerous wild beasts of our land, is no longer on the face of the earth. The British lion was of a larger breed than those now in Asia and Africa, and perhaps than those which Herodotus mentions as prowling in Macedonia in the fifth century B.C., and falling on the camels of Xerxes' army. To judge by such signs as the presence of the reindeer, and the mammoth with its hairy coat, the climate of Europe was severer than now, perhaps like that of Siberia. How long man had been in the land there is no clear evidence. For all we know, he may have lasted on from an earlier and more genial period, or he may have only lately migrated into Europe from some warmer region. Implements like his are not unknown in Asia, as where in Southern India, above Madras, there lies at the foot of the Eastern Ghats a terrace of irony clay or laterite, containing stone implements of very similar make to those of the driftmen in Europe.
These European savages of the mammoth-period re-sorted much to shelter at the foot of overhanging cliffs, and to caverns such as Kent's Hole near Torquay, where the implements of the men and the bones of the beasts are found together in abundance. In Central France especially, the examination of such bone-caves has brought to light evidence of the whole way of life of a group of ancient tribes. The reindeer which have now retreated to high northern latitudes were then plentiful in France, as appears from their bones and antlers imbedded with remains of the mammoth under the stalagmite floors of the caves of Perigord. With them are found rude stone hatchets and scrapers, pounding-stones, bone spear-heads, awls, arrow-straighteners, and other objects belonging to a life like that of the modern Esquimaux who hunt the reindeer on the coasts of Hudson's Bay. Like the Esquimaux also, these early French and Swiss savages spent their leisure time in carving figures of animals. Among many such figures found in the French caves is a mammoth, scratched on a piece of its own ivory, so as to touch off neatly the shaggy hair and huge curved tusks which distinguished the mammoth from other species of elephant. There has been also found a rude representation of a man, grouped with two horses' heads and a snake or eel; this is interesting as being the most ancient human portrait known.
Thus it appears that man of the older stone age was already living when-the floods went as high above our present valley-flats as the tops of the high trees growing there now reach, and when the climate was of that Lap-land kind suited to the woolly mammoth and the reindeer, and the rest of the un-English-looking group of animals now perished out of this region, or extinct altogether. From all that is known of the slowness with which such alterations take place anywhere in the lie of the land, the climate, and the wild animals, we cannot suppose changes so vast to have happened without a long lapse of time before the newer stone age carne in, when the streams had settled down to near their present levels, and the climate and the wild creatures had become much as they were within the historical period. It is also plain from the actual remains found, that these most ancient known tribes were wild hunters and fishers, such as we should now class as savages. It is best, however, not to apply to them the term primitive men, as this might be under-stood to mean that they were the first men who appeared on earth, or at least like them. The life the men of the mammoth-period must have led at Abbeville or Torquay, shows on the face of it reasons against its being man's primitive life. These old stone-age men are more likely to have been tribes whose ancestors while living under a milder climate gained some rude skill in the arts of pro-curing food and defending themselves, so that afterwards they were able by a hard struggle to hold their own against the harsh weather and fierce beasts of the time.
How long ago this period was, no certain knowledge is yet to be had. Some geologists have suggested twenty thousand years, while others say a hundred thousand or more, but these are guesses made where there is no scale to reckon time by. It is safest to be content at present to regard it as a geological period lying back out of the range of chronology. It is thought by several eminent geologists that stones shaped by man, and therefore proving his presence, occur in England and France in beds deposited before the last glacial period, when much of the continent lay submerged under an icy sea, where drifting icebergs dropped on what is now dry land their huge boulders of rock transported from distant mountains. This cannot be taken as proved, but if true it would immensely increase our estimate of man's age. At any rate the conclusive proofs of man's existence during the quaternary or mammoth period do not even bring us into view of the remoter time when human life first began on earth. Thus geology establishes a principle which lies at the very foundation of the science of anthropology. Until of late, while it used to be reckoned by chronologists that the earth and man were less than 6,000 years old, the science of geology could hardly exist, there being no room for its long processes of building up the strata containing the remains of its vast successions of plants and animals. These are now accounted for on the theory that geological time extends over millions of years. It is true that man reaches back comparatively a little way into this immense lapse of time. Yet his first appearance on earth goes back to an age compared with which the ancients, as we call them, are but moderns. The few thousand years of recorded history only take us back to a prehistoric period of untold length, during which took place the primary distribution of mankind over the earth and the development of the great races, the formation of speech and the settlement of the great families of language, and the growth of culture up to the levels of the old world nations of the East, the forerunners and founders of modern civilized life.