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Darwin and Modern Science (1909)

Edited by A.C. Seward


Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

n a bright day in late autumn a good many years ago I had ascended the hill of Panopeus in Phocis to examine the ancient Greek fortifications which crest its brow. It was the first of November, but the weather was very hot; and when my work among the ruins was done, I was glad to rest under the shade of a clump of fine holly-oaks, to inhale the sweet refreshing perfume of the wild thyme which scented all the air, and to enjoy the distant prospects, rich in natural beauty, rich too in memories of the legendary and historic past. To the south the finely-cut peak of Helicon peered over the low intervening hills. In the west loomed the mighty mass of Parnassus, its middle slopes darkened by pine-woods like shadows of clouds brooding on the mountain-side; while at its skirts nestled the ivy-mantled walls of Daulis overhanging the deep glen, whose romantic beauty accords so well with the loves and sorrows of Procne and Philomela, which Greek tradition associated with the spot. Northwards, across the broad plain to which the hill of Panopeus descends, steep and bare, the eye rested on the gap in the hills through which the Cephissus winds his tortuous way to flow under grey willows, at the foot of barren stony hills, till his turbid waters lose themselves, no longer in the vast reedy swamps of the now vanished Copaic Lake, but in the darkness of a cavern in the limestone rock. Eastward, clinging to the slopes of the bleak range of which the hill of Panopeus forms part, were the ruins of Chaeronea, the birthplace of Plutarch; and out there in the plain was fought the disastrous battle which laid Greece at the feet of Macedonia. There, too, in a later age East and West met in deadly conflict, when the Roman armies under Sulla defeated the Asiatic hosts of Mithridates. Such was the landscape spread out before me on one of those farewell autumn days of almost pathetic splendour, when the departing summer seems to linger fondly, as if loth to resign to winter the enchanted mountains of Greece. Next day the scene had changed: summer was gone. A grey November mist hung low on the hills which only yesterday had shone resplendent in the sun, and under its melancholy curtain the dead flat of the Chaeronean plain, a wide treeless expanse shut in by desolate slopes, wore an aspect of chilly sadness befitting the battlefield where a nation's freedom was lost.

But crowded as the prospect from Panopeus is with memories of the past, the place itself, now so still and deserted, was once the scene of an event even more ancient and memorable, if Greek story-tellers can be trusted. For here, they say, the sage Prometheus created our first parents by fashioning them, like a potter, out of clay. (Pausanias X. 4.4. Compare Apollodorus, "Bibliotheca", I. 7. 1; Ovid, "Metamorph." I. 82 sq.; Juvenal, "Sat". XIV. 35. According to another version of the tale, this creation of mankind took place not at Panopeus, but at Iconium in Lycaonia. After the original race of mankind had been destroyed in the great flood of Deucalion, the Greek Noah, Zeus commanded Prometheus and Athena to create men afresh by moulding images out of clay, breathing the winds into them, and making them live. See "Etymologicum Magnum", s.v. "'Ikonion", pages 470 sq. It is said that Prometheus fashioned the animals as well as men, giving to each kind of beast its proper nature. See Philemon, quoted by Stobaeus, "Florilegium" II. 27. The creation of man by Prometheus is figured on ancient works of art. See J. Toutain, "Etudes de Mythologie et d'Histoire des Religions Antiques" (Paris, 1909), page 190. According to Hesiod ("Works and Days", 60 sqq.) it was Hephaestus who at the bidding of Zeus moulded the first woman out of moist earth.) The very spot where he did so can still be seen. It is a forlorn little glen or rather hollow behind the hill of Panopeus, below the ruined but still stately walls and towers which crown the grey rocks of the summit. The glen, when I visited it that hot day after the long drought of summer, was quite dry; no water trickled down its bushy sides, but in the bottom I found a reddish crumbling earth, a relic perhaps of the clay out of which the potter Prometheus moulded the Greek Adam and Eve. In a volume dedicated to the honour of one who has done more than any other in modern times to shape the ideas of mankind as to their origin it may not be out of place to recall this crude Greek notion of the creation of the human race, and to compare or contrast it with other rudimentary speculations of primitive peoples on the same subject, if only for the sake of marking the interval which divides the childhood from the maturity of science.

The simple notion that the first man and woman were modelled out of clay by a god or other superhuman being is found in the traditions of many peoples. This is the Hebrew belief recorded in Genesis: "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis ii.7.) To the Hebrews this derivation of our species suggested itself all the more naturally because in their language the word for "ground" (adamah) is in form the feminine of the word for man (adam). (S.R. Driver and W.H.Bennett, in their commentaries on Genesis ii. 7.) From various allusions in Babylonian literature it would seem that the Babylonians also conceived man to have been moulded out of clay. (H. Zimmern, in E. Schrader's "Die Keilinschriften und das Alte Testament"3 (Berlin, 1902), page 506.) According to Berosus, the Babylonian priest whose account of creation has been preserved in a Greek version, the god Bel cut off his own head, and the other gods caught the flowing blood, mixed it with earth, and fashioned men out of the bloody paste; and that, they said, is why men are so wise, because their mortal clay is tempered with divine blood. (Eusebius, "Chronicon", ed. A. Schoene, Vol. I. (Berlin, 1875), col. 16.) In Egyptian mythology Khnoumou, the Father of the gods, is said to have moulded men out of clay. (G. Maspero, "Histoire Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient Classique", I. (Paris, 1895), page 128.) We cannot doubt that such crude conceptions of the origin of our race were handed down to the civilised peoples of antiquity by their savage or barbarous forefathers. Certainly stories of the same sort are known to be current among savages and barbarians.

Thus the Australian blacks in the neighbourhood of Melbourne said that Pund-jel, the creator, cut three large sheets of bark with his big knife. On one of these he placed some clay and worked it up with his knife into a proper consistence. He then laid a portion of the clay on one of the other pieces of bark and shaped it into a human form; first he made the feet, then the legs, then the trunk, the arms, and the head. Thus he made a clay man on each of the two pieces of bark; and being well pleased with them he danced round them for joy. Next he took stringy bark from the Eucalyptus tree, made hair of it, and stuck it on the heads of his clay men. Then he looked at them again, was pleased with his work, and again danced round them for joy. He then lay down on them, blew his breath hard into their mouths, their noses, and their navels; and presently they stirred, spoke, and rose up as full-grown men. (R. Brough Smyth, "The Aborigines of Victoria" (Melbourne, 1878), I. 424. This and many of the following legends of creation have been already cited by me in a note on Pausanias X. 4. 4 ("Pausanias's Description of Greece, translated with a Commentary" (London, 1898), Vol V. pages 220 sq.).) The Maoris of New Zealand say that Tiki made man after his own image. He took red clay, kneaded it, like the Babylonian Bel, with his own blood, fashioned it in human form, and gave the image breath. As he had made man in his own likeness he called him Tiki-ahua or Tiki's likeness. (R. Taylor "Te Ika A Maui, or New Zealand and its Inhabitants", Second Edition (London, 1870), page 117. Compare E. Shortland, "Maori Religion and Mythology" (London, 1882), pages 21 sq.) A very generally received tradition in Tahiti was that the first human pair was made by Taaroa, the chief god. They say that after he had formed the world he created man out of red earth, which was also the food of mankind until bread-fruit was produced. Further, some say that one day Taaroa called for the man by name, and when he came he made him fall asleep. As he slept, the creator took out one of his bones (ivi) and made a woman of it, whom he gave to the man to be his wife, and the pair became the progenitors of mankind. This narrative was taken down from the lips of the natives in the early years of the mission to Tahiti. The missionary who records it observes: "This always appeared to me a mere recital of the Mosaic account of creation, which they had heard from some European, and I never placed any reliance on it, although they have repeatedly told me it was a tradition among them before any foreigner arrived. Some have also stated that the woman's name was Ivi, which would be by them pronounced as if written "Eve". "Ivi" is an aboriginal word, and not only signifies a bone, but also a widow, and a victim slain in war. Notwithstanding the assertion of the natives, I am disposed to think that "Ivi", or Eve, is the only aboriginal part of the story, as far as it respects the mother of the human race. (W. Ellis, "Polynesian Researches", Second Edition (London, 1832), I. 110 sq. "Ivi" or "iwi" is the regular word for "bone" in the various Polynesian languages. See E. Tregear, "The Maori-Polynesian Comparative Dictionary" (Wellington, New Zealand, 1891), page 109.) However, the same tradition has been recorded in other parts of Polynesia besides Tahiti. Thus the natives of Fakaofo or Bowditch Island say that the first man was produced out of a stone. After a time he bethought him of making a woman. So he gathered earth and moulded the figure of a woman out of it, and having done so he took a rib out of his left side and thrust it into the earthen figure, which thereupon started up a live woman. He called her Ivi (Eevee) or "rib" and took her to wife, and the whole human race sprang from this pair. (G. Turner, "Samoa" (London, 1884), pages 267 sq.) The Maoris also are reported to believe that the first woman was made out of the first man's ribs. (J.L. Nicholas, "Narrative of a Voyage to New Zealand" (London, 1817), I. 59, who writes "and to add still more to this strange coincidence, the general term for bone is 'Hevee'.") This wide diffusion of the story in Polynesia raises a doubt whether it is merely, as Ellis thought, a repetition of the Biblical narrative learned from Europeans. In Nui, or Netherland Island, it was the god Aulialia who made earthen models of a man and woman, raised them up, and made them live. He called the man Tepapa and the woman Tetata. (G. Turner, "Samoa", pages 300 sq.)

In the Pelew Islands they say that a brother and sister made men out of clay kneaded with the blood of various animals, and that the characters of these first men and of their descendants were determined by the characters of the animals whose blood had been kneaded with the primordial clay; for instance, men who have rat's blood in them are thieves, men who have serpent's blood in them are sneaks, and men who have cock's blood in them are brave. (J. Kubary, "Die Religion der Pelauer", in A. Bastian's "Allerlei aus Volks- und Menschenkunde" (Berlin, 1888), I. 3, 56.) According to a Melanesian legend, told in Mota, one of the Banks Islands, the hero Qat moulded men of clay, the red clay from the marshy river-side at Vanua Lava. At first he made men and pigs just alike, but his brothers remonstrated with him, so he beat down the pigs to go on all fours and made men walk upright. Qat fashioned the first woman out of supple twigs, and when she smiled he knew she was a living woman. (R.H. Codrington, "The Melanesians" (Oxford, 1891), page 158.) A somewhat different version of the Melanesian story is told at Lakona, in Santa Maria. There they say that Qat and another spirit ("vui") called Marawa both made men. Qat made them out of the wood of dracaena-trees. Six days he worked at them, carving their limbs and fitting them together. Then he allowed them six days to come to life. Three days he hid them away, and three days more he worked to make them live. He set them up and danced to them and beat his drum, and little by little they stirred, till at last they could stand all by themselves. Then Qat divided them into pairs and called each pair husband and wife. Marawa also made men out of a tree, but it was a different tree, the tavisoviso. He likewise worked at them six days, beat his drum, and made them live, just as Qat did. But when he saw them move, he dug a pit and buried them in it for six days, and then, when he scraped away the earth to see what they were doing, he found them all rotten and stinking. That was the origin of death. (R.H. Codrington op. cit., pages 157 sq.)

The inhabitants of Noo-Hoo-roa, in the Kei Islands say that their ancestors were fashioned out of clay by the supreme god, Dooadlera, who breathed life into the clay figures. (C.M. Pleyte, "Ethnographische Beschrijving der Kei-Eilanden", "Tijdschrift van het Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap", Tweede Serie X. (1893), page 564.) The aborigines of Minahassa, in the north of Celebes, say that two beings called Wailan Wangko and Wangi were alone on an island, on which grew a cocoa-nut tree. Said Wailan Wangko to Wangi, "Remain on earth while I climb up the tree." Said Wangi to Wailan Wangko, "Good." But then a thought occurred to Wangi and he climbed up the tree to ask Wailan Wangko why he, Wangi, should remain down there all alone. Said Wailan Wangko to Wangi, "Return and take earth and make two images, a man and a woman." Wangi did so, and both images were men who could move but could not speak. So Wangi climbed up the tree to ask Wailan Wangko, "How now? The two images are made, but they cannot speak." Said Wailan Wangko to Wangi, "Take this ginger and go and blow it on the skulls and the ears of these two images, that they may be able to speak; call the man Adam and the woman Ewa." (N. Graafland "De Minahassa" (Rotterdam, 1869), I. pages 96 sq.) In this narrative the names of the man and woman betray European influence, but the rest of the story may be aboriginal. The Dyaks of Sakarran in British Borneo say that the first man was made by two large birds. At first they tried to make men out of trees, but in vain. Then they hewed them out of rocks, but the figures could not speak. Then they moulded a man out of damp earth and infused into his veins the red gum of the kumpang-tree. After that they called to him and he answered; they cut him and blood flowed from his wounds. (Horsburgh, quoted by H. Ling Roth, "The Natives of Sarawak and of British North Borneo" (London, 1896), I. pages 299 sq. Compare The Lord Bishop of Labuan, "On the Wild Tribes of the North-West Coast of Borneo," "Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London", New Series, II. (1863), page 27.)

The Kumis of South-Eastern India related to Captain Lewin, the Deputy Commissioner of Hill Tracts, the following tradition of the creation of man. "God made the world and the trees and the creeping things first, and after that he set to work to make one man and one woman, forming their bodies of clay; but each night, on the completion of his work, there came a great snake, which, while God was sleeping, devoured the two images. This happened twice or thrice, and God was at his wit's end, for he had to work all day, and could not finish the pair in less than twelve hours; besides, if he did not sleep, he would be no good," said Captain Lewin's informant. "If he were not obliged to sleep, there would be no death, nor would mankind be afflicted with illness. It is when he rests that the snake carries us off to this day. Well, he was at his wit's end, so at last he got up early one morning and first made a dog and put life into it, and that night, when he had finished the images, he set the dog to watch them, and when the snake came, the dog barked and frightened it away. This is the reason at this day that when a man is dying the dogs begin to howl; but I suppose God sleeps heavily now-a-days, or the snake is bolder, for men die all the same." (Capt. T.H. Lewin, "Wild Races of South-Eastern India" (London, 1870), pages 224-26.) The Khasis of Assam tell a similar tale. (A. Bastian, "Volkerstamme am Brahmaputra und verwandtschaftliche Nachbarn" (Berlin, 1883), page 8; Major P.R.T. Gurdon, "The Khasis" (London, 1907), page 106.)

The Ewe-speaking tribes of Togo-land, in West Africa, think that God still makes men out of clay. When a little of the water with which he moistens the clay remains over, he pours it on the ground and out of that he makes the bad and disobedient people. When he wishes to make a good man he makes him out of good clay; but when he wishes to make a bad man, he employs only bad clay for the purpose. In the beginning God fashioned a man and set him on the earth; after that he fashioned a woman. The two looked at each other and began to laugh, whereupon God sent them into the world. (J. Spieth, "Die Ewe-Stamme, Material zur Kunde des Ewe-Volkes in Deutsch-Togo" (Berlin, 1906), pages 828, 840.) The Innuit or Esquimaux of Point Barrow, in Alaska, tell of a time when there was no man in the land, till a spirit named "a se lu", who resided at Point Barrow, made a clay man, set him up on the shore to dry, breathed into him and gave him life. ("Report of the International Expedition to Point Barrow" (Washington, 1885), page 47.) Other Esquimaux of Alaska relate how the Raven made the first woman out of clay to be a companion to the first man; he fastened water-grass to the back of the head to be hair, flapped his wings over the clay figure, and it arose, a beautiful young woman. (E.W. Nelson, "The Eskimo about Bering Strait", "Eighteenth Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology", Part I. (Washington, 1899), page 454.) The Acagchemem Indians of California said that a powerful being called Chinigchinich created man out of clay which he found on the banks of a lake; male and female created he them, and the Indians of the present day are their descendants. (Friar Geronimo Boscana, "Chinigchinich", appended to (A. Robinson's) "Life in California" (New York, 1846), page 247.) A priest of the Natchez Indians in Louisiana told Du Pratz "that God had kneaded some clay, such as that which potters use and had made it into a little man; and that after examining it, and finding it well formed, he blew up his work, and forthwith that little man had life, grew, acted, walked, and found himself a man perfectly well shaped." As to the mode in which the first woman was created, the priest had no information, but thought she was probably made in the same way as the first man; so Du Pratz corrected his imperfect notions by reference to Scripture. (M. Le Page Du Pratz, "The History of Louisiana" (London, 1774), page 330.) The Michoacans of Mexico said that the great god Tucapacha first made man and woman out of clay, but that when the couple went to bathe in a river they absorbed so much water that the clay of which they were composed all fell to pieces. Then the creator went to work again and moulded them afresh out of ashes, and after that he essayed a third time and made them of metal. This last attempt succeeded. The metal man and woman bathed in the river without falling to pieces, and by their union they became the progenitors of mankind. (A. de Herrera, "General History of the vast Continent and Islands of America", translated into English by Capt. J. Stevens (London, 1725, 1726), III. 254; Brasseur de Bourbourg, "Histoire des Nations Civilisees du Mexique et de l'Amerique- Centrale" (Paris, 1857—1859), III. 80 sq; compare id. I. 54 sq.)

According to a legend of the Peruvian Indians, which was told to a Spanish priest in Cuzco about half a century after the conquest, it was in Tiahuanaco that man was first created, or at least was created afresh after the deluge. "There (in Tiahuanaco)," so runs the legend, "the Creator began to raise up the people and nations that are in that region, making one of each nation of clay, and painting the dresses that each one was to wear; those that were to wear their hair, with hair, and those that were to be shorn, with hair cut. And to each nation was given the language, that was to be spoken, and the songs to be sung, and the seeds and food that they were to sow. When the Creator had finished painting and making the said nations and figures of clay, he gave life and soul to each one, as well men as women, and ordered that they should pass under the earth. Thence each nation came up in the places to which he ordered them to go." (E.J. Payne, "History of the New World called America", I. (Oxford, 1892), page 462.)

These examples suffice to prove that the theory of the creation of man out of dust or clay has been current among savages in many parts of the world. But it is by no means the only explanation which the savage philosopher has given of the beginnings of human life on earth. Struck by the resemblances which may be traced between himself and the beasts, he has often supposed, like Darwin himself, that mankind has been developed out of lower forms of animal life. For the simple savage has none of that high notion of the transcendant dignity of man which makes so many superior persons shrink with horror from the suggestion that they are distant cousins of the brutes. He on the contrary is not too proud to own his humble relations; indeed his difficulty often is to perceive the distinction between him and them. Questioned by a missionary, a Bushman of more than average intelligence "could not state any difference between a man and a brute—he did not know but a buffalo might shoot with bows and arrows as well as man, if it had them." (Reverend John Campbell, "Travels in South Africa" (London, 1822, II. page 34.) When the Russians first landed on one of the Alaskan islands, the natives took them for cuttle-fish "on account of the buttons on their clothes." (I. Petroff, "Report on the Population, Industries, and Resources of Alaska", page 145.) The Giliaks of the Amoor think that the outward form and size of an animal are only apparent; in substance every beast is a real man, just like a Giliak himself, only endowed with an intelligence and strength, which often surpass those of mere ordinary human beings. (L. Sternberg, "Die Religion der Giljaken", "Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft", VIII. (1905), page 248.) The Borororos, an Indian tribe of Brazil, will have it that they are parrots of a gorgeous red plumage which live in their native forests. Accordingly they treat the birds as their fellow-tribesmen, keeping them in captivity, refusing to eat their flesh, and mourning for them when they die. (K. von den Steinen, "Unter den Naturvolkern Zentral-Brasiliens" (Berlin, 1894), pages 352 sq., 512.)

This sense of the close relationship of man to the lower creation is the essence of totemism, that curious system of superstition which unites by a mystic bond a group of human kinsfolk to a species of animals or plants. Where that system exists in full force, the members of a totem clan identify themselves with their totem animals in a way and to an extent which we find it hard even to imagine. For example, men of the Cassowary clan in Mabuiag think that cassowaries are men or nearly so. "Cassowary, he all same as relation, he belong same family," is the account they give of their relationship with the long-legged bird. Conversely they hold that they themselves are cassowaries for all practical purposes. They pride themselves on having long thin legs like a cassowary. This reflection affords them peculiar satisfaction when they go out to fight, or to run away, as the case may be; for at such times a Cassowary man will say to himself, "My leg is long and thin, I can run and not feel tired; my legs will go quickly and the grass will not entangle them." Members of the Cassowary clan are reputed to be pugnacious, because the cassowary is a bird of very uncertain temper and can kick with extreme violence. (A.C. Haddon, "The Ethnography of the Western Tribe of Torres Straits", "Journal of the Anthropological Institute", XIX. (1890), page 393; "Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits", V. (Cambridge, 1904), pages 166, 184.) So among the Ojibways men of the Bear clan are reputed to be surly and pugnacious like bears, and men of the Crane clan to have clear ringing voices like cranes. (W.W. Warren, "History of the Ojibways", "Collections of the Minnesota Historical Society", V. (Saint Paul, Minn. 1885), pages 47, 49.) Hence the savage will often speak of his totem animal as his father or his brother, and will neither kill it himself nor allow others to do so, if he can help it. For example, if somebody were to kill a bird in the presence of a native Australian who had the bird for his totem, the black might say, "What for you kill that fellow? that my father!" or "That brother belonging to me you have killed; why did you do it?" (E. Palmer, "Notes on some Australian Tribes", "Journal of the Anthropological Institute", XIII. (1884), page 300.) Bechuanas of the Porcupine clan are greatly afflicted if anybody hurts or kills a porcupine in their presence. They say, "They have killed our brother, our master, one of ourselves, him whom we sing of"; and so saying they piously gather the quills of their murdered brother, spit on them, and rub their eyebrows with them. They think they would die if they touched its flesh. In like manner Bechuanas of the Crocodile clan call the crocodile one of themselves, their master, their brother; and they mark the ears of their cattle with a long slit like a crocodile's mouth by way of a family crest. Similarly Bechuanas of the Lion clan would not, like the members of other clans, partake of lion's flesh; for how, say they, could they eat their grandfather? If they are forced in self-defence to kill a lion, they do so with great regret and rub their eyes carefully with its skin, fearing to lose their sight if they neglected this precaution. (T. Arbousset et F. Daumas, "Relation d'un Voyage d'Exploration au Nord-Est de la Colonie du Cap de Bonne-Esperance" (Paris, 1842), pages 349 sq., 422-24.) A Mandingo porter has been known to offer the whole of his month's pay to save the life of a python, because the python was his totem and he therefore regarded the reptile as his relation; he thought that if he allowed the creature to be killed, the whole of his own family would perish, probably through the vengeance to be taken by the reptile kinsfolk of the murdered serpent. (M. le Docteur Tautain, "Notes sur les Croyances et Pratiques Religieuses des Banmanas", "Revue d'Ethnographie", III. (1885), pages 396 sq.; A. Rancon, "Dans la Haute-Gambie, Voyage d'Exploration Scientifique" (Paris, 1894), page 445.)

Sometimes, indeed, the savage goes further and identifies the revered animal not merely with a kinsman but with himself; he imagines that one of his own more or less numerous souls, or at all events that a vital part of himself, is in the beast, so that if it is killed he must die. Thus, the Balong tribe of the Cameroons, in West Africa, think that every man has several souls, of which one is lodged in an elephant, a wild boar, a leopard, or what not. When any one comes home, feels ill, and says, "I shall soon die," and is as good as his word, his friends are of opinion that one of his souls has been shot by a hunter in a wild boar or a leopard, for example, and that that is the real cause of his death. (J. Keller, "Ueber das Land und Volk der Balong", "Deutsches Kolonialblatt", 1 October, 1895, page 484.) A Catholic missionary, sleeping in the hut of a chief of the Fan negroes, awoke in the middle of the night to see a huge black serpent of the most dangerous sort in the act of darting at him. He was about to shoot it when the chief stopped him, saying, "In killing that serpent, it is me that you would have killed. Fear nothing, the serpent is my elangela." (Father Trilles, "Chez les Fang, leurs Moeurs, leur Langue, leur Religion", "Les Missions Catholiques", XXX. (1898), page 322.) At Calabar there used to be some years ago a huge old crocodile which was well known to contain the spirit of a chief who resided in the flesh at Duke Town. Sporting Vice-Consuls, with a reckless disregard of human life, from time to time made determined attempts to injure the animal, and once a peculiarly active officer succeeded in hitting it. The chief was immediately laid up with a wound in his leg. He SAID that a dog had bitten him, but few people perhaps were deceived by so flimsy a pretext. (Miss Mary H. Kingsley, "Travels in West Africa" (London, 1897), pages 538 sq. As to the external or bush souls of human beings, which in this part of Africa are supposed to be lodged in the bodies of animals, see Miss Mary H. Kingsley op. cit. pages 459-461; R. Henshaw, "Notes on the Efik belief in 'bush soul'", "Man", VI.(1906), pages 121 sq.; J. Parkinson, "Notes on the Asaba people (Ibos) of the Niger", "Journal of the Anthropological Institute", XXXVI. (1906), pages 314 sq.) Once when Mr Partridge's canoe- men were about to catch fish near an Assiga town in Southern Nigeria, the natives of the town objected, saying, "Our souls live in those fish, and if you kill them we shall die." (Charles Partridge, "Cross River Natives" (London, 1905), pages 225 sq.) On another occasion, in the same region, an Englishman shot a hippopotamus near a native village. The same night a woman died in the village, and her friends demanded and obtained from the marksman five pounds as compensation for the murder of the woman, whose soul or second self had been in that hippopotamus. (C.H. Robinson, "Hausaland" (London, 1896), pages 36 sq.) Similarly at Ndolo, in the Congo region, we hear of a chief whose life was bound up with a hippopotamus, but he prudently suffered no one to fire at the animal. ("Notes Analytiques sur les Collections Ethnographiques du Musee du Congo", I. (Brussels, 1902- 06), page 150.

Amongst people who thus fail to perceive any sharp line of distinction between beasts and men it is not surprising to meet with the belief that human beings are directly descended from animals. Such a belief is often found among totemic tribes who imagine that their ancestors sprang from their totemic animals or plants; but it is by no means confined to them. Thus, to take instances, some of the Californian Indians, in whose mythology the coyote or prairie-wolf is a leading personage, think that they are descended from coyotes. At first they walked on all fours; then they began to have some members of the human body, one finger, one toe, one eye, one ear, and so on; then they got two fingers, two toes, two eyes, two ears, and so forth; till at last, progressing from period to period, they became perfect human beings. The loss of their tails, which they still deplore, was produced by the habit of sitting upright. (H.R. Schoolcraft, "Indian Tribes of the United States", IV. (Philadelphia, 1856), pages 224 sq.; compare id. V. page 217. The descent of some, not all, Indians from coyotes is mentioned also by Friar Boscana, in (A. Robinson's) "Life in California" (New York, 1846), page 299.) Similarly Darwin thought that "the tail has disappeared in man and the anthropomorphous apes, owing to the terminal portion having been injured by friction during a long lapse of time; the basal and embedded portion having been reduced and modified, so as to become suitable to the erect or semi-erect position." (Charles Darwin, "The Descent of Man", Second Edition (London, 1879), page 60.) The Turtle clam of the Iroquois think that they are descended from real mud turtles which used to live in a pool. One hot summer the pool dried up, and the mud turtles set out to find another. A very fat turtle, waddling after the rest in the heat, was much incommoded by the weight of his shell, till by a great effort he heaved it off altogether. After that he gradually developed into a man and became the progenitor of the Turtle clan. (E.A. Smith, "Myths of the Iroquois", "Second Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology" (Washington, 1883), page 77.) The Crawfish band of the Choctaws are in like manner descended from real crawfish, which used to live under ground, only coming up occasionally through the mud to the surface. Once a party of Choctaws smoked them out, taught them the Choctaw language, taught them to walk on two legs, made them cut off their toe nails and pluck the hair from their bodies, after which they adopted them into the tribe. But the rest of their kindred, the crawfish, are crawfish under ground to this day. (Geo. Catlin, "North American Indians"4 (London, 1844), II. page 128.) The Osage Indians universally believed that they were descended from a male snail and a female beaver. A flood swept the snail down to the Missouri and left him high and dry on the bank, where the sun ripened him into a man. He met and married a beaver maid, and from the pair the tribe of the Osages is descended. For a long time these Indians retained a pious reverence for their animal ancestors and refrained from hunting beavers, because in killing a beaver they killed a brother of the Osages. But when white men came among them and offered high prices for beaver skins, the Osages yielded to the temptation and took the lives of their furry brethren. (Lewis and Clarke, "Travels to the Source of the Missouri River" (London, 1815), I. 12 (Vol. I. pages 44 sq. of the London reprint, 1905).) The Carp clan of the Ootawak Indians are descended from the eggs of a carp which had been deposited by the fish on the banks of a stream and warmed by the sun. ("Lettres Edifiantes et Curieuses", Nouvelle Edition, VI. (Paris, 1781), page 171.) The Crane clan of the Ojibways are sprung originally from a pair of cranes, which after long wanderings settled on the rapids at the outlet of Lake Superior, where they were changed by the Great Spirit into a man and woman. (L.H. Morgan, "Ancient Society" (London, 1877), page 180.) The members of two Omaha clans were originally buffaloes and lived, oddly enough, under water, which they splashed about, making it muddy. And at death all the members of these clans went back to their ancestors the buffaloes. So when one of them lay adying, his friends used to wrap him up in a buffalo skin with the hair outside and say to him, "You came hither from the animals and you are going back thither. Do not face this way again. When you go, continue walking. (J. Owen Dorsey, "Omaha Sociology", "Third Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology" (Washington, 1884), pages 229, 233.) The Haida Indians of Queen Charlotte Islands believe that long ago the raven, who is the chief figure in the mythology of North-West America, took a cockle from the beach and married it; the cockle gave birth to a female child, whom the raven took to wife, and from their union the Indians were produced. (G.M. Dawson, "Report on the Queen Charlotte Islands" (Montreal, 1880), pages 149B sq. ("Geological Survey of Canada"); F. Poole, "Queen Charlotte Islands", page 136.) The Delaware Indians called the rattle-snake their grandfather and would on no account destroy one of these reptiles, believing that were they to do so the whole race of rattle-snakes would rise up and bite them. Under the influence of the white man, however, their respect for their grandfather the rattle-snake gradually died away, till at last they killed him without compunction or ceremony whenever they met him. The writer who records the old custom observes that he had often reflected on the curious connection which appears to subsist in the mind of an Indian between man and the brute creation; "all animated nature," says he, "in whatever degree, is in their eyes a great whole, from which they have not yet ventured to separate themselves." (Rev. John Heckewelder, "An Account of the History, Manners, and Customs, of the Indian Nations, who once inhabited Pennsylvania and the Neighbouring States", "Transactions of the Historical and Literary Committee of the American Philosophical Society", I. (Philadelphia, 1819), pages 245, 247, 248.)

Some of the Indians of Peru boasted of being descended from the puma or American lion; hence they adored the lion as a god and appeared at festivals like Hercules dressed in the skins of lions with the heads of the beasts fixed over their own. Others claimed to be sprung from condors and attired themselves in great black and white wings, like that enormous bird. (Garcilasso de la Vega, "First Part of the Royal Commentaries of the Yncas", Vol. I. page 323, Vol. II. page 156 (Markham's translation).) The Wanika of East Africa look upon the hyaena as one of their ancestors or as associated in some way with their origin and destiny. The death of a hyaena is mourned by the whole people, and the greatest funeral ceremonies which they perform are performed for this brute. The wake held over a chief is as nothing compared to the wake held over a hyaena; one tribe only mourns the death of its chief, but all the tribes unite to celebrate the obsequies of a hyaena. (Charles New, "Life, Wanderings, and Labours in Eastern Africa" (London, 1873) page 122.) Some Malagasy families claim to be descended from the babacoote (Lichanotus brevicaudatus), a large lemur of grave appearance and staid demeanour, which lives in the depth of the forest. When they find one of these creatures dead, his human descendants bury it solemnly, digging a grave for it, wrapping it in a shroud, and weeping and lamenting over its carcase. A doctor who had shot a babacoote was accused by the inhabitants of a Betsimisaraka village of having killed "one of their grandfathers in the forest," and to appease their indignation he had to promise not to skin the animal in the village but in a solitary place where nobody could see him. (Father Abinal, "Croyances fabuleuses des Malgaches", "Les Missions Catholiques", XII. (1880), page 526; G.H. Smith, "Some Betsimisaraka superstitions", "The Antananarivo Annual and Madagascar Magazine", No. 10 (Antananarivo, 1886), page 239; H.W. Little, "Madagascar, its History and People" (London, 1884), pages 321 sq; A. van Gennep, "Tabou et Totemisme a Madagascar" (Paris, 1904), pages 214 sqq.) Many of the Betsimisaraka believe that the curious nocturnal animal called the aye-aye (Cheiromys madagascariensis) "is the embodiment of their forefathers, and hence will not touch it, much less do it an injury. It is said that when one is discovered dead in the forest, these people make a tomb for it and bury it with all the forms of a funeral. They think that if they attempt to entrap it, they will surely die in consequence." (G.A. Shaw, "The Aye-aye", "Antananarivo Annual and Madagascar Magazine", Vol. II. (Antananarivo, 1896), pages 201, 203 (Reprint of the Second four Numbers). Compare A. van Gennep, "Tabou et Totemisme a Madagascar", pages 223 sq.) Some Malagasy tribes believe themselves descended from crocodiles and accordingly they deem the formidable reptiles their brothers. If one of these scaly brothers so far forgets the ties of kinship as to devour a man, the chief of the tribe, or in his absence an old man familiar with the tribal customs, repairs at the head of the people to the edge of the water, and summons the family of the culprit to deliver him up to the arm of justice. A hook is then baited and cast into the river or lake. Next day the guilty brother or one of his family is dragged ashore, formally tried, sentenced to death, and executed. The claims of justice being thus satisfied, the dead animal is lamented and buried like a kinsman; a mound is raised over his grave and a stone marks the place of his head. (Father Abinal, "Croyances fabuleuses des Malgaches", "Les Missions Catholiques", XII. (1880), page 527; A. van Gennep, "Tabou et Totemisme a Madagascar", pages 281 sq.)

Amongst the Tshi-speaking tribes of the Gold Coast in West Africa the Horse-mackerel family traces its descent from a real horse-mackerel whom an ancestor of theirs once took to wife. She lived with him happily in human shape on shore till one day a second wife, whom the man had married, cruelly taunted her with being nothing but a fish. That hurt her so much that bidding her husband farewell she returned to her old home in the sea, with her youngest child in her arms, and never came back again. But ever since the Horse-mackerel people have refrained from eating horse-mackerels, because the lost wife and mother was a fish of that sort. (A.B. Ellis, "The Tshi-speaking Peoples of the Gold Coast of West Africa" (London, 1887), pages 208-11. A similar tale is told by another fish family who abstain from eating the fish (appei) from which they take their name (A.B. Ellis op. cit. pages 211 sq.).) Some of the Land Dyaks of Borneo tell a similar tale to explain a similar custom. "There is a fish which is taken in their rivers called a puttin, which they would on no account touch, under the idea that if they did they would be eating their relations. The tradition respecting it is, that a solitary old man went out fishing and caught a puttin, which he dragged out of the water and laid down in his boat. On turning round, he found it had changed into a very pretty little girl. Conceiving the idea she would make, what he had long wished for, a charming wife for his son, he took her home and educated her until she was fit to be married. She consented to be the son's wife cautioning her husband to use her well. Some time after their marriage, however, being out of temper, he struck her, when she screamed, and rushed away into the water; but not without leaving behind her a beautiful daughter, who became afterwards the mother of the race." (The Lord Bishop of Labuan, "On the Wild Tribes of the North-West Coast of Borneo", "Transactions of the Ethnological Society of London", New Series II. (London, 1863), pages 26 sq. Such stories conform to a well-known type which may be called the Swan-Maiden type of story, or Beauty and the Beast, or Cupid and Psyche. The occurrence of stories of this type among totemic peoples, such as the Tshi-speaking negroes of the Gold Coast, who tell them to explain their totemic taboos, suggests that all such tales may have originated in totemism. I shall deal with this question elsewhere.)

Members of a clan in Mandailing, on the west coast of Sumatra, assert that they are descended from a tiger, and at the present day, when a tiger is shot, the women of the clan are bound to offer betel to the dead beast. When members of this clan come upon the tracks of a tiger, they must, as a mark of homage, enclose them with three little sticks. Further, it is believed that the tiger will not attack or lacerate his kinsmen, the members of the clan. (H. Ris, "De Onderafdeeling Klein Mandailing Oeloe en Pahantan en hare Bevolking met uitzondering van de Oeloes", "Bijdragen tot de Tall- Land- en Volkenkunde van Nederlansch-Indie, XLVI. (1896), page 473.) The Battas of Central Sumatra are divided into a number of clans which have for their totems white buffaloes, goats, wild turtle-doves, dogs, cats, apes, tigers, and so forth; and one of the explanations which they give of their totems is that these creatures were their ancestors, and that their own souls after death can transmigrate into the animals. (J.B. Neumann, "Het Pane en Bila-stroomgebied op het eiland Sumatra", "Tijdschrift van het Nederlandsch Aardrijkskundig Genootschap", Tweede Serie, III. Afdeeling, Meer uitgebreide Artikelen, No. 2 (Amsterdam, 1886), pages 311 sq.; id. ib. Tweede Serie, IV. Afdeeling, Meer uitgebreide Artikelen, No. 1 (Amsterdam, 1887), pages 8 sq.) In Amboyna and the neighbouring islands the inhabitants of some villages aver that they are descended from trees, such as the Capellenia moluccana, which had been fertilised by the Pandion Haliaetus. Others claim to be sprung from pigs, octopuses, crocodiles, sharks, and eels. People will not burn the wood of the trees from which they trace their descent, nor eat the flesh of the animals which they regard as their ancestors. Sicknesses of all sorts are believed to result from disregarding these taboos. (J.G.F. Riedel, "De sluik- en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua" (The Hague, 1886), pages 32, 61; G.W.W.C. Baron van Hoevell, "Ambon en meer bepaaldelijk de Oeliasers" (Dordrecht, 1875), page 152.) Similarly in Ceram persons who think they are descended from crocodiles, serpents, iguanas, and sharks will not eat the flesh of these animals. (J.G.F. Riedel op. cit. page 122.) Many other peoples of the Molucca Islands entertain similar beliefs and observe similar taboos. (J.G.F. Riedel "De sluik- en kroesharige rassen tusschen Selebes en Papua" (The Hague, 1886), pages 253, 334, 341, 348, 412, 414, 432.) Again, in Ponape, one of the Caroline Islands, "The different families suppose themselves to stand in a certain relation to animals, and especially to fishes, and believe in their descent from them. They actually name these animals 'mothers'; the creatures are sacred to the family and may not be injured. Great dances, accompanied with the offering of prayers, are performed in their honour. Any person who killed such an animal would expose himself to contempt and punishment, certainly also to the vengeance of the insulted deity." Blindness is commonly supposed to be the consequence of such a sacrilege. (Dr Hahl, "Mittheilungen uber Sitten und rechtliche Verhaltnisse auf Ponape", "Ethnologisches Notizblatt", Vol. II. Heft 2 (Berlin, 1901), page 10.)

Some of the aborigines of Western Australia believe that their ancestors were swans, ducks, or various other species of water-fowl before they were transformed into men. (Captain G. Grey, "A Vocabulary of the Dialects of South Western Australia", Second Edition (London, 1840), pages 29, 37, 61, 63, 66, 71.) The Dieri tribe of Central Australia, who are divided into totemic clans, explain their origin by the following legend. They say that in the beginning the earth opened in the midst of Perigundi Lake, and the totems (murdus or madas) came trooping out one after the other. Out came the crow, and the shell parakeet, and the emu, and all the rest. Being as yet imperfectly formed and without members or organs of sense, they laid themselves down on the sandhills which surrounded the lake then just as they do now. It was a bright day and the totems lay basking in the sunshine, till at last, refreshed and invigorated by it, they stood up as human beings and dispersed in all directions. That is why people of the same totem are now scattered all over the country. You may still see the island in the lake out of which the totems came trooping long ago. (A.W. Howitt, "Native Tribes of South-East Australia" (London, 1904), pages 476, 779 sq.) Another Dieri legend relates how Paralina, one of the Mura-Muras or mythical predecessors of the Dieri, perfected mankind. He was out hunting kangaroos, when he saw four incomplete beings cowering together. So he went up to them, smoothed their bodies, stretched out their limbs, slit up their fingers and toes, formed their mouths, noses, and eyes, stuck ears on them, and blew into their ears in order that they might hear. Having perfected their organs and so produced mankind out of these rudimentary beings, he went about making men everywhere. (A.W. Howitt op. cit., pages 476, 780 sq.) Yet another Dieri tradition sets forth how the Mura-Mura produced the race of man out of a species of small black lizards, which may still be met with under dry bark. To do this he divided the feet of the lizards into fingers and toes, and, applying his forefinger to the middle of their faces, created a nose; likewise he gave them human eyes, mouths and ears. He next set one of them upright, but it fell down again because of its tail; so he cut off its tail and the lizard then walked on its hind legs. That is the origin of mankind. (S. Gason, "The Manners and Customs of the Dieyerie tribe of Australian Aborigines", "Native Tribes of South Australia" (Adelaide, 1879), page 260. This writer fell into the mistake of regarding the Mura-Mura (Mooramoora) as a Good-Spirit instead of as one of the mythical but more or less human predecessors of the Dieri in the country. See A.W. Howitt, "Native Tribes of South-East Australia", pages 475 sqq.)

The Arunta tribe of Central Australia similarly tell how in the beginning mankind was developed out of various rudimentary forms of animal life. They say that in those days two beings called Ungambikula, that is, "out of nothing," or "self-existing," dwelt in the western sky. From their lofty abode they could see, far away to the east, a number of inapertwa creatures, that is, rudimentary human beings or incomplete men, whom it was their mission to make into real men and women. For at that time there were no real men and women; the rudimentary creatures (inapertwa) were of various shapes and dwelt in groups along the shore of the salt water which covered the country. These embryos, as we may call them, had no distinct limbs or organs of sight, hearing, and smell; they did not eat food, and they presented the appearance of human beings all doubled up into a rounded mass, in which only the outline of the different parts of the body could be vaguely perceived. Coming down from their home in the western sky, armed with great stone knives, the Ungambikula took hold of the embryos, one after the other. First of all they released the arms from the bodies, then making four clefts at the end of each arm they fashioned hands and fingers; afterwards legs, feet, and toes were added in the same way. The figure could now stand; a nose was then moulded and the nostrils bored with the fingers. A cut with the knife made the mouth, which was pulled open several times to render it flexible. A slit on each side of the face separated the upper and lower eye-lids, disclosing the eyes, which already existed behind them; and a few strokes more completed the body. Thus out of the rudimentary creatures were formed men and women. These rudimentary creatures or embryos, we are told, "were in reality stages in the transformation of various animals and plants into human beings, and thus they were naturally, when made into human beings, intimately associated with the particular animal or plant, as the case may be, of which they were the transformations—in other words, each individual of necessity belonged to a totem, the name of which was of course that of the animal or plant of which he or she was a transformation." However, it is not said that all the totemic clans of the Arunta were thus developed; no such tradition, for example, is told to explain the origin of the important Witchetty Grub clan. The clans which are positively known, or at least said, to have originated out of embryos in the way described are the Plum Tree, the Grass Seed, the Large Lizard, the Small Lizard, the Alexandra Parakeet, and the Small Rat clans. When the Ungambikula had thus fashioned people of these totems, they circumcised them all, except the Plum Tree men, by means of a fire-stick. After that, having done the work of creation or evolution, the Ungambikula turned themselves into little lizards which bear a name meaning "snappers-up of flies." (Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen, "Native Tribes of Central Australia (London, 1899), pages 388 sq.; compare id., "Northern Tribes of Central Australia" (London, 1904), page 150.)

This Arunta tradition of the origin of man, as Messrs Spencer and Gillen, who have recorded it, justly observe, "is of considerable interest; it is in the first place evidently a crude attempt to describe the origin of human beings out of non-human creatures who were of various forms; some of them were representatives of animals, others of plants, but in all cases they are to be regarded as intermediate stages in the transition of an animal or plant ancestor into a human individual who bore its name as that of his or her totem." (Baldwin Spencer and F.J. Gillen, "Native Tribes of Central Australia", pages 391 sq.) In a sense these speculations of the Arunta on their own origin may be said to combine the theory of creation with the theory of evolution; for while they represent men as developed out of much simpler forms of life, they at the same time assume that this development was effected by the agency of two powerful beings, whom so far we may call creators. It is well known that at a far higher stage of culture a crude form of the evolutionary hypothesis was propounded by the Greek philosopher Empedocles. He imagined that shapeless lumps of earth and water, thrown up by the subterranean fires, developed into monstrous animals, bulls with the heads of men, men with the heads of bulls, and so forth; till at last, these hybrid forms being gradually eliminated, the various existing species of animals and men were evolved. (E. Zeller, "Die Philosophie der Griechen", I.4 (Leipsic, 1876), pages 718 sq.; H. Ritter et L. Preller, "Historia Philosophiae Graecae et Romanae ex fontium locis contexta"5, pages 102 sq. H. Diels, "Die Fragmente der Vorsokratiker"2, I. (Berlin, 1906), pages 190 sqq. Compare Lucretius "De rerum natura", V. 837 sqq.) The theory of the civilised Greek of Sicily may be set beside the similar theory of the savage Arunta of Central Australia. Both represent gropings of the human mind in the dark abyss of the past; both were in a measure grotesque anticipations of the modern theory of evolution.

In this essay I have made no attempt to illustrate all the many various and divergent views which primitive man has taken of his own origin. I have confined myself to collecting examples of two radically different views, which may be distinguished as the theory of creation and the theory of evolution. According to the one, man was fashioned in his existing shape by a god or other powerful being; according to the other he was evolved by a natural process out of lower forms of animal life. Roughly speaking, these two theories still divide the civilised world between them. The partisans of each can appeal in support of their view to a large consensus of opinion; and if truth were to be decided by weighing the one consensus against the other, with "Genesis" in the one scale and "The Origin of Species" in the other, it might perhaps be found, when the scales were finally trimmed, that the balance hung very even between creation and evolution.

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