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Anthropology-The Science of Man-Definition-Owes its Birth to Geology-Pre-scientific Geology-Freaks of NatureGerms of Science among the Ancients-Lucretius-The Fortuitous Concourse of Atoms-The vast Periods of Geology foreshadowed in Oriental Fables-Struggles between Faith and Reason.

NOTWITHSTANDING the progress made in scientific knowledge, there are yet many, even among the highly educated and intellectual, who know nothing of anthropology except the name, and who if asked to define the term would assert that it had something to do with old bones, flints, and rubbish. Such men would be astonished at the vast scope of anthropological research, as marked out by the leaders of a science young in years, but numbering among its teachers and students many of the most advanced thinkers of the day, not in Great Britain only, but throughout the world.

The answer to the question, What is anthropology? is perhaps best given in the words of one of its earliest and most enthusiastic students, the late Sir William Wilde, of Dublin, who in his opening address to the Biological Section of the British Association in Belfast (1874) defined anthropology (which was then, and for


many subsequent years, included in the Biological Section) as The science of man; his origin, age, and distribution on our globe; his physical conformation, and his susceptibility of cultivation; his various forms of speech; his laws, habits, manners, customs, weapons, and tools; his archaic markings, as also his pictorial remains, his tombs, his ideographic and phonetic or alphabetic writing, down to his present culture in different countries, and his manufactures, arts, and degrees of intelligence in the different phases of life throughout the world."

Wide as this definition would appear to be, it hardly exhausts the list of subjects included under the term, anthropology; for the religions and superstitions, the myths and fables of widely-separated races, form an important link in tracing the origin and migrations, the commerce and early intercourse between such races. Among these numerous subjects, one or more must be of interest to almost every one, even although comparatively few may care for the archaic portion of the varied programme, as illustrated by flint tools and megalithic monuments.

To treat of anthropology in all its aspects, would be obviously impossible in a book which aims at becoming a popular treatise, nevertheless it would seem to be necessary to give something of an epitome of the more abstruse parts of the subject, in order to show some reason for the importance assigned by anthropologists to facts which would otherwise appear to be trivial. Anthropology undoubtedly owes its birth to the still youthful science of geology. Before the truths of that science became recognized, all fossils were looked upon as strange freaks of nature. In all the older books on natural history, reference is constantly made to the curious and wonderful simulation of vegetable and animal forms, and particularly of shells and marine animals, in stone, by the hand of Nature; and we may easily imagine the bewilderment these things caused to those who could not be satisfied with explanations which their common sense ridiculed, but which they

were bound to accept as the authoritative utterances of the Church, a power they durst not question. When, however, liberty of speech and freedom of thought began to assert themselves as the prerogatives of free man, philosophers whispered their doubts, and hinted at theories, which, however crude, are yet often wonderfully full of the germs of truth as revealed by scientific research; nor have these prophetic utterances been confined to modern times, for travelling far back into the night of ages, we find in every age and in every civilized country, men who have seen visions and dreamed dreams, of things now being slowly brought into the region of reality by scientific evolution.

The difference between the philosophic dreamer of the past and the man of science of the present day, being that the former was content to rest in his own visionary belief of the origin of things, and the progression of the human race, whilst the scientist of to-day takes nothing upon trust; vague beliefs, however probable, are nothing to him, he demands proof of everything before asserting it as a fact, and there can be no doubt that this habit of investigation has had a marked effect upon the ever-increasing ratio of human progress, for knowledge begets knowledge, one discovery inevitably leads to another, so that if the rate of progress manifested during the present century be maintained, it is impossible to conceive what may be in store for mankind in the future.

Lucretius, when he vaguely enunciated the atomic theory, little imagined the perfection to which that theory would attain in modern times. The fortuitous concourse of atoms, of which he dreamed, is now generally accepted as the cosmic origin of the universe, the source of our solar system, and of many similar systems, past, present, and to come, scattered widely through the mighty infinity of space. So when he spoke of the motions of atoms as downward, adding-" And like rain would the atoms fall but for an inherent power, by which alone they can break the laws of Fate. At uncertain times, and at uncertain points in space, they

swerve a little from their equal poise. It is this alone that enables them to combine "-he was ignorant of the great and universal law of gravitation, and its power in causing the combination of atoms, and the formation of worlds; nor did he ever dream of the past history of the universe as revealed by astronomy and geology, the vast nebulous mass of uncombined atoms gradually accumulating and condensing, gradually combining and shaping themselves into a sun, with all its attendant planets and satellites, comets and aerolites, the planets gradually cooling and shrinking till vapour became water, and a fiery molten mass crystallized into rocks, this cooling and shrinking process continuing until at length after who can tell how many ages! the earth became fitted for living organisms; these, low and imperfect at first, slowly rising in the scale of being till man appears-the grandest and latest work of creation, say the orthodox-the crowning point of development up to this present, say the disciples of Darwin; but it may be to be superseded hereafter by a still higher and more perfect form. Yet Lucretius, with his infinity of atoms in perpetual motion with unspeakable velocity (through infinite time and space), seems to have anticipated the facts of modern scientific research. So likewise, when at the beginning of the present century men began to study with interest the monuments and written histories of Eastern nations, and found in them records carrying back history to a remote past beyond the days of Noah and of Adam, according to Usher; the scholar, just learning his alphabet, smiled contemptuously from the height of his superior knowledge upon the fables of these benighted heathens, and treated the cycles of Egypt, the astronomical records of China and Chaldæa, the Yugs of India, as the inventions of a boastful and designing priesthood, anxious to enhance thereby the glories of their national history. Yet the discoveries, of modern science in geology, astronomy, and ethnology go far to prove that the traditions of these ancient peoples, however derived, after making due allowance for Oriental allegory and poetic hyperbole, are not far from the truth.

Take, for instance, the almost universal tradition of the aqueous origin of the earth, slowly rising from the ocean. Whether fished up from the depths by Mauie, or called into being by Brahma, or hatched by doves from the mundane egg in Assyria, the tradition is the same, of a period of watery chaos in which human life had no part; a time in which the gods reigned, and after an immense interval created man. Take again the vast cycles of Egyptian tradition, wherein the stars returned to their places after a circle of constant change, only to start again on their unwearied round; or look at the traditions of Babylon, respecting the monstrous forms at first created, from which sprang those we now see; and observe how closely these three traditions, held by the most civilized peoples of the ancient world, correspond with the discoveries of geologists, astronomers, and anthropologists of our own day. The early geologists, when they first began to perceive, from facts which could not be gainsaid, that the history of the earth as revealed by science was not exactly in accordance with that which theologians had taught, were perplexed exceedingly. Could it be possible that all they saw had been brought about in six thousand years? Here they found traces of ancient river-beds which had long since become dry land; there a stream had hewn for itself a channel many feet deep through solid rock; here, high up the mountain-side and many miles from the sea, were beds of sea-shells and pebbles; there, beneath the ocean, were miles of submerged forest.

At first these singular facts were accounted for as the effects of a series of mighty cataclysms, which were supposed to have rent the rocks and upheaved the mountains, and buried large tracts of land suddenly beneath the waves; and in these great convulsions of nature the deluge of Noah played an important part, for did not all this take place when "The fountains of the great deep were broken up"?

But by and by it began to be seen that this theory was untenable; that although in some cases the phenomena observed might be referred to sudden catastrophes,

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