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man without doubt! But, as rational belief implies reasons for believing, you would be but consistent in sympathising with others, who, in lack of your faith, may be in want of your reasons, or such, perhaps, as this book is intended in a measure to furnish. There will be no invention in it, and but small speculation. It will probably be easier to read than to write, and what is not plain to the understanding in one place may become so in another, the chapters being contrived with a view to avoid the tedious formality of laboured and systematic argumentation. By thus distributing the matter in a manner and with a plan to admit of a few repetitions of thought and expression in new connection, some points of importance may be the better elucidated and enforced.
As the faces of our friends would be more pleasing in a homely light than in the intense glare of the pure electric' flame, so the aspect of an argument often appears more clearly in familiar than in refined language. The dry light of mere logic is often more brilliant in appearance than useful in effect, and a truth, like a gem, is usually seen best in the simplest setting
Without the restraint of exact system, we prefer freely to reason on human nature in general, that we may the better conceive the character and position of the first man, not, however, without an eye to the demand of our positive friend, who wishes to find the best place for himself, a discovery not possible until he knows his own nature in respect to this life, as well as to some
thing beyond his commercial interests, and the comforts of his position as a Sunday Christian, quite at home in this world all the days of the week. If we learn that the right place for any man is the best he can find, and if we discover in the midst of our disquisitions how best to attain that desirable end, any amount of labour involved in our enquiry will be counterbalanced by its interest; reader and writer will share in both the profit and the pleasure; the writer, indeed, having already a reward in the refreshment and the joy of writing, with such a good hope of being useful to the reader.
But is a book on this subject really wanted ? Yes, certainly, if anybody is likely to become the least the better for it. Those who have formed their opinion on the subject, with faith or without, will probably be indifferent to this book, or despise it, or at least remain of the same opinion still. Others, to whom the matter is new, may be assisted to see their way to a wholesome decision; and since the origin of man will continue to be a theme more or less brought out to view in all the fast coming speculations, scientific or otherwise, perchance there may be a voice as unto him that hears,' from some thoughts in this volume, by which life's path may become less perilous and more profitable to the neophyte of science. But yet, does any one need to be instructed as to the first man? Yes, again undoubtedly, for we know too little either of him or ourselves, and the less of ourselves for thinking so little of him and his essential difference from any brute, and also from any man who hears not the voice of his Maker.
Most men believe there was a first man. however, strange to say, seem not to receive this as a necessary fact, and are unwilling, in consequence of their extreme impartiality, as philosophers, to credit the assertion that their ancestry terminates in a first human pair. Neither their own consciousness, nor the probability of such an origin, is sufficient to convince them that there must have been a first man and woman, created as such, who, as a reasonable matter of course, occupied their appropriate place in creation. Thinking that reason necessitated at least that amount of faith, we asked a friend “Do you object to the title of this volume ?' Alas ! up started our contradictory friend, the poles of whose mind are both negative or repellent, and declared every word of the title an assumption of the most preposterous kind, For,' said he, where is the proof there ever was a first man, or even a creation in which he could have a place ?' This friend is himself a curious fact, an evolutionist, or something of that sort, but consistent enough, since, according to his creed—and a very straggling, startling creed it is—what we call man is, at the best, only an odd extension of the physical qualities common to all animals, and may recur, in his offspring at least, to the place of anthropoid apes, and so on back to primordials. In short, as man, according to this notion, had no final cause or creation, and is not distinct from a brute, he cannot be said to have either beginning or end as a man; so, to speak of the first man and his place in creation is unscientific! Doubtless,
on science of that scale it is easy to lose one's place and find no good. Mr. Huxley says that thoughtful men, once escaped from the blinding influences of traditional prejudice, will find in the lowly stock whence man has sprung the best evidence of the splendour of his capacities; and will discern in his long progress through the Past a reasonable ground of faith in his attainment of a nobler Future.'
The Past of man indicated in this quotation is, alas! lost in the unknown history of the lowly stock whence he sprung,' and how he can find the best evidence of the splendour of his capacities' where he never was and where there is no light, it would exhaust a long Future to show. • The blinding influence of traditional prejudice' of which Professor Huxley complains is that which began with a belief in man's original nobility by creative patent; and possibly after all, the influence of a prejudice in favour of such a faith is not nearly so blinding as a prejudice in favour of that mere fancy which would seek enlightenment in a Past nowhere discovered and a Future nowhere foretold. If Nature does not inform us that man was created in direct correspondence with his Maker, neither does she show us how such beings as men could spring out of an anthropoid endeavour after higher qualities. Nature being silent on that point is also questioned in vain as to how it came to pass that apes having begotten men, these men not only invented a tradition of their immediate divine
* Huxley's Man's Place in Nature, p. 111.
origin but that the best of their race were also found so unreasonable as to become prejudiced in favour of that tradition.
The reasonable ground of faith in man's attainment of a nobler future, on which Professor Huxley lays especial stress, is, however, of so restricted a character that men in general have but the smallest possible chance of ever getting a footing upon it, which, if it be a more reasonable ground of faith than Christianity affords us, would be a very great loss to those who cannot reach it, seeing that even Christian faith and hope are, to those who feel them, sources of elevated joy as well as strong stimulants to effort for the improvement of their own moral character and that of all whom they can influence. But this Huxleyan ground of faith exists only in the minds of a few natural philosophers whose knowledge of anatomy is sufficient to enable them to suspect the possibility that men as they are have attained their present position in virtue of a power imposed by nature upon apes of past ages to beget mankind with a capacity to go on improving without any known limit. It is evident that as this peculiar teaching of anatomy, together" with a bias thus to interpret its teaching, is essential to the attainment of the said reasonable ground of faith there will be but few to find it, unless on very confused hearsay, thus affording small reason for faith of any kind concerning a man's own nobler Future.
But as we are told of the blinding influence of traditional prejudice, we are thereby warned against