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144
Part I.
The Descent of Man.

that they have fallen much below the Botocudos, who inhabit the finest parts of Brazil.

The evidence that all civilised nations are the descendants of barbarians, consists, on the one side, of clear traces of their former low condition in still-existing customs, beliefs, language, &c.; and on the other side, of proofs that savages are independently able to raise themselves a few steps in the scale of civilisation, and have actually thus risen. The evidence on the first head is extremely curious, but cannot be here given: I refer to such cases as that of the art of enumeration, which, as Mr. Tylor clearly shews by reference to the words still used in some places, originated in counting the fingers, first of one hand and then of the other, and lastly of the toes. We have traces of this in our own decimal system, and in the Roman numerals, where, after the V., which is supposed to be an abbreviated picture of a human hand, we pass on to VI., &c., when the other hand no doubt was used. So again, "when we speak of three-score and ten, we are counting by the vigesimal system, each score thus ideally made, standing for 20—for 'one man' as a Mexican or Carib would put it."[1] According to a large and increasing school of philologists, every language bears the marks of its slow and gradual evolution. So it is with the art of writing, for letters are rudiments of pictorial representations. It is hardly possible to read Mr. M'Lennan's work[2] and not admit that almost all civilised nations still retain traces of such rude habits as the forcible capture of wives. What ancient nation, as the same author asks, can be named that was originally monogamous? The primitive idea of justice, as shewn by the law of battle and other customs of which vestiges still remain, was likewise most rude. Many existing superstitions are the remnants of former false religious beliefs. The highest form of religion—the grand idea of God hating sin and loving righteousness—was unknown during primeval times.

Turning to the other kind of evidence: Sir J. Lubbock has shewn that some savages have recently improved a little in some of their simpler arts. From the extremely curious account which he gives of the weapons, tools, and arts, in use

  1. 'Royal Institution of Great Britain,' March 15, 1867. Also, 'Researches into the Early History of Mankind,' 1865.
  2. 'Primitive Marriage,' 1865. See, likewise, an excellent article, evidently by the same author, in the 'North British Review,' July, 1869. Also, Mr. L. H. Morgan, 'A Conjectural Solution of the Origin of the Class, System of Relationship,' in 'Proc. American Acad. of Sciences,' vol. vii. Feb. 1868. Prof. Schaaffhausen ('Anthropolog. Review,' Oct. 1869, p. 373) remarks on "the vestiges of human sacrifices found both in Homer and the Old Testament."