Nevertheless, I believe it is allowable for us frankly to admit all these facts, and yet remain evolutionists just as heartily as before. No doubt our general tendency was at first in the opposite direction, and many evolutionists will be staggered by the conclusions of Professor Dawkins and Dr. Mitchell, while others will endeavor, under the influence of false prepossessions, to dispute their facts. But modifiability of opinion is the true test of devotion to truth, and honest thinkers can hardly fail to modify their opinions on this question in accordance with the latest discoveries. After frankly and fairly facing all the difficulties of the situation, I believe we may come at last to the following conclusions, which, for clearness' sake, I will number separately: 1. The cave-men were not only true men, but men of a comparatively high type. 2. But the river-drift men, who preceded them, were men of a lower social organization, and probably of a lower physical organization as well. 3. The earliest human remains which we possess, though, on the whole, decidedly human, are yet, in some respects, of a type more brute-like than that of any existing savages. 4. They specially recall the most striking traits of the larger anthropoid apes. 5. There is no reason to suppose that these remains are those of the earliest men who inhabited the earth. 6. There is good reason for believing that before the evolution of man in his present specific type, a man-like animal, belonging to the same genus, but less highly differentiated, lived in Europe. 7. From this man-like animal the existing human species is descended. 8. Analogy would lead us to suppose that the line of descent which culminates in man first diverged from the line of descent which culminates in the gorilla and the chimpanzee, about the later Eocene or early Miocene period.
In order to give such proof of these propositions as the fragmentary evidence yet admits, it will be necessary first to clear the ground of one or two common misapprehensions. And, before all, let us get rid of that strangely unscientific and unphilosophical expression, the Stone age.
Most people who have not specially studied prehistoric archæology, and many of those who have studied it, believe that the period of human life on the earth may be divided into three principal epochs, the Iron age, the Bronze age, and the Stone age; and that the last named epoch may be once more subdivided into the Palæolithic and the Neolithic ages. All the great archæologists know, of course, that such a division would be utterly misleading; yet, in their written works, they have often used language which has led the world generally to fall, almost without exception, into the error. The division in question can only be paralleled by a division of all human history into three periods, the age of Steam, the age of Printing, and the age of Unprinted Books; the latter being subdivided into the mediæval and the Egyptian ages. The real facts may much better be represented thus: