Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/792

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Ohio and Indiana. The utter rejection and slighting of testimony because it does not come from experts is, in our humble judgment, a serious blunder. It is easy, by the assumption of superior knowledge and "later information," to discredit able, honest, and competent work by men who are termed, not with respect, "amateurs." We have already shown what science owes to amateurs. Let us take the further liberty—and we do so with the profoundest respect for the distinguished professionals concerned—of reminding them of the experience of their European brethren in a similar case. Fifty years have gone by since M. Boucher de Perthes found in the gravel near Amiens implements of human manufacture. His discoveries were published and received by the scientific world with complacent contempt and neglect, not to say opposition. "The gravels were modern," "the beds had been disturbed," "the implements had been recently inserted," "the whole story was fictitious,"[1] and its author a "cheat," a "shyster," and a "charlatan," as nearly as French politeness could match these terms. But time rolled on, the evidence could not be shaken by neglect and contradiction; and when at last a committee was sent to the spot they returned unanimously convinced that the amateur was right, and that all the previously held theories of geologists on the antiquity of man must be reconstructed through the finding of these rude implements by M. Boucher de Perthes. History repeats itself, and we respectfully urge on Prof. Wright's critics the careful study of the little incident above quoted, and especially the momentous moral which it implies and which we leave them to draw.

The caution of our author is shown in his discussion on the most doubtful case, that from Claymont, Delaware, where an implement was reported by Mr. Cresson from the Philadelphia gravel underlying the Trenton gravel, and consequently of greater age. We need not remind our readers that the evidence demanded in support of every discovery of human relics increases rapidly with the implied distance of their date. This is just, and the language employed concerning the Claymont tool could scarcely have been more guarded. Prof. Wright says (page 258), "As there is so much chance for error and so little opportunity to verify the conclusion, we may well wait before building a theory upon it." His opponents could hardly desire more caution.

We may, however, linger awhile over the next instance—the well-known relics from Table Mountain, California. These were first announced by Prof. Whitney, in his report on the geological survey of that State, and others have since come to light. We can not here give details, but must content ourselves with saying

  1. See American Anthropologist, January, 1893.