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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/717

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SKETCH OF CLEMENCE ROYER.

Further on, Madame Royer discusses the anatomical relations of man and the ape, with the conclusion deduced as resulting from phenomena of observation that the human family is only a term in a series of which the different primates are the other steps. In short, the further we go back in the past of primitive man, the more we meet manifestations of passions as ferocious as base. This is, moreover, easily conceivable. The savage, at war with Nature and his like, and placed in conditions of life common to the animal world, has in the beginning all its bad instincts.

The end of the second part of L'Origine de l'Homme et des Sociétés is devoted to the most complex problem of anthropology—that of the beginning of speech and the origin of language. Man, in the view of the author, first makes his wants and feelings known to other beings by a series of signs. The three primordial faculties—feeling, thinking, and wishing—were the point of departure, the cause and the rule of all languages that man has created in his entire progress. As his mind has shaped a new idea, it has found a new sign to express it; but the process varying with the race, time and the environment have produced the diversity of tongues which we observe. In the beginning a more or less complicated cry suffices to express the thought in its original syncretism. Then, under the influence of reflection continued through ages, from generation to generation, it becomes transformed and decomposed into various elements. Every noun was primarily an adjective-substantive. For example, thunder was designated by imitating it; the horse, by its neighing and the sound of galloping. The relations of place, possession, and those of many other kinds were probably expressed by the look, the attitude, a motion with the hand, etc. Ideas of number were developed slowly. The earliest languages contained only about a hundred words, and these sufficed for centuries for the needs of human thought, confined within the narrow experience of a generation. It results from these facts that in every sense the formation of languages is a consequence of social relations. But here rises a question as important as difficult to answer: When did man begin to speak? From the harmony between the anthropological classifications deduced from philological research and those drawn from the labors of the physiologists it appears evident that the spontaneous and primitive constitution of the first elements of language was, among all known human races, posterior to their geographical and ethnical separation. In other words, local varieties had already been formed, and men had acquired the anatomical differences that distinguish them to-day before they conquered the faculty of speech. However it may be with these hypotheses, we may assent fully to the conclusion of the chapter that man will never deserve the name of the reason-