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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/339

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SOME EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EVOLUTIONISTS.

bears; from this everything in his history is explicable; without it nothing is capable of explanation. . . . Why should we humble in the dust the crown of our high calling, and shut our eyes to that central point in which all the radii of Nature 's circle seem to converge?"

In a later passage (Bk. VII., ch. 1) Herder directly discusses, only to reject, the theories of those (he probably has Monboddo especially in mind) who assert a kinship, or an identity of species, between the apes and man. "I could wish," he writes, "that the affinity of man to the ape had never been urged so far as to cause people to overlook, in seeking a graded scale (Leiter) of being, the actual steps and intervals without which no scale can exist. What, for example, can the rickety orang-outang explain in the figure of the Kamchatkan, the pigmy chimpanzee in the size of the Greenlander, the pongo in the Patagonian? for all these forms would have arisen from the nature of man if there had been no such thing as an ape upon the earth. . . . In point of fact, the apes and man were never one and the same species (Gattung). For each race nature has done enough, to each she has given its own proper heritage. The apes she has divided into as many species and varieties as possible, and extended these as far as she could. But thou, man, reverence thyself! Neither the pongo nor the gibbon is thy brother; the American and the Negro are. These then thou shouldst not oppress nor kill nor rob, for they are men like thee; but with the ape thou canst not enter into fraternity." Herder expresses himself in a similar vein in a preface which he wrote for a German translation (1784) of the work in which Lord Monboddo set forth, among other things, his theory of the close relationship of man and monkey. Herder praises cordially Monboddo 's taste for ancient art, and his large and philosophical way of dealing with the problem of the origin and development of human language; but he warns the reader against Monboddo's views on the orang-outang. The opinion that 'Affe und Mensch em Geschlect sei' Herder marks as 'an error which even the facts of anatomy contradict.'

In another chapter of the 'Ideen' Herder speaks of the transitions (Uebergange und Ueberleitungen) and metamorphoses (Verwandlungen) through which nature leads the successive orders of animals, in a fashion which seems at first sight plainly to imply the derivation of higher from lower species by ordinary descent; yet in the same paragraph he pauses to insist upon the fixity of specific types: "It may appear that such transitions are incompatible with the definiteness of form to which every species remains true, and in which not the smallest bone undergoes alteration. But the reason for this invariability is apparent; since every creature can receive its organization only from other creatures of its own species. Our orderly Mother Nature has thus plainly predetermined the way by which any organic power