Popular Science Monthly/Volume 27/June 1885/The Ways of Monkeys
|THE WAYS OF MONKEYS.|
SHEIK KEMAL EDIN DEMIRI, who died about a. d. 1405, and was the author of a voluminous treatise on the life of animals, relates the following story as a fact: "The inhabitants of a town called Olila, on the shore of the Red Sea, were in olden times metamorphosed into monkeys, in punishment for their wickedness. They had broken the Sabbath by fishing. Some of their pious fellow-citizens endeavored in vain to convey them back into the path of virtue; and, finally, when all admonitions proved useless, left the town. Returning to their homes three days later, they found, instead of their neighbors, baboons, which met them looking sorrowfully, and expressing by signs and attitude that they recognized the friends whose advice they had scorned with so dreadful a result. In his anger, Allah had inflicted a terrible sentence upon them." The writer carefully insists on the circumstance that the culprits were Jews.
The Prophet and his followers admit this metamorphosis by God's special intervention as a fact, and this fully explains the prominent part assigned to apes in all Arabic fables and tales. The early Egyptians believed religiously that some groups of monkeys were experts in writing, and, by that fact alone, equal if not superior to mankind in general. A number of apes were consequently sheltered and fed in the temples, worshiped during life, and embalmed after death. Those privileged specimens of the four-handed tribe, when first introduced into the temple, were handed a slate and pencil by the chief-priest, and humbly requested to show their right to admission into the sacred asylum by writing. The gamboling and grinning candidates wrote, and nobody ever doubted that the figures traced by their agile hands fully deserved to be classed in the category of hieroglyphs. So highly were they held in respect and veneration, that the holy Sphinx was represented with their hair-dress, and, till to-day, men and women in the country of the Mahdi give their hair the same shape. But the Egyptians never admitted that the priests or Pharaohs were the descendants of monkeys, while, on the contrary, the Hindoos built houses and temples to shelter and worship apes, and venerated the princes of their country as the direct offspring of the holy animals. The Arabs regard the latter as "the descendants of the wicked, to whom nothing is sacred, nothing respectable, nothing too good or too bad; who never feel friendly dispositions for other creatures of the Lord, and are damned by Allah, and carry the likeness of the devil and of man combined on their ill-shaped bodies."
We, the sons of civilization, agree up to a certain point with the Arabs. We also—at least that portion of modern society who have not been given an education or an overtraining in physical science—decline to see in apes anything more than caricatures of ourselves, and repudiate with much aversion the inferences drawn from Darwin's theory. On the other side, highly educated men all over the world have opened the discussion of the relationship between man and monkey, and speaking about the latter nowadays has become a dangerous task, in so far as there is but one alternative left—to offend the ancestry or the offspring! For my own part, I feel no hesitation in approaching the question of relationship to examine its value, and in trying to illustrate the life of that pretended cousin of ours.
The apes have established their homes in every continent, Australia excepted. Warmth seems to he one of the principal conditions of their existence, as they are only found in the warmer regions. In America they are spread from 26° south to Mexico; in Asia, from the Sunda Islands to the Japanese Sea. In Europe there exists hut one species of monkeys, and its members live all together in one troop on the rocks of the fort of Gibraltar, under the special care and protection of the garrison. That troop numbered in all twenty-three individuals when I visited Gibraltar in 1881.
The principal thing the monkeys claim from a country, whose clime they are enjoying otherwise, is food, plenty of varied food; and this fact fully explains the predilection they have always shown for places where pious superstition provides for their wants and makes their life comfortable.
Among other mammifers the female element wields the scepter in family life, but in the realm of apes the male is invested with the sovereign power, not by general suffrage, but by the right of force. The oldest and strongest male of a troop proclaims himself chief and leader, after having vanquished all his competitors, viz., the rest of the senior males. The longest teeth and the strongest arms decide in the question of supremacy. All those who show some reluctance to submit are chastised till they come to political reason. To the strongest belongs the crown; in his sharp teeth resides his wisdom.
This ferocious tyrant understands his duty as a leader, and performs the same with dignity. His subordinates flatter and fondle him in every way; the ladies of his harem rival in keeping his dress clean from annoying parasites. As a genuine pasha, he accepts this respect with a kind of languid acquiescence. In return, he watches carefully over his vassals, and shows a continual anxiety for their welfare and security. He orders and directs minute details in daily life, and subdues all opposition—for there exists a Left also in the monkey state—by striking and sharp bodily argumentation. As a general rule, the monkeys go early to bed, rise late, and establish their night encampment on the summit of rocks, if possible'. The first thing they do in the morning is to warm themselves, for which purpose they climb to the tops of rocks and trees and turn slowly around in the sun till their hair, wetted by the nightly dew, is entirely dry. This preliminary operation is followed by a thorough cleansing of the skin, and, immediately after, by breakfast. Every eatable thing suits monkeys—fruits, onions, roots, seeds, nuts, leaves, insects, eggs, young birds, snails—and they enjoy generally a copious, free board. Their notions concerning property are very defective. "We plant and the apes harvest," says the Arab of Eastern Soudan, with his natural apathy in the presence of facts and events that he can not prevent. Does not the monkey show in this a pronounced analogy with mankind who, since the existence of the world, though under severe penal legislation, find it so hard a task to observe the difference between mine and thine?
The hungry crowd of quadrumana infest fields and gardens: neither lock nor bolt, neither fence nor wall is an obstacle for those robbers, who steal and destroy everything in their way, whether it be eatable or not. It is not surprising, to any one who has witnessed such depredations, to see the farmers entertain a mortal hatred against these dark, grinning thieves; and the Arabs range them in the category of evil spirits. When they are surprised in their mischievous work, they flee like cowards toward the nearest trees or rocks, the mothers carrying their children. Only when flight is impossible do they show fight, and attack men as well as the biggest beasts of prey, and even elephants, with that impetuous temerity which distinguishes the coward in despair.
After a gestation of from seven to nine months, the female monkey gives birth to one young one, very seldom to twins. The new-born monkey is a little ugly creature, bare of hairs, with spindling limbs and a repulsive, senile face. But the mother is passionately fond of her monster, and caresses and nurses it with remarkable devotion. She does not leave it for a single moment, she presses it to her heart, rocks it to and fro, and takes the utmost care to keep it absolutely clean. In the first period of life the baby is apathetic and almost insensible, but begins gradually to play with urchins of its age. The mother is a patient observer of the first steps of her beloved, and watches carefully that no harm may befall it. In the mean time, she trains it; and the first virtue inculcated in the mind of the youngster is obedience, obedience in the strictest sense of the word. Men have ridiculed the maternal affection of the brute, and speak of "apish love." In our eyes the tenderness exhibited by the monkey may have a ridiculous side, but where is the man who could, without deep emotion, witness the anxiety of a mother-ape nursing her sick child? I must confess that, to my eye, in such cases she is at least the equal of the human mother. If the young ape dies, the spectacle is a piteous one. The mother can not be separated from the dead body, refuses all food, and frequently perishes from grief. In such crises the ape proves certainly his congeniality with the human race, and in his moral affections could stand as an example to many men.
The intellectual cultivation of which the monkeys are susceptible neither raises them so high above the average of mammifers, nor places them so far beneath the level of mankind, as some people contend. Further on, we find in no order of animals, as far as intellect is concerned, so wide a difference between the highest and the lowest individuals as among the monkeys, while, in inverse proportion, the lowest gifted human creature hardly differs from the apes whose intelligence is most developed. In many instances the mental and bodily likeness to humanity is so pronounced that the observer feels quite uncomfortable in presence of the evidently small chasm existing between man and beast.
After this general characterization of the whole species, I may be allowed to trace in large outlines the families and some of their principal representatives. Science establishes two families, the monkeys of the Old World and the monkeys of the New World, and divides the latter into two sub-families, viz., the claw or squirrel apes and the howling monkeys, or scientifically, the Ouistitis and the Alouattes. The home of the ouistitis extends from Mexico to Brazil. The squirrel apes are not yet perfect monkeys, though having the same number of identically shaped teeth as the monkeys of the Old World. Their limbs end in true paws, bearing narrow, compressed, and sharp-pointed nails on the four fingers; the thumbs alone are provided with flat, large nails like human nails. They are the representatives of the transition from the unguiculated quadrupeds to the quadrumana, and rank, physically and intellectually, far below the genuine monkey with heraldic quarters. The easy, bold, and graceful movements of the latter in climbing, jumping, walking, and resting, are above their reach, and in the line of bodily abilities they hardly attain to their model, the squirrel. No one ever saw them walking in erect posture, and they always step on the full flat sole, contrary to the real monkeys, whose feet rest on the outer edge only. The cry of the squirrel-ape sounds like the whistle of mice or the pip of young birds, and its wit does not, by any means, reach the level of the genuine ape. A notorious coward, it shows all the coward's distinctive attributes—a plaintive voice, inability to submit to unavoidable facts and events, and the endeavor to swagger, even in the moment of flight.
The first rank in the family of the apes of the New World belongs incontestably to the howling monkey. Its body is slender, its limbs are proportionately developed, its hands end in five fingers, and each finger shows flat, slightly convex nails. The fur is coarse, and the hair under the chin forms a kind of long, protruding beard. A distinctive feature is to be found in a kind of bony, sixfold drum or barrel formed by an inflation of the hyoid bone, which communicates with the larynx, and gives to the voice an enormous volume and frightful sound. Hence the name of howling monkeys. The long tail is naked, callous, and of great muscular strength at its extremity, and forms a convenient prehensile organ, which might be called a kind of fifth hand, or rather the principal hand of the animal. The alouattes are not poor climbers, but they never take bold jumps, and always keep their hold by the tail till their hands have grasped the next limb, and this makes them slaves to the trees. They seldom venture upon the ground or on rocks. The howling monkeys herd in troops and follow slowly and awkwardly in the steps of their leader, whose slightest movements are imitated by every individual. There is no character in their voice nor in their general behavior: they act like automata and yell and howl like maniacs. In the morning, when all the rest of nature is rejoicing in the new-born daylight, the troop of howling monkeys will descend gravely from the leafy tree where they have passed the night, closely gather in a huddled crowd, and, having secured some breakfast, will proceed to indulge in a kind of social entertainment which is as exempt from frivolity and impropriety as it well can be, but which well reflects the character of the participants. The company make choice of some leafless tree, which they climb with great dignity. Each member takes his place as he pleases, but one large bough is reserved for the exclusive use of the leader, who paces it to and fro, solemnly raising his tail, and begins to utter low sounds, similar to the grunt of a young hog. The prelude grows insensibly louder, the time is quickened, after a few moments the pauses are omitted, and the wretched tune, sinister at first, becomes an uninterrupted, dreadful yelling. Now the crew are thrown into raptures, and all join in one deafening cry and howl in concert. The powerful roar of the jaguar, the terrific growling of the panther, the wild shouting of a crowd of beastly, drunken rustics, lamentations, groans, seem to be combined in this chorus. And, curiously, the artists have no idea of expressing any special feeling. Such entertainments sometimes last several hours. Those long-tailed howlers are tiresome creatures, and I must confess that, in the matter of apes, the Old World takes the lead. Here, also, we find two sub-families—the Cynopithecini (dog-apes) and the Anthropomorpha (man-shaped apes). The former have perfectly developed teeth, like the quadrupeds, and a tail; the Anthropomorpha, on the contrary, have no tail, and their set of teeth resembles that of men, with the exception of the canine teeth, which are stronger and intermediate between those of beast and man.
The Cynopithecini present almost all the features in character which distinguish monkeys in general. The leadership is intrusted to the strongest male; he assigns to each member of the troop his duties, and watches for the general welfare. Their well-shaped hands give to these monkeys advantages which other animals do not enjoy, but still it is a question whether the dog could not in justice be placed on the same level with them as regards intelligence and sagacity. Apes and dogs show discernment and exercise restraint on their manner of living; both are aware that every disorderly act on their side is followed by punishment, but the apes believe themselves far above the dogs. Excessively susceptible to reproaches, they want to be praised and fondled, while they themselves tease and insult other animals at every opportunity. They are docile, they eat with knife and fork, drink from the glass, dress, ride on horseback, submit to military drilling, wait on their masters, but only when, where, and as long as they are pleased, and never with the same care and conscientiousness that characterize a well-trained dog. There is no troop in the world so hard to manage as a troop of these monkeys, which peculiarity brings them near the hopeful youth of modern age. Another proof of their superior intellect may be found in the fact that they avail themselves of the means afforded by others to make their life as comfortable as possible.
I had often seen and closely observed individual baboons in captivity, but had never had a chance to meet those interesting animals living the life of liberty in organized troops. That pleasure was in store for me one morning, in the year 1862. I was traveling in Bogosland at the time. On the morning in question I found myself separated for a while from my companions, and had just sat down to take a short rest when I heard a kind of strange barking, coming from a steep cluster of rocks in the vicinity. Some minutes before my attention had been aroused by a number of curiously shaped forms on the summit of the rocks, but I came to the conclusion that they were large blocks of stone. The barking disabused me, inasmuch as the forms, true and genuine baboons, were now starting up. Considering the shouting of the animals as a personal provocation, I hurried up the hill and fired a shot at the troop, which at once took to their heels and were soon out of sight. About half an hour later, after I had joined my friends, we saw the same troop in file on a narrow bridge running at considerable height along a rocky wall. Another gunshot made them disappear once more, but a short distance farther, where the valley turned at a sharp angle, we met them just at the moment when they were crossing to reach the opposite hills. Our hounds, though trained to hunt hyenas, hesitated in bewilderment, but soon gave tongue and made an impetuous rush at the monkeys. At once the old males rallied and faced the dogs, forming a wide semicircle, roaring, grinning, and furiously beating the ground with their hands. Their threatening attitude and spiteful glances frightened the hounds, which recoiled in amazement. The monkeys took advantage of this momentary failure of our animals and retreated in haste. When the latter were rallied and started for a fresh attack, there were only a few more in the valley, and the last of the stragglers was a pug of about six months, which retreated in agonizing terror to the top of a large block of stone where the hounds set it. "That pug will be ours," I shouted, but was thoroughly mistaken. One of the senior males, a strong, powerful individual, started from the other side of the valley, advanced quietly toward the block, pride and mischief shining in his eyes, marched straight to the hounds, which trembled under his vicious glances and threatening gesticulations, climbed the stone, fondled the young one, put it on his back and calmly returned, while we were standing there all startled. Similar acts of self-exposure of a male are only found among monkeys, while among all the other animals, even the lions, it is always the female which risks life to save her cub.
Some time afterward I crossed the same valley in company with Duke Ernst, of Coburg-Gotha, and near the same place we met the troop moving half-way up on the rocky slope of the hill. On the duke's motion, we resolved to offer them fight. Seven men, armed with patent rifles, opened the attack. At the first volley the females took to flight with the young ones, while the males not only did not flee, but advanced, and in less than no time a formidable hail of stones whistled around our heads. Some of the stones thrown were as large as a man's head. It was full time for us to withdraw, and so we did. The monkeys remained the masters of the battle-field.
On my second voyage to Eastern Soudan we stopped in Khartoum during the rainy season. I suffered much, even more than I am suffering here in New York, from fever and chills. In the long, tedious hours of leisure we made a collection of monkeys, and those animals cheered me up many a time in my physical and mental troubles. We played with them, and at the same time undertook their training, and that in a fashionable manner. So we gave them riding-lessons. An old, fat, lazy donkey had the honor to serve as horse, and, although the apes showed disgust and fear at first, one single lesson was sufficient to initiate them into the secrets of the noble sport, and in a few days they were, in their way, masters in the art. They would mount the donkey three, four, and five at a time, the first one embracing fondly the neck of the trotter with the fore-hands and cramping his hind-hands convulsively in the pelt of the animal's abdomen; the next one taking hold of his comrade, and securing his equilibrium in the same way by means of the hind-hands; and so on in a file. A funnier sight than this, four or five grinning apes closely nestled to the donkey's back, can hardly be imagined. The gray-haired trotter sometimes had to suffer from the mischievous riders, and did not conceal his feelings, to the great amusement of his tormentors. Besides playing, the monkeys were instructed in many little arts and tricks, and on that occasion I learned to appreciate them as smart and most sagacious creatures.
But passion makes them blind—unlike men, as it is said by the monkey-haters—as if men always kept quiet, composed, even-minded, and sober! As well as the apes in general, our baboons were passionately fond of strong liquors, and had a peculiar propensity for merisa, a kind of beer made of the grains of durrah by the inhabitants of the Soudan. Brandy was not to their taste, but, unfortunately, they made an exception one day. After having swallowed copious quantities of merisa, each one of the troop was offered a big glass of date-brandy, which he drank. As a consequence they became completely intoxicated, insolent, passionate, bestial, and grinned and gamboled in a fearful manner; in one word, they offered the hideous caricature of drunken men. The next day thirteen of the drunkards were suffering from the consequences of the spree, and looked sick unto death. All food gave them nausea; they turned away with disgust from merisa and even from wine, a favorite beverage in ordinary time; the only things they accepted were lemons, of which each one ate an average of twenty pieces. In this wretched state they comported themselves like men, and would, doubtless, have enjoyed a sour herring if it had been possible to secure this antidote in the country of the Mahdi. In the evening they felt better, and were all right the next morning. I hoped this hard lesson would teach my pupils the advantages of abstinence, but, alas! I was mistaken once more in my life. They drank and reveled all the same, and from that day drank brandy with predilection. More than that, they claimed their rum every day as a privilege.
I took one of these baboons—it was a female—along to my home in Germany, because she had always proved to be of extraordinary sagacity, and actually exhibited a far greater intelligence than the average of the countrywomen of Thuringia, where I was living. Apes in general like other creatures, provided they submit to their caressing and fondling. My baboon at first concentrated her tenderness upon the children of the village, but, to her great sorrow, found no reciprocity. Then she turned to cats and dogs, and teased and tormented them in every way. A bright pussy, which the most of the time she carried in her arms, was tired one day of her company and attempted to escape. The ape strongly objected, and the kitten, in its struggles, scratched her in the shoulder. Gravely the baboon seized one of the paws of her pet, examined it carefully, and finding, probably, the sharp claws a dangerous superfluity in so small a being, bit them all off, one by one. We sometimes tried a practical joke on her by putting a little powder near the place where she was secured during part of the day, and flashing it by means of burning spunk. When the powder flashed, she screamed and jumped back as far as her chain permitted it. But she had very early found out the connection of things; the next time we threw the burning spunk near the powder, she rushed forward, extinguished it, and quietly ate the explosive, which she probably relished on account of its saltpetrous taste.
The aptitude of the Cynopithecini to distinguish between cause and effect is really remarkable. They are aware when they have done wrong, and expect punishment. An old crowned guenon, also called Chinese bonnet, living in captivity, once assaulted its attendant, lacerated his arm, and cut an artery. The animal being an old offender, the master ordered it to be shot. When the man charged with carrying out the order approached the cage of the ape, the latter, apprehending his fate, retreated to the adjoining shanty serving as bedroom, which communicated with the cage by a door. Neither flatteries nor tempting titbits could move him to come out from there. The man then had dinner brought and placed in the front cage as usual, and walked off. As soon as he was out of sight, the monkey cautiously crawled out, took part of the food, and jumped back to his hiding-place. He went a second time, but found his retreat cut off, the door between the cage and the shanty having been shut. Seeing at the same moment the attendant armed with the dreadful gun reappear, the monkey understood at once that he was lost, jumped furiously at the closed door, tried to escape through every corner, and, finding that flight was impossible, lay down trembling, and awaited the deadly bullet.
The ape holds himself far above the other animals, and endeavors to make them understand it. My baboon showed her superior standing by tormenting every other animal in the house without any reason or the slightest provocation. I had an old dog whose temper had been spoiled by age, and which lived in open war with every creature in the house. My baboon picked it out as an object for her tricks. When the dog was taking its siesta, the ape would crawl cautiously near, seize the animal by the tail, and, jumping back, give it an awful jerk. The dog, roused from slumber, flew into a violent passion, and went howling and barking for the ape, who quietly watched him, and aggravated his excitement by patting the floor with her hands. As soon as the dog was near enough to reach her, she made a jump upon his back, and again squeezed his tail. These successive insults made the dog nearly frantic; he foamed and howled, but, the more excited he grew, the worse the monkey tormented him. Finally, the old hypochondriac, seeing the uselessness of trying to chastise the foe of his rest, marched off with his tail between his legs whenever the monkey showed her face.
The sagacity and docility of the Cynopithecini, wonderful as they are, can not be compared with the intelligence of the Anthropomorpha, especially the chimpanzee, the gorilla, the orang-outang, and others. I have closely observed several individuals of the family, allowed them to play with my children, and cared for their training and education, and have drawn astonishing results from my studies. These monkeys are creatures which one treats involuntarily like men, or at least like children. The orang-outangs are melancholic and not very sympathetic with men; the variety of the pongos, to which the chimpanzee belongs, is jovial and by far the most intelligent. Their voice is pure and plain, and, while it can not be denied that the voice of the gibbons sounds more melodious and constitutes a veritable song, that of the chimpanzee is a formal language. All the sounds are fully accentuated, and the observer soon understands the meaning of the different modulations, while children, playing with the animal, catch+ at once the sense of its utterances.
It is really impossible to treat the chimpanzee like an animal; his character and general behavior show so much of humanity that men are induced to commune with him in the same way as with their equals. In captivity he is perfectly conscious of his position, and subordinates himself willingly to the superior mental gifts and capacities of mankind, but holds himself better and higher than other animals, especially than other monkeys. Paying in every instance high regard to men, he likes children if they do not tease and molest him. Sportive and humorous, he indulges in joking with men and animals. He is not only inquisitive but eager to acquire knowledge, examines carefully things strange to him, and falls into ecstasy when he has found out their purpose and learned to use them in the right way. While able to understand men and things, he is, nevertheless, modest and kindly, seldom willful, and never stubborn, although he claims what is in right due to him. Of variable temper, he is now good-humored and jolly, now sad and morose, and gives vent to his feelings as men do, but sometimes in a more passionate way.
I was once the owner of a highly educated chimpanzee. He knew all the friends of the house, all our acquaintances, and distinguished them readily from strangers. Every one treating him kindly he looked upon as a personal friend. He never felt more comfortable than when he was admitted to the family circle and allowed to move freely around, and open and shut doors, while his joy was boundless when he was assigned a place at the common table, and the guests admired his natural wit and practical jokes. He expressed his satisfaction and thanks to them by drumming furiously on the table. In his numerous moments of leisure his favorite occupation consisted in investigating carefully every object in his reach: he lowered the door of the stove for the purpose of watching the fire, opened drawers, rummaged boxes and trunks and played with their contents, provided the latter did not look suspicious to him. How easily suspicion was aroused in his mind might be illustrated by the fact that, as long as he lived, he shrank with terror from every common rubber-ball. Obedience to my orders and attachment to my person, and to everybody caring for him, were among his cardinal virtues, and he bored me with his persistent wishes to accompany me. He knew perfectly his time for retiring, and was happy when some one of us carried him to the bedroom like a baby. As soon as the light was put out he would jump into the bed and cover himself, because he was afraid of the darkness. His favorite meal was supper with tea, which he was very fond of, provided it was largely sweetened and mixed with rum. He sipped it from the cup, and ate the dipped bread-slices with a spoon, having been taught not to use the fingers in eating; he poured his wine from the bottle and drank it from the glass. A man could hardly behave himself more gentlemanlike at table than did that monkey.
He was especially engaging in his association with my children, always gentle, obliging, and tender, and they liked him as a good fellow and pretty playmate. When he was first introduced to my little girl, who was then six months old, he seemed perplexed, and observed her with astonishment, as if speculating whether that little bit of a creature was really a human being. At last his mind was made up; he touched her cheek with one finger and then offered her his hand in friendship. My chimpanzee conversed very little with other animals; like the apes in general, he was afraid of the big ones and despised the smaller ones. He was always around us, and we, on our side, did not make any difference between him and a man.
The animal fell ill of mumps, followed by pneumonia. I had seen many sick chimpanzees, but never one of them behaved as he did. I engaged two competent physicians to take charge of him. He knew them from the first day, allowed them to feel his pulse, showed his tongue, and directed the hand of the attendant doctor to the painful swelling, which had to be cut open afterward, there being danger of suffocation. The doctors would not use chloroform, out of regard to the affection of the lungs; but, fearing the chimpanzee would not keep quiet during the operation, engaged four strong men to hold him. The sick animal did not submit to that rough treatment, but excitedly pushed the men aside, and then, without any compulsion whatever, but in compliance with the fondling words of his nurse, in whose lap he was sitting, offered his throat. The operation was performed, the ape never flinching or complaining. He felt afterward much relieved, and expressed his gratitude by pressing fervently the hands of the physicians and kissing his nurse. But his life was not spared; he died from pneumonia. Meekly and patiently he bore his long agony and died more like a man than an animal. The doctor told me that never in his life, at any death-bed, had he felt an emotion similar to that which seized him at the humble couch of the poor monkey. In Berlin, many beautiful eyes shed tears when the news of the sad end of my widely known and generally petted chimpanzee was spread.
Was the ancestor of the human race a monkey? That is the vexed question which still raises so much dust.
There is no doubt that man is not more and not less than the chief creature in the animal kingdom, and that the monkeys are his immediate neighbors; but I can not see why this fact should logically involve the assumption that our great-great-uncles were gamboling in paradise in the shape of apes. The doctrine of gradual evolution may seem trustworthy in the highest degree and beautiful from the scientific standpoint, but it is based upon a simple hypothesis, and a hypothesis is not a proof; and here I wish not to be misunderstood. Even if the physical and intellectual development and perfection of humanity throughout the succession of thousands of centuries is a fact, there is no authority for the inference that, eo ipso, a monkey-nest was the cradle of mankind.
Darwin's treatise on the variation of species gave rise to the ardent controversy of our days. Darwin used the wrong word. It is not "species" he ought to have said, but "varieties"; for species never interbreed with each other. Man and monkey, though belonging to the same group, represent two distinct species. There is, consequently, a simple and irrefragable natural law refuting peremptorily the thesis of the enthusiastic propugnators of the pedigree rooting somewhere amid a grinning tribe gamboling in the wild forests of Asia or Africa. The criterion that the human race has large, round hands and blunt canine teeth would be sufficient of itself to establish the truth that no monkey-blood is pulsating in our veins; but there are more distinctive features. Men have strong, well-shaped legs, walk constantly in an erect posture, and enjoy the faculty of speech.
The monkeys rank near humanity in the general organization of the world; they show in many instances much likeness with mankind, physically as well as intellectually. But a further concession would be a denial of positive natural laws. Nay! old Adam was not a monkey, not a baboon, not even a chimpanzee!