the present day, but lent for a while to Primitive Man in order to enable him to communicate with his fellows, and then withdrawn when its purpose was accomplished.
"Perhaps, after all, it will be found that the principal obstacle to belief in the rational origin of Language is an excusable repugnance to think of Man as having ever been in so brutish a condition of life as is implied in the want of speech. Imagination has always delighted to place the cradle of our race in a golden age of innocent enjoyment, and the more rational views of what the course of life must have been before the race had acquired the use of significant speech, or had elaborated for themselves the most necessary arts of subsistence, are felt by unreflecting piety as derogatory to the dignity of Man and the character of a beneficent Creator. But this is a dangerous line of thought, and the only safe rule in speculating on the possible dispensations of Providence (as has been well pointed out by Mr. Farrar) is the observation of the various conditions in which it is actually allotted to Man (without any choice of his own) to carry on his life. What is actually allowed to happen to any family of Man cannot be incompatible either with the goodness of God or with His views of the dignity of the human race. And God is no respecter of persons or of races. However hard or degrading the life of the Fuegian or the Bushman may appear 'to us, it can be no impeachment of the Divine love to suppose that our own progenitors were exposed to a similar struggle.
"We have only the choice of two alternatives. We must either suppose that Man was created in a civilized state, ready instructed in the arts necessary for the conduct of life, and was permitted to fall back into the degraded condition which we witness among savage tribes; or else, that he started from the lowest grade, and rose toward a higher state of being, by the accumulated acquisitions in arts and knowledge of generation after generation, and by the advantage constantly given to superior capacity in the struggle for life. Of these alternatives, that which embodies the notion of continued progress is most in accordance with all our experience of the general course of events, notwithstanding the apparent stagnation of particular races, and the barbarism and misery occasionally caused by violence and warfare. We have witnessed a notable advance in the conveniences of life in our own time, and, when we look back as far as history will reach, we find our ancestors in the condition of rude barbarians. Beyond the reach of any written records we have evidence that the country was inhabited by a race of hunters (whether our progenitors or not) who sheltered in caves, and carried on their warfare with the wild beasts with the rudest weapons of chipped flint. Whether the owners of these earliest relics of the human race were speaking men or not, who shall say? It is certain only that Language is not the innate inheritance of our race; that it must have begun to be acquired by some definite generation in the pedigree of Man; and as many intelligent and highly social kinds of animals, as elephants, for instance, or beavers, live in harmony without the aid of this great convenience of social life, there is no apparent reason why our own race should not have led their life on earth for an indefinite period before they acquired the use of speech; whether before that epoch the progenitors of the race ought to be called by the name of Man or not.
"Geologists, however, universally look back to a period when the earth was peopled only by animal races, without a trace of human existence; and the mere absence of Man among an animal population of the world is felt by no one as repugnant to a thorough belief in the providential rule of the Creator. Why, then, should such a feeling be roused by the complementary theory which bridges over the interval to the appearance of Man, and supposes that one of the races of the purely animal period was gradually raised in the scale of intelligence, by the laws of variation affecting all procreative kinds of being, until the progeny, in the course of generations, attained to so enlarged an understanding as to become capable of appreciating each other's motives; of being moved to admiration and love by the exhibition of loving courage, or to indignation and hate by malignant conduct; of finding enjoyment or pain in the applause or reprobation of their fellows, or of their own reflected thoughts; and, sooner