Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/394

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the earlier in date, and the farther I go the more I perceive that they understood the mechanism of nature. All movement languishes and dies in proportion as it approaches the north; it is hard to believe it to be from thence that the movement of the magnetic needle comes.'[1]

To suppose that theories of a relation between man and the lower mammalia are only a product of advanced science, would be an extreme mistake. Even at low levels of culture, men addicted to speculative philosophy have been led to account for the resemblance between apes and themselves by solutions satisfactory to their own minds, but which we must class as philosophic myths. Among these, stories which embody the thought of an upward change from ape to man, more or less approaching the last-century theory of development, are to be found side by side with others which in the converse way account for apes as degenerate from a previous human state.

Central American mythology works out the idea that monkeys were once a human race.[2] In South-East Africa, Father Dos Santos remarked long since that 'they hold that the apes were anciently men and women, and thus they call them in their tongue the first people.' The Zulus still tell the tale of an Amafeme tribe who became baboons. They were an idle race who did not like to dig, but wished to eat at other people's houses, saying, 'We shall live, although we do not dig, if we eat the food of those who cultivate the soil.' So the chief of that place, of the house of Tusi, assembled the tribe, and they prepared food and went out into the wilderness. They fastened on behind them

  1. 'Mémoires conc. l'Hist., &c., des Chinois,' vol. iv. p. 457. Compare the story of the magnetic (?) horseman in 'Thousand and One N.' vol. iii. p. 119, with the old Chinese mention of magnetic cars with a movable-armed pointing figure, A. v. Humboldt, 'Asie Centrale,' vol. i. p. xl.; Goguet, vol. iii. p. 284. (The loadstone mountain has its power from a turning brazen horseman on the top.)
  2. Brasseur, 'Popol Vuh,' pp. 23-31. Compare this Central American myth of the ancient senseless mannikins who become monkeys, with a Pottowatomi legend in Schoolcraft, 'Indian Tribes,' part i. p. 320.