« ForrigeFortsæt »
portion to their size; but there is no resemblance which can give one moment's support to the idea that any ancestor of Homer or Shakespeare was ever even a chimpanzee. Place the skulls of all the varieties of humanity side by side in a descending series, and we find a well-marked gradation—an improvement from the lowest to the highest, or a degener. ation from the highest to the lowest. Now, by the side of the lowest form of the human head place the highest that ever existed in the dumb races that mimic humanity so execrably, and you have, instead of a single step in a gradual series, an immense gulf, which it would require a long chain of gradations to fill. In one you have a man, gifted with speech and reason, capable of education and improvement, with an intellect which can expand until it measures the stars and invents systems of ethnology; in the other a brute, which can never be capable of human speech, or reason, or faith : a cunning brute, perhaps, but not equal to the dog, or horse, or elephant, either of which would be for us a more respectable relative than the finest specimen of the four-handed favourites of the Zoological Gardens.
But let us return to the question of races, which does not necessarily depend upon the theory of development. What are the reasons for believing that humanity is one, and that all men are descended from a single pair ? As religion is a matter of faith,—though it must, of course, be consistent with reason, even in its higher sphere,—we leave it out of the question. It may satisfy ourselves to settle a scientific question by the authority of Scripture; but we have no right to require that others should be satisfied with the same authority. The first scientific evidence which we should offer of the unity of the human race is the fact of the universal recognition of such unity. Beneath all varieties there is a “human nature,” in which all men feel themselves to be united; one touch of which is said to make "the whole world kin." This feeling or instinct of relationship is a proof of no trifling value. A more tangible argument is found in the evident relationship of human languages. However we may account for a single race speaking two thousand different dialects, it would be still more difficult to account for the similarities of structure, and even of words, in the languages of different and widely-separated races, having different origins. The only plausible explanation of such a fact is the hypothesis of an original unity of race.
Universal tradition is a fact of great power. Every nation which has preserved traditions has some which can be traced to one original. The tradition of a deluge, for example, has been found in Asia, Africa, America, and Polynesia. There can scarcely be a better proof of identity of origin than common traditions.
The intermingling of races, and the formation of new and persistent types by such intermixture, if it can be demonstrated, is a physiological proof of unity of race which cannot be disputed; but this persistence may not be considered as sufficiently established. Every instance brought forward will be claimed as another original type or species.
But the great difficulty in the whole subject, as a scientific question, is, that it carries us out of the range of science and out of the sphere of
The creation of man is a miracle. The division of man into races may be a miracle also. And a miracle is something beyond our power to explain or scientifically investigate. Science informs us that there was a time when man did not exist on this planet. We cannot see that he had any power to make himself, either from the dust of the earth, or from an animalcule or an oyster. The Power and Wisdom which could and did form the intellectual, moral, and physical nature of man has, without question, the ability to change his character, external and internal, directly or indirectly, at any time; and it is just as reasonable to suppose that the Almighty, after the creation of a single pair, changed certain persons of their progeny into the types of the existing varieties of the human race, as that He made as many different creations. Either one process or the other may be predicated of Omnipotence; and we may as well accept the theory which is consistent with Revelation, with universal tradition, and the common instincts of humanity, as one that makes us remote descendants of the toad or crocodile, and near relations to the chimpanzee and the gorilla.
THE SPRING MEETING.
The early spring brought Lucy Floyd on a visit to her cousin, a wondering witness of the happiness that reigned at Mellish Park.
Poor Lucy had expected to find Aurora held as something better than the dogs, and a little higher than the horses, in that Yorkshire household; and was considerably surprised to find her dark-eyed cousin a despotic and capricious sovereign, reigning with undisputed sway over every creature, biped or quadruped, upon the estate. She was surprised to see the bright glow in her cheeks, the merry sparkle in her eyes; surprised to hear the light tread of her footstep, the gushing music of her laugh ; surprised, in fact, to discover that, instead of weeping over the dry bones of her dead love for Talbot Bulstrode, Aurora had learned to love her husband.
Have I any need to be ashamed of my heroine in that she had forgotten her straight-nosed, gray-eyed Cornish lover, who had set his pride and his pedigree between himself and his affection, and had loved her at best with a reservation, although Heaven only knows how dearly he had loved her? Have I any cause to blush for this poor, impetuous girl if, turning the sickness of her sorrowful heart with a sense of relief and gratitude to the honest shelter of John's love, she had quickly learnt to feel for him an affection which repaid him a thousand-fold for his longsuffering devotion? Surely it would have been impossible for any truehearted woman to withhold some such repayment for such a love as that which in every word, and look, and thought, and deed, John Mellish bestowed
his wife. How could she be for ever his creditor for such a boundless debt? Are hearts like his common amongst our clay? Is it a small thing to be beloved with this loyal and pure affection ? Is it laid so often at the feet of any mortal woman that she should spurn and trample upon the holy offering?
He had loved; and more, he had trusted her. He had trusted her, when the man who passionately loved her had left her in an agony of doubt and despair. The cause of this lay in the difference between the two men. John Mellish had as high and stern a sense of honour as Talbot Bulstrode; but while the proud Cornishman's strength of brain lay in the reflective faculties, the Yorkshireman's acute intellect was strongest in its power of perception. Talbot drove himself half mad with imagining what might be ; John saw what was ; and he saw, or fancied he saw, that the woman he loved was worthy of all love; and he gave his peace and honour freely into her keeping.
He had his reward. He had his reward n her frank womanly affec
tion, and in the delight of seeing that she was happy; no cloud upon her face, no shadow on her life, but ever-beaming joy in her eyes, everchanging smiles upon her lips. She was happy in the calm security of her home, happy in that pleasant stronghold in which she was so fenced about and guarded by love and devotion. I do not know that she ever felt any romantic or enthusiastic love for this big Yorkshireman; but I do know that from the first hour in which she laid her head upon his broad breast she was true to him—true as a wife should be; true in every thought; true in the merest shadow of a thought. A wide gulf yawned around the altar of her home, separating her from every other man in the universe, and leaving her alone with that one man whom she had accepted as her husband. She had accepted him in the truest and purest sense of the word. She had accepted him from the hand of God, as the protector and shelterer of her life; and morning and night, upon her knees, she thanked the gracious Creator who had made this man for her helpmeet.
But after duly setting down all this, I have to confess that poor John Mellish was cruelly henpecked. Such big, blustering fellows are created to be the much-enduring subjects of petticoat government; and they carry the rosy garlands until their dying hour with a sublime unconsciousness that those foral chains are not very easy to be broken. Your little man is self-assertive, and for ever on his guard against womanly domination. All tyrannical husbands on record have been little men, from Mr. Daniel Quilp upwards; but who could ever convince a fellow of six foot two in his stockings that he was afraid of his wife? He submits to the pretty tyrant with a quiet smile of resignation. What does it matter? She is so little, so fragile; he could break that tiny wrist with one twist of his big thumb and finger; and in the mean time, till affairs get desperate, and such measures become necessary, it's as well to let her have her own way.
John Mellish did not even debate the point. He loved her, and he laid himself down to be trampled upon by her gracious feet. Whatever she did or said was charming, bewitching, and wonderful to him. If she ridiculed and laughed at him, her laughter was the sweetest harmony in creation; and it pleased him to think that his absurdities could give birth to such music. If she lectured him, she arose to the sublimity of a priestess, and he listened to her and worshiped her as the most noble of living creatures. And with all this, his innate manliness of character preserved him from any taint of that quality our argot bas christened spooneyism. It was only those who knew him well and watched him closely who could fathom the full depths of his tender weakness. The noblest sentiments approach most nearly to the universal, and this love of John's was in a manner universal. It was the love of husband, father, mother, brother, melted into one comprehensive affection. He had a mother's weak pride in Aurora, a mother's foolish vanity in the wonderful creature, the rara avis he had won from her nest to be his wife. If
Mrs. Mellish was complimented while John stood by, he simpered like a school-girl who blushes at a handsome man's first flatteries. I'm afraid he bored his male acquaintance about “my wife:” her marvellous leap over the bullfinch; the plan she drew for the new stables, “which the architect said was a better plan than he could have drawn himself, sir, by Gad” (a clever man, that Doncaster architect); the surprising manner she had discovered the fault in the chestnut colt's off fore-leg; the pencil sketch she had made of her dog Bow-wow (“Sir Edwin Landseer might have been proud of such spirit and dash, sir”). All these things did the country gentlemen hear, until, perhaps, they grew a shade weary of John's talk of “my wife.” But they were never weary of Aurora herself. She took her place at once among them; and they bowed down to her and worshiped her, envying John Mellish the ownership of such a high-bred filly, as I fear they were but likely, unconsciously, to designate my black-eyed heroine.
The domain over which Aurora found herself empress was no inconsiderable one. John Mellish had inherited an estate which brought him an income of something between sixteen and seventeen thousand a year. Far-away farms, upon wide Yorkshire wolds and fenny Lincolnshire flats, owned him master; and the intricate secrets of his possessions were scarcely known to himself,-known, perhaps, to none but his landsteward and solicitor, a grave gentleman who lived in Doncaster, and drove about once a fortnight down to Mellish Park, much to the horror of its light-hearted master, to whom“ business" was a terrible bugbear. Not that I would have the reader for a moment imagine John Mellish an empty-headed blockhead, with no comprehension save for his own daily pleasures. He was not a reading man, nor a business man, nor a politician, nor a student of the natural sciences. There was an observatory in the Park; but John had fitted it up as a smoking-room, the revolving openings in the roof being very convenient for letting out the effluvia of his guests' cheroots and Havanas; Mr. Mellish caring for the stars very much after the fashion of that Assyrian monarch who was content to see them shine, and thank their Maker for their beauty. He was not a spiritualist; and unless one of the tables at Mellish could have given him "a tip” for the “Sellinger" or Great Ebor, he would have cared very little if every inch of walnut and rosewood in his house had grown oracular. But for all this he was no fool; he had that brightly-clear intellect which very often accompanies perfect honesty of purpose, and which is the very intellect of all others most successful in the discomfiture of all knavery. He was not a creature to despise, for his very weaknesses were manly. Perhaps Aurora felt this, and that it was something to rule over such a man. Sometimes, in an outburst of loving gratitude, she would nestle her handsome head upon his breast,—tall as she was, she was only tall enough to take shelter under his wing,—and tell him that he was the dearest and the best of men, and that, although she might love him to her dying day, she could never, never, NEVER love him half