Darwin-L Message Log 2:164 (October 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<2:164>From P_OHARA@ACAD.FANDM.EDU  Sun Oct 31 08:52:19 1993

Date: Sun, 31 Oct 1993 09:55:47 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: RE: caveman
To: Darwin-L@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: Franklin and Marshall College

I am a new subscriber who has been following this discussion of the caveman
with real interest.  I am not a scientist but rather a literary scholar; my
project is, broadly, nineteenth-century social evolutionary theory and late-
century fictional narrative in Britain (Lubbock, Tylor, Spencer, etc. &
Meredith, Hardy, etc).  I thought I'd add a literary citation to the
discussion, a poem (below) entitled "Ballade of Primitive Man" (1880), written
by Andrew Lang, that Victorian man of many letters and protegee of E. B. Tylor.
Lang includes a footnote which claims that the last three stanzas (which I
have starred**) were written by an "eminent anthropologist."  In *Victorian
Anthropology,* George Stocking names Tylor himself as that anthropologist.
The tone of the poem (reinforced by the tripping ballade meter) is quite light.
I offer it (excerpted) for the interest (and amusement perhaps?) of those
pursuing 19th century evolutionary images of the primitive man of the caves,
and those like myself interested in how the circulation of 19th century
evolutionary theory informed late- nineteenth century literature:

from "Double Ballade of Primitive Man"

He lived in a cave by the seas,
He lived upon oysters and foes,
But his list of forbidden degrees,
An extensive morality shows;
Geological evidence goes
To prove he never had a pan,
But he shaved with a shell when he chose,--
'Twas the manner of Primitive Man.....

*On the coasts that incessantly freeze,
With his stones, and his bones, and his bows;
On luxuriant tropical leas,
Where the summer eternally glows,
He is found, and his habits disclose
(Let theology say what she can)
That he lived in the long, long agos,
'Twas the manner of Primitive Man!

*From a status like that of the Crees,
Our society's fabric arose,--
Develop'd, evolv'd, if you please,
But deluded chronologists chose,
In accordance with Mos
es, 4000 BC for the span
When he rushed on the world and its woes,---
'Twas the manner of Primitive Man!

*But the mild anthropologist, --he's
Not recent inclined to suppose
Flints Palaeolithic like these,
Quaternary bones such as those!
In Rhinoceros, Mammoth and Co.'s,
First epoch, the Human began,
Theologians all to expose,--
'Tis the mission of Primitive Man....

Patricia O'Hara  Franklin & Marshall College p_ohara@acad.fandm.edu

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