I have been studying the traits and dispositions of the 'lower animals'
(so called), and contrasting them with the traits and dispositions of
man. I find the results humiliating to me. For it obliges me to renounce
my allegiance to the Darwinian Theory of the Ascent of Man from the
Lower Animals; since it now seems to me that the theory ought to be
vacated in favor of a new and truer one, this new and truer one to be
named the Descent of Man from the Higher Animals.
In proceeding towards this unpleasant conclusion I have not
guessed or speculated or conjectured, but have used what is commonly
called the scientific method. Some of my experiments were quite
curious. In the course of my reading I had conic across a case where,
many years ago, some hunters on our Great Plains organized a buffalo
hunt for the entertainment of an English earl - that, and to provide
some fresh meat. They killed 72 of those great animals; and ate part of
one of them and left the 71 to rot. In order to determine the difference
between an anaconda and an earl - if any - I caused seven young calves
to be turned into the anaconda's cage. The grateful reptile immediately
crushed one of them and swallowed it, then lay back satisfied. It showed
no further interest in the calves, and no disposition to harm them. I
tried this experiment with other anacondas; always with the same
results. The fact stood proven that the difference between an earl and
an anaconda is that the earl is cruel and the anaconda is not; and that
the earl wantonly destroys what he has no use for, but the anaconda
does not. This seemed to suggest that the earl was descended from the
anaconda, and had lost a good deal in the transition.
I furnished a hundred different kinds of wild and tame animals
the opportunity to accumulate vast stores of food, but none of them
would do it. The squirrels and bees and certain birds made
accumulations, but stopped when they had gathered a winter's supply
and could not be persuaded to add to it. In order to bolster up a
reputation the ant pretended to store up supplies, but I was not
deceived. I know the ant. These experiments convinced me that there
is this difference between man and the higher animals; he is avaricious
and miserly, they are not.
In the course of my experiments I convinced myself that among
the animals man is the only one that harbors insults and injuries,
broods over them, waits till a chance offers, then takes revenge. The
passion of revenge is unknown to the higher animals.
Roosters keep harems, but it is by consent of their concubines;
therefore no wrong is done. Men keep harems, but it is by brute force,
privileged by atrocious laws which the other sex is allowed no hand in
the making. In this matter man occupies a far lower place than the
The higher animals engage in individual fights, but never in
organized masses. Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity
of atrocities, War. Man is the only animal that robs his helpless fellow
of his country - takes possession of it and drives him out of it or
destroys him. Man has done this in all the ages. There is not an acre
of ground on the globe that is in the possession of its rightful owner,
or that has not been taken away from owner after owner, cycle after
cycle by force and bloodshed.
Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is
open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he
is the Unreasonable Animal. Note his history, as sketched above. It
seems plain to me that whatever he is he is not a reasoning animal.
His record is the fantastic record of a maniac. In truth, man is
incurably foolish. Simple things which the other animals easily learn,
he is incapable of learning.
And so I find that we have descended and degenerated, from
some far ancestor - some microscopic atom wandering at its pleasure
between the mighty horizons of a drop of water perchance - insect
by insect, animal by animal, reptile by reptile, down the long
highway of smirchless innocence, till we have reached the bottom
stages of development - namable as the Human Being. Below us -