I can stand it no longer, sir. I have been seething and boiling inwardly for a couple of years at this last and final insult which science has put upon human nature, and now I must speak, or, if you will, explode. And how is it, I want to know, that the duty of hurling imprecations at this infernal absurdity has devolved upon me? Don’t we employ a professional class to look after the interests of the race? — fellows heavily feed to see to it that gorilla and chimpanzee keep their distance? — paid, sir, by me and you to proclaim that men—ay, and women too—are at the top of things in origin, as well as in nature and destiny? Why are these retained attorneys of humanity so confoundedly cool and philosophical, while humanity is thus outraged? What’s the use of their asserting, Sunday after Sunday, that man was made a little lower than the angels, when right under their noses are a set of anatomical miscreants who contend that he is only a little higher than the monkeys? And the thing has now gone so far, that I’ll be hanged if it isn’t becoming a sign of a narrow and prejudiced mind to scout the idea that we are all descended from mindless beasts. You are a fossilized old fogy, in this day of scientific light, if you repudiate your relationship with any fossilized monstrosity which, from the glass case of a museum, mocks at you with a grin a thousand centuries old. To exalt a man’s soul above his skeleton, is now to be behind the age. All questions of philosophy, sir, are fast declining into a question of bones, — and blasted dry ones they are! The largest minds are now all absorbed in the ugliest brutes, and the ape has passed from being the butt of the menagerie to become the glory of the dissecting-room. And let me tell you, sir, that, if you make any pretensions to be a naturalist, you will find those of your colaborers, who defend the dominant theory as great masters of hard words as of big ones; and if you have the audacity to deny that man is derived from the monkey, it is ten chances to one they will forthwith proceed to treat you like one.
Now I go against the whole thing, sir. When the public mind first took its bent towards science, I, for one, foresaw that the Devil would soon be to pay with our cherished ideas. Under the plea of exercising some of the highest faculties of human nature, these scientific descendentalists have exclusively devoted themselves to the lowest objects of human concern. The meaner the creature, the more they think of it. You, sir, as a free and enlightened citizen of this great Republic, doubtless think something of yourself; but I can tell you there isn’t one of these origin-of-species Solons who wouldn’t pass you over as of no account in comparison with any anomalous rat which you would think it beneath your dignity to take the trouble of poisoning. There isn’t a statesman, or philanthropist, or poet, or hero, or saint in the land, sir, that they would condescend to look at, when engaged in exploring the remains of some ignorant ass of the Stone Period. As for your ordinary Christian, he has no chance whatever. The only man they think worth the attention of scientific intelligence is pre-historic man, the man nearest the monkey. And this is called progress! This is the result of founding schools, colleges, and societies for the advancement of knowledge! No interest now in Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton, — in Leonidas, Epaminondas, Tell, and Washington, — in Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and Napoleon. They, poor devils, were simply vertebrates; their structure is so well known that it is unworthy the attention of our modern prowlers into the earth’s crust in search of lower and obscurer specimens of the same great natural division. What do you think these resurrectionists on a great scale, these Jerry Crunchers of palaeontology, care for you and me? Indeed, put Alfred Tennyson alive into one end of a museum, and one of those horrible monsters whose bones are being continually dug up into the other, and see which will be rated the more interesting object of the two by the “great minds” of the present day.