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Of Our Brothers Beyond The Border
by [?]

There is a story current of a certain very eminent French naturalist, who is so profoundly impressed by the truth of the Darwinian theory, that he never passes the cage where the larger apes are confined in the Jardin des Plantes without taking off his hat, making a profound obeisance, and wishing them a bon jour.

This recognition is touching and graceful. The homage of the witches to him who should be king hereafter, had in it a sort of mockery that made it horrible; but here we have an act of generous courtesy, based alike on the highest discoveries of science and the rules of the truest good-breeding.

The learned professor, with all the instincts of great acquirements and much self-knowledge united, admits them at once to equality and fraternity–the liberty, perhaps, they will have to wait some time for; but in that they are no worse off than some millions of their fellow-countrymen.

One might speculate long–I don’t know exactly how profitably–on the sense of gratitude these creatures must feel for this touching kindness, how they must long for the good man’s visit, how they must wonder by what steps he arrived at this astonishing knowledge, how surprised they must feel that he does not make more converts; and, last of all, what pains they must take to exhibit in their outward bearing and behaviour that they are not unworthy of the high consideration he bestows on them! Before him no monkey-tricks, no apish indecorums–none even of those passing levities which young gorillas will indulge in just like other youths. No; all must be staid, orderly, and respectful–heads held well up–hands at rest–tails nowhere; in fact, a port and bearing that would defy the most scrutinising observer to say that they were less eligible company than that he had just quitted at the cafe.

I own I have not seen them during the moment of the Professor’s passage. I am unable to state authentically whether all this be as I surmise, but I have a strong impression it must be. Indeed, reflecting on the habits and modes of the species, I should be rather disposed to believe them given to an exuberant show of gratitude than to anything like indifference, and expect to witness demonstrations of delight more natural possibly than graceful.

Now, I have not the most remote intention of impugning the Professor’s honesty. I give him credit–full credit–for high purpose, and for high courage. “These poor brothers of ours,” says he, “have tails, it is true, and they have not the hypocampus major; but let me ask you, Monsieur le Duc, or you, Monseigneur the Archbishop, will you dare to affirm on oath that you yourself are endowed with a hypocampus major or minor? Are you prepared to stand forward and declare that the convolutions of your brain are of the regulation standard–that the medullary part is not disproportioned to the cineritious–that your falx is not thicker or thinner than it ought–and that your optic thalami are not too prominent? And if you are not ready to do this, what avails all your assumption of superiority? In these–they are not many–lie the alleged differences between you and your caged cousins yonder.” Thus speaks, or might speak, the Professor; and, I repeat, I respect his candour; but still I would venture to submit one small, perhaps ungenerous doubt, and ask, Would he, acting on the noble instincts that move him, vote these creatures an immediate and entire emancipation, or would he not rather wait a while–a few years, say–till the habit of sitting on chairs had worn off some of the tail, and a greater familiarity with society suggested not to store up their dinner in their jaws? Would he like to see them at once take their places in public life, become public functionaries, and ministers, and grand cordons?