Lane Fox, A.H. ‘On the principles of classification adopted in the arrangement of his anthropological collection, now exhibited in the Bethnal Green Museum’ Journal of Anthropological Institute 4 (1875) pp. 293-308

July 1st, 1874.



PROFESSOR BUSK, F.R.S., President, in the Chair.

The Minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed.

The following paper was read by the author:

Wood door from Gabon, collected by Walker. 1884.56.47

PRINCIPLES of CLASSIFICATION adopted in the ARRANGEMENT of his ANTHROPOLOGICAL COLLECTION, now exhibited in the Bethnal Green Museum. By Col. A. LANE FOX. Read at the Special Meeting of the Institute held at the Bethnal Green Museum on the 1st July, 1874, on the occasion of the opening of the Collection to the public.

I GLADLY avail myself of the opportunity that has been afforded me of explaining the principles of classification that I have adopted in the arrangement of my collection, in the hopes that, by offering them to the consideration of anthropologists, their soundness may be put to the test, and that they may elicit criticism on the part of those who have devoted their attention to the subject of primitive culture.

The collection is divided into four parts. The first has reference to physical anthropology, and consists of a small collection of typical skulls and hair of races. This part of the collection, as it relates to a subject that has received a large amount of attention from anthropologists, and has been frequently treated by abler hands than mine, I do not propose to enter into. The remainder of the collection is devoted to objects illustrating the development of prehistoric and savage culture, and consists of - Part II. The weapons of existing savages. Part III. Miscellaneous arts of modern savages, including pottery and substitutes for pottery; modes of navigation, clothing, textile fabrics and weaving; personal ornament; realistic art; conventionalised art; ornamentation; tools; household furniture ; musical instruments; idols and religious emblems; specimens of the written character of races; horse furniture; money and substitutes for money; fire-arms; sundry smaller classes of objects, such as mirrors, spoons, combs, games, and a collection of implements of modern savages, arranged to illustrate the mode of hafting stone implements. Part IV refers to the prehistoric series, and consists of specimens of natural forms simulating artificial forms, for comparison with artificial forms; a collection of modern forgeries for comparison with genuine prehistoric implements; palaeolithc implements; neolithic implements; implements of bronze, iron, and bone.

The collection does not contain any considerable number of unique specimens, and has been collected during upwards of twenty years, not for the purpose of surprising any one, either by the beauty or value of the objects exhibited, but solely with a view to instruction. For this purpose ordinary and typical specimens, rather than rare objects, have been selected and arranged in sequence, so as to trace, as far as practicable, the succession of ideas by which the minds of men in a primitive condition of culture have progressed from the simple to the complex, and from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous.

Many ethnological museums exist in this country and elsewhere, and therefore, in claiming to have accomplished a useful purpose in forming this collection, I am bound to endeavour to show that it performs some function that is not performed by the majority of the other museums that are to be found. I propose, therefore, to consider, in the first place, what the defect of an ethnological museum usually is.

The classification of natural history specimens has long been a recognised necessity in the arrangement of every museum which professes to impart useful information, but ethnological specimens have not generally been thought capable of anything more than a geographical arrangement. This arises mainly from sociology not having until recently been recognised as a science, if indeed it can be said to be so regarded by the public generally at the present time. Travellers, as a rule, have not yet embraced the idea, and consequently the specimens in our museums, not having been systematically collected, cannot be scientifically arranged. They consist of miscellaneous objects brought home as reminiscences of travel, or of such as have been most easily procured by sailors at the seaports. Unlike natural history specimens, which have for years past been selected with a view to variety, affinity, and sequence, these ethnological curiosities, as they have been termed, have been chosen without any regard to their history or psychology, and, although they would be none the less valuable for having been collected without influence from the bias of preconceived theories, yet, not being supposed capable of any scientific interpretation, they have not been obtained in sufficient number or variety to render classification possible.

This does not apply with the same force to collections of prehistoric objects, which during the last ten or fifteen years have received better treatment. It is to the arts and implements of modern savages that my remarks chiefly relate.

Since the year 1852 I have endeavoured to supply this want by selecting from amongst the commoner class of objects which have been brought to this country those which appeared to show connection of form. Whenever missing links have been found they have been added to the collection, and the result has been to establish, however imperfectly, sequence in several series.

The primary arrangement has been by form - that is to say, that the spears, bows, clubs, and other objects above mentioned, have each been placed by themselves in distinct classes. Within each there is a sub-class for special localities, and in each of these sub-classes, or whenever a connection of ideas can be traced, the specimens have been arranged according to their affinities, the simpler on the left and the successive improvements in line to the right of them. This arrangement has been varied to suit the form of the room, or of the screens, or the number of specimens, but in all cases the object kept in view has been, as far as possible, to trace the succession of ideas.

This is the distinctive difference between my collection and most others which I have seen, in which the primary arrangement has been geographical, that is to say, all the arts of the same tribe or nation have been placed together in one class, and within this, there may perhaps have been in some cases a subclass for special arts or special forms. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages. By a geographical or racial arrangement the general culture of each distinct race is made the prominent feature of the collection, and it is therefore more strictly ethnological, whereas in the arrangement which I have adopted, the development of specific ideas and their transmission from one people to another, or from one locality to another, is made more apparent, and it is therefore of greater sociological value. Different points of interest are brought to light by each, and, in my judgment, a great National Anthropological Collection, should we ever possess such a desideratum, can never be considered complete until it embraces two series, arranged upon these two distinct systems.

Following the orthodox scientific principle of reasoning from the known to the unknown, I have commenced my descriptive catalogue with the specimens of the arts of existing savages, and have employed them, as far as possible, to illustrate the relics of primeval men, none of which, except those constructed of the more imperishable materials, such as flint and stone, have survived to our time. All the implements of primeval man that were of decomposable materials have disappeared, and can be replaced only in imagination by studying those of his nearest congener, the modern savage.

This being the system adopted, one of the first points to which I desire to invite your attention is the question, to what extent the modern savage truly represents primeval man, or rather to what extent may we take the arts of modern savages to represent those of the first progenitors of our species?

In order to do this it is necessary to view the question in its psychological aspects. This, I shall touch upon as lightly as possible, avoiding all technicalities, which in a cursory view of the matter, might tend to confuse, and confining myself to those parts of the subject which appear to have a direct bearing on evolution.

It is a matter of common observation that animals act by instinct, that is to say, that in the construction of their habitations and other arrangements for providing for their wants, they act intuitively, and apparently without the intervention of reason; and that the things which they construct, though often of a more or less complex character, are usually of a fixed type; that they are repeated by nearly all animals of the same kind with but little variety; and that within the limited space of time during which we are able to observe them, they do not appear to be susceptible of progress, although evidence has been adduced to show that animals, even in a wild state, do change their habits to a certain extent with the change of external conditions.

On the other hand, we recognise in many animals the operation of a reasoning mind. In their efforts to escape, or when conditions of a novel character are presented to them, they act in a manner that shows clear evidence of intelligence, although they show this to a very limited extent as compared with man. We also know that habits acquired by animals during domestication, or taught them by the exercise of their reasoning faculties, become instinctive in them, and are inherited in their offspring, as in the familiar case of the pointer dog. We also know that under domestication animals lose the instincts acquired in a wild state.

In the human mind we recognise the presence of all these phenomena, only in a different degree. We are conscious of an intellectual mind capable of reasoning upon unfamiliar occurrences, and of an automaton mind capable of acting intuitively in certain matters without effort of the will or consciousness. And we know that habits acquired by the exercise of conscious reason, by constant habit, become automatic, and then they no longer require the exercise of conscious reason to direct the actions, as they did at first; as, for example, the habit of walking upright, which the child learns with pain and labour, but in time performs without conscious effort of the mind. Or the habit of reading and writing, the learning of which requires a strong and continuous effort of the intellect, but which in time becomes so completely automatic that it becomes possible to read a whole page aloud whilst the intellectual mind is conscious of being engaged in other things.

We perceive clearly that this automatic action of the brain is dependent on frequent repetition by the intellectual brain, as in the familiar case of learning by heart; and also that the transfer of the action from the intellectual to the automaton brain - if indeed there are separate portions of the brain allotted to these separate functions, as appears probable - is a gradual and not a sudden process, and that there are intermediate stages in which an action may be performed partly by direction of the intellect and partly automatically. This is shown in the case of a person who, wishing to make an effective speech at a public meeting, reasons out his address carefully, and then learns it partially by heart. When the time comes to address the assembly, the speech, having been partly referred to the automaton brain, the intellect is relieved from action, and, being unoccupied, is apt to wander and engage itself in other matters that are passing at the time; but the automaton brain, being insufficiently prepared to bear the whole responsibility, is unable to continue, and the intellectual brain, having already started on a journey elsewhere, is unable to return quick enough to take up the thread of the discourse. The result is that the would-be orator breaks down pitiably in the middle of his speech, owing to his having learnt his lesson too well for one function of his mind, and not well enough for the other. The same is seen in many business transactions, which, from frequent repetition, become what is called a second nature, and in the conduct of which the conscious intellect is partly freed from the control of the actions.

We see also that both automatic and intellectual activity are inherited in different degrees by different persons. Thus it is a matter of common observation that there are some persons who are able to acquire with great facility the power of conversing upon simple subjects in many different languages, whilst upon more complex subjects, requiring intellectual effort, they never acquire the power of conversing in any language. Thus, also, it is frequently seen that some children show a remarkable aptitude for learning in their youth. It is said to be a pleasure to educate them; everything speedily becomes automatic in them; great hopes are entertained of their future prospects; but they frequently become a grievous disappointment to their parents, who have built castles in the air upon the strength of their apparent precocity, whereas an acute observer might have seen that they had never from the first shown signs of great intellectual capacity. On the other hand, we hear of dunces who are the despair of their tutors, who can with difficulty be taught to read and write and spell, but in after years become philosophers and scientists, all which might have been foretold from the first if the system of education had been such as to call forth the intellectual powers.

It is not merely that some inherit automatic capacity whilst in others the capacity is intellectual. There is, without doubt, in both cases an hereditary capacity for special things. Thus, whilst some acquire a knowledge of music with facility, others can never be made to appreciate a note of music, and so with respect to other arts.

How then are we to account for this innate difference in the capacity of individuals, unless by supposing it to be proportioned to the length of time during which, or the degree of intensity with which, the ancestors of the individuals have had their minds occupied in the particular branch of culture for which capacity is shown. Unfortunately the difficulty of tracing the channel of hereditary transmission stands in the way of obtaining any certainty on this point, although the labours of our Vice-President, Mr. Galton, have already thrown much light on this interesting subject. But on this assumption, it is easy to account for the more perfect action of instinct in the lower animals than in men, when it is considered that the minds of their progenitors must have been confined to the experience of those particular things for which instinct is shown, far longer than is the case with man; and this brings us to the point which has an important bearing upon the question before us, viz.; that every action which is now performed by instinct, has at some former period in the history of the species been the result of conscious experience.

But, in adopting this theory, it is not necessary to assume that the ideas themselves have been communicated by hereditary transmission. The doctrine of innate ideas, exploded by Locke, I believe can never again establish itself. What is inherited is no doubt a certain organisation of the nervous system, which, by repeated use through many generations, aided by natural selection, has become exquisitely adapted to the recognition of experience of a particular kind, and which, by the constant renovation that is going on within the body, has grown in harmony with those experiences, so that, when the spring is touched, as it were, the machinery is at once set in motion; but, until the necessary external conditions are presented to the mind, there can be no consciousness of them in the mind. The mind creates nothing apart from experience; its function is limited to building with the materials presented to it through the medium of the senses. The broader the basis of experience, the more lofty the super-structure that can be raised upon it. Or, to use the words of Mr. Herbert Spencer, the supposition that the inner cohesions are adjusted to the outer persistences by accumulated experience of those outer persistences, is in harmony with all our actual knowledge of mental phenomena. Though, in so far as reflex actions and instincts are concerned, the experience hypothesis seems insufficient; yet its seeming insufficiency occurs only where the evidence is beyond our reach. Nay, even here, such few facts as we can get, point to the conclusion that automatic psychical connections result from the registration of experiences continued for numberless generations. And further on he says: In the progress of life at large, as in the progress of the individual, the adjustment of inner tendencies to outer persistencies must begin with the simple and advance to the complex seeing that both within and without, complex relations being made up of simple ones, cannot be established before simple ones have been established.

Hindu religious statue 1884.59.62

From the foregoing considerations it follows that, in studying the evidence of intellectual progress, the phenomena which we may expect to observe are - firstly, a continuous succession of ideas; secondly, that the complexity of the ideas will be in an increasing ration in proportion to the time; and thirdly, that the tendency to automatic action upon any given set of ideas will be in proportion to the length of time during which the ancestors of the individual have exercised their minds in those particular ideas. Hence it follows, as a corollary to this, that at the present time the tendency to automatic action will be greater in the lower animals than in the higher, because the minds of their progenitors have been exercised in the simple ideas, for which instinct is shown, for a greater length of time than those of the higher animals, amongst whom the simpler ideas have, at a comparatively recent period in the history of the race, been replaced, or otherwise modified, by ideas of a more complex character, which latter have not yet had time to become instinctive. And this in accordance with what is practically observed in nature.

Now, in applying these principles to the study of progress in man, we must expect to find that the phenomena observed will be in proportion to the spaces of time we have to deal with in treating of man as compared with animals in general.

Assuming this psychological standard of humanity to have been at the level at which we find the highest of the lower animals that exist at the present time, we may suppose primeval man to have been so far acquainted with the use of tools as to be able to employ a stone for the purpose of cracking the shells of nuts, but incapable of trimming the stone into any form that would answer his purpose better than into which it had been shaped by rolling in a river bed or upon the sea shore.

By the repeated use of stones for this and similar purposes, it would be found that, as Sir John Lubbock has pointed out, they sometimes split in the hand, and that the sharp edges of the fractured portions were more serviceable than the stones before fracture. By constant repetition of the same occurrence, there would grow up in the mind of the creature an association of ideas between the fracture of the stone and the saving of labour effected by the fractured portion, and also a sequence of ideas by which it would be perceived that the fracture of the stone was a necessary preliminary to the other, and ultimately, by still continued repetition, the creature would be led to perform the motions which had been found effectual in cracking the stone before applying it to the purposes for which it was to be used. So also in using the various natural forms of the branches of trees which fell into his hands, it would be found that particular forms were of use for particular purposes; and by constant repetition there would arise an association of ideas between those forms and the purposes for which they were useful, and he would begin to select them for such purposes; and in proportion to the length of time during which this association of ideas continued to exist in the minds of successive generations of the creatures which we may now begin to call men, would be the tendency on the part of the offspring to continue to select and use these particular forms, more or less instinctively - not, indeed, with that unvarying instinct which in animals arises from the perfect adaptation of the internal organism to external condition, but with that modified instinct which assumes the form of a persistent conservatism.

The savage, says Mr. Tylor, is firmly, obstinately conservative. No man appeals with more unhesitating confidence to the great precedent-makers of the past; the wisdom of his ancestors can control against the most obvious evidence of his own opinions and actions.

In a similar manner mankind would be led to the conception of many other ideas, but of the majority of them no record would be preserved; it is only where the ideas have been associated with material forms that any record of them would be kept in prehistoric times; and this brings us to what I conceive to be the object of an anthropological collection - to trace out, by means of the only evidence available, the sequence of ideas by which mankind has advanced from the condition of the lower animals to that in which we find him at the present time, and by this means to provide really reliable materials for a philosophy of progress. We may not be able to find in these objects any associations that may lead us to form an estimate of the highest aspirations of the mind at any period of its development, but their importance to anthropologists consists in their value as evidence. Affording us as they do the only available evidence of man in his most primitive condition, they are well worthy of our attention, in order that by studying their grammar, we may be able to conjugate their forms.

Yet, although our data are thus limited to the material arts of mankind, only a small portion of those of prehistoric races are available for our purpose. As already said, only those tools and implements which were constructed of durable materials have remained; the rest have perished, and we have only the implements of existing savages by which to judge of them. The question, therefore, is, to what extent they may be taken as the representatives of the implements of prehistoric men, seeing that in point of time they are contemporaneous with the arts of the most civilised races, and not with those of prehistoric races.

Scattered over the world in various localities are savage races showing various degrees of culture, some higher and some lower than others, many of which have now been greatly influenced by contact with civilised races, but of the majority of which we have more or less detailed records, dating from the time of their first discovery by Europeans, when their arts may be regarded as indigenous, or, at any rate, free from any admixture with the arts of civilised races.

If these savage races have been degraded from a higher condition of culture, then, seeing that sequence of ideas are necessary to the existence of any ideas whatever, we must inevitably find traces in their arts of those higher arts from which they descended. But if, on the other hand, they have risen from a lower state, and their present savage condition arises from their having advanced less rapidly than those races which are now above them in the social scale, then what are the conditions which we must expect to find prevailing amongst them?

We shall find, firstly, that the forms of their implements, instead of showing evidence of having been derived from higher and more complex forms, will, in proportion to the low state of their civilisation, show evidence of being derived from natural forms such as might have been employed by man before he had learnt the art of modifying them to his uses; and secondly, we shall find that the persistence of the forms is proportioned to the low state of their culture.

Now this is found to be the case with nearly every race of savages of whose condition we have any knowledge. Lowest amongst the existing races of the world of whom we have any accurate knowledge are the Australians. All their weapons assimilate to the forms of nature; all their wooden weapons are constructed on the grain of the wood, and consequently their curves are the curves of the branches out of which they were constructed. In every instance in which I have attempted to arrange my collection in sequence, so as to trace the higher forms from natural forms, the weapons of the Australians have found their place lowest in the scale, because they assimilate most closely to the natural forms.

Of this many examples may be given. I will not now again enter into the history of the boomerang, to which I have already drawn the attention of the Society on former occasions. Those who wish to see the subject treated in greater detail will find it discussed in my catalogue of the collection, in which are also given the authorities for many facts that are mentioned here, and which the limits of time and space do not enable me to quote at length. Suffice to say that the whole of the Australian weapons can be traced by their connecting links to the simple stick, such as might have been used by an ape or an elephant before mankind appeared upon this earth, and I have arranged them so as to show this connection on the screens. Here also we are able to trace the development of the idea of a shield to cover the body , which in its simplest form is a simple parrying stick held in the centre, and which expands gradually into an oval shield. It is also shown upon the screens how the simple waddy, or club with a lozenge-shaped head, by a gradual development of one side, grew into a kind of wooden hatchet, which ultimately became converted into a hatchet-boomerang.

The whole of the Australian weapons, without exception, are of this simple character, and in proof of the persistency with which this nation has continued to employ the same forms, no further evidence is necessary than the fact that they are the same, but with slight variations, over the whole continent. The slight differences between them, as Mr. Oldfield has pointed out, are so minute as scarcely to be perceptible to a European, but sufficient to enable a native to determine at a glance from what locality any specimen that may be shown him has been obtained.

But although all the connecting forms between the forms of nature and the more advanced forms are found amongst the existing weapons of these savages, we are not to assume from this that the whole of the progress observed has been effected in modern times. The whole sequence of ideas connecting these weapons (which are now constructed in a manner to show that the art of producing them is partly automatic) was reasoned out by such processes of the mind as stood for reason, at various former periods in the history of the race, each successive improvement constituting a link in the chain of progressive development. Each link has left its representatives, which, with certain modifications, have survived to the present time; and it is by the means of these survivals, and not by the links themselves, that we are able to trace out the sequence that has been spoken of.

This is the hypothesis put forward, and which I profess to justify by the facts accumulated in this collection.

Heart in lead case, County Cork, Ireland 1884.57.18

Every form marks its own place in sequence by its relative complexity or affinity to other allied forms, in the same manner that every word in the science of language has a place assigned to it in the order of development or phonetic decay.

If there is such a thing as a science of language, and none can doubt it, who shall affirm that there is no such thing as a science of the arts? Language, it is true, embraces a wider sphere, and includes the arts; but, on the other hand, it is liable to sources of uncertainty for the purposes of science, from which the arts are free. Language is impalpable, invisible to the eye, except through the medium of a written character, which may or may not accurately express the sounds, and subject to acoustic changes in the collection of the materials, which are a perpetual cause of error and misclassification.

In tracing the development of the material arts, on the other hand, we have, in the earliest periods, the support of collateral evidence afforded by the fauna with which they are associated and by geological sequence, all which is wanting in a science of language.

Why, then, has language hitherto received more scientific treatment than the arts? Merely on account of the greater facility with which the data are collected. Whilst words take seconds to record, hours and days may be spent in the accurate delineation of form. Words cost nothing, are packed in folios, transmitted by post, and stored on the shelves of every private library. A million classified words may be carried in the coat pocket without inconvenience, whilst a hundredth part of that number of material objects require a museum to contain them, and are accessible only to a few. This is the reason why the arts have never been subjected to those classifications which form the groundwork of a science.

Then, again, in approaching prehistoric times, or in studying modern savages who represent prehistoric man, language loses its persistency, or fails us altogether. Although, in an advanced stage of civilisation, especially when it has been committed to writing, it affords the surest test of culture, this is certainly not the case with the lowest savages, amongst whom language changes so rapidly that even neighbouring tribes cannot understand one another. And if this is the case in respect to language, still more strongly does it apply to all ideas that are communicated by word of mouth. In endeavouring to trace back prehistoric culture to its root forms, we find that in proportion as the value of language and of the ideas conveyed by language diminishes, that of ideas embodied in material forms increases in stability and permanence. Whilst in the earliest phases of humanity the names for things change with every generation, if not more frequently, the things themselves are handed down unchanged from father to son and from tribe to tribe, and many of them have continued to our own time, faithful records of the condition of the people by whom they were fabricated.

Indian bronze figure of boar 1884.58.16

Of the antiquity of savages we at present know little or nothing; but when archaeologists have exhausted the antiquities of civilised countries, a wide and interesting field of research will be open to them in the study of the antiquities of savages, which are doubtless to be discovered in their surface and drift deposits; and if the stability of their form has been such as we have reason to believe, we shall then be able to arrive at something like certainty in respect to the degree of slowness or rapidity, as well as the order, in which they have been developed.

Leaving now the Australians, and turning to other existing races in a higher, though still in a low, stage of civilisation, such as, for example, the Fijians, who at the time of their discovery were still in the stone age, we find, on examining the forms of their implements, that we are in a higher stratum of culture, the characteristics of which correspond exactly to what might have been expected to be found on the principle of gradual evolution. The forms of their tools and weapons present the same connections of form between themselves as amongst those of the Australians, but they are of a more complex type, and are no longer directly traceable to the natural forms of the limbs of trees, etc. The links of connection between weapons of the same kind are as close as before, but in their varieties they present forms so singular as scarcely to make it possible to infer that they were designed for the purposes of use. They appear rather to have varied through the instrumentality of some law of succession similar to that by which species of animals have been evolved. In any cases, indeed, the sequence of ideas has led to the use of forms that are absolutely unserviceable as weapons and tools, and human selection, corresponding to natural selection, appears to have retained for use only such forms as could be employed, whilst the others have been consigned to state purposes or applied to symbolic uses. In many cases we find that their clubs have been converted into the forms of animals heads, and in all such cases (and there are several in the collection) we see, by grouping a sufficient number of like forms together, that those which are in the shape of animals heads have not been designed for the purpose of representing animals heads, but their forms have simply been evolved during the numerous variations which the weapon has undergone in the process of development, and when the idea of an animal's head suggested itself, it has merely been necessary to add an eye, or a line for the mouth, in order to give them the resemblance in question. Examples of this may be seen in the collection of specimens from Africa, New Caledonia, New Zealand, and Solomon Isles.

In ornamentation, the stability of form is very remarkable. Particular forms of ornamentation fix themselves on a tribe or nation, and are repeated over and over again with but little variation of detail, as, for example, in the case of the coil and broken coil ornaments amongst the New Zealanders and the inhabitants of New Guinea, which were probably derived from Assam, or the representation of the head of an albatross amongst the Indians of the north-west coast of North America, or that of a human head amongst the inhabitants of New Ireland.

In the transformations of this latter ornament, which I took occasion to bring to the notice of the meeting of the Anthropological Department of the British Association at Brighton, and which are represented in the annexed plate (xxii), we see a remarkable example of degradation of form produced by gradual changes caused by these people in copying from one another until the original design is lost. The representation of a human figure is here seen to lose gradually its limbs and body, then the sides of the face, leaving only the nose and ears, and ultimately the nose only, which finally expands at the base, and is converted into the representation of a half moon. In this sequence we have an exact parallel to the transformations observed upon ancient British coins by Mr. Evans, by which a coin of Philip of Macedon, representing a chariot and horses, becomes converted by a succession of similar changes into the representation of a single horse, and ultimately into fragments of a horse. Other examples of similar transformations from other countries are also shown.

Amongst other advantages of the arrangement by form, is the facility it affords for tracing the distribution of like forms and arts, by which means we can determine the connection that has existed in former times between distant countries, either by the spread of race, or culture, or by means of commerce. Thus I have been able to trace the distribution of the bow over a large area, with evidence of its having spread from a common centre. In the Asiatic islands and the Pacific, the line of its southern boundary is very clearly defined, making off as non-bow-using races the whole of the inhabitants of Australia except Cape York, Tasmania, and formerly New Zealand and New Caledonia. Above this line the use of the bow spread from the Asiatic isles, and its transmissions to the Papuan and Polynesian isles is due to the Malays, the Malay word for it - viz., panna - being used over the whole of the region in question with but slight variations.

In the southern hemisphere, where suitable materials for the construction of it are abundant, and bow is of the form of the arcus, or simple arch; but in the frigid regions to the north, there are large tracts in Europe, Asia, and America which are either totally destitute of trees, or covered with coniferous forests, yielding few or any woods that have sufficient spring for the construction of a bow, and there is reason to believe, from the traces of forest discovered at low levels beneath the soil in various places, that this inhospitable region extended more to the southward in ancient prehistoric times. In such a region it is unlikely that the invention of the bow should have originated, and when the knowledge of it was communicated from the south, it would be necessary to employ some other elastic material to combine with the stiff pine wood, and give it the necessary elasticity; hence the composite bow, which is the bow of the northern hemisphere, and which consists of a combination of wood and sinew, or wood and bone. In its varieties I have traced this bow over the whole of the northern hemisphere, including Lapland, Siberia, and the northern part of North America. It is the bow of the ancient Persians and Scythians. The northern people carried it into India and into China, and also eastward into America, where its distribution is traced in two channels, one extending along the region inhabited by the Esquimaux into Greenland, and the other along the west coast as far south as California; and throughout the region mentioned, its varieties show it to have sprung from a common prototype.

Here also I may select, from amongst other illustrations of the same kind that are to be found, a single example of the manner in which the implements of modern savages may be made to explain the construction of those of races of antiquity, described upon their monuments. Quivers for arrows do not admit of much variety by which to trace improvement, and for this reason they must have continued unchanged in form much longer than contrivances which were susceptible of development; but the combination of quiver and bow case in one, may be traced over the whole of the region of the composite bow, the views of which made it necessary that it should be kept dry. Mr. Rawlinson, in his Five Ancient Monarchies (vol. ii, p. 57), gives an illustration of an Assyrian quiver taken from ancient sculptures at Khorsabad. It had an ornamental rod attached to it, which projected beyond the arrows and terminated in a pomegranate blossom or other similar carving. To this rod were attached the rings which received the strap by which it was suspended to the shoulders. The learned author adds: It is uncertain whether the material of the quivers was wood or metal. The conventional mode of representing these objects and the imperfect command which the Assyrians had over the hard stone of the sculptures, gives to the majority of the objects represented, the appearance of having been constructed of some hard material, as is clearly seen in the case of the hair and drapery; but, on turning to the quivers now used by the Indians of California, we at once see that the material of the quiver is explained by the form and position of the above-mentioned rod, which is fastened on the outside of it for the purpose of keeping the limp skin bag that contains the arrows stiff and straight, and thereby enabling the bowman to draw out his arrows with the necessary rapidity. And this enables us clearly to understand why, as stated by Mr.Rawlinson, not a single example of a quiver was found in the Assyrian excavations. In the Californian, as in the Assyrian quivers, the rod extends beyond the quiver, and is probably intended to guard the arrows from injury.

It is unnecessary in this place to add to the number of examples. The object of this paper, as already stated, is to explain the principles of classification. For the evidence on which these principles are based I must refer you to the catalogue. Whether these principles of classification are correct or not is a matter of less consequence than the arrangement of the facts, by which every person is enabled to form his own idea of the manner in which progress has been evolved in early times.

Human ideas, as represented by the various products of human industry, are capable of classification into genera, species, and varieties, in the same manner as the products of the vegetable and animal kingdoms, and in their development from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous they obey the same laws. If, therefore, we can obtain a sufficient number of objects to represent the succession of ideas, it will be found that they are capable of being arranged in museums upon a similar plan.

The resemblance between the arts of modern savages and those of primeval man may be compared to that existing between recent and extinct species of animals. As we find amongst existing animals and plants, species akin to what geology teaches us were primitive species, and as among existing species we find the representatives of successive stages of geological species, so amongst the arts of existing savages we find forms which, being adapted to a low condition of culture, have survived from the earliest times, and also the representatives of many successive stages through which development has taken place in times past. As amongst existing animals and plants, these survivals from different ages give us an outline picture of a succession of gradually improving species, but do not represent the true sequence by which improvement has been effected, so, amongst the arts of existing people in all stages of civilisation, we are able to trace a succession of ideas from the simple to the complex, but not the true order of development by which those more complex arrangements have been brought about. As amongst existing species of animals, innumerable links are wanting to complete the continuity of structure, so amongst the arts of existing peoples there are great gaps which can only be filled by prehistoric arts. What the palaeontologist does for zoology, the prehistorian does for anthropology. What the study of zoology does towards explaining the structures of extinct species, the study of existing savages does towards enabling us to realise the condition of primeval man. To continue the simile further, the propagation of new ideas may be said to correspond to the propagation of species. New ideas are produced by the correlation of previously existing ideas in the same manner that new individuals in a breed are produced by the union of previously existing individuals. And in the same manner that we find that the crossing of animals makes it extremely difficult to trace the channel of hereditary transmission of qualities in a breed, so the crossing of ideas in this manner makes it extremely difficult to trace the sequence of ideas, although we may be certain that sequence does exist as much in one case as the other.

Continuing still further the simile, we find that, as in the breeding of animals, when the divergence of races has gone so far as to constitute what is called distinct species, they cannot interbreed, so when the development of ideas has run in distinct channels far enough to create a hiatus, no intercommunication can take place. Two men of very different culture may travel in the same coach together, and, though speaking the same language, may find themselves unable to communicate except upon common-place topics in which the simple ideas are common to both. Or two nations in very different stages of civilisation may be brought side by side, as is the case in many of our colonies, but there can be no amalgamation between them. Nothing but the vices and imperfections of the superior culture can coalesce with the inferior culture without break of sequence.

Progress is like a game of dominoes - like fits on to like. In neither case can we tell beforehand what will be the ultimate figure produced by the adhesions; all we know is that the fundamental rule of the game is sequence.

Discussion having been invited, Mr. John Evans spoke at some length, and was followed by the president, who offered a few observations. The meeting then separated, having voted its thanks to the author of the paper.

Colonel Fox then conducted the members of the Institute, and the visitors present, over the Collection described in the paper, and gave a detailed description of his arrangement of the numerous objects and specimens in classes sub-classes.

[Transcribed as part of the Kent project during the 1990s by AP]

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