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1881 Presidential Address to the Anthropological Institute, which he finished by saying...

'In now resigning this chair to an already tried and successful President, General Pitt-Rivers, it may not be inappropriate for me to express a hope that his Museum of Weapons, which illustrates so many problems in his History of Civilisation, and has been already in its collector's hands so fertile a source of new ideas, may in some shape become a national institution. It is not a small duplicate of the national ethnographic collection of the British Museum, but something of different nature and different use. It is not so much a collection as a set of object-lessons in the development of culture, and the student whose mind is unprepared to visit intelligently the British Museum collection, may gain by preliminary study of the Pitt-Rivers collection an idea of development which will be a natural framework for further knowledge. He will know better what to look for in the vast galleries of the British Museum, and how to appreciate its meaning when he sees it...'

(Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland vol. 10: 440-458)

1883 (February 15 and 21) Lectures on Anthropology at the Oxford Museum

Tylor's lecture at Oxford - On Feb. 15 and 21, Prof. E.B. Tylor lectured at the University museum, Oxford, upon anthropology. The occasion was the installment of a museum of civilisation, the nucleus of which is the Pitt-Rivers collection, previously mentioned in Science. The speaker first drew attention to the fact that the theory of development has had its own evolution parallel with the progress of knowledge. Pritchard recognized the descent of mankind from one pair, whom he considered to have been negroes; and as we have been able to reconstruct the ancestry of the horse, Huxley leads us to hope that we may some day discover the fossil pedigree of his rider.

Mr Tylor next spoke of the approach which cranioscopy is making to an exact science, drawing his illustrations from the crania of the British barrows, and other localities of undisturbed population. Comparative philology, properly understood, may tell its story in perfect accordance with anatomy. The blended parentage of the Fijians is heard in their speech, as it is seen in their faces. The cross-section of a single hair, examined microscopically by Pruner's method, shows it circular, or oval, or reniform; its follicle curvature may be estimated by the average diameter of the curls, as proposed by Moseley; its coloring-matter may be estimated by Sorby's method. This examination enables one to judge in what division of the human species to classify its owner. Climate, albinism, 'Addison's disease,' and other natural causes in their relation to race-color, are carefully considered.

It is upon the evolution of civilization, however, that Mr Tylor is most happy, a subject to which he has devoted the most of his life. The last portion of the addresses, therefore, is devoted to the unfolding of several phases of social life in their relation to race and history. - (Nature, May 3)

(Science, volume 1, no 18, June 8th 1883, p525)

Tylor's lectures at Oxford. - The concluding portion of Dr. Tylor's lectures on anthropology, delivered in the Oxford museum in February (see i. 1055), is devoted to the history of the growth of practical art. 'In considering the claims of anthropology as a practical means of understanding ourselves, we have to form an opinion how the ideas and arts of any people are to be accounted for as developed from preceding stages. To work out the lines along which the process of organization has actually moved, is a task needing caution. A tribe may have some art which plainly shows progress from a ruder state of things: and yet it may be wrong to suppose this development to have taken place among themselves; it may be an item of higher culture, that they have learned from sight of a more advanced nation. It is essential, in studying even savage and barbaric culture, to allow for borrowing.' Illustrations are given by Dr. Tylor of this borrowing, one of which is quite amusing. The later Danish travellers among the Eskimo enter very minutely into the description of the tools and dress of these people, before contact with Europeans, meaning the post-Columbian voyagers; but, unwittingly in many instances, they are describing fashions and forms borrowed from the Skraelling ancestors of these very writers a thousand years ago. Another very important point discussed in the lectures is the possibility of national degradation. Dr Tylor was the first to discover, after the battle between the advocates of 'degradation' and those of evolution, that both were right, and that a proper view of human history must include both vicissitudes over and over again, and the commingling of both in every degree of complexity. Mr Tylor gives a succinct account of the formation of the Pitt-Rivers collection, now housed at Oxford, and, in commenting upon the evolution of gesture-speech, pays this tribute to our country: 'The labor and expense which anthropologists in the United States are now bestowing on the study of the indigenous tribes contrasts, I am sorry to say, with the indifference shown to such observations in Canada, where the habits of yet more interesting native tribes are allowed to die out without even a record.' With very great shrewdness the speaker discussed the subject of magic and the benefit derived from even such useless search as that for the 'lost tribes of Israel.' - (Nature, May 17) J.W.P.

(Science volume 2, no. 23, 13 July 1883, p57)

Address to the Anthropological Society of Washington, 11 October, 1884

‘How the Problems of American Anthropology Present Themselves to the English Mind’

‘The principle of development in civilization, which represents one side of the great problem I have been speaking of, is now beginning to receive especial cultivation in England. While most museums have been at work, simply collecting objects and implements, the museum of Gen. Pitt-Rivers, now about to be removed from London to Oxford, is entirely devoted to the working-out of the development theory on a scale hardly attempted hitherto. In this museum are collected specimens of weapons and implements, so as to ascertain by what steps they may be considered to have arisen among mankind, and to arrange them in consecutive series. Development, however, is not always progress, but may work itself out into lines of degeneration. There are certain states of society in which the going-down of arts and sciences is as inevitable a state of things as progress is in the more fortunate regions in which we live. Anthropologist will watch with the greatest interest what effect this museum of development will have upon their science. Gen. Pitt-Rivers was led into the formation of the remarkable collection in question in an interesting manner. He did not begin life either as an evolutionist or as an anthropologist. He was a soldier. His business, at a particular time of his life, was to serve on a committee on small-arms, appointed to reform the armament of the British army, which at that time was to a great extent only provided with the most untruthful of percussion-muskets. He then found that a rifle was an instrument of gradual growth; for the new rifles which it was his duty to inspect had not come into existence at once and independently. When he came to look carefully into the history of his subject, it appeared that some one had improved the lock, then some one the rifling, and then others had made further improvements; and this process had gone on, until at last there came into existence a gun, which, thus perfected, was able to hold its own in a permanent form. He collected the intermediate stages through which a good rifle arose out of a bad one; and the idea began to cross his mind that the course of change which happened to rifles was very much what ordinarily happens with other things. So he set about collected, and filled his house from the cellar to the attic, hanging on his walls series of all kinds of weapons and other instruments which seemed to him to form links in a great chain of development. The principle that thus became visible to him in weapon-development is not less true through the whole range of civilization; and we shall soon be able to show to every anthropologist who visits Oxford the results of that attempt. And when the development theory is seen in that way, explaining the nature and origin of our actual arts and customs and ideas, and their gradual growth from ruder and earlier states of culture, then anthropology will come before the public mind as a new means of practical instruction in life.

‘Speaking of this aspect of anthropology leads me to say a word on another hardly less important. On my first visit to this country, nearly thirty years ago, I made a journey in Mexico with the late Henry Christy, a man who impressed his personality very deeply on the science of man. He was led into this subject by his connection with Dr. Hodgkin; the two being at first interested, from the philanthropist’s point of view, in the preservation of the less favored races of man, and taking part in a society for this purpose, known as the Aborigines’ protection society. The observation of the indigenous tribes for philanthropic reasons brought the fact into view that such peoples of low culture were in themselves of the highest interest as illustrating the whole problem of stages of civilization; and this brought about the establishment of the Ethnological society in England, Henry Christy’s connection with which originated in his plan of forming an ethnological museum. The foundations of the now celebrated Christy collection were laid on our Mexican journey; and I was witness to his extraordinary power of knowing, untaught, what it was the business of an anthropologist to collect, and what to leave uncollected; how very useless for anthropologic purposes mere curiosities are, and how priceless are every-day things. The tow principles which tend most to the successful work of anthropology – the systematic collection of the products of each stage of civilization, and the arrangement of their sequence in development – are thus the leading motives of our two great anthropological museums.’ (p549)

‘when long ago I began to collect materials about old customs, nothing was farther from my thoughts than the idea that they would be useful. By and by it did become visible, that to show that a custom or institution which belonged to an early state of civilization had lasted on by mere conservatism into a newer civilization, to which it is unsuited, would somehow affect the public mind as to the question whether this custom or institution should be kept up, or done away with.’ (p550)

‘We may hope, however, that, under such leaders as we have here, the science of anthropology will be worked purely for its own sake…My recommendation to students is to go right forward, like a horse in blinkers, neither looking to the right hand nor to the left. Let us do out own work with the simple intention to find out what the principles and courses of events have been in the world, to collect all the facts, to work out all the inferences, to reduce the whole into a science; and then let practical life take it and make the best it can of it. In this way the science of man, accepted as an arbiter, not by a party only, but by the public judgment, will have soonest and most permanently its due effect on the habits and laws and thoughts of mankind.’ (p550)

(Science 1884, vol. 4, no. 98, 19 December 1884, p545-551)

Lectures at Oxford 1884, recorded in the Oxford Magazine

‘The Reader in Anthropology commenced his course of lectures on Monday last. He naturally commenced by discoursing on flint implements and their uses; but perhaps the most interesting feature in the lecture was his practical illustration of their manufacture. To see the learned Doctor working, and with some skill too, with the actual tools of a palaeolithic man was an interesting and instructive example of the proverb about extremes meeting.’

Volume II no. 2, Wednesday January 30, 1884, p.20

Further lectures on gesture language, language, races of North America (following EBT’s return from the BAAS meeting and New Mexico) are described in volume 2, but there is no mention of objects used during the lecture.

‘How are we to account for the difference which exists between the agricultural Pueblo Indians and wild hunting tribes, such as the Colorado Indians? It would seem from several pieces of evidence that this difference cannot be satisfactorily accounted for by the hypothesis that the former has reached a higher stage of development than the latter: more probably the wild Indian is the descendant of tribes who had reached a higher state of life, but have, owing to the pressure of war or poverty, sunk in the scale of civilization.

‘At the outset of his lecture or before proceeding to the evidence for this view, Dr. Tylor gave a practical warning to the unwary anthropologist who deals too hastily with wild races in contact with civilized white men; the professor produced a typical tomahawk with which a tobacco-pipe was combined, the whole being apparently of Indian make, but a little consideration shows that, as the Indian has no iron, he could not have made the iron head, and also his genuine pipe or calumet is made either of stone or of terracotta, so that the idea of adding a bowl to a war hatchet is due solely to the inventive genius of the white trader. Again, strings of shell beads are bartered to the Indian, which can be distinguished from those of native manufacture by the evenness of the holes, which have been bored through the shells with a turning-lathe and fine drill.’

Volume II, no.22, Wednesday November 19, 1884, p. 410

EBT on the development of writing:

He began with ‘the rude picture-writing of the North American Indians…indeed, in the present account it is impossible to do justice to the lecturer without the help of drawings by way of illustration.’

Volume II, no.24, Wednesday December 3, 1884, p. 452

1892 Presidential Address to the Anthropological Institute

EBT finishes with a tribute to Moseley:

‘An eminent English anthropologist and honoured member of this Institute – Professor Moseley – died on 10th November, of this year. Henry Nottidge Moseley was born in 1844; he came of a scientific stock, being son of the Rev. Canon Moseley, F.R.S., the eminent mathematical physicist. Educated at Harrow and Exeter College, Oxford, his first class in the Natural Science Schools led on to the Radcliffe Travelling Fellowship, and to studies at Vienna and Leipzig, preparing him for a scientific career. From special medical studies he turned to biology, in which, as naturalist to the ‘Challenger’ exploring expedition, he took his place among men of science. His biological work is well known and it is not for me to give details of it. We here regard him as an anthropologist, and as such his first work is contained in observations made on the ‘Challenger’ and recorded in his ‘Notes by a Naturalist on the ‘Challenger,’’ 1879. It is unfortunate that the publication of this was not so arranged as to give the circulation it deserved, for it is an attractive book of sharp-sighted observation, most apt to stimulate the spirit of anthropological research. With the naturalist’s eyes, trained already to the study of culture, Moseley saw meaning and history everywhere in savage and barbaric life. When he handled the ‘lali’ or wooden drum of Fiji, it was evident to him that church-bells are derived from such by a few stages of development. As he unfolded the long strip-like books of China and Japan, he pointed out that they occupy the intermediate place between the ancient scroll and the modern volume; roll them up, and they are the one; stitch their pages and cut them, and they become the other. Some of the material of this book has since been incorporated in one of the officially published volumes of the results of the ‘Challenger’ Expedition, but the cost of this puts it out of the reach of most readers, and it is satisfactory to hear of its probably republication in a popular form. In 1881, Moseley was elected Linacre Professor of Human and Comparative Anatomy at Oxford. Mostly occupied with biological research, and the training of a group of now rising biologists, he was kept in contact with anthropology by his duties in connexion with the installation of the Pitt-Rivers Collection at the University Museum. In 1884, we went together to the British Association at Montreal, where he presided over the Biological Section, and thence to the American Association at Philadelphia. Then we made together a journey into Arizona and New Mexico, under the patronage of the Bureau of Ethnology, and in the company of Mr G.K. Gilbert of the American Geological Survey, with the special object of visiting the Pueblo Indians, and studying in their adobe villages a still-existing matriarchal society, and the continuance of a native religion which has held on through centuries of Spanish dominion. A visit to Morocco in 1886, of which no record has been published, ended Moseley’s ethnographical travel. This is not the place for me to speak of my personal friendship with him, still less to enlarge on his private life or the loss to the scientific world caused by his early death; I have limited my words to his career as bearing on our special science.’ (Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 1892 vol. 21: 409-410)

Introduction to Ratzel’s Völkerkunde (‘The History of Mankind’)

On the illustrations ‘These, be it observed, are no mere book-decorations, but a most important part of the apparatus for realising civilization in its successive stages. They offer, in a way which no verbal description can attain to, an introduction and guide to the use of the museum collections on which the Science of Man comes more and more to depend in working out the theory of human development. Works which combine this material presentation of culture with the best descriptions by observant travelers, promote most the great object of displaying mankind as related together in Nature through its very variation. The Rev. J.G. Wood’s Natural history of Man and Dr. Robert Brown’s Races of Mankind have in this way done much to promote anthropology. The bodily differences between races can only, it is true, be represented by descriptions and well-chosen portraits, minute physical classification belonging to a region only accessible to anatomists. The classification of peoples by their languages can only be illustrated by examples chosen from the grammar and dictionary, so as to make plain the conclusions of comparative philology without the elaborate detail of a linguistic treatise. But a fuller though less technical treatment of the culture-side of human life lies more readily open. The material arts of war, subsistence, pleasure, the stages of knowledge, morals, religion, may be so brought to view that a compendium of them, as found among the ruder peoples, may serve not only as a lesson-book for the learner, but as a reference book for the learned.

In our time there has come to the front a special study of human life through such object-lessons as are furnished by the specimens in museums. These things used to be little more than curiosities belonging to the life of barbarous tribes, itself beginning to be recognized as curious and never suspected of being instructive. Nowadays, it is better understood that they are material for the student ‘looking before and after’. In the collections which enshrine them for perpetual knowledge, they fulfil in two different ways their illustration of the course of culture. In the way which is, and probably always must be, the more usual, all the objects which go to furnish the life of a people are grouped together, each group finding its proper level. Thus in the Ethnographic Galleries of the British Museum, the general condition or ‘altogether’ (to use the useful old-fashioned term) of Australians, Polynesians, Negroes, Tartars, presents more or less definite groups of objects in which art and habit have fixed themselves at a consistent level. Where the rooting-stick appears among the Bushmen as a savage implement, we find in Africa an iron hoe (vol.i.pp.88, 89). …In ethnographic collections, where the productions of a tribe or nation are grouped locally or nationally together, the student of culture has before him the record of similar human nature and circumstance working so uniformly as to present in each class of objects evident formative principles, developed in various degrees. He finds, or hopes by further research to find, in every such class courses of gradual invention resembling growth…At Oxford, the Pitt-Rivers Collection in the University Museum is devoted to the material evidence of the laws of development of art, custom, and belief, to investigate which by means of specimens brought together from all accessible regions and ages, and arranged in series according to their form and purpose, has been one of the lifelong labours of the founder. The working of such a method may in some degree be shown from the illustrations of the present work…It is encouraging to consider what progress has been made of late toward solving not so much indeed the direct problem of decorative beauty, as the intermediate problem of the origin and meaning of ornament. The researches of General Pitt-Rivers on the gradual transformation of human figures into ornamental designs, and the derivation of coil, wave, and step patterns of cultured art from realistic representations of cords and plaitings, gave an impulse to this interesting study which has continued to be worked out in the museum bearing his name, with added series such as Mr Everard im Thurn’s pegals or baskets made by the natives of British Guiana, where the plaited pictures of birds and monkeys dwindle into graceful patterns, unmeaning unless their derivation is known. The Evolution of Decorative Art by Mr. Henry Balfour, the curator of the Pitt-Rivers Museum, should be known to all students taking up this attractive line of research…’ (pp. v-viii)

‘About 1880 I had chanced to go to the county parish of Holcombe Rogus in Devonshire to pay an afternoon visit to the vicar, Mr. Wills. A remark of mine as to a stone implement on the mantelpiece led to the unexpected remark that there were things upstairs from the Pelew Islands. When I protested that nothing from thence had come to England since the time when Captain Wilson brought over ‘Prince Lee Boo,’ whose sad story is told in the once familiar poem, it was answered that the late Mrs. Wills was of Captain Wilson’s family, and had inherited his curiosities. Before that, two generations of children had played havoc with them, but in the attic there were still the great bird-bowl and the inlaid wooden sword, and the rupak or bone bracelet, that prized ornament of chiefs, with other familiar objects figured in Keate’s book. I represented that they ought to be in the national collection, and not long after, Mr. Wills, on his death-bed, ordered that they should be sent to me. They duly took their deserved places in the ethnographic department of the British Museum, where no doubt they will long outlast the amiable but hopelessly degenerate islanders, the picture of whose social decay has been drawn with such minute faithfulness by Kubary.’ (pp. viii-ix)

‘The same underlying human instinct, the same constancy of human faculty through low and high stages, the same pliability of life to the needs of outward circumstances, which precedes the cultured state where circumstances have to yield to the needs of man, the same adaptation of artificial means suggested by nature, the same copying by the whole tribe of the devices which individuals have started, and then the wider diffusion of one tribe copying from another – these actions go on throughout the human race, and the principles we learn from mere things may guide us in the study of men. The habit of constant recourse to actual objects is of inestimable use to us in the more abstract investigation of ideas. Its scope is limited; yet as we have to depend briefly on verbal description for our knowledge of the habits of distant and outlandish peoples, their social condition, their rules of right and wrong, their modes of government, and their ideas of religion, the sight of material things among which such institutions are worked out gives a reality and sharpness of appreciation which add much to the meaning of words [examples give]…Thus in every direction the material furniture of life, taken in its largest sense, gives clues to the understanding of institutions as tools do of the arts they belong to. The paraphernalia of birth, marriage, and death among the American Indians, the backboard of the papoose, the whip of the initiation ceremony, the beads and paint of the bride, the weapons and ornaments sacrificed for the use of the dead man’s soul, tell in outline the story of their rude life… [further examples]’ (p.x)

‘It should, however, be clearly understood that great as the progress of anthropology has been during the last half-century, yet, as in other subjects modern as to their scientific form and rank, the collection of the evidence has not yet approached completion, nor has the theory consolidated into dogmatic form. In the next century, to judge from its advance in the present, it will have largely attained to the realm of positive law, and its full use will then be acknowledged not only as interpreting the past history of mankind, but as even laying down the first stages of curves of movement which will describe and affect the courses of future opinions and institutions. This will be a gain to the systematizing of human life and the arrangement of conduct on reasonable and scientific principles…’ (p.xi)

(Introduction to ‘The History of Mankind’ an English translation from the 2nd edition (1894-5) of Ratzel’s Völkerkunde: London, 1896.)

Notes prepared by Frances Larson for the Relational Museum project

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