Punch,  43 (1862), 164.

The Gorilla's Dilemma (to Professor Owen & Huxley.)



Poetry, Drollery


Evolution, Animal Development, Darwinism, Zoology, Human Development, Controversy, Anatomy

    Similar to PU1/40/18/3, this is written from the perspective of a gorilla who, as the opening lines reveal, is clearly perplexed by Owen's and Huxley's opposing views on man's ancestry. 'Must I humbly take rank as quadruman / As Owen maintains I ought: / Or rise into brotherhood human, / As Huxley has flatt' ringly taught', he asks, and urges his readers to have a 'scintilla' of feeling for a gorilla's quest to know 'one's relation'. Feeling no need to apologise for his 'ignorance', he offers his own views on the subject that stress the ways in which 'man's above monkey' but others in which 'monkey's far above man'. The areas where apes are superior to man, 'Are where man apes the apes' and these include the 'power of jaw' (which apes have in greater quantity than 'fellows / Of your scientific societies'), gymnastics (in which chimpanzees excel over Charles Blondin), and in the 'gagging, grimacing and chaff' of 'low comedy actors'. Proceeds to insist that the 'crowning distinction' between 'man and monkey' is the inability of the former to 'keep silent', and then notes how much he is being 'swayed' by disputes over the anatomical 'distinctions of brain'. Concludes by begging 'Professors [...] For English opinion', alluding to his suffering from the dispute between John E Gray and Paul B Du Chaillu, and seeking an answer to his original question.

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