Punch,  44 (1863), 122.

Notes on Development

Owen Ap Shenkin U Philander U


Letter, Spoof


Descent, Darwinism, Evolution, Human Development, Time, Gender

    Noting Thomas H Huxley's claim that man has developed from '"some lower pithecoid form", say the Gorilla', the spoof letter-writer Owen Ap Shenkin questions the identity of 'our first parents'. Considers the possibility that man's infant prodigies were 'Adam and Eve', 'Gorillas', and mice, but points out that it is not plausible to stop with these. Instead, 'We must pursue our pedigree through all the gradations of animal life', noting that 'at least as many' species, 'beginning with the "pithecoid", lie between us and the first form'. Wonders whether 'our genealogy' will take us down to 'a filament of mould or lichen'. Proceeds to argue that consideration of the number of 'infant prodigies [...] developed in the course of man's 'progressive development'' forces acceptance of Huxley's claim for the greater antiquity of man, and the notion of a vastly increased number of prodigies. Concludes by dismissing the idea of tracing his ancestry 'to the monad of a million years ago [...] to the slug'. Philander presents a much more hysterical reply to the notion of 'Progressive Development' and, moreover, the 'Origin of Woman from the Gorilla'—the latter possibility conflicting with the narrator's experiences of female beauty as presented at the recent royal wedding procession to mark the marriage of Prince Edward.

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