Punch,  53 (1867), 155.

Chinese Ancient Concerts





Degeneration, Race, Music, Exhibitions, Anthropology, Animal Behaviour, Evolution

    Discusses a report of a musical exhibit in the Chinese department of the Exposition Universelle (1867), Paris. Draws attention to the 'opinion of competent judges' that the music resembles that of the contemporary French composer, Jacques Offenbach, even though it was written some 'twenty centuries' earlier. Believes this should be of interest to the Anthropological Society because it 'bears on the question of the possible degeneration of the human race'. Argues that while the Chinese had their 'Offenbach' twenty centuries ago, 'they have no such composer now' and 'have been for many ages in a gradual course of musical declension'. Insists that the Chinese have 'most likely declined in every other aspect, bodily as well as mental' and worries that 'our descendants' may degenerate into species that only respond to music 'congenial to gaiety and animal spirits', or 'long-eared animals, or anthropoid apes'.

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

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