Philadelphia: Geore W. Childs, 1863. SECOND AMERICAN EDITION, published in the same year as the first, OF LYELL’S CASE FOR HUMAN ANTIQUITY AND THE “WORK IN WHICH HE ALSO ANNOUNCED HIS ACCEPTANCE OF DARWIN’S THEORY OF EVOLUTION as “the best explanation yet offered of the connection between man and those animals which have flourished successively on the earth” (Norman, History of Science). While Lyell never fully accepted natural selection (in its entirety) as the force behind evolution, he still was one the first scientists of note to support Darwin’s The Origin of Species.
While slow to accept evolutionary theory and quite skeptical of human origins, after years of collecting and gathering evidence including fossil remains and historical artifacts, Lyell reversed his earlier beliefs and this volume is his presentation of those modifications and reversals. His commentary includes specific ideas of species and race, the age of the human race, the existence of ice ages, and of course Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Lyell’s work is also inclusive of the evolutionary ideas of others.
Charles Lyell was a British geologist and a Scottish barrister, and in the Antiquity of Man (as the book is commonly known), Lyell states his case “in the manner of a barrister, [presenting] to the reader a broad array of evidence which indicated that man had evolved gradually from lower animals over an immense period of time, that species had been modified one into another, and that the modification had probably been produced by natural selection. He compared the gradual divergence of the various European languages from a common root language to the gradual divergence of species. By presenting evidence without drawing conclusions from it, Lyell kept the reader’s attention on the evidence and required him to draw his own conclusions. Lyell thus made the question of the origin of man and other species one of evidence rather than of doctrine. He kept his readers in suspense to the end of the book and induced them to consider the meaning of the evidence for themselves. Lyell thus gave Darwin powerful support in the controversy following the publication of the Origin of Species. Darwin, however, expressed disappointment that Lyell did not make a clear statement of his own opinion on the origin of species. In reply Lyell said that he had expressed his opinion fully ‘so far as my reason goes, and farther than my imagination and sentiment can follow’ (Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 8, 574).
“Though written by a single author, Antiquity of Man was substantively and symbolically the work of all the human antiquity investigators. It drew extensively on Prestwich s and Evans s work in the Somme Valley, Pengelly s excavation of Brixham Cave, Flaconer s investigations of caves throughout Europe, and a variety of recent archaeological studies... His knowledge of post-Tertiary geology and his reputation as theorist meant that, in expressing his belief in men among the mammoths, he tacitly spoke for all the geologists working on the human antiquity question” (A. Bowdoin Van Riper, Men Among the Mammoths: Victorian Science and the Discovery of Human Prehistory).
NOTE: Offered is the second American edition, published in the same year as the first. The first three editions appeared in February, April, and November 1863, respectively with a revised fourth edition appeared in 1873. Item #1101
CONDITION & DETAILS: 8vo. [x], 526, . Illustrated with woodcuts throughout. Pictorial bookplate of Bryan Adams. A handsome copy in original in green pebbled cloth; gilt-lettered at the spine; fossils in gilt on the front board; slight wear at the edges of the boards. Tightly and solidly bound. Mild toning within. Generally an attractive and sound copy.