The Gorilla's Dilemma

(To Professor Owen & Huxley)

SAY am I a man and a brother,
      Of only an anthropoid ape?
Your judgment, be 't one way or 'tother,

      Do put into positive shape.
Must I humbly take rank as quadruman
      As OWEN maintains that I ought:
Or rise into brotherhood human,
      As HUXLEY has flatt'ringly taught?

For though you may deem a Gorilla
      Don't think much of his rank in creation,
If of feeling one have a scintilla,
      It glows to know "who's one's relation"—
Apes and monkeys (now crowding by dozens
      Their kinship with us to have proved).,
Or an OWEN and HUXLEY for cousins,
      Though, it may be, a little removed.

If you ask me my private opinion,
      (Which humbly through Punch is submitted)
For which sphere of nature's dominion
      I seem to myself to be fitted:
To speak with decision I'm funky,
      Nature's field when I selfishly scan,
For in some points if man's above monkey,
      In some monkey's far above man.

My ignorance needs no apologies—
      With anatomy nought I've to do
This with all the appurtenant "ologies"
      I leave, my Professors, to you.
But the points wherein I say that man
      Must perforce monkey own his superior,
Are where man apes the apes all he can,
      And yet to the apes is inferior.

Thus, in power of jaw apes beat fellows
      Of your own scientific societies;
The P.R. they outrival in "bellows,"
      In gymnastics your first notorieties.
What's BLONDIN to every chimpanzee,
      Or LEOTARD great in trapeze?

If their feats rouse the public to frenzy,
      What rapture a gibbon should raise!

You've low comedy actors consummate
      In gagging, grimacing and chaff;
But in many who'd BUCKSTONE look glum at
      The monkey-cage wakens a laugh.
What are "Cures", Nigger-dances and jibes
      To the black spider monkey's contortions?
Before preacher-monkeys by tribes
      How small seem one SPUNGEON'S proportions!

One distinction alleged I must say
      Betwixt man and monkey is hollow—
Where monkey or man shows the way,
      Other men, other monkeys will follow.
But from all points of difference one turns
      To this crowning divergence to come,
Not one man in a thousand e'er learns
      To keep silent—all monkeys are dumb!

For distinctions of brain-cerebellum-
      Posterior lobe,-hippocampus-
I leave you to cut down or swell 'em,
      They are scarce the distinctions to stamp us.
Now this way now that, without end,
      I'm swayed by the pros and the cons
As I feel man and monkey contend
      Which in nature's domain are the dons.

Then help me, Professors, I pray;
      For English opinion I value;
(You can't think how I suffered when GRAY
      So pitched into me, through DU CHAILLU)
Anatomy out of the question,
      Had I better be monkey or man,
By enlightened self-interest's suggestion?
      Say you—for hang me, if I can.