A signet book planet of the apes



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CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

"Illustrious President,

"Noble Gorillas,

"Learned Orangutans,

"Wise Chimpanzees,

"O Apes!

"I, a man, beg leave to address you.
"I know my appearance is grotesque, my figure repulsive, my features bestial, my smell sickening, the color of my skin disgusting. I know the sight of this ridiculous body of mine offends you, but I also know I am addressing the wisest and most learned apes of all, those whose minds are capable of rising above mere sensory impressions and of perceiving the essential substance of a being apart from his wretched material exterior. . . ."
The pompous humility of this opening had been suggested by Zira and Cornelius, who knew it was liable to touch the orangutans. I went on in a silence that was complete:
"Listen to me, O Apes! For I can talk, and not, I assure you, like a mechanical toy or a parrot. I can think, I can talk, I can understand what you say just as well as what I myself say. Presently, if Your Lordships deign to question me, I shall deem it an honor to reply to your questions to the best of my ability.
"But first I should like to reveal this astounding truth to you: not only am I a rational creature, not only does a mind paradoxically inhabit this human body, but I come from a distant planet, from Earth, that Earth on which, by a whim of nature that has still to be explained, it is men who are the repositories of wisdom and reason. I beg permission to point out the place of my Origin, not of course for the benefit of the illustrious doctors whom I see all around me, but for those of my audience who perhaps are not so well acquainted with the various stellar systems."

I went up to a blackboard and by means of a few diagrams described the solar system to the best of my ability and indicated its position in the galaxy. My lecture was listened to hi profound silence. But when, having finished my sketches, I clapped my hands together to get rid of the chalk dust on them, this simple gesture provoked an enthusiastic murmur among the crowd in the upper rows. I went pn, facing my public:
"Thus on Earth the intellect is embodied in the human race. This is a fact and I can do nothing about it. Whereas the apes—and since discovering your world I am deeply upset about this—whereas the apes have remained in a state of savagery, it is the men who have evolved. It is in man's cranium that the brain has developed and flourished. It is man who hi vented language, discovered fire, 3 made use of tools. It is man who settled my planet and 5 changed its face, man, in fact, who established a civilization so refined that in many respects, O Apes, it resembles your own."
At this point I quoted several examples of our finest achievements. I described our cities, our industries, our means of communication, our governments, our laws, our entertainments. Then I addressed myself more specifically to the learned authorities and tried to give them an idea of our conquests in the noble fields of the sciences and arts. My voice became firmer the longer I spoke. I began to feel a sort of intoxication, like an owner taking stock of his possessions.
I then embarked on the account of my own adventures, j I described the means by which I had reached the world of Betelgeuse and landed on the planet Soror, how I had been captured and locked up in a cage, how I tried to enter into contact with Zaius, and how, doubtless as a result of my lack of ingenuity, all my efforts had been in vain. Lastly I mentioned Zira's perspicacity, her valuable assistance and that of Dr. Cornelius. I concluded with the following words:
"This is what I wanted to tell you, O Apes! It is up to you now to decide whether I should be treated like an animal and end my days in a cage after such astonishing adventures. It remains for me to say that I voyaged here without any hostile intent, inspired solely by the spirit of discovery. Since I have come to know you I find you extraordinarily congenial and I admire you with all my heart. This, then, is the plan I suggest to the great minds of this planet. I can certainly be useful to you by virtue of my earthly knowledge; for my part, I have learned more things during a few months' captivity among you than in all my previous existence. Let us unite our efforts! Let us establish contacts with the Earth! Let us march forward hand in hand, apes and men together, and no power, no secret of the cosmos will be able to resist us!"
I stopped speaking; exhausted, in • total silence. I turned automatically to the president's table, picked up the glass of water standing there, and drained it in a gulp. Like the act of clapping my hands together, this simple gesture produced an amazing effect and was the signal for an absolute uproar. The whole hall spontaneously gave vent to an enthusiastic outburst that no pen could ever describe. I knew I had won over my audience, but I would never have thought it possible for any assembly in the world to break into such commotion. I was deafened by it, retaining just enough composure to observe one of the reasons for this fantastic din: apes, who are exuberant by nature, clap with all four hands when they are pleased. I was thus surrounded by a seething mass of frantic1 creatures balancing on their rumps and waving their four limbs in a frenzy of applause punctuated by wild yells in which the gorillas' deep voices predominated. This was one of my last glimpses of this memorable session. I felt unsteady on my feet. I looked anxiously around me. Zaius had just risen from his seat in fury and was striding up and down the platform with his hands behind his back, as he did in front of my cage. As though hi a dream, I saw the vacant chair and collapsed into it. A fresh burst of applause, which I barely heard before fainting dead away, greeted this gesture.



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