Arthur Conan Doyle Fullscreen The Lost World (1912)


Now this colleague came forward himself with the same assertions and expected them to remain unquestioned.

Was this reasonable? ('Yes,'

'No,' and prolonged interruption, during which Professor Challenger was heard from the Press box to ask leave from the chairman to put Dr. Illingworth into the street.) A year ago one man said certain things.

Now four men said other and more startling ones.

Was this to constitute a final proof where the matters in question were of the most revolutionary and incredible character?

There had been recent examples of travelers arriving from the unknown with certain tales which had been too readily accepted.

Was the London Zoological Institute to place itself in this position?

He admitted that the members of the committee were men of character.

But human nature was very complex.

Even Professors might be misled by the desire for notoriety.

Like moths, we all love best to flutter in the light.

Heavy-game shots liked to be in a position to cap the tales of their rivals, and journalists were not averse from sensational coups, even when imagination had to aid fact in the process.

Each member of the committee had his own motive for making the most of his results. ('Shame! shame!') He had no desire to be offensive. ('You are!' and interruption.) The corroboration of these wondrous tales was really of the most slender description.

What did it amount to?

Some photographs. {Was it possible that in this age of ingenious manipulation photographs could be accepted as evidence?} What more?

We have a story of a flight and a descent by ropes which precluded the production of larger specimens.

It was ingenious, but not convincing.

It was understood that Lord John Roxton claimed to have the skull of a phororachus.

He could only say that he would like to see that skull.


'Is this fellow calling me a liar?' (Uproar.)


'Order! order!

Dr. Illingworth, I must direct you to bring your remarks to a conclusion and to move your amendment.'


'Your Grace, I have more to say, but I bow to your ruling.

I move, then, that, while Professor Summerlee be thanked for his interesting address, the whole matter shall be regarded as 'non-proven,' and shall be referred back to a larger, and possibly more reliable Committee of Investigation.'

"It is difficult to describe the confusion caused by this amendment.

A large section of the audience expressed their indignation at such a slur upon the travelers by noisy shouts of dissent and cries of,

'Don't put it!'


'Turn him out!'

On the other hand, the malcontents—and it cannot be denied that they were fairly numerous—cheered for the amendment, with cries of


'Chair!' and

'Fair play!'

A scuffle broke out in the back benches, and blows were freely exchanged among the medical students who crowded that part of the hall.

It was only the moderating influence of the presence of large numbers of ladies which prevented an absolute riot.

Suddenly, however, there was a pause, a hush, and then complete silence.

Professor Challenger was on his feet.

His appearance and manner are peculiarly arresting, and as he raised his hand for order the whole audience settled down expectantly to give him a hearing.

"'It will be within the recollection of many present,' said Professor Challenger, 'that similar foolish and unmannerly scenes marked the last meeting at which I have been able to address them.

On that occasion Professor Summerlee was the chief offender, and though he is now chastened and contrite, the matter could not be entirely forgotten.

I have heard to-night similar, but even more offensive, sentiments from the person who has just sat down, and though it is a conscious effort of self-effacement to come down to that person's mental level, I will endeavor to do so, in order to allay any reasonable doubt which could possibly exist in the minds of anyone.' (Laughter and interruption.)

'I need not remind this audience that, though Professor Summerlee, as the head of the Committee of Investigation, has been put up to speak to-night, still it is I who am the real prime mover in this business, and that it is mainly to me that any successful result must be ascribed.

I have safely conducted these three gentlemen to the spot mentioned, and I have, as you have heard, convinced them of the accuracy of my previous account.

We had hoped that we should find upon our return that no one was so dense as to dispute our joint conclusions.

Warned, however, by my previous experience, I have not come without such proofs as may convince a reasonable man.

As explained by Professor Summerlee, our cameras have been tampered with by the ape-men when they ransacked our camp, and most of our negatives ruined.' (Jeers, laughter, and 'Tell us another!' from the back.)

'I have mentioned the ape-men, and I cannot forbear from saying that some of the sounds which now meet my ears bring back most vividly to my recollection my experiences with those interesting creatures.' (Laughter.)