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Thomas Henry Huxley; A Sketch Of His Life And Work

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Thomas Henry Huxley; A Sketch Of His Life And Work, by P. Chalmers Mitchell
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Title: Thomas Henry Huxley; A Sketch Of His Life And Work
Author: P. Chalmers Mitchell
Release Date: October 25, 2005 [EBook #16935]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY ***
Produced by Marilynda Fraser-Cunliffe, LN Yaddanapudi and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (This file was made using scans of public domain works from the University of Michigan Digital Libraries.)
[Contents]
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
[Frontispiece]
Leaders in Science
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
A SKETCH OF HIS LIFE AND WORK
BY
P. CHALMERS MITCHELL, M.A. (Oxon.)
G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
NEW YORK 27 WEST TWENTY THIRD STREET
LONDON 24 BEDFORD STREET STRAND
The Knickerbocker Press 1900
CO PYRIG HT1900 BY G.P. PUTNAM'S SONS
The Knickerbocker Press, New York
[Contents]
PREFACE
This volume is in no sense an intimate or authorised biography of Huxley. It is simply an outline of the external features of his l ife and an account of his contributions to biology, to educational and social problems, and to philosophy and metaphysics. In preparing it, I have been indeb ted to his own Autobiography, to the obituary notice written by Sir Michael Foster for the Royal Society of London, to a sketch of him by Professor Howes, his successor at the Royal College of Science, and to his published works. The latter consist of many well-known separate volumes which are familiar to all zoölogists, and of a vast number of memoirs and essays scattered in va rious scientific and general publications. The general Essays were collected into nine volumes, revised by himself in the later years of his life, and published by Messrs. Macmillan. The Scientific Memoirs, thanks to the generous enterprise of the same publishing firm, with which he was so long associated, and to the pious labours of Sir Michael Foster and Professor Ray Lankester, are in process of reissue in the form of four volumes, two of which have now appeared. These will contain all his important contributions to sci ence, with the exception of a large separate treatise on theOceanic Hydrozoa published by the Ray Society in 1859. There is also announced a formal Biography, prepared by his son, so that future admirers or students of Huxley's work w ill be in an exceptionally favourable position.
LO NDO N, 1900.
P. CHALMERS MITCHELL.
Leaders in Science
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[vi]
PREFACE
CONTENTS
CHAPTER I
FROM SCHOOL TO LIFE-WORK
Birth—Parentage—School-days—Choice of Medical Profe ssion —Charing Cross Hospital—End of Medical Studies—Admission to Naval Medical Service.
CHAPTER II
THE VOYAGE OF THE RATTLESNAKE
The Objects of the Voyage—The Route—The Naturalist and the Surgeon—Collecting and Dredging—Stay in Sydney—Adventures with the Natives—Comparison with Darwin's Voyage on the Beagle.
CHAPTER III
FLOATING CREATURES OF THE SEA
The Nature of Floating Life—Memoir on Medusæ Accepted by the Royal Society—Old and New Ideas of the Animal Kingdom—What Huxley Discovered in Medusæ—His Comparison of them with Vertebrate Embryos
EARLY DAYS IN LONDON
CHAPTER IV
Scientific Work as Unattached Ship-Surgeon—Introduc tion to London Scientific Society—Translating, Receiving, and Lecturing —Ascidians—Molluscs and the Archetype—Criticism of Pre-Darwinian Evolution—Appointment to Geological Survey.
CREATURES OF THE PAST
CHAPTER V
Beginning Palæontological Work—Fossil Amphibia and Reptilia —Ancestry of Birds—Ancestry of the Horse—Imperfect European
PAGE
v
1
13
30
46
67
[vii]
[viii]
Series Completed by Marsh's American Fossils—Meanin g of G e o l o g i c a l Contemporaneity—Uniformitarianism and Catastrophism Compared with Evolution in Geology—Age of the Earth—Intermediate and Linear Types.
HUXLEY AND DARWIN
CHAPTER VI
Early Ideas on Evolution—Erasmus Darwin—Lamarck—Herbert Spencer—Difference between Evolution and Natural Se lection —H uxl ey's Preparation for Evolution—The Novelty of Natural Selection—The Advantage of Natural Selection as a W orking Hypothesis—Huxley's Unchanged Position with regard to Evolution and Natural Selection from 1860 to 1894.
CHAPTER VII
THE BATTLE FOR EVOLUTION
Huxley's Prevision of the Battle—The Causes of the Battle—The Times Review—Sir attacks Darwinism in theRichard Owen Edinburgh Review—Bishop Wilberforce attacks in theQuarterly Review—Huxley's Scathing Replies—The British Associ ation Debates at Oxford—Huxley and Wilberforce—Résumé of Huxley's Exact Position with Regard to Evolution and to Natural Selection.
VERTEBRATE ANATOMY
CHAPTER VIII
The Theory of the Vertebrate Skull—Goethe, Oken, Cuvier, and Owen—Huxley Defends Goethe—His own Contributions to the Theory—The Classification of Birds—Huxley Treats th em as "E xtinct Animals"—Geographical Distribution—Sclater's Regions —Huxley's Suggestions.
MAN AND THE APES
CHAPTER IX
Objections to Zoölogical Discussion of Man's Place— Owen's Prudence—Huxley's Determination to Speak out—Account of his Treatment ofin NatureMan's Place —Additions Made by More Recent Work.
CHAPTER X
SCIENCE AS A BRANCH OF EDUCATION
Science-Teaching Fifty Years Ago—Huxley's Insistence on Reform —Science Primers—Physiography—Elementary Physiology—The Crayfish—Manuals of Anatomy—Modern Microscopical Methods —Practical Work in Biological Teaching—Invention of the Type System—Science in Medical Education—Science and Culture.
CHAPTER XI
89
110
128
144
167
[ix]
GENERAL PROBLEMS OF EDUCATION
Establishment of Compulsory Education in England—Th e Religious Controversy—Huxley Advocates the Bible wi thout Theology—His Compromise on the "Cowper-Temple" Clau se —Influence of the New Criticism—Science and Art Ins truction — T ra i n i n g of Teachers—University Education—The Baltimore Address—Technical Education—So-called "Applied Scie nce" —National Systems of Education as "Capacity-Catchers."
CHAPTER XII
CITIZEN, ORATOR, AND ESSAYIST
Huxley's Activity in Public Affairs—Official in Sci entific Societies —Royal Commissions—Vivisection—Characteristics of his Public Speaking—His Method of Exposition—His Essays—Vocabu lary —Phrase-Making—His Style Essentially One of Ideas.
CHAPTER XIII
THE OPPONENT OF MATERIALISM
Science and Metaphysics—Berkeley, Hume, and Hobbes —Existence of Matter and Mind—Descartes's Contribut ion —Materialism and Idealism—Criticism of Materialism—Berkeley's Idealism—Criticism of Idealism—Empirical Idealism—Materialism a s opposed to Supernaturalism—Mind and Brain—Origin of Life —Teleology, Chance, and the Argument from Design.
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
CHAPTER XIV
Authority and Knowledge in Science—The Duty of Doub t —Authority and Individual Judgment in Religion—The Protestant Position—Sir Charles Lyell and the Deluge—Infallibi lity—The C hurch and Science—Morality and Dogma—Civil and Rel igious Liberty—Agnosticism and Clericalism—Meaning of Agno sticism —Knowledge and Evidence—The Method of Agnosticism.
THE BIBLE AND MIRACLES
CHAPTER XV
Why Huxley Came to Write about the Bible—AMagna Charta of the Poor—The Theological Use of the Bible—The Doctrine of B i b l i c a l Infallibility—The Bible and Science—The Th ree Hypotheses of the Earth's History—Changes in the Pa st Proved —The Creation Hypothesis—Gladstone on Genesis—Genesis not a Record of Fact—The Hypothesis of Evolution—The Ne w Testament—Theory of Inspiration—Reliance on the Miraculous —The Continuity of Nature noa prioriArgument against Miracles— -Possibilities and Impossibilities—Miracles a Question of Evidence —Praise of the Bible.
188
204
218
232
245
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CHAPTER XVI
Conduct and Metaphysics—Conventional and Critical M inds —Good and Evil—Huxley's Last Appearance at Oxford—T he Ethical Process and the Cosmic Process—Man's Interv ention —The Cosmic Process Evil—Ancient Reconciliations—Mo dern Acceptance of the Difficulties—Criticism of Huxley's Pessimism —Man and his Ethical Aspirations Part of the Cosmos.
Huxley's Life in London—Decennial Periods— Ill-heal th —Retirement to E astbourne—D eath—P ersonal Appearance —Methods of Work—Personal Characteristics—An Inspirer of Others—His Influence in Science—A Naturalist by Vocation—His Aspirations.
CARICATURE OF HUXLEY DRAWN BY HIMSELF Reproduced by permission from "Natural Science," vol. vii., No. 46.
SIR JOSEPH DALTON HOOKER From a photograph by Elliott and Fry, London
CHARLES DARWIN From the painting by Hon. John Collier in the National Portrait Gallery
CHAPTER XVII
276
236
98
146
SIR CHARLES LYELL From a photograph by London Stereoscopic Company
261
[xiii]
275
ETHICS OF THE COSMOS
ILLUSTRATIONS
CLOSING DAYS AND SUMMARY
287
Frontispiece
64
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY, 1857 Reproduced by permission from "Natural Science," vol. vii., No. 42
PAGE
INDEX
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY From a photograph by London Stereoscopic Company
LIST OF HUXLEY'S WRITINGS
This list is offered, not as a bibliography in the technical sense, but as an indication of the sources in which the vast majority of Huxley's scientific and general work may be consulted most conveniently.
The Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley. Edited by Professor Sir Michael Foster and Professor E. Ray Lankester; in four volumes. London, Macmillan & Co.; New York, D. Appleton.
This magnificent collection is intended to contain all Huxley's original scientific papers, brought together from the multitude of scientific periodicals in which they appeared, with reproductions of the original illustrations. The only exception is the monograph on Oceanic Hydrozoa. The first volume appeared in 1898; the second in 1899, and the others are to follow quickly.
Collected Essays by T.H. HuxleyEversley Series.; nine volumes of the Macmillan & Co. London, 1893-95.
This set, edited by Huxley himself, contains the more important of his more general contributions to science and his l iterary, philosophical, and political and critical essays. Each volume has a preface specially written, and the first volume con tains his autobiography.
[xv]
[xvi] The Oceanic Hydrozoa; a description of the Calycophoridæ and Physophoridæ observed during the Voyage of H.M.S.Rattlesnakein the years 1846-50, with a general introduction. Ray Society. London, 1859.
Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature. Williams & Norgate. London, 1863.
On our Knowledge of the Causes of Organic Phenomena to Working Men. Hardwicke. London, 1863.
; being Six Lectures
Lectures on the Elements of Comparative Anatomythe Classification of. On Animals and the Vertebrate Skull. Churchill & Sons. London, 1864.
An Elementary Atlas of Comparative Osteologytwelve plates. Williams &. In Norgate. London, 1864.
Lessons in Elementary Physiology. Macmillan & Co. London, 1866.
An Introduction to the Classification of Animals. Churchill. London, 1869.
A Manual of the Anatomy of Vertebrated Animals
. Churchill. London, 1871.
A Course of Practical Instruction in Elementary Bio logy, assisted by H.N. Martin. Macmillan. London, 1875.
A Manual of the Anatomy of Invertebrated Animals
. Churchill. London, 1877.
Lay Sermons, Essays, and Reviews. Macmillan. London, 1877.
American Addresses, with a Lecture on the Study of Biology. Macmillan. London, 1877.
Physiography, an Introduction to the Study of Zoölogy. International Scientific Series. Kegan Paul. London, 1880.
Introductory Primer. Science Primers. Macmillan. London, 1880.
The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin. Edited by his son, Francis Darwin. Volume II., with Chapter V. by Professor Huxley on the Reception of theOrigin of Species. John Murray. London, 1887.
Life of Richard Owen. By his grandson. With an Essay on Owen's Position in Anatomical Science, by T.H. Huxley. John Murray. London, 1894.
[Contents]
THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY
CHAPTER I
FROM SCHOOL TO LIFE-WORK
Birth—Parentage—School-days—Choice of Medical Profe ssion —Charing Cross Hospital—End of Medical Studies—Admission to
[xvii]
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Naval Medical Service.
Some men are born to greatness: even before their arrival in the world their future is marked out for them. All the advantages t hat wealth and the experience of friends can bring attend their growth to manhood, and their success almost loses its interest because of the ease with which it is attained. Few of the leaders of science were in such a position: many of them, such as Priestley, Davy, Faraday, John Hunter, and Linnæus were of humble parentage, and received the poorest education: most of them, like Huxley himself, have come from parents who were able to do little more for their children than set them out into life along the ordinary educational avenues. In Huxley's boyhood at least a comfortable income was necessary for this: in every civilised country nowadays, state endowments, o r private endowments, are ready to help every capable boy, as far as Huxley was helped, and in his progress from boyhood to supreme distinction, there is nothing that cannot be emulated by every boy at school to-day. The minds of human beings when they are born into the world are as naked as their bodies; it matters not if parents, grandparents, and remoter ancestors were unlettered or had the wisdom of all the ages, the new mind has to build up its own wisdom from the beginning. We cannot even say with certainty that children inheri t mental aptitudes and capacities from their parents; for as tall sons may come from short parents or beautiful daughters from ugly parents, so we may find in the capacities of the parents no traces of the future greatness of their children. None the less it is interesting to learn what we can about the parents of great men; and Huxley tells us that he thinks himself to have inherited many characters of his body and mind from his mother.
Thomas Henry Huxley was born on the 4th of May, 1825, at Ealing, then a little country village, now united to London as a great suburb. He was the seventh child of George Huxley, who was second master at the school of Dr. Nicholson at Ealing. In these days private schools of varying character were very numerous in England, and this establishment seems to have been of high-class character, for Cardinal Newman and many other disti nguished men received part of their education there. His mother, whose ma iden name was Rachel [A] Withers, was, he tells us himself:
"A slender brunette of an emotional and energetic temperament, and possessed of the most piercing black eyes I eve r saw in a woman's head. With no more education than other women of the middle classes in her day, she had an excellent mental capacity. Her most distinguishing characteristic, however, was rapidity of thought. If one ventured to suggest she had not taken much time to arrive at any conclusion, she would say, 'I cannot help it. Things flash across me.' That peculiarity has been passed on to me in full strength: it has often stood me in good stead: it h as sometimes played me sad tricks, and it has always been a danger. But, after all, if my time were to come over again there is nothing I would less willingly part with than my inheritance of 'mother wit.'"
From his father he thinks that he inherited little except an inborn capacity for drawing, "a hot temper, and that amount of tenacity of purpose which unfriendly observers sometimes call obstinacy." As it happened , this natural gift for
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drawing proved of the greatest service to him throu ghout his career. It is imperative that every investigator of the anatomy of plants and animals should be able to sketch his observations, and there is no greater aid to seeing things as they are than the continuous attempt to reproduce them by pencil or brush.
Huxley was christened Thomas Henry, and he was unaware why these names were chosen, but he humorously records the curious chance that his parents should have chosen for him the "name of that particular apostle with whom he had always felt most sympathy."
Of his childhood little is recorded. He remembers being vain of his curls, and his mother's expressed regret that he soon lost the beauty of early childhood. He attended for some time the school at Ealing with which his father was associated, but he has little to say for the training he received there. He writes:
"My regular school training was of the briefest, perhaps fortunately: for, though my way of life has made me acquainted w ith all sorts and conditions of men, from the highest to the lowest, I deliberately affirm that the society I fell into at school was the worst I have ever known. We boys were average lads with much the same inherent capacity for good and evil as any others; but the people who were set over us cared about as much for our intellectua l and moral welfare as if they were baby-farmers. We were left to the operation of the struggle for existence among ourselves, and bullying was the least of the ill practices current among us. Almost the only cheerful reminiscence in connection with the place which arises in my mind is that of a battle which I had with one of my class-mates, who had bullied me until I could stand it no longer. I was a very slight lad, but there was a wild-cat element in me which, when roused, made up for my lack of weight, and I licked my adversary ef fectually. However, one of my first experiences of the extremely rough and ready nature of justice, as exhibited by the course of things in general, arose out of the fact thatI—the victor—had a black eye, while he—the vanquished—had none, so that I got into disgrace and he did not. One of the greatest shocks I ever received in my life was to be told, a dozen years afterwards by the groom who brought me my horse in a stable-yard in Sydney, that he was my quondam antagonist. He had a long story of family misfortune to account for his position—but at that time it was necessary to d eal very cautiously with mysterious strangers in New South Wales, and on enquiry I found that the unfortunate young man had not only been 'sent out,' but had undergone more than one colonial conviction."
Huxley was soon removed from school and continued his own education for several years, by reading of the most desultory sort. His special inclinations were towards mechanical problems, and had he been able to follow his own wishes there is little doubt but that he would have entered on the profession of an engineer. It is probable that there was a great deal more in his wishes than the familiar inclination of a clever boy to engineering. All through the pursuit of anatomy, which was the chief business of his life, it was the structure of animals, the different modifications of great ground-plans which they presented, that interested him. But the opportunity for engineering did not present itself,
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