Accounts in Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, vol. 1

Flower Account

by W. H. Flower

[254] When, in 1862, he was appointed to the Hunterian Professorship at the College of Surgeons, he took for the subject of several yearly courses of lectures the anatomy of the vertebrata, beginning with the primates, and as the subject was then rather new to him, and as it was a rule with him never to make a statement in a lecture which was not founded upon his own actual observation, he set to work to make a series of original dissections of all the forms he treated of. These were carried on in the workroom at the top of the college, and mostly in the evenings, after his daily occupation at Jermyn Street (the School of Mines, as it was then called) was over, an arrangement which my residence in.the college buildings enabled me to make for him. These rooms contained a large store of material, entire or partially dissected animals preserved in spirit, which, unlike those mounted in the museum, were available for further investigation in any direction, and these, supplemented occasionally by fresh subjects from the Zoological Gardens, formed the foundation of the lectures.... On these evenings it was always my privilege to be with him, and to assist in the work in which he was engaged. In dissecting, as in everything else, he was a very rapid worker, going straight to the point he wished to ascertain with a firm and steady hand, never diverted: into side issues, nor wasting any time in unnecessary polishing up for the sake of appearances; the very opposite, in fact, to what is commonly known as "finikin." His great facility for bold and dashing sketching came in most usefully in this work, the notes he made being largely helped out with illustrations.

Accounts of Oxford

by John Richard Green

[199] I asserted–and I repeat–that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man–a man of restless and versatile intellect–who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.

by A. G. Vernon-Harcourt

[199] The Bishop had rallied your father as to the descent from a monkey, asking as a sort of joke how recent this had been, whether it was his grandfather or further back. Your father in replying on this point, first explained that the suggestion was of descent through thousands of generations from a common ancestor, and then went on to this effect–"But if this question is treated, not as a matter for the calm investigation of science but as a matter of sentiment, and if I am asked whether I would choose to be descended from the poor animal of low intelligence and stooping gait, who grins and chatters as we pass, or from a man, endowed with great ability and a splendid position, who should use these gifts" [here, as the point became clear, there was a great outburst of applause, which mostly drowned the end of the sentence]" to discredit and crush humble seekers after truth, I hesitate what answer to make."

by the Rev. W. H. Freemantle

[200] The Bishop of Oxford attacked Darwin, at first playfully, but at last in grim earnest. It was known that the Bishop had written an article against Darwin in the last Quarterly Review, it was also rumoured that Professor Owen had been staying at Cuddesdon and had primed the Bishop, who was to act as mouthpiece to the great Palæontologist, who did not himself dare to enter the lists. The Bishop, however, did not show himself master of the facts, and made one serious blunder. A fact which had been much dwelt on as confirmatory of Darwin's idea of variation, was that a sheep had been born shortly before in a flock in the North of England, having an addition of one to the vertebræ of the spine. The Bishop was declaring with rhetorical exaggeration that there was hardly any evidence on Darwin's side. "What have they to bring forward?" he exclaimed. "Some rumoured statement about a long-legged sheep." But he passed on to banter: "I should like to ask Professor Huxley, who is sitting by me, and is about to tear me to pieces when I have sat down, as to his belief in being descended from an ape. Is it on his grandfather's or his grandmother's side that the ape ancestry comes in?" And then taking a graver tone, he asserted, in a solemn peroration, that Darwin's views were contrary to the revelation of God in the Scriptures. Professor Huxley was unwilling to respond: but [201] he was called for, and spoke with his usual incisiveness and with some scorn: "I am here only in the interests of science," he said, "and I have not heard anything which can prejudice the case of my august client." Then after showing how little competent the Bishop was to enter upon the discussion, he touched on the question of Creation. "You say that development drives out the Creator; but you assert that God made you: and yet you know that you yourself were originally a little piece of matter, no bigger than the end of this gold pencil-case." Lastly as to the descent from a monkey, he said: "I should feel it no shame to have risen from such an origin; but I should feel it a shame to have sprung from one who prostituted the gifts of culture and eloquence to the service of prejudice and of falsehood."

Many others spoke. Mr. Gresley, an old Oxford don, pointed out that in human nature at least orderly development was not the necessary rule: Homer was the greatest of poets, but he lived 3000 years ago, and has not produced his like.

Admiral FitzRoy was present, and said he had often expostulated with his old comrade of the Beagle for entertaining views which were contradictory to the First Chapter of Genesis.

Sir John Lubbock declared that many of the arguments by which the permanence of species was supported came to nothing, and instanced some wheat which was said to have come off an Egyptian mummy, and was sent to him to prove that wheat had not changed since the time of the Pharaohs; but which proved to be made of French chocolate. Sir Joseph (then Dr) Hooker spoke shortly, saying that he had found the hypothesis of Natural Selection so helpful in explaining the phenomena of his own subject of Botany, that he had been constrained to accept it. After a few words from Dalwin's old friend, Professor Henslow, who occupied the chair, the meeting broke up, leaving the impression that those most capable of estimating the arguments of Darwin in detail saw their way to accept his conclusions.

Note–Sir John Lubbock also insisted on the embryological evidence for evolution.

Hooker Account

by Joseph Hooker

[232] My first meeting your father was in 185I, shortly after his return from the Rattlesnake voyage with Captain Stanley. Hearing that I had paid some attention to marine zoology during the voyage of the Antarctic Expedition, he was desirous of showing me the results of his studies of the Oceanic Hydrozoa, and he sought me out in consequence. This and the fact that we had both embarked in the Naval service in the same capacity as medical officers and with the same object of scientific research, naturally led to an intimacy which was undisturbed by a shadow of a misunderstanding for nearly forty-five following years. Curiously enough, our intercourse might have dated from an earlier period by nearly six years had I accepted an appointment to the Rattlesnake offered me by Captain Stanley, which, but for my having arranged for a journey to India, might have been accepted.

Returning to the purpose of our interview, the researches Mr. Huxley laid before me were chiefly those on the Salpae, a much misunderstood group of marine Hydrozoa. Of these I had amused myself with making drawings during the long and often weary months passed at sea on board the Erebus, but having other subjects to attend to, I had made no further study of them than as consumers of the vegetable life (Diatoms) of the Antarctic Ocean. Hence his observations on their life-history, habits, and affinities were on almost all points a revelation to me, and I could not fail to recognise in their author all the qualities possessed by a naturalist of commanding ability, industry, and power of exposition. Our interviews, thus commenced, soon ripened into a friendship, which led to an arrangement for a monthly meeting, and in the informal establishment of a club of nine, the other members of which were, Mr. Busk, Dr. Frankland, Mr. Hirst, Sir J. Lubbock, Mr. Herbert Spencer, Dr. Tyndall, and Mr. Spottiswoode.

[420] It was during the many excursions we took together, either by ourselves or with one of my boys, that I knew him best at his best; and especially during one of several week's duration in [421] the summer of 1873, which we spent in central France and Germany. He had been seriously ill, and was suffering from severe mental depression. For this he was ordered abroad by his physician, Sir A. Clark, to which step he offered a stubborn resistance. With Mr.. Huxley's approval, and being myself quite in the mood for a holiday, I volunteered to wrestle with him, and succeeded, holding out as an inducement a visit to the volcanic region of the Auvergne with Scrope's classical volume, which we both knew and admired, as a guide book.

We started on July 2nd, I loaded with injunctions from his physician as to what his patient was to eat, drink, and avoid, how much he was to sleep and rest, how little to talk and walk, etc., that would have made the expedition a perpetual burthen to me had I not believed that I knew enough of my friend's disposition and ailments to be convinced that not only health but happiness would be our companions throughout. Sure enough, for the first few days, including a short stay in Paris, his spirits were low indeed, but this gave me the opportunity of appreciating his remarkable command over himself and his ever-present consideration for his companion. Not a word or gesture of irritation ever escaped him; he exerted himself to obey the instructions laid down; nay, more, he was instant in his endeavour to save me trouble at hotels, railway stations, and ticket offices. Still, some mental recreation was required to expedite recovery, and he found it first by picking up at a bookstall, a History of the Miracles of Lourdes, which were then exciting the religious fervour of France, and the interest of her scientific public. He entered with enthusiasm into the subject, getting together all the treatises upon it, favourable or the reverse, that were accessible, and I need hardly add, soon arrived at the conclusion, that the so-called miracles were in part illusions and for the rest delusions. As it may interest some of your readers to know what his opinion was in this the early stage of the manifestations, I will give it as he gave it to me. It was a case of two peasant children sent in the hottest month of the year into a hot valley to collect sticks for firewood washed up by a stream, when one of them after stooping down opposite a heat-reverberating rock, was, in rising, attacked with a transient vertigo, under which she saw a figure in white against the rock. This bare fact being reported to the cure of the village, all the rest followed.

Soon after our arrival at Clermont Ferrand, your father had so far recovered his wonted elasticity of spirits that he took a keen interest in everything around, the museums, the cathedral, [422] where he enjoyed the conclusion of the service by a military band which gave selections from the Figlia del Regimento, but above all he appreciated the walks and drives to the geological features of the environs. He reluctantly refrained from ascending the Puy de Dome, but managed the Pic Parion, Gergovia, Royat, and other points of interest without fatigue....

Here [at La Tour d'Auvergne], and for some time afterwards, on our further travels, we had many interesting and amusing experiences of rural life in the wilder parts of central France its poverty, penury, and too often its inconceivable impositions and overcharges to foreigners, quite consistently with good feeling, politeness, and readiness to assist in many ways.

By the 10th of July, nine days after setting out, I felt satisfied that your father was equal to an excursion upon which he had set his heart, to the top of the Pic de Sancy, 4000 feet above La Tour and 7 miles distant.

After leaving the Ardeche, with no Scrope to lead or follow, our scientific ardours collapsed. We had vague views as to future travel. Whatever one proposed was unhesitatingly acceded to by the other. A more happy-go-lucky pair of idlers never joined company.

You ask me whether your father smoked on the occasion of this tour. Yes, he did, cigars in moderation. But the history of his addiction to tobacco that grew upon him later in life, dates from an earlier excursion that we took together, and I was the initiator of the practice. It happened in this wise: he had been suffering from what was supposed to be gastric irritation, and, being otherwise "run down," we agreed to go, in company with Sir John Lubbock, on a tour to visit the great monoliths of Brittany This was in 1867. On arriving at Dinan he suffered so much that I recommended his trying a few cigarettes which I had with me. They acted as a charm, and this led to cigars, and finally, about 1875 I think, to the pipe. That he subsequently carried the use of tobacco to excess is, I think, unquestionable. I repeatedly remonstrated with him, at last I think (by backing his medical adviser) with effect.

I have never blamed myself for the "teaching him" to smoke, for the practice habitually palliated his distressing symptoms when nothing else did, nor can his chronic illness be attributed to the abuse of tobacco.

[478] His administrative work as an officer of the Royal Society is described in the following note by Sir Joseph Hooker:–

Mr. Huxley was appointed Joint-Secretary of the Royal Society, November 30, 1871, in succession to Dr. Sharpey, Sir George Airy being President, and Professor (now Sir George) Stokes, Senior Secretary. He held the office till November 30, 1880. The duties of the office are manifold and heavy; they include attendance at all the meetings of the Fellows, and of the councils, committees, and subcommittees of the Society, and especially the supervision of the printing and illustrating all papers on biological subjects that are published in the Society's Transactions and Proceedings: the latter often involving a protracted correspondence with the authors. To this must be added a share in the supervision of the staff of officers, of the library and correspondence, and the details of house-keeping.

The appointment was well-timed in the interest of the Society, for the experience he had obtained as an officer in the Surveying Expedition of Captain Stanley rendered his co-operation and advice of the greatest value in the efforts which the Society had recently commenced to induce the Government, through the Admiralty especially, to undertake the physical and biological exploration of the ocean. It was but a few months before his appointment that he had been placed upon a committee of the Society, through which H.M.S. Porcupine was employed for this purpose in the European seas, and negotiations had already been commenced with the Admiralty for a voyage of circumnavigation with the same objects, which eventuated in the Challenger Expedition.

In the first year of his appointment, the equipment of the Challenger, and selection of its officers, was entrusted to the Royal Society, and in the preparation of the instructions to the naturalists Mr. Huxley had a dominating responsibility. In the same year a correspondence commenced with the India Office on the subject of deep-sea dredging in the Indian Ocean (it [479] came to nothing), and another with the Royal Geographical Society on that of a North Polar Expedition, which resulted in the Nares Expedition (1875). In 1873, another with the Admiralty on the advisability of appointing naturalists to accompany two of the expeditions about to be despatched for observing the transit of Venus across the sun's disk in Mauritius and Kerguelen, which resulted in three naturalists being appointed. Arduous as was the correspondence devolving on the Biological Secretary, through the instructing and instalment of these two expeditions, it was as nothing compared with the official, demi-official, and private, with the Government and individuals, that arose from the Government request that the Royal Society should arrange for the publication and distribution of the enormous collections brought home by the above named expedition. It is not too much to say that Mr. Huxley had a voice in every detail of these publications. The sittings of the Committee of Publication of the Challenger Expedition collections (of which Sir J. D. Hooker was chairman, and Mr. Huxley the most active member) were protracted from 1876 to 1895, and resulted in the publication of fifty royal quarto volumes, with plates, maps, sections, etc., the work of seventy-six authors, every shilling of the expenditure on which (some 50,000) was passed under the authority of the Committee of Publication.

Nor was Mr. Huxley less actively interested in the domestic affairs of the Society. In 1873 the whole establishment was translated from the building subsequently occupied by the Royal Academy to that which it now inhabits in the same quadrangle; a flitting of library stuff and appurtenances involving great responsibilities on the officers for the satisfactory re-establishment of the whole institution. In 1874 a very important alteration of the bye-laws was effected, whereby that which gave to Peers the privilege of being proposed for election as Fellows, without previous selection by the Committee (and to which bye-laws, as may be supposed, Mr. Huxley was especially repugnant), was replaced by one restricting that privilege to Privy Councillors. In 1875 he actively supported a proposition for extending the interests taken in the Society by holding annually a reception, to which the lady friends of the Fellows who were interested in science should be invited to inspect an exhibition of some of the more recent inventions, appliances and discoveries in science. And in the same year another reform took place in which he was no less interested, which was the abolition of the [480] entrance fees for ordinary Fellows, which had proved a bar to the coming forward of men of small incomes, but great eminence. The loss of income to the Society from this was met by a subscription of no less than 10,666, raised almost entirely amongst the Fellows themselves for the purpose.

In 1876 a responsibility, that fell heavily on the Secretaries, was the allotment annually of a grant by the Treasury of 4000, to be expended, under the direction of the Royal and other learned societies, on the advancement of science. Every detail of the business of this grant is undertaken by a large committee of the Royal and other scientific societies, which meets in the Society's rooms, and where all the business connected with the grant is conducted and the records kept.

Foster Account

Proceedings Royal Society, vol. 49

[284] His published ethnological papers are not numerous, nor can they be taken as a measure of his influence on this branch of study. In many ways he has made himself felt, not the least by the severity with which on the one hand he repressed the pretensions of shallow persons who, taking advantage of the glamour of the Darwinian doctrine, taked nonsense in the name of anthropological science, and on the other hand, exposed those who in the structure of the brain or of other parts, saw an impassable gulf between man andthe monkey. The episode of the "hippocampus" stirred for a while not only science but the general public. He used his influence, already year by year growing more and more powerful, to keep the study of the natural history of man within its proper lines, and chiefly with this end in view held the Presidential Chair of the Ethnological Society in 1869-70. It was mainly through his influence that this older Ethnological Society was, a year later, in 1871, amalgamated with a newer rival society, the Anthropological, under the title of "The Anthropological Institute."

[316] One great consequence of these researches was that science was enriched by a clear demonstration of the many and close affinities between reptiles and birds, so that the two henceforward came to be known under the joint title of Sauropsida, the amphibia being at the same time distinctly more separated from the reptiles, and their relations to fishes more clearly signified by the joint title of Ichthyopsida. At the same time, proof was brought forward that the line of descent of the Sauropsida clearly diverged from that of the Mammalia, both starting from some common ancestry. And besides this great generalisation, the importance of which, both from a classificatory and from an evolutional point of view, needs no comment, there came out of the same researches numerous lesser contributions to the advancement of morphological knowledge, including among others an attempt, in many respects successful, at a classification of birds.

Sidgwick Account

Henry Sidgwick, 1900

[344] Dear Mr. Huxley–I became a member of the Metaphysical Society, I think, at its first meeting in 1869; and, though my engagements in Cambridge did not allow me to attend regularly, I retain a very distinct recollection of the part taken by your father in the debates at which we were present together. There were several members of the Society with whose philosophical views I had, on the whole, more sympathy; but there was certainly no one to whom I found it more pleasant and more instructive to listen. Indeed I soon came to the conclusion that there was only one other member of our Society who could be placed on a par with him as a debater, on the subjects discussed at our meetings; and that was, curiously enough, a man of the most diametrically opposite opinions–W. G. Ward, the well-known advocate of Ultramontanism. Ward was by training, and perhaps by nature, more of a dialectician; but your father was unrivalled in the clearness, precision, succinctness, and point of his statements, in his complete and ready grasp of his own system of philosophical thought, and the quickness and versatility with which his thought at once assumed the right attitude of defence against any argument coming from any quarter. I used to think that while others of us could perhaps find, on the spur of the moment, an answer more or less effective to some unexpected attack, your father seemed always able to find the answer–I mean the answer that it was reasonable to [345] give, consistently with his general view, and much the same answer that he would have given if he had been allowed the fullest time for deliberation.

The general tone of the Metaphysical Society was one of extreme consideration for the feelings of opponents, and your father's speaking formed no exception to the general harmony. At the same time I seem to remember him as the most combative of all the speakers who took a leading part in the debates. His habit of never wasting words, and the edge naturally given to his remarks by his genius for clear and effective statement, partly account for this impression; still I used to think that he liked fighting, and occasionally liked to give play to his sarcastic humour–though always strictly within the limits imposed by courtesy. I remember that on one occasion when I had read to the Society an essay on the "Incoherence of Empiricism," I looked forward with some little anxiety to his criticisms; and when they came, I felt that my anxiety had not been superfluous; he "went for" the weak points of my argument in half a dozen trenchant sentences, of which I shall not forget the impression It was hard hitting, though perfectly courteous and fair.

I wish I could remember what he said, but the memory of all the words uttered in these debates has now vanished from my mind, though I recall vividly the general impression that I have tried briefly to put down.–Believe me, yours very truly, Henry Sidgwick.

Forbes Account

[64] I have had very great pleasure in examining your drawings of animals observed during the voyage of the Rattlesnake, and have also fully availed myself of the opportunity of going over the collections made during the course of the survey upon which you have been engaged. I can say without exaggeration that more important or more complete zoological researches have never been conducted during any voyage of discovery in the southern hemisphere. The course you have taken of directing your attention mainly to impreservable creatures, and to those orders of the animal kingdom respecting which we have least [65] information, and the care and skill which with you have conducted elaborate dissections and microscopic examinations of the curious creatures you were so fortunate as to meet with, necessarily gives a peculiar and unique character to your researches, since thereby they fill up gaps in our knowledge of the animal kingdom. This is the more important, since such researches have been almost always neglected during voyages of discovery. The value of some of your notes was publicly acknowledged during your absence, when your memoir on the structure of the Medusae, communicated to the Royal Society, was singled out for publication in the Philosophical Transactions. It would be a very great loss to science if the mass of new matter and fresh observation which you have accumulated were not to be worked out and fully published, as well as an injustice to the merits of the expedition in which you have served.

Parker Account

by T. J. Parker

Reminiscences of Huxley
Natural Science (1895)

[406] In the promotion of the practical teaching of biology. Huxley's services can hardly be overestimated. Botanists had always been in the habit of distributing flowers to their students, which they could well dissect or not as they chose; animal histology was taught in many schools under the name of practical physiology; and at Oxford an excellent system of zoological work had been established by the late Professor Rolleston. But the biological laboratory, as it is now understood, may be said to date from about 1870, when Huxley with the co-operation of Professors [407] Foster, Rutherford, Lankester, Martin, and others, held short summer classes for science teachers at South Kensington, the daily work consisting of an hour's lecture followed by four hours' laboratory work, in which the students verified for themselves facts which they had hitherto heard about and taught to their unfortunate pupils from books alone. The naive astonishment and delight of the more intelligent among them was sometimes almost pathetic. One clergyman, who had for years conducted classes in physiology under the Science and Art Department, was shown a drop of his own blood under the microscope. "Dear me!" he exclaimed, "it's just like the picture in Huxley's Physiology."

[434] As Professor, Huxley's rule was characterised by what is undoubtedly the best policy for the head of a department. To a new subordinate, "The General," as he was always called, was rather stern and exacting, but when once he was convinced that his man was to be trusted, he practically let him take his own course; never interfered in matters of detail, accepted suggestions with the greatest courtesy and good humour, and was always ready with a kindly and humourous word of encouragement in times of difficulty. I was once grumbling to him about how hard it was to carry on the work of the laboratory through a long series of [435] of November fogs, "when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared." "Never mind, Parker," he said, instantly capping my quotation, "cast four anchors out of the stern and wish for day."

His lectures were like his writings, luminously clear, without the faintest disposition to descend to the level of his audience; eloquent, but with no trace of the empty rhetoric which so often does duty for that quality; full of a high seriousness, but with no suspicion of pedantry; lightened by an occasional epigram or flashes of caustic humour, but with none of the small jocularity in which it is such a temptation to a lecturer to indulge. As one listened to him one felt that comparative anatomy was indeed worthy of the devotion of a life, and that to solve a morphological problem was as fine a thing as to win a battle. He was an admirable draughtsman, and his blackboard illustrations were always a great feature of his lectures, especially when, to show the relation of two animal types, he would, by a few rapid strokes and smudges, evolve the one into the other before our eyes. He seemed to have a real affection for some of the specimens illustrating his lectures, and would handle them in a peculiarly loving manner; when he was lecturing on man, for instance, he would sometimes throw his arm over the shoulder of the skeleton beside him and take its hand, as if its silent companionship were an inspiration. To me his lectures before his small class at Jermyn Street or South Kensington were almost more impressive than the discourses at the Royal Institution, where for an hour and a half he poured forth a stream of dignified, earnest, [436] sincere words in perfect literary form, and without the assistance of a note.

J. H. Gladstone Account

by Dr. J. H. Gladstone

[364] Huxley at once took a prominent part in the proceedings, and continued to do so till the beginning of the year 1872, when ill-health compelled him to retire.

At first there was much curiosity both inside and outside the Board as to how Huxley would work with the old educationists, the clergy, dissenting ministers, and the miscellaneous body of eminent men that comprised the first Board. His antagonism to many of the methods employed in elementary schools was well known from his various discourses, which had been recently published together under the title of Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews. I watched his course with interest at the timebut for the purpose of this sketch I have lately sought information from such of the old members of the Board as are still living, especially the Earl of Harrowby, Bishop Barry, the Rev. Dr. Angus, and Mr. Edward North Buxton, together with Mr. Croad, the Clerk of the Board. They soon found proof of his great energy, and his power of expressing his views in clear and forcible language; but they also found that with all his strong convictions and lofty ideals he was able and willing to enter into the views of others, and to look at a practical question from its several sides. He could construct as well as criticise. Having entered a public arena somewhat late in life, and being of a sensitive nature, he had scarcely acquired that calmness and pachydermatous quality which is needful for one's personal [365] comfort; but his colleagues soon came to respect him as a perfectly honest antagonist or supporter, and one who did not allow differences of conviction to interfere with friendly intercourse.

[367] Mr. W. H. Smith, the well-known member of Parliament, proposed, and Mr. Samuel Morley, M.P., seconded, a resolution in favour of religious teaching–"That, in the schools provided by the Board, the Bible shall be read, and there shall be given therefrom such explanations and such instruction in the principles of religion and morality as are suited to the capacities of children," with certain provisos. Several antagonistic amendments were proposed; but Prof. Huxley gave his support to Mr. Smith's resolutions, which, however, he thought might be trimmed and amended in a way that the Rev. Dr. Angus had suggested. His speech, defining his own position, was a very remarkable one. He said it was assumed in the public mind that this question of religious instruction was a little family quarrel between the different sects of Protestantism on the one hand, and the old Catholic Church on the other. Side by side with this much shivered and splintered Protestantism of theirs and with the united fabric of the Catholic Church (not so strong temporally as she used to be, otherwise he might not have been addressing them at that moment) there was a third party growing up into very considerable and daily increasing significance, which had nothing to do with either of those great parties, and which was pushing its own way independent of them, having its own religion and its own morality, which rested in no way whatever on the foundations of the other two." He thought that " the action of the Board should be guided and influenced very much by the consideration of this third great aspect of [368] things," which he called the scientific aspect, for want of a better name.

"It had been very justly said that they had a great mass of low half-instructed population which owed what little redemption from ignorance and barbarism it possessed mainly to the efforts of the clergy of the different denominations. Any system of gaining the attention of these people to these matters must be a system connected with, or not too rudely divorced from their own system of belief. He wanted regulations, not in accordance with what he himself thought was right, but in the direction in which thought was moving." He wanted an elastic system, that did not oppose any obstacle to the free play of the public mind.

Huxley voted against all the proposed amendments, and in favour of Mr. Smith's motion. There were only three who voted against it; while the three Roman Catholic members refrained from voting. This basis of religious instruction, practically unaltered, has remained the law of the Board ever since.

There was a controversy in the papers, between Prof. Huxley and the Rev. W. H. Freemantle, as to the nature of the explanations of the Bible lessons. Huxley maintained that it should be purely grammatical, geographical, and historical in its nature; Freemantle that it should include some species of distinct religious teaching, but not of a denominational character.

In taking up this position, Huxley expressly disclaimed any desire for a mere compromise to smooth over a difficulty. He supported what appeared to be the only workable plan under the circumstances, though it was not his ideal; for he would not have used the Bible as the agency for introducing the religious and ethical idea into education if he had been dealing with a fresh and untouched population.

His appreciation of the literary and historical value of the Bible, and the effect it was likely to produce upon the

* Cp. extract from Lord Shaftesbury's journal about this correspondence (title and Work of Lord Shaftesbury, iii. 282). " Professor Huxley has this definition of morality and religion: ' Teach a child what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what is wise and beautiful, that is religion/' Let no one henceforth despair of making things clear and of giving explanations ! "

[372] It [Report of Committee on the Scheme of Education] was a very voluminous document. The Committee had met every week, and, in the words of Huxley, "what it had endeavoured to do, was to obtain some order and system and uniformity in important matters, whilst in comparatively unimportant matters they thought some play should be given for the activity of the bodies of men into whose hands the management of the various schools should be placed." The recommendations were considered on June 21 and July 12, and passed without any material alterations or additions. They were very much the same as existed in the best elementary schools of the period. Huxley's chief interest, it may be surmised, was in the subjects of instruction. It was passed that, in infants' schools there should be the Bible, reading, writing, arithmetic, object lessons of a simple character, with some such exercise of the hands and eyes as is given in the Kindergarten system, music, and drill. In junior and senior schools the subjects of instruction were divided into two classes, essential and discretionary, the essentials being the Bible, and the principles of religion and [373] morality, reading, writing, and arithmetic, English grammar and composition, elementary geography, and elementary social economy, history of England, the principles of book-keeping in senior schools, with mensuration in senior boys' schools. All through the six years there were to be systematised object lessons, embracing a course of elementary instruction in physical science, and serving as an introduction to the science examinations conducted by the Science and Art Department. An analogous course of instruction was adopted for elementary evening schools. In moving " that the formation of science and art classes in connection with public elementary schools be encouraged and facilitated," Huxley contended strongly for it, saying, " The country could not possibly commit a greater error than in establishing schools in which the direct applications of science and art were taught before those who entered the classes were grounded in the principles of physical science." In advocating object lessons he said, " The position that science was now assuming, not only in relation to practical life, but to thought, was such that those who remained entirely ignorant of even its elementary facts were in a wholly unfair position as regarded the world of thought and the world of practical life." It was, moreover, " the only real foundation for technical education."

Other points in which he was specially concerned were, that the universal teaching of drawing was accepted, against an amendment excluding girls; that domestic economy was made a discretionary substitute for needlework and cutting-out; while he spoke in defence of Latin as a discretionary subject, alternatively with a modern language. It was true that he would not have proposed it in the first instance, not because a little Latin is a bad thing, but for fear of "overloading the boat." But, on the other hand, there was great danger if education were not thrown open to all without restriction. If it be urged that a man should be content with the state of life to which he is called, the obvious retort is, How do you know what is your state of life, unless you try what you are called to? There is no more frightful "sitting on the safety valve" than in preventing men of ability from having the means of rising to the positions for which they, by their talents and industry, could qualify themselves.

[374] Further, although the committee as a whole recommended that discretionary subjects should be extras, he wished them to be covered by the general payment, in which sense the report was amended.

This Education Committee continued to sit, and on November 30 brought up a report in favour of the Prussian system of separate classrooms, to be tried in one school as an experiment. This reads curiously now that it has become the system almost universally adopted in the London Board Schools.

In regard to examinations Huxley strongly supported the view that the teaching in all subjects, secular or sacred, should be periodically tested.

On December I3, Huxley raised the question whether the selection of books and apparatus should be referred to his Committee or to the School Management Committee, and on January 10 following, a small subcommittee for that object was formed. Almost immediately after this he retired from the Board.

[375] On February 7 a letter of resignation was received from him, stating that he was "reluctantly compelled, both on account of his health and his private affairs, to insist on giving up his seat at the Board." The Rev. Dr. Rigg, Canon Miller, Mr. Charles Read, and Lord Lawrence expressed their deep regret. In the words of Dr. Rigg, "they were losing one of the most valuable members of the Board, not only because of his intellect and trained acuteness, but because of his knowledge of every subject connected with culture and education, and because of his great fairness and impartiality with regard to all subjects that came under his observation."

Though Huxley quitted the Board after only fourteen months' service, the memory of his words and acts combined to influence it long afterwards. In various ways he expressed his opinion on educational matters, publicly and privately. He frequently talked with me on the subject at the Athen- eum Club, and shortly after my election to the Board in 1873, I find it recorded in my diary that he insisted strongly on the necessity of our building infants' schools,–"people may talk about intel[376]lectual teaching, but what we principally want is the moral teaching."

As to the sub-committee on books and apparatus, it did little at first, but at the beginning of the second Board, 1873, it became better organised under the presidency of the Rev. Benjamin Waugh. At the commencement of the next triennial term I became the chairman, and continued to be such for eighteen years. It was our duty to put into practice the scheme of instruction which Huxley was mainly instrumental in settling. We were thus able indirectly to improve both the means and methods of teaching. The subjects of instruction have all been retained in the Curriculum of the London School Board, except, perhaps, "mensuration" and "social economy." The most important developments and additions have been in the direction of educating the hand and eye. Kindergarten methods have been promoted. Drawing, on which Huxley laid more stress than his colleagues generally did, has been enormously extended and greatly revolutionised in its methods. Object lessons and elementary science have been introduced everywhere, while shorthand, the use of tools for boys, and cookery and domestic economy for girls are becoming essentials in our schools. Evening continuation schools have lately been widely extended. Thus the impulse given by Huxley in the first months of the Board's existence has been carried forward by others, and is now affecting the minds of the half million of boys and girls in the Board Schools of London, and indirectly the still greater number in other schools throughout the land.

[From Bishop Barry to Dr. Gladstone:]

I had the privilege of being a member of his committee for defining the curriculum of study, and here also–the religious question being disposed of–I was able to follow much the same line as his, and I remember being struck not only with his clear-headed ability, but with his strong commonsense, as to what was useful and practicable, and the utter absence in him of doctrinaire aspiration after ideal impossibilities. There was (I think) very little under his chairmanship of strongly accentuated difference of opinion.

In his action on the Board generally I was struck with these three characteristics:–First, his remarkable power of speaking [377] –I may say, of oratory–not only on his own scientific subjects, but on all the matters, many of which were of great practical interest and touched the deepest feelings, which came before the Board at that critical time. Had he chosen–and we heard at that time that he was considering whether he should choose –to enter political life, it would certainly have made him a great power, possibly a leader, in that sphere. Next, what constantly appears in his writings, even those of the most polemical kind–a singular candour in recognising truths which might seem to militate against his own position, and a power of understanding and respecting his adversaries' opinions, if only they were strongly and conscientiously held. I remember his saying on one occasion that in his earlier experience of illness and suffering, he had found that the most effective helpers of the higher humanity were not the scientist or the philosopher, but "the parson, and the sister, and the Bible woman." Lastly, the strong commonsense, which enabled him to see what was "within the range of practical politics," and to choose for the cause which he had at heart the line of least resistance, and to check, sometimes to rebuke, intolerant obstinacy even on the side which he was himself inclined to favour. These qualities over and above his high intellectual ability made him, for the comparatively short time that he remained on the Board, one of its leading members.

[Rev. Benjamin Waugh to Dr. Gladstone:] I was drawn to him most, and was influenced by him most because of his attitude to a child. He was on the Board to establish schools for children. His motive in every argument, in all the fun and ridicule he indulged in, and in his occasional anger, was the child. He resented the idea that schools were to train either congregations for churches or hands for factories. He was on the Board as a friend of children. What he sought to do for the child was for the child's sake, that it might live a fuller, truer, worthier life. If ever his great tolerance with men with whom he differed on general principles seemed to fail him for a moment, it was because they seemed to him to seek other ends than the child for its own sake....

[376] His contempt for the idea of the world into which we were born being either a sort of clergyhouse or a market-place, was too complete to be marked by any eagerness. But in view of the market-place idea he was the less calm.

Like many others who had not yet come to know in what high esteem he held the moral and spiritual nature of children, I had thought he was the advocate of mere secular studies, alike in the nation's schools, and in its families. But by contact with him, this soon became an impossible idea. In very early days on the Board a remark I had made to a mutual friend which implied this unjust idea was repeated to him. "Tell Waugh that he talks too fast," was his message to me. I was not long in finding out that this was a very just reproof....

The two things in his character of which I became most conscious by contact with him, were his childlikeness and his consideration for intellectual inferiors. His arguments were as transparently honest as the arguments of a child. They might or might not seem wrong to others, but they were never untrue to himself. Whether you agreed with them or not, they always added greatly to the charm of his personality. Whether his face was lighted by his careless and playful humour or his great brows were shadowed by anger, he was alike expressing himself with the honesty of a child. What he counted iniquity he hated, and what he counted righteous he loved with the candour of a child....

Of his consideration for intellectual inferiors I, of course, needed a large share, and it was never wanting. Towering as was his intellectual strength and keenness above me, indeed above the whole of the rest of the members of the Board, he did not condescend to me. The result was never humiliating. It had no pain of any sort in it. He was too spontaneous and liberal with his consideration to seem conscious that he was showing any. There were many men of religious note upon the Board, of some of whom I could not say the same.

In his most trenchant attacks on what he deemed wrong in principles, he never descended to attack either the sects which held them or the individuals who supported them, even though occasionally much provocation was given him. He might not care for peace with some of the theories represented on the Board, but he had certainly and at all times great good-will to men.

As a speaker he was delightful. Few, clear, definite, and calm as stars were the words he spoke. Nobody talked whilst [379] he was speaking. There were no tricks in his talk. He did not seem to be trying to persuade you of something. What convinced him, that he transferred to others. He made no attempt to misrepresent those opposed to him. He sought only to let them know himself.... Even the sparkle of his humour, like the sparkle of a diamond, was of the inevitable in him, and was as fair as it was enjoyable.

As one who has tried to serve children, I look back upon having fallen in with Mr. Huxley as one of the many fortunate circumstances of my life. It taught me the importance of making acquaintance with facts, and of studying the laws of them. Under his influence it was that I most of all came to see the practical value of a single eye to those in any pursuit of life. I saw what effect they had on emotions of charity and sentiments of justice, and what simplicity and grandeur they gave to appeals.

My last conversation with him was at Eastbourne some time in 1887 or 1888. I was there on my society's business. "Well, Waugh, you're still busy about your babies," was his greeting. "Yes," I responded, "and you are still busy about your pigs." One of the last discussions at which he was present at the School Board for London had been on the proximity of a piggery to a site for a school, and his attack on Mr. Gladstone on the Gadarene swine had just been made in the Nineteenth Century. "Do you still believe in Gladstone?" he continued. "That man has the greatest intellect in Europe. He was born to be a leader of men, and he has debased himself to be a follower of the masses. If working men were to-day to vote by a majority that two and two made five, to-morrow Gladstone would believe it, and find them reasons for it which they had never dreamed of." He said it slowly and with sorrow.

Howes Account

by G. B. Howes
Royal College Science Magazine (1805)

[473] Concerning the papers at S.K. which, as part of the contents of your father's book-shelves, were given by him to the College, and now are arranged, numbered, and registered in order for use, there is evidence that in 1858 he, with his needles and eyeglass, had dissected and carefully figured the so-called pronephros of the Frog's tadpole, in a manner which as to accuracy of detail anticipated later discovery. Again, in the early '80's, he had observed and recorded in a drawing the præ-pulmonary aortic arch of the Amphibian, at a period antedating the researches of Boas, which in connection with its discovery placed the whole subject of the morphology of the pulmonary artery of the vertebrata on its final basis, and brought harmony into our ideas concerning it.

Both these subjects lie at the root of modern advances in vertebrate morphology.

Concerning the skull, he was in the '80's back to it with a will. His line of attack was through the lampreys and hags and the higher cartilaginous fishes, and he was following up a revolutionary conception (already hinted at in his Hunterian Lectures in 1864, and later in a Royal Society paper on Amphioxus in 1875), that the trabeculæ cranii, judged by their relationships to the nerves, may represent a pair of præ-oral visceral arches. In his unpublished notes there is evidence that he was bringing to the support of this conclusion the discovery of a supposed 4th branch to the trigeminal nerve–the relationships of this (which he proposed to term the "hyporhinal" or palatonasal division) and the ophthalmic (to have been termed the "orbitonasal"1) to the trabecular arch and a supposed præ-[474]mandibular visceral cleft, being regarded as repetitional of those of the maxillary and mandibular divisions to the mandibular cleft. So far as I am aware, von Kupffer is the only observer who has given this startling conclusion support, in his famous Studien (Hf. I. Kopf Acipenser, München, 1893), and from the nature of other recent work on the genesis of parts of the cranium hitherto thought to be wholly trabecular in origin, it might well be further upheld. As for the discovery of the nerve, I have been lately much interested to find that Mr. E. Phelps Allis, jun., an investigator who has done grand work in Cranial Morphology, has recently and independently arrived at a similar result. It was while working in my laboratory in July last that he mentioned the fact to me. Remembering that your father had published the aforementioned hints on the subject, and recalling conversations I had with him, it occurred to me to look into his unpublished MSS. (then being sorted), if perchance he had gone further. And, behold! there is a lengthy attempt to write the matter up in full, in which, among other things, he was seeking to show that, on this basis, the mode of termination of the notochord in the Craniata, and in the Branchiorto midæ (in which the trabecular arch is undifferentiated), is readily explained. Mr. Allis's studies are now progressing, and I have arranged with him that if, in the end, his results come sufficiently close to your father's, he shall give his work due recognition and publicity.

Among his schemes of the early '80's, there was actually commenced a work on the principles of Mammalian Anatomy and an Elementary Treatise on the Vertebrata. The former exists in the shape of a number of drawings with very brief notes, the latter to a slight extent only in MS. In the former, intended for the medical student and as a means of familiarising him with the anatomical "tree" as distinct from its surgical "leaves," your father once again returned to the skull, and he leaves a scheme for a revised terminology of its nerve exits worthy his best and most clear-headed endeavours of the past.2 [475] And well do I remember how, in the '80's, both in the classroom and in conversation, he would emphasise the fact that the hypoglossus nerve roots of the mammal arise serially with the ventral roots of the spinal nerves, little thinking that the discovery by Froriep, in 1886, of their dorsal ganglionated counterparts, would establish the actual homology between the two, and by leading to the conclusion that though actual vertebræ do not contribute to the formation of the mammalian skull, its occipital region is of truncal origin, mark the most revolutionary advance in cranial morphology since his own of 1856.

Much of the final zoological work of his life lay with the Bony Fishes, and he leaves unfinished (indeed only just commenced) a memoir embodying a new scheme of classification of these, which shows that he was intending to do for them what he did for Birds in the most active period of his career. It was my good fortune to have helped as a hodman in the study of these creatures, with a view to a Text-book we were to have written conjointly, and as I realise what he was intending to make out of the dry facts, I am filled with grief at the thought of what we must have lost. His classification was based on the labours of years, as testified bv a vast accumulation of rough notes and sketches, and as a conspicuous feature of it there stands the embodiment under one head of all those fishes having the swim-bladder in connection with the auditory organ by means of a chain of ossicles–a revolutionary arrangement, which later, in the hands of the late Dr. Sagemahl, and by his introduction of the famous term–"Ostariophyseæ," has done more than all else of recent years to clear the Ichthyological air. Your father had anticipated this unpublished, and in a proposal to unite the Herrings and Pikes into a single group, the "Clupesoces," he had further given promise of a new system, based on the study of the structure of the fins, jaws, and reproductive organs of the Bony Fishes, the classifications of which are still largely chaotic, which would have been as revolutionary as it was rational. New terms both in taxonomy and anatomy were contemplated, and in part framed. His published terms "Elasmo-" and "Cysto-arian " are the adjective form of two–far-reaching and significant–which give an idea of what was to have come. Similarly, the spinose fin-rays were to have been termed "acanthonemes," the branching and multiarticulate [476] "arthronemes," and those of the more elementary and "adipose fin" type "protonemes ": and had he lived to complete the task, I question whether it would not have excelled his earlier achievements.

The Rabbit was to have been the subject of the first of the aforementioned books, and in the desire to get at the full meaning of problems which arose during its progress, he was led to digress into a general anatomical survey of the Rodentia, and in testimony to this there remain five or six books of rough notes bearing dates 1880 to 1884, and a series of finished pencil-drawings, which, as works of art and accurate delineations of fact, are among the most finished productions of his hand. In the same manner his contemplated work upon the Vertebrata led him during 1879-1880 to renewed investigation of the anatomy of some of the more aberrant orders. Especially as concerning the Marsupialia and Edentata was this the case, and to the end in view he secured living specimens of the Vulpine Phalanger, and purchased of the Zoological Society the Sloths and Ant-eaters which during that period died in their Gardens. These he carefully dissected, and he leaves among his papers a series of incomplete notes (fullest as concerning the Phalanger and Cape Ant-eater [Orysteropus]3), which were never finished up.

They prove that he intended the production of special monographs on the anatomy of these peculiar mammalian forms, as he did on members of other orders which he had less fully investigated, and on the more important groups of fishes alluded to in the earlier part of my letter; and there seems no doubt, from the collocation of dates and study of the order of the events, that his memorable paper "On the Application of the Laws of Evolution to the arrangement of the Vertebrate and more particularly of the Mammalia," published in the Proc. Zool. Soc. for 1880,–the most masterly among his scientific theses–was the direct outcome of this intention, the only expression which he gave to the world of the interaction of a series of revolutionary ideas and conceptions (begotten of the labours of his closing years as a working zoologist) which were [477] at the period assuming shape in his mind. They have done more than all else of their period to rationalise the application of our knowledge of the Vertebrata, and have now left their mark for all time on the history of progress, as embodied in our classificatory systems.

He was in 1882 extending his important observations upon the respiratory apparatus from birds to reptiles, with results which show him to have been keenly appreciative of the existence of fundamental points of similarity between the Avian and Chelonian types–a field which has been more recently independently opened up by Milani.

Nor must it be imagined that after the publication of his ideal work on the Crayfishes in 1880, he had forsaken the Invertebrata. On the contrary, during the late '70's, and on till 1882, he accumulated a considerable number of drawings (as usual with brief notes), on the Mollusca. Some are rough, others beautiful in every respect, and among the more conspicuous outcomes of the work are some detailed observations on the nervous system, and an attempt to formulate a new terminology of orientation of the Acephalous Molluscan body. The period embraces that of his research upon the Spirula of the Challenger expedition, since published; and incidentally to this he also accumulated a series of valuable drawings, with explanatory notes, of Cephalopod anatomy, which, as accurate records of fact, are unsurpassed.

As you are aware, he was practically the founder of the Anthropological Institute. Here again, in the late '60's and early '70's, he was most clearly contemplating a far-reaching inquiry into the physical anthropology of all races of mankind. There remain in testimony to this some 400 to 500 photographs (which I have had carefully arranged in order and registered), most of them of the nude figure standing erect, with the arm extended against a scale. A desultory correspondence proves that in connection with these he was in treaty with British residents and agents all over the world, with the Admiralty and naval officers, and that all was being done with a fixed idea in view. He was clearly contemplating something exhaustive and definite which he never fulfilled, and the method is now the more interesting from its being essentially the same as that recently and independently adopted by Mortillet.

Beyond this, your father's notes reveal numerous other indications of matters and phases of activity, of great interest in [478] their bearings on the history and progress of contemporary investigation, but these are of a detailed and wholly technical order.


1 A term already applied by him in 1875 to the corresponding nerve in the Batrachia. (Ency. Brit. 9th edition, vol. i., art. "Amphibia.")

2 Concerning this he wrote to Professor Howes in 1890 when giving him permission to denote two papers which he was about to present to the Zoological Society, as the first which emanated from the Huxley Research Laboratory;–"Pray do as you think best about the nomenclature. I remember when I began to work at the skull it seemed a hopeless problem, and two years elapsed before I got hold of the clue."

And six weeks later, he writes: "You are always welcome to turn anything of mine to account, though I vow I do not just now recollect anything about the terms you mention. If you were to examine me in my own papers I believe I should be plucked."

3 I was privileged to assist in the dissection of the latter animal, and well do I remember how, when by means of a blow-pipe he had inflated the bladder, intent on determining its limit of distensibility, the organ burst, with unpleasant results, which called forth the remark, "I think we'll leave it at that!"

 


THE HUXLEY FILE

C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University