T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1856

September 3, 1856


[To Hooker]

I send you a line hence, having forgotten to write from Intertaken, whence we departed this morning.

The Weissthor expedition was the most successful thing you can imagine. We reached the Riffelberg in 11-1/2 hours, the first six being the hardest work I ever had in my life, in the climbing way, and the last five carrying us through the most glorious sight I ever witnessed. During the latter part of the day there was not a cloud on the whole Monte Rosa range, so you may imagine what the Matterhorn and the rest of them looked like from the wide plain of névé just below the Weissthor. It was quite a new sensation, and I would not have missed it for any amount; and besides this I had an opportunity of examining the névé at a very great height. A regularly stratified section, several hundred feet high, was exposed on the Cima di Jazi, and I was convinced that the Weissthor would be a capital spot for making observations on the névé and on other correlative matters. There are no difficulties in the way of getting up to it from the Zermatt side, tough job as it is from Macugnaga, and we might readily rig a tent under shelter of the ridge. That would lick old Saussure into fits. All the Zermatt guides put the S. Theodul pass far beneath the Weissthor in point of difficulty; and you may tell Mrs. Hooker that they think the S. Thodul easier than the Monte Moro. The best of the joke was that I lost my way in coming down the Riffelberg to Zermatt the same evening, so that altogether I had a long day of it. The next day I walked from Zermatt to Visp (recovering Baedeker by the way), but my shoes were so knocked to pieces that I got a blister on my heel. Next day Voiture to Susten, and then over Gemmi to Kandersteg, and on Thursday my foot was so queer I was glad to get a retour to Interlaken. I found most interesting and complete evidences of old moraine deposits all the way down the Leuk valley into the Rhine valley, and I believe those little hills beyond Susten are old terminal moraines too. On the other side I followed moraines down to Frutigen, and great masses of glacial gravel with boulders, near to the Lake of Thum.

My wife is better, but anything but strong.

December 1856 [HP 15.81]

[To Frederick Dyster]

... the fellows were as attentive and as intelligent as the best audiences I ever lectured to. In fact they are the best audience I ever had and they react upon me so that I talk to them with a will. My means of judging the calibre of mind and knowledge of the men is of course very limited–but what I can say is that I have studiously avoided the impertinence of talking down to them–on the contrary I have taken as much trouble on these lectures as I have ever done on any–and the one last week was a regular logical argument which I had taken much pains over–from beginning to end and they listened to me for a blessed hour and ten minutes and made all the points. I endeavour to talk sense–and to make them active participants in my hour of thought–not to shove information down their throats as if they were turkeys to be crammed–and the plan answers. ... I have two sets of lectures going now–these and the Fullerians–at the latter I have about double the audience I had last year–and next year it will be trebled. I must and will make people see what grandeur there is [in an] interest in Biological Science. But it is no joke.

December 31, 1856


. . . . 1856-7-8 must still be "Lehrjahre" to complete training in principles of Histology, Morphology, Physiology, Zoology, and Geology by Monographic Work in each department. 1860 will then see me well grounded and ready for any special pursuits in either of these branches.

It is impossible to map out beforehand how this must be done. I must seize opportunities as they come, at the risk of the reputation of desultoriness.

In 1860 I may fairly look forward to fifteen or twenty years "Meisterjahre," and with the comprehensive views my training will have given me, I think it will be possible in that time to give a new and healthier direction to all Biological Science.

To smite all humbug, however big; to give a nobler tone to science; to set an example of abstinence from petty personal controversies, and of toleration for everything but lying; to be indifferent as to whether the work is recognised as mine or not, so long as it is done:–are these my aims? 1860 will show.

Wilt shape a noble life? Then cast [L. Huxley translation of German verse]

No backward glances to the past.
And what if something still be lost?
Act as new-born in all thou dost.
What each day wills, that shalt thou ask;
Each day will tell its proper task;
What others do, that shalt thou prize,
In thine own work thy guerdon lies.
This above all: hate none. The rest–
Leave it to God. He knoweth best.

Half-past ten at night.

Waiting for my child. I seem to fancy it the pledge that all these things shall be.

Born five minutes before twelve. Thank God. New Year's Day, 1857.

Letters of 1857
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Gratitude and Permissions

C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University

§ 1. THH: His Mark
§ 2. Voyage of the Rattlesnake
§ 3. A Sort of Firm
§ 4. Darwin's Bulldog
§ 5. Hidden Bond: Evolution
§ 6. Frankensteinosaurus
§ 7. Bobbing Angels: Human Evolution
§ 8. Matter of Life: Protoplasm
§ 9. Medusa
§ 10. Liberal Education
§ 11. Scientific Education
§ 12. Unity in Diversity
§ 13. Agnosticism
§ 14. New Reformation
§ 15. Verbal Delusions: The Bible
§ 16. Miltonic Hypothesis: Genesis
§ 17. Extremely Wonderful Events: Resurrection and Demons
§ 18. Emancipation: Gender and Race
§ 19. Aryans et al.: Ethnology
§ 20. The Good of Mankind
§ 21.  Jungle Versus Garden