Thomas Henry Huxley

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For the British military officer, see Thomas Huxley (military officer). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_0

Thomas Henry Huxley_table_infobox_0

The Right Honourable

Thomas Henry Huxley FRS FLSThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_0_0

BornThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_1_0 (1825-05-04)4 May 1825

Ealing, London, Middlesex, EnglandThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_1_1

DiedThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_2_0 29 June 1895(1895-06-29) (aged 70)

Eastbourne, Sussex, EnglandThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_2_1

NationalityThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_3_0 EnglishThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_3_1
CitizenshipThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_4_0 United KingdomThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_4_1
EducationThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_5_0 Sydenham College, London

Charing Cross HospitalThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_5_1

Known forThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_6_0 Evolution, science education, agnosticismThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_6_1
AwardsThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_7_0 Royal Medal (1852)

Wollaston Medal (1876) Clarke Medal (1880) Copley Medal (1888) Linnean Medal (1890) Hayden Memorial Geological Award (1893)Thomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_7_1

FieldsThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_8_0 Zoology; comparative anatomyThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_8_1
InstitutionsThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_9_0 Royal Navy, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal School of Mines, Royal Institution University of LondonThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_9_1
Academic advisorsThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_10_0 Thomas Wharton JonesThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_10_1
Notable studentsThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_11_0 Michael Foster

H. G. WellsThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_11_1

InfluencesThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_12_0 Edward Forbes

Charles DarwinThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_12_1

InfluencedThomas Henry Huxley_header_cell_0_13_0 Henry Fairfield Osborn

H. G. Wells E. Ray Lankester William Henry Flower Aldous Huxley Julian Huxley

Hubert HarrisonThomas Henry Huxley_cell_0_13_1

Thomas Henry Huxley PC FRS HonFRSE FLS (4 May 1825 – 29 June 1895) was an English biologist and anthropologist specialising in comparative anatomy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_1

He is known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_2

The stories regarding Huxley's famous debate in 1860 with Samuel Wilberforce were a key moment in the wider acceptance of evolution and in his own career, although historians think that the surviving story of the debate is a later fabrication. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_3

Huxley had been planning to leave Oxford on the previous day, but, after an encounter with Robert Chambers, the author of Vestiges, he changed his mind and decided to join the debate. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_4

Wilberforce was coached by Richard Owen, against whom Huxley also debated about whether humans were closely related to apes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_5

Huxley was slow to accept some of Darwin's ideas, such as gradualism, and was undecided about natural selection, but despite this he was wholehearted in his public support of Darwin. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_6

Instrumental in developing scientific education in Britain, he fought against the more extreme versions of religious tradition. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_7

Originally coining the term in 1869, Huxley elaborated on "agnosticism" in 1889 to frame the nature of claims in terms of what is knowable and what is not. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_8

Huxley states Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_9

Use of that term has continued to the present day (see Thomas Henry Huxley and agnosticism). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_10

Much of Huxley's agnosticism is influenced by Kantian views on human perception and the ability to rely on rational evidence rather than belief systems. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_11

Huxley had little formal schooling and was virtually self-taught. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_12

He became perhaps the finest comparative anatomist of the later 19th century. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_13

He worked on invertebrates, clarifying relationships between groups previously little understood. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_14

Later, he worked on vertebrates, especially on the relationship between apes and humans. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_15

After comparing Archaeopteryx with Compsognathus, he concluded that birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs, a theory widely accepted today. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_16

The tendency has been for this fine anatomical work to be overshadowed by his energetic and controversial activity in favour of evolution, and by his extensive public work on scientific education, both of which had significant effects on society in Britain and elsewhere. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_17

Huxley's 1893 Romanes Lecture, “Evolution and Ethics” is exceedingly influential in China; the Chinese translation of Huxley's lecture even transformed the Chinese translation of Darwin's Origin of Species. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_18

Early life Thomas Henry Huxley_section_0

Thomas Henry Huxley was born in Ealing, which was then a village in Middlesex. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_19

He was the second youngest of eight children of George Huxley and Rachel Withers. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_20

Like some other British scientists of the nineteenth century such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Huxley was brought up in a literate middle-class family which had fallen on hard times. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_21

His father was a mathematics teacher at Ealing School until it closed, putting the family into financial difficulties. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_22

As a result, Thomas left school at the age of 10, after only two years of formal schooling. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_23

Despite this unenviable start, Huxley was determined to educate himself. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_24

He became one of the great autodidacts of the nineteenth century. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_25

At first he read Thomas Carlyle, James Hutton's Geology, and Hamilton's Logic. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_26

In his teens he taught himself German, eventually becoming fluent and used by Charles Darwin as a translator of scientific material in German. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_27

He learned Latin, and enough Greek to read Aristotle in the original. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_28

Later on, as a young adult, he made himself an expert, first on invertebrates, and later on vertebrates, all self-taught. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_29

He was skilled in drawing and did many of the illustrations for his publications on marine invertebrates. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_30

In his later debates and writing on science and religion his grasp of theology was better than many of his clerical opponents. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_31

Huxley, a boy who left school at ten, became one of the most knowledgeable men in Britain. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_32

He was apprenticed for short periods to several medical practitioners: at 13 to his brother-in-law John Cooke in Coventry, who passed him on to Thomas Chandler, notable for his experiments using mesmerism for medical purposes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_33

Chandler's practice was in London's Rotherhithe amidst the squalor endured by the Dickensian poor. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_34

Here Thomas would have seen poverty, crime and rampant disease at its worst. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_35

Next, another brother-in-law took him on: John Salt, his eldest sister's husband. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_36

Now 16, Huxley entered Sydenham College (behind University College Hospital), a cut-price anatomy school whose founder, Marshall Hall, discovered the reflex arc. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_37

All this time Huxley continued his programme of reading, which more than made up for his lack of formal schooling. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_38

A year later, buoyed by excellent results and a silver medal prize in the Apothecaries' yearly competition, Huxley was admitted to study at Charing Cross Hospital, where he obtained a small scholarship. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_39

At Charing Cross, he was taught by Thomas Wharton Jones, Professor of Ophthalmic Medicine and Surgery at University College London. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_40

Jones had been Robert Knox's assistant when Knox bought cadavers from Burke and Hare. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_41

The young Wharton Jones, who acted as go-between, was exonerated of crime, but thought it best to leave Scotland. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_42

He was a fine teacher, up-to-date in physiology and also an ophthalmic surgeon. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_43

In 1845, under Wharton Jones' guidance, Huxley published his first scientific paper demonstrating the existence of a hitherto unrecognised layer in the inner sheath of hairs, a layer that has been known since as Huxley's layer. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_44

No doubt remembering this, and of course knowing his merit, later in life Huxley organised a pension for his old tutor. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_45

At twenty he passed his First M.B. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_46

examination at the University of London, winning the gold medal for anatomy and physiology. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_47

However, he did not present himself for the final (Second M.B.) Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_48

exams and consequently did not qualify with a university degree. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_49

His apprenticeships and exam results formed a sufficient basis for his application to the Royal Navy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_50

Voyage of the Rattlesnake Thomas Henry Huxley_section_1

Aged 20, Huxley was too young to apply to the Royal College of Surgeons for a licence to practise, yet he was 'deep in debt'. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_51

So, at a friend's suggestion, he applied for an appointment in the Royal Navy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_52

He had references on character and certificates showing the time spent on his apprenticeship and on requirements such as dissection and pharmacy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_53

Sir William Burnett, the Physician General of the Navy, interviewed him and arranged for the College of Surgeons to test his competence (by means of a viva voce). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_54

Finally Huxley was made Assistant Surgeon ('surgeon's mate', but in practice marine naturalist) to HMS Rattlesnake, about to set sail on a voyage of discovery and surveying to New Guinea and Australia. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_55

The Rattlesnake left England on 3 December 1846 and, once they had arrived in the southern hemisphere, Huxley devoted his time to the study of marine invertebrates. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_56

He began to send details of his discoveries back to England, where publication was arranged by Edward Forbes FRS (who had also been a pupil of Knox). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_57

Both before and after the voyage Forbes was something of a mentor to Huxley. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_58

Huxley's paper "On the anatomy and the affinities of the family of Medusae" was published in 1849 by the Royal Society in its Philosophical Transactions. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_59

Huxley united the Hydroid and Sertularian polyps with the Medusae to form a class to which he subsequently gave the name of Hydrozoa. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_60

The connection he made was that all the members of the class consisted of two cell layers, enclosing a central cavity or stomach. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_61

This is characteristic of the phylum now called the Cnidaria. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_62

He compared this feature to the serous and mucous structures of embryos of higher animals. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_63

When at last he got a grant from the Royal Society for the printing of plates, Huxley was able to summarise this work in The Oceanic Hydrozoa, published by the Ray Society in 1859. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_64

The value of Huxley's work was recognised and, on returning to England in 1850, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_65

In the following year, at the age of twenty-six, he not only received the Royal Society Medal but was also elected to the Council. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_66

He met Joseph Dalton Hooker and John Tyndall, who remained his lifelong friends. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_67

The Admiralty retained him as a nominal assistant-surgeon, so he might work on the specimens he collected and the observations he made during the voyage of the Rattlesnake. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_68

He solved the problem of Appendicularia, whose place in the animal kingdom Johannes Peter Müller had found himself wholly unable to assign. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_69

It and the Ascidians are both, as Huxley showed, tunicates, today regarded as a sister group to the vertebrates in the phylum Chordata. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_70

Other papers on the morphology of the cephalopods and on brachiopods and rotifers are also noteworthy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_71

The Rattlesnake's official naturalist, John MacGillivray, did some work on botany, and proved surprisingly good at notating Australian aboriginal languages. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_72

He wrote up the voyage in the standard Victorian two volume format. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_73

Later life Thomas Henry Huxley_section_2

Huxley effectively resigned from the navy (by refusing to return to active service) and, in July 1854, he became Professor of Natural History at the Royal School of Mines and naturalist to the British Geological Survey in the following year. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_74

In addition, he was Fullerian Professor at the Royal Institution 1855–58 and 1865–67; Hunterian Professor at the Royal College of Surgeons 1863–69; President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science 1869–1870; President of the Quekett Microscopical Club 1878; President of the Royal Society 1883–85; Inspector of Fisheries 1881–85; and President of the Marine Biological Association 1884–1890. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_75

The thirty-one years during which Huxley occupied the chair of natural history at the Royal School of Mines included work on vertebrate palaeontology and on many projects to advance the place of science in British life. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_76

Huxley retired in 1885, after a bout of depressive illness which started in 1884. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_77

He resigned the presidency of the Royal Society in mid-term, the Inspectorship of Fisheries, and his chair (as soon as he decently could) and took six months' leave. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_78

His pension was a fairly handsome £1200 a year. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_79

In 1890, he moved from London to Eastbourne where he edited the nine volumes of his Collected Essays. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_80

In 1894 he heard of Eugene Dubois' discovery in Java of the remains of Pithecanthropus erectus (now known as Homo erectus). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_81

Finally, in 1895, he died of a heart attack (after contracting influenza and pneumonia), and was buried in North London at St Marylebone. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_82

This small family plot had been purchased upon the death of his beloved eldest son Noel, who died of scarlet fever in 1860; Huxley's wife Henrietta Anne née Heathorn and son Noel are also buried there. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_83

No invitations were sent out, but two hundred people turned up for the ceremony; they included Joseph Dalton Hooker, William Henry Flower, Mulford B. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_84 Foster, Edwin Lankester, Joseph Lister and, apparently, Henry James. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_85

Huxley and his wife had five daughters and three sons: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_86

Public duties and awards Thomas Henry Huxley_section_3

From 1870 onwards, Huxley was to some extent drawn away from scientific research by the claims of public duty. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_87

He served on eight Royal Commissions, from 1862 to 1884. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_88

From 1871 to 1880 he was a Secretary of the Royal Society and from 1883 to 1885 he was president. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_89

He was president of the Geological Society from 1868 to 1870. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_90

In 1870, he was president of the British Association at Liverpool and, in the same year was elected a member of the newly constituted London School Board. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_91

He was president of the Quekett Microscopical Club from 1877 to 1879. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_92

He was the leading person amongst those who reformed the Royal Society, persuaded government about science, and established scientific education in British schools and universities. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_93

Before him, science was mostly a gentleman's occupation; after him, science was a profession. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_94

He was awarded the highest honours then open to British men of science. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_95

The Royal Society, who had elected him as Fellow when he was 25 (1851), awarded him the Royal Medal the next year (1852), a year before Charles Darwin got the same award. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_96

He was the youngest biologist to receive such recognition. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_97

Then later in life came the Copley Medal in 1888 and the Darwin Medal in 1894; the Geological Society awarded him the Wollaston Medal in 1876; the Linnean Society awarded him the Linnean Medal in 1890. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_98

There were many other elections and appointments to eminent scientific bodies; these and his many academic awards are listed in the Life and Letters. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_99

He turned down many other appointments, notably the Linacre chair in zoology at Oxford and the Mastership of University College, Oxford. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_100

In 1873 the King of Sweden made Huxley, Hooker and Tyndall Knights of the Order of the Polar Star: they could wear the insignia but not use the title in Britain. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_101

Huxley collected many honorary memberships of foreign societies, academic awards and honorary doctorates from Britain and Germany. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_102

He also became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1892. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_103

As recognition of his many public services he was given a pension by the state, and was appointed Privy Councillor in 1892. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_104

Despite his many achievements he was given no award by the British state until late in life. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_105

In this he did better than Darwin, who got no award of any kind from the state. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_106

(Darwin's proposed knighthood was vetoed by ecclesiastical advisers, including Wilberforce) Perhaps Huxley had commented too often on his dislike of honours, or perhaps his many assaults on the traditional beliefs of organised religion made enemies in the establishment—he had vigorous debates in print with Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone and Arthur Balfour, and his relationship with Lord Salisbury was less than tranquil. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_107

Huxley was for about thirty years evolution's most effective advocate, and for some Huxley was "the premier advocate of science in the nineteenth century [for] the whole English-speaking world". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_108

Though he had many admirers and disciples, his retirement and later death left British zoology somewhat bereft of leadership. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_109

He had, directly or indirectly, guided the careers and appointments of the next generation, but none were of his stature. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_110

The loss of Francis Balfour in 1882, climbing the Alps just after he was appointed to a chair at Cambridge, was a tragedy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_111

Huxley thought he was "the only man who can carry out my work": the deaths of Balfour and W. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_112 K. Clifford were "the greatest losses to science in our time". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_113

Vertebrate palaeontology Thomas Henry Huxley_section_4

The first half of Huxley's career as a palaeontologist is marked by a rather strange predilection for 'persistent types', in which he seemed to argue that evolutionary advancement (in the sense of major new groups of animals and plants) was rare or absent in the Phanerozoic. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_114

In the same vein, he tended to push the origin of major groups such as birds and mammals back into the Palaeozoic era, and to claim that no order of plants had ever gone extinct. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_115

Much paper has been consumed by historians of science ruminating on this strange and somewhat unclear idea. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_116

Huxley was wrong to pitch the loss of orders in the Phanerozoic as low as 7%, and he did not estimate the number of new orders which evolved. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_117

Persistent types sat rather uncomfortably next to Darwin's more fluid ideas; despite his intelligence, it took Huxley a surprisingly long time to appreciate some of the implications of evolution. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_118

However, gradually Huxley moved away from this conservative style of thinking as his understanding of palaeontology, and the discipline itself, developed. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_119

Huxley's detailed anatomical work was, as always, first-rate and productive. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_120

His work on fossil fish shows his distinctive approach: whereas pre-Darwinian naturalists collected, identified and classified, Huxley worked mainly to reveal the evolutionary relationships between groups. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_121

The lobed-finned fish (such as coelacanths and lung fish) have paired appendages whose internal skeleton is attached to the shoulder or pelvis by a single bone, the humerus or femur. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_122

His interest in these fish brought him close to the origin of tetrapods, one of the most important areas of vertebrate palaeontology. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_123

The study of fossil reptiles led to his demonstrating the fundamental affinity of birds and reptiles, which he united under the title of Sauropsida. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_124

His papers on Archaeopteryx and the origin of birds were of great interest then and still are. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_125

Apart from his interest in persuading the world that man was a primate, and had descended from the same stock as the apes, Huxley did little work on mammals, with one exception. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_126

On his tour of America Huxley was shown the remarkable series of fossil horses, discovered by O. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_127 C. Marsh, in Yale's Peabody Museum. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_128

An Easterner, Marsh was America's first professor of palaeontology, but also one who had come west into hostile Indian territory in search of fossils, hunted buffalo, and met Red Cloud (in 1874). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_129

Funded by his uncle George Peabody, Marsh had made some remarkable discoveries: the huge Cretaceous aquatic bird Hesperornis, and the dinosaur footprints along the Connecticut River were worth the trip by themselves, but the horse fossils were really special. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_130

After a week with Marsh and his fossils, Huxley wrote excitedly, "The collection of fossils is the most wonderful thing I ever saw." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_131

The collection at that time went from the small four-toed forest-dwelling Orohippus from the Eocene through three-toed species such as Miohippus to species more like the modern horse. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_132

By looking at their teeth he could see that, as the size grew larger and the toes reduced, the teeth changed from those of a browser to those of a grazer. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_133

All such changes could be explained by a general alteration in habitat from forest to grassland. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_134

And, it is now known, that is what did happen over large areas of North America from the Eocene to the Pleistocene: the ultimate causative agent was global temperature reduction (see Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_135

The modern account of the evolution of the horse has many other members, and the overall appearance of the tree of descent is more like a bush than a straight line. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_136

The horse series also strongly suggested that the process was gradual, and that the origin of the modern horse lay in North America, not in Eurasia. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_137

If so, then something must have happened to horses in North America, since none were there when Europeans arrived. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_138

The experience with Marsh was enough for Huxley to give credence to Darwin's gradualism, and to introduce the story of the horse into his lecture series. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_139

Marsh's and Huxley's conclusions were initially quite different. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_140

However, Marsh carefully showed Huxley his complete sequence of fossils. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_141

As Marsh put it, Huxley "then informed me that all this was new to him and that my facts demonstrated the evolution of the horse beyond question, and for the first time indicated the direct line of descent of an existing animal. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_142

With the generosity of true greatness, he gave up his own opinions in the face of new truth, and took my conclusions as the basis of his famous New York lecture on the horse." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_143

Darwin's bulldog Thomas Henry Huxley_section_5

See also: Reactions to On the Origin of Species Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_144

Huxley was originally not persuaded of "development theory", as evolution was once called. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_145

This can be seen in his savage review of Robert Chambers' Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, a book which contained some quite pertinent arguments in favour of evolution. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_146

Huxley had also rejected Lamarck's theory of transmutation, on the basis that there was insufficient evidence to support it. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_147

All this scepticism was brought together in a lecture to the Royal Institution, which made Darwin anxious enough to set about an effort to change young Huxley's mind. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_148

It was the kind of thing Darwin did with his closest scientific friends, but he must have had some particular intuition about Huxley, who was from all accounts a most impressive person even as a young man. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_149

Huxley was therefore one of the small group who knew about Darwin's ideas before they were published (the group included Joseph Dalton Hooker and Charles Lyell). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_150

The first publication by Darwin of his ideas came when Wallace sent Darwin his famous paper on natural selection, which was presented by Lyell and Hooker to the Linnean Society in 1858 alongside excerpts from Darwin's notebook and a Darwin letter to Asa Gray. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_151

Huxley's famous response to the idea of natural selection was "How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!" Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_152

However, he never conclusively made up his mind about whether natural selection was the main method for evolution, though he did admit it was a hypothesis which was a good working basis. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_153

Logically speaking, the prior question was whether evolution had taken place at all. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_154

It is to this question that much of Darwin's On the Origin of Species was devoted. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_155

Its publication in 1859 completely convinced Huxley of evolution and it was this and no doubt his admiration of Darwin's way of amassing and using evidence that formed the basis of his support for Darwin in the debates that followed the book's publication. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_156

Huxley's support started with his anonymous favourable review of the Origin in the Times for 26 December 1859, and continued with articles in several periodicals, and in a lecture at the Royal Institution in February 1860. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_157

At the same time, Richard Owen, whilst writing an extremely hostile anonymous review of the Origin in the Edinburgh Review, also primed Samuel Wilberforce who wrote one in the Quarterly Review, running to 17,000 words. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_158

The authorship of this latter review was not known for sure until Wilberforce's son wrote his biography. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_159

So it can be said that, just as Darwin groomed Huxley, so Owen groomed Wilberforce; and both the proxies fought public battles on behalf of their principals as much as themselves. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_160

Though we do not know the exact words of the Oxford debate, we do know what Huxley thought of the review in the Quarterly: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_161

Huxley said "I am Darwin's bulldog". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_162

While the second half of Darwin's life was lived mainly within his family, the younger combative Huxley operated mainly out in the world at large. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_163

A letter from Huxley to Ernst Haeckel (2 November 1871) states: "The dogs have been snapping at [Darwin's] heels too much of late." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_164

At Oxford and Cambridge Universities, "Bulldog" was and still is student slang for a university policeman, whose job was to corral errant students and maintain their moral rectitude. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_165

Debate with Wilberforce Thomas Henry Huxley_section_6

Main article: 1860 Oxford evolution debate Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_166

Famously, Huxley responded to Wilberforce in the debate at the British Association meeting, on Saturday 30 June 1860 at the Oxford University Museum. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_167

Huxley's presence there had been encouraged on the previous evening when he met Robert Chambers, the Scottish publisher and author of "Vestiges", who was walking the streets of Oxford in a dispirited state, and begged for assistance. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_168

The debate followed the presentation of a paper by John William Draper, and was chaired by Darwins's former botany tutor John Stevens Henslow. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_169

Darwin's theory was opposed by the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, and those supporting Darwin included Huxley and their mutual friends Hooker and Lubbock. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_170

The platform featured Brodie and Professor Beale, and Robert FitzRoy, who had been captain of HMS Beagle during Darwin's voyage, spoke against Darwin. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_171

Wilberforce had a track record against evolution as far back as the previous Oxford B.A. meeting in 1847 when he attacked Chambers' Vestiges. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_172

For the more challenging task of opposing the Origin, and the implication that man descended from apes, he had been assiduously coached by Richard Owen—Owen stayed with him the night before the debate. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_173

On the day Wilberforce repeated some of the arguments from his Quarterly Review article (written but not yet published), then ventured onto slippery ground. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_174

His famous jibe at Huxley (as to whether Huxley was descended from an ape on his mother's side or his father's side) was probably unplanned, and certainly unwise. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_175

Huxley's reply to the effect that he would rather be descended from an ape than a man who misused his great talents to suppress debate—the exact wording is not certain—was widely recounted in pamphlets and a spoof play. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_176

The letters of Alfred Newton include one to his brother giving an eyewitness account of the debate, and written less than a month afterwards. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_177

Other eyewitnesses, with one or two exceptions (Hooker especially thought he had made the best points), give similar accounts, at varying dates after the event. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_178

The general view was and still is that Huxley got much the better of the exchange though Wilberforce himself thought he had done quite well. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_179

In the absence of a verbatim report differing perceptions are difficult to judge fairly; Huxley wrote a detailed account for Darwin, a letter which does not survive; however, a letter to his friend Frederick Daniel Dyster does survive with an account just three months after the event. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_180

One effect of the debate was to increase hugely Huxley's visibility amongst educated people, through the accounts in newspapers and periodicals. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_181

Another consequence was to alert him to the importance of public debate: a lesson he never forgot. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_182

A third effect was to serve notice that Darwinian ideas could not be easily dismissed: on the contrary, they would be vigorously defended against orthodox authority. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_183

A fourth effect was to promote professionalism in science, with its implied need for scientific education. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_184

A fifth consequence was indirect: as Wilberforce had feared, a defence of evolution did undermine literal belief in the Old Testament, especially the Book of Genesis. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_185

Many of the liberal clergy at the meeting were quite pleased with the outcome of the debate; they were supporters, perhaps, of the controversial Essays and Reviews. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_186

Thus both on the side of science, and on the side of religion, the debate was important, and its outcome significant. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_187

(see also below) Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_188

That Huxley and Wilberforce remained on courteous terms after the debate (and able to work together on projects such as the Metropolitan Board of Education) says something about both men, whereas Huxley and Owen were never reconciled. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_189

Man's place in nature Thomas Henry Huxley_section_7

See also: Man's Place in Nature Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_190

For nearly a decade his work was directed mainly to the relationship of man to the apes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_191

This led him directly into a clash with Richard Owen, a man widely disliked for his behaviour whilst also being admired for his capability. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_192

The struggle was to culminate in some severe defeats for Owen. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_193

Huxley's Croonian Lecture, delivered before the Royal Society in 1858 on The Theory of the Vertebrate Skull was the start. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_194

In this, he rejected Owen's theory that the bones of the skull and the spine were homologous, an opinion previously held by Goethe and Lorenz Oken. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_195

From 1860–63 Huxley developed his ideas, presenting them in lectures to working men, students and the general public, followed by publication. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_196

Also in 1862 a series of talks to working men was printed lecture by lecture as pamphlets, later bound up as a little green book; the first copies went on sale in December. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_197

Other lectures grew into Huxley's most famous work Evidence as to Man's place in Nature (1863) where he addressed the key issues long before Charles Darwin published his Descent of Man in 1871. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_198

Although Darwin did not publish his Descent of Man until 1871, the general debate on this topic had started years before (there was even a precursor debate in the 18th century between Monboddo and Buffon). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_199

Darwin had dropped a hint when, in the conclusion to the Origin, he wrote: "In the distant future... light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_200

Not so distant, as it turned out. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_201

A key event had already occurred in 1857 when Richard Owen presented (to the Linnean Society) his theory that man was marked off from all other mammals by possessing features of the brain peculiar to the genus Homo. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_202

Having reached this opinion, Owen separated man from all other mammals in a subclass of its own. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_203

No other biologist held such an extreme view. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_204

Darwin reacted "Man...as distinct from a chimpanzee [as] an ape from a platypus... Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_205

I cannot swallow that!" Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_206

Neither could Huxley, who was able to demonstrate that Owen's idea was completely wrong. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_207

The subject was raised at the 1860 BA Oxford meeting, when Huxley flatly contradicted Owen, and promised a later demonstration of the facts. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_208

In fact, a number of demonstrations were held in London and the provinces. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_209

In 1862 at the Cambridge meeting of the B.A. Huxley's friend William Flower gave a public dissection to show that the same structures (the posterior horn of the lateral ventricle and hippocampus minor) were indeed present in apes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_210

The debate was widely publicised, and parodied as the Great Hippocampus Question. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_211

It was seen as one of Owen's greatest blunders, revealing Huxley as not only dangerous in debate, but also a better anatomist. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_212

Owen conceded that there was something that could be called a hippocampus minor in the apes, but stated that it was much less developed and that such a presence did not detract from the overall distinction of simple brain size. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_213

Huxley's ideas on this topic were summed up in January 1861 in the first issue (new series) of his own journal, the Natural History Review: "the most violent scientific paper he had ever composed". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_214

This paper was reprinted in 1863 as chapter 2 of Man's Place in Nature, with an addendum giving his account of the Owen/Huxley controversy about the ape brain. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_215

In his Collected Essays this addendum was removed. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_216

The extended argument on the ape brain, partly in debate and partly in print, backed by dissections and demonstrations, was a landmark in Huxley's career. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_217

It was highly important in asserting his dominance of comparative anatomy, and in the long run more influential in establishing evolution amongst biologists than was the debate with Wilberforce. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_218

It also marked the start of Owen's decline in the esteem of his fellow biologists. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_219

The following was written by Huxley to Rolleston before the BA meeting in 1861: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_220

Thomas Henry Huxley_description_list_0

  • "My dear Rolleston... The obstinate reiteration of erroneous assertions can only be nullified by as persistent an appeal to facts; and I greatly regret that my engagements do not permit me to be present at the British Association in order to assist personally at what, I believe, will be the seventh public demonstration during the past twelve months of the untruth of the three assertions, that the posterior lobe of the cerebrum, the posterior cornu of the lateral ventricle, and the hippocampus minor, are peculiar to man and do not exist in the apes. I shall be obliged if you will read this letter to the Section" Yours faithfully, Thos. H. Huxley.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_0_0

During those years there was also work on human fossil anatomy and anthropology. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_221

In 1862 he examined the Neanderthal skull-cap, which had been discovered in 1857. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_222

It was the first pre-sapiens discovery of a fossil man, and it was immediately clear to him that the brain case was surprisingly large. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_223

Huxley also started to dabble in physical anthropology, and classified the human races into nine categories, along with placing them under four general categorisations as Australoid, Negroid, Xanthocroic and Mongoloid. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_224

Such classifications depended mainly on physical appearance and certain xanatomical characteristics. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_225

Natural selection Thomas Henry Huxley_section_8

Huxley was certainly not slavish in his dealings with Darwin. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_226

As shown in every biography, they had quite different and rather complementary characters. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_227

Important also, Darwin was a field naturalist, but Huxley was an anatomist, so there was a difference in their experience of nature. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_228

Lastly, Darwin's views on science were different from Huxley's views. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_229

For Darwin, natural selection was the best way to explain evolution because it explained a huge range of natural history facts and observations: it solved problems. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_230

Huxley, on the other hand, was an empiricist who trusted what he could see, and some things are not easily seen. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_231

With this in mind, one can appreciate the debate between them, Darwin writing his letters, Huxley never going quite so far as to say he thought Darwin was right. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_232

Huxley's reservations on natural selection were of the type "until selection and breeding can be seen to give rise to varieties which are infertile with each other, natural selection cannot be proved". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_233

Huxley's position on selection was agnostic; yet he gave no credence to any other theory. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_234

Despite this concern about evidence, Huxley saw that if evolution came about through variation, reproduction and selection then other things would also be subject to the same pressures. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_235

This included ideas because they are invented, imitated and selected by humans: ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_236

A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.’ This is the same idea as meme theory put forward by Richard Dawkins in 1976. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_237

Darwin's part in the discussion came mostly in letters, as was his wont, along the lines: "The empirical evidence you call for is both impossible in practical terms, and in any event unnecessary. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_238

It's the same as asking to see every step in the transformation (or the splitting) of one species into another. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_239

My way so many issues are clarified and problems solved; no other theory does nearly so well". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_240

Huxley's reservation, as Helena Cronin has so aptly remarked, was contagious: "it spread itself for years among all kinds of doubters of Darwinism". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_241

One reason for this doubt was that comparative anatomy could address the question of descent, but not the question of mechanism. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_242

Pallbearer Thomas Henry Huxley_section_9

Huxley was a pallbearer at the funeral of Charles Darwin on 26 April 1882. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_243

The X Club Thomas Henry Huxley_section_10

Main article: X Club Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_244

In November 1864, Huxley succeeded in launching a dining club, the X Club, composed of like-minded people working to advance the cause of science; not surprisingly, the club consisted of most of his closest friends. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_245

There were nine members, who decided at their first meeting that there should be no more. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_246

The members were: Huxley, John Tyndall, J. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_247 D. Hooker, John Lubbock (banker, biologist and neighbour of Darwin), Herbert Spencer (social philosopher and sub-editor of the Economist), William Spottiswoode (mathematician and the Queen's Printer), Thomas Hirst (Professor of Physics at University College London), Edward Frankland (the new Professor of Chemistry at the Royal Institution) and George Busk, zoologist and palaeontologist (formerly surgeon for HMS Dreadnought). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_248

All except Spencer were Fellows of the Royal Society. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_249

Tyndall was a particularly close friend; for many years they met regularly and discussed issues of the day. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_250

On more than one occasion Huxley joined Tyndall in the latter's trips into the Alps and helped with his investigations in glaciology. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_251

There were also some quite significant X-Club satellites such as William Flower and George Rolleston, (Huxley protegés), and liberal clergyman Arthur Stanley, the Dean of Westminster. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_252

Guests such as Charles Darwin and Hermann von Helmholtz were entertained from time to time. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_253

They would dine early on first Thursdays at a hotel, planning what to do; high on the agenda was to change the way the Royal Society Council did business. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_254

It was no coincidence that the Council met later that same evening. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_255

First item for the Xs was to get the Copley Medal for Darwin, which they managed after quite a struggle. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_256

The next step was to acquire a journal to spread their ideas. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_257

This was the weekly Reader, which they bought, revamped and redirected. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_258

Huxley had already become part-owner of the Natural History Review bolstered by the support of Lubbock, Rolleston, Busk and Carpenter (X-clubbers and satellites). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_259

The journal was switched to pro-Darwinian lines and relaunched in January 1861. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_260

After a stream of good articles the NHR failed after four years; but it had helped at a critical time for the establishment of evolution. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_261

The Reader also failed, despite its broader appeal which included art and literature as well as science. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_262

The periodical market was quite crowded at the time, but most probably the critical factor was Huxley's time; he was simply over-committed, and could not afford to hire full-time editors. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_263

This occurred often in his life: Huxley took on too many ventures, and was not so astute as Darwin at getting others to do work for him. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_264

However, the experience gained with the Reader was put to good use when the X Club put their weight behind the founding of Nature in 1869. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_265

This time no mistakes were made: above all there was a permanent editor (though not full-time), Norman Lockyer, who served until 1919, a year before his death. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_266

In 1925, to celebrate his centenary, Nature issued a supplement devoted to Huxley. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_267

The peak of the X Club's influence was from 1873 to 1885 as Hooker, Spottiswoode and Huxley were Presidents of the Royal Society in succession. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_268

Spencer resigned in 1889 after a dispute with Huxley over state support for science. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_269

After 1892 it was just an excuse for the surviving members to meet. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_270

Hooker died in 1911, and Lubbock (now Lord Avebury) was the last surviving member. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_271

Huxley was also an active member of the Metaphysical Society, which ran from 1869 to 1880. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_272

It was formed around a nucleus of clergy and expanded to include all kinds of opinions. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_273

Tyndall and Huxley later joined The Club (founded by Dr. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_274 Johnson) when they could be sure that Owen would not turn up. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_275

Educational influence Thomas Henry Huxley_section_11

When Huxley himself was young there were virtually no degrees in British universities in the biological sciences and few courses. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_276

Most biologists of his day were either self-taught, or took medical degrees. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_277

When he retired there were established chairs in biological disciplines in most universities, and a broad consensus on the curricula to be followed. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_278

Huxley was the single most influential person in this transformation. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_279

School of Mines and Zoology Thomas Henry Huxley_section_12

In the early 1870s the Royal School of Mines moved to new quarters in South Kensington; ultimately it would become one of the constituent parts of Imperial College London. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_280

The move gave Huxley the chance to give more prominence to laboratory work in biology teaching, an idea suggested by practice in German universities. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_281

In the main, the method was based on the use of carefully chosen types, and depended on the dissection of anatomy, supplemented by microscopy, museum specimens and some elementary physiology at the hands of Foster. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_282

The typical day would start with Huxley lecturing at 9am, followed by a program of laboratory work supervised by his demonstrators. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_283

Huxley's demonstrators were picked men—all became leaders of biology in Britain in later life, spreading Huxley's ideas as well as their own. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_284

Michael Foster became Professor of Physiology at Cambridge; E. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_285 Ray Lankester became Jodrell Professor of Zoology at University College London (1875–91), Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Oxford (1891–98) and Director of the Natural History Museum (1898–1907); S.H. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_286

Vines became Professor of Botany at Cambridge; W.T. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_287 Thiselton-Dyer became Hooker's successor at Kew (he was already Hooker's son-in-law! Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_288

); T. Jeffery Parker became Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at University College, Cardiff; and William Rutherford became the Professor of Physiology at Edinburgh. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_289

William Flower, Conservator to the Hunterian Museum, and THH's assistant in many dissections, became Sir William Flower, Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy and, later, Director of the Natural History Museum. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_290

It's a remarkable list of disciples, especially when contrasted with Owen who, in a longer professional life than Huxley, left no disciples at all. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_291

"No one fact tells so strongly against Owen... as that he has never reared one pupil or follower". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_292

Huxley's courses for students were so much narrower than the man himself that many were bewildered by the contrast: "The teaching of zoology by use of selected animal types has come in for much criticism"; Looking back in 1914 to his time as a student, Sir Arthur Shipley said "Darwin's later works all dealt with living organisms, yet our obsession was with the dead, with bodies preserved, and cut into the most refined slices". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_293

E.W MacBride said "Huxley... would persist in looking at animals as material structures and not as living, active beings; in a word... he was a necrologist. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_294

To put it simply, Huxley preferred to teach what he had actually seen with his own eyes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_295

This largely morphological program of comparative anatomy remained at the core of most biological education for a hundred years until the advent of cell and molecular biology and interest in evolutionary ecology forced a fundamental rethink. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_296

It is an interesting fact that the methods of the field naturalists who led the way in developing the theory of evolution (Darwin, Wallace, Fritz Müller, Henry Bates) were scarcely represented at all in Huxley's program. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_297

Ecological investigation of life in its environment was virtually non-existent, and theory, evolutionary or otherwise, was at a discount. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_298

Michael Ruse finds no mention of evolution or Darwinism in any of the exams set by Huxley, and confirms the lecture content based on two complete sets of lecture notes. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_299

Since Darwin, Wallace and Bates did not hold teaching posts at any stage of their adult careers (and Műller never returned from Brazil) the imbalance in Huxley's program went uncorrected. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_300

It is surely strange that Huxley's courses did not contain an account of the evidence collected by those naturalists of life in the tropics; evidence which they had found so convincing, and which caused their views on evolution by natural selection to be so similar. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_301

Adrian Desmond suggests that "[biology] had to be simple, synthetic and assimilable [because] it was to train teachers and had no other heuristic function". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_302

That must be part of the reason; indeed it does help to explain the stultifying nature of much school biology. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_303

But zoology as taught at all levels became far too much the product of one man. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_304

Huxley was comfortable with comparative anatomy, at which he was the greatest master of the day. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_305

He was not an all-round naturalist like Darwin, who had shown clearly enough how to weave together detailed factual information and subtle arguments across the vast web of life. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_306

Huxley chose, in his teaching (and to some extent in his research) to take a more straightforward course, concentrating on his personal strengths. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_307

Schools and the Bible Thomas Henry Huxley_section_13

Huxley was also a major influence in the direction taken by British schools: in November 1870 he was voted onto the London School Board. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_308

In primary schooling, he advocated a wide range of disciplines, similar to what is taught today: reading, writing, arithmetic, art, science, music, etc. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_309

In secondary education he recommended two years of basic liberal studies followed by two years of some upper-division work, focusing on a more specific area of study. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_310

A practical example of the latter is his famous 1868 lecture On a Piece of Chalk which was first published as an essay in Macmillan's Magazine in London later that year. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_311

The piece reconstructs the geological history of Britain from a simple piece of chalk and demonstrates science as "organized common sense". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_312

Huxley supported the reading of the Bible in schools. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_313

This may seem out of step with his agnostic convictions, but he believed that the Bible's significant moral teachings and superb use of language were relevant to English life. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_314

"I do not advocate burning your ship to get rid of the cockroaches". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_315

However, what Huxley proposed was to create an edited version of the Bible, shorn of "shortcomings and errors... statements to which men of science absolutely and entirely demur... Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_316

These tender children [should] not be taught that which you do not yourselves believe". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_317

The Board voted against his idea, but it also voted against the idea that public money should be used to support students attending church schools. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_318

Vigorous debate took place on such points, and the debates were minuted in detail. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_319

Huxley said "I will never be a party to enabling the State to sweep the children of this country into denominational schools". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_320

The Act of Parliament which founded board schools permitted the reading of the Bible, but did not permit any denominational doctrine to be taught. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_321

It may be right to see Huxley's life and work as contributing to the secularisation of British society which gradually occurred over the following century. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_322

Ernst Mayr said "It can hardly be doubted that [biology] has helped to undermine traditional beliefs and value systems"—and Huxley more than anyone else was responsible for this trend in Britain. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_323

Some modern Christian apologists consider Huxley the father of antitheism, though he himself maintained that he was an agnostic, not an atheist. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_324

He was, however, a lifelong and determined opponent of almost all organised religion throughout his life, especially the "Roman Church... carefully calculated for the destruction of all that is highest in the moral nature, in the intellectual freedom, and in the political freedom of mankind". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_325

In the same line of thought, in an article in Popular Science, Huxley used the expression "the so-called Christianity of Catholicism," explaining: "I say 'so-called' not by way of offense, but as a protest against the monstruous assumption that Catholic Christianity is explicitly or implicitly contained in any trust-worthy record of the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_326

In 1893, during preparation for the second Romanes Lecture, Huxley expressed his disappointment at the shortcomings of 'liberal' theology, describing its doctrines as 'popular illusions', and the teachings they replaced 'faulty as they are, appear to me to be vastly nearer the truth'. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_327

Vladimir Lenin remarked (in Materialism and empirio-criticism) "In Huxley's case... agnosticism serves as a fig-leaf for materialism" (see also the Debate with Wilberforce above). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_328

Adult education Thomas Henry Huxley_section_14

Huxley's interest in education went still further than school and university classrooms; he made a great effort to reach interested adults of all kinds: after all, he himself was largely self-educated. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_329

There were his lecture courses for working men, many of which were published afterwards, and there was the use he made of journalism, partly to earn money but mostly to reach out to the literate public. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_330

For most of his adult life he wrote for periodicals—the Westminster Review, the Saturday Review, the Reader, the Pall Mall Gazette, Macmillan's Magazine, the Contemporary Review. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_331

Germany was still ahead in formal science education, but interested people in Victorian Britain could use their initiative and find out what was going on by reading periodicals and using the lending libraries. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_332

In 1868 Huxley became Principal of the South London Working Men's College in Blackfriars Road. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_333

The moving spirit was a portmanteau worker, Wm. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_334

Rossiter, who did most of the work; the funds were put up mainly by F.D. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_335 Maurice's Christian Socialists. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_336

At sixpence for a course and a penny for a lecture by Huxley, this was some bargain; and so was the free library organised by the college, an idea which was widely copied. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_337

Huxley thought, and said, that the men who attended were as good as any country squire. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_338

The technique of printing his more popular lectures in periodicals which were sold to the general public was extremely effective. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_339

A good example was "The Physical Basis of Life", a lecture given in Edinburgh on 8 November 1868. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_340

Its theme—that vital action is nothing more than "the result of the molecular forces of the protoplasm which displays it"—shocked the audience, though that was nothing compared to the uproar when it was published in the Fortnightly Review for February 1869. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_341

John Morley, the editor, said "No article that had appeared in any periodical for a generation had caused such a sensation". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_342

The issue was reprinted seven times and protoplasm became a household word; Punch added 'Professor Protoplasm' to his other soubriquets. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_343

The topic had been stimulated by Huxley seeing the cytoplasmic streaming in plant cells, which is indeed a sensational sight. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_344

For these audiences Huxley's claim that this activity should not be explained by words such as vitality, but by the working of its constituent chemicals, was surprising and shocking. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_345

Today we would perhaps emphasise the extraordinary structural arrangement of those chemicals as the key to understanding what cells do, but little of that was known in the nineteenth century. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_346

When the Archbishop of York thought this 'new philosophy' was based on Auguste Comte's positivism, Huxley corrected him: "Comte's philosophy [is just] Catholicism minus Christianity" (Huxley 1893 vol 1 of Collected Essays Methods & Results 156). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_347

A later version was "[positivism is] sheer Popery with M. Comte in the chair of St Peter, and with the names of the saints changed". Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_348

(lecture on Huxley 1870 Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews p. 149). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_349

Huxley's dismissal of positivism damaged it so severely that Comte's ideas withered in Britain. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_350

Huxley and the humanities Thomas Henry Huxley_section_15

During his life, and especially in the last ten years after retirement, Huxley wrote on many issues relating to the humanities. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_351

Perhaps the best known of these topics is Evolution and Ethics, which deals with the question of whether biology has anything particular to say about moral philosophy. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_352

Both Huxley and his grandson Julian Huxley gave Romanes Lectures on this theme. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_353

For a start, Huxley dismisses religion as a source of moral authority. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_354

Next, he believes the mental characteristics of man are as much a product of evolution as the physical aspects. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_355

Thus, our emotions, our intellect, our tendency to prefer living in groups and spend resources on raising our young are part and parcel of our evolution, and therefore inherited. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_356

Despite this, the details of our values and ethics are not inherited: they are partly determined by our culture, and partly chosen by ourselves. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_357

Morality and duty are often at war with natural instincts; ethics cannot be derived from the struggle for existence: "Of moral purpose I see not a trace in nature. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_358

That is an article of exclusively human manufacture." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_359

It is therefore our responsibility to make ethical choices (see Ethics and Evolutionary ethics). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_360

This seems to put Huxley as a compatibilist in the Free Will vs Determinism debate. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_361

In this argument Huxley is diametrically opposed to his old friend Herbert Spencer. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_362

Huxley's dissection of Rousseau's views on man and society is another example of his later work. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_363

The essay undermines Rousseau's ideas on man as a preliminary to undermining his ideas on the ownership of property. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_364

Characteristic is: "The doctrine that all men are, in any sense, or have been, at any time, free and equal, is an utterly baseless fiction." Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_365

Huxley's method of argumentation (his strategy and tactics of persuasion in speech and print) is itself much studied. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_366

His career included controversial debates with scientists, clerics and politicians; persuasive discussions with Royal Commissions and other public bodies; lectures and articles for the general public, and a mass of detailed letter-writing to friends and other correspondents. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_367

A large number of textbooks have excerpted his prose for anthologies. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_368

Royal and other commissions Thomas Henry Huxley_section_16

Huxley worked on ten Royal and other commissions (titles somewhat shortened here). Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_369

The Royal Commission is the senior investigative forum in the British constitution. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_370

A rough analysis shows that five commissions involved science and scientific education; three involved medicine and three involved fisheries. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_371

Several involve difficult ethical and legal issues. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_372

All deal with possible changes to law and/or administrative practice. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_373

Royal Commissions Thomas Henry Huxley_section_17

Thomas Henry Huxley_unordered_list_1

  • 1862: Trawling for herrings on the coast of Scotland.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_1
  • 1863–65: Sea fisheries of the United Kingdom.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_2
  • 1870–71: The Contagious Diseases Acts.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_3
  • 1870–75: Scientific instruction and the advancement of science.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_4
  • 1876: The practice of subjugating live animals to scientific experiments (vivisection).Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_5
  • 1876–78: The universities of Scotland.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_6
  • 1881–82: The Medical Acts. [i.e. the legal framework for medicine]Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_7
  • 1884: Trawl, net and beam trawl fishing.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_1_8

Other commissions Thomas Henry Huxley_section_18

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Family Thomas Henry Huxley_section_19

See also: Huxley family Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_374

In 1855, he married Henrietta Anne Heathorn (1825–1915), an English émigrée whom he had met in Sydney. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_375

They kept correspondence until he was able to send for her. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_376

They had five daughters and three sons: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_377

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  • Noel Huxley (1856–60), died aged 4.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_11
  • Jessie Oriana Huxley (1858 −1927), married architect Fred Waller in 1877.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_12
  • Marian Huxley (1859–87), married artist John Collier in 1879.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_13
  • Leonard Huxley, (1860–1933) author, father of Julian, Aldous and Andrew Huxley.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_14
  • Rachel Huxley (1862–1934) married civil engineer Alfred Eckersley in 1884; he died 1895. They were parents of the physicist Thomas Eckersley and the first BBC Chief Engineer Peter Eckersley.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_15
  • Henrietta (Nettie) Huxley (1863–1940), married Harold Roller, travelled Europe as a singer.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_16
  • Henry Huxley (1865–1946), became a fashionable general practitioner in London.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_17
  • Ethel Huxley (1866–1941), married artist John Collier (widower of sister) in 1889.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_3_18

Huxley's relationships with his relatives and children were genial by the standards of the day—so long as they lived their lives in an honourable manner, which some did not. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_378

After his mother, his eldest sister Lizzie was the most important person in his life until his own marriage. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_379

He remained on good terms with his children, more than can be said of many Victorian fathers. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_380

This excerpt from a letter to Jessie, his eldest daughter is full of affection: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_381

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  • "Dearest Jess, You are a badly used young person—you are; and nothing short of that conviction would get a letter out of your still worse used Pater, the bête noir of whose existence is letter-writing. Catch me discussing the Afghan question with you, you little pepper-pot! No, not if I know it..." [goes on nevertheless to give strong opinions of the Afghans, at that time causing plenty of trouble to the British Raj—see Second Anglo-Afghan War "There, you plague—ever your affec. Daddy, THH." (letter 7 December 1878, Huxley L 1900)Thomas Henry Huxley_item_4_19

Huxley's descendants include children of Leonard Huxley: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_382

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Other significant descendants of Huxley, such as Sir Crispin Tickell, are treated in the Huxley family. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_383

Mental problems in the family Thomas Henry Huxley_section_20

Biographers have sometimes noted the occurrence of mental illness in the Huxley family. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_384

His father became "sunk in worse than childish imbecility of mind", and later died in Barming Asylum; brother George suffered from "extreme mental anxiety" and died in 1863 leaving serious debts. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_385

Brother James, a well known psychiatrist and Superintendent of Kent County Asylum, was at 55 "as near mad as any sane man can be"; and there is more. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_386

His favourite daughter, the artistically talented Mady (Marian), who became the first wife of artist John Collier, was troubled by mental illness for years. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_387

She died of pneumonia in her mid-twenties. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_388

About Huxley himself we have a more complete record. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_389

As a young apprentice to a medical practitioner, aged thirteen or fourteen, Huxley was taken to watch a post-mortem dissection. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_390

Afterwards he sank into a 'deep lethargy' and though Huxley ascribed this to dissection poisoning, Bibby and others may be right to suspect that emotional shock precipitated the depression. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_391

Huxley recuperated on a farm, looking thin and ill. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_392

The next episode we know of in Huxley's life when he suffered a debilitating depression was on the third voyage of HMS Rattlesnake in 1848. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_393

Huxley had further periods of depression at the end of 1871, and again in 1873. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_394

Finally, in 1884 he sank into another depression, and this time it precipitated his decision to retire in 1885, at the age of 60. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_395

This is enough to indicate the way depression (or perhaps a moderate bi-polar disorder) interfered with his life, yet unlike some of the other family members, he was able to function extremely well at other times. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_396

The problems continued sporadically into the third generation. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_397

Two of Leonard's sons suffered serious depression: Trevennen committed suicide in 1914 and Julian suffered a breakdown in 1913, and five more later in life. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_398

Satires Thomas Henry Huxley_section_21

Darwin's ideas and Huxley's controversies gave rise to many cartoons and satires. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_399

It was the debate about man's place in nature that roused such widespread comment: cartoons are so numerous as to be almost impossible to count; Darwin's head on a monkey's body is one of the visual clichés of the age. Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_400

The "Great Hippocampus Question" attracted particular attention: Thomas Henry Huxley_sentence_401

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  • "Monkeyana" (Punch vol. 40, 18 May 1861). Signed 'Gorilla', this turned out to be by Sir Philip Egerton MP, amateur naturalist, fossil fish collector and—Richard Owen's patron! The last two stanzas include a reference to Huxley's comment that "Life is too short to occupy oneself with the slaying of the slain more than once.": Next HUXLEY replies That OWEN he lies And garbles his Latin quotation; That his facts are not new, His mistakes not a few, Detrimental to his reputation. To twice slay the slain By dint of the Brain (Thus HUXLEY concludes his review) Is but labour in vain, unproductive of gain, And so I shall bid you "Adieu"!Thomas Henry Huxley_item_6_23
  • "The Gorilla's Dilemma" (Punch 1862, vol. 43, p. 164). First two lines: Say am I a man or a brother, Or only an anthropoid ape?Thomas Henry Huxley_item_6_24
  • Report of a sad case recently tried before the Lord Mayor, Owen versus Huxley. Lord Mayor asks whether either side is known to the police: Policeman X—Huxley, your Worship, I take to be a young hand, but very vicious; but Owen I have seen before. He got into trouble with an old bone man, called Mantell, who never could be off complaining as Owen prigged his bones. People did say that the old man never got over it, and Owen worritted him to death; but I don't think it was so bad as that. Hears as Owen takes the chair at a crib in Bloomsbury. I don't think it will be a harmonic meeting altogether. And Huxley hangs out in Jermyn Street. (Tom Huxley's 'low set' included Hooker 'in the green and vegetable line' and 'Charlie Darwin, the pigeon-fancier'; Owen's 'crib in Bloomsbury' was the British Museum, of which Natural History was but one department. Jermyn Street is known for its shops of men's clothing, possibly implying that Huxley was a dandy.)Thomas Henry Huxley_item_6_25

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  • The Water Babies, a fairy tale for a land baby by Charles Kingsley (serialised in Macmillan's Magazine 1862–63, published in book form, with additions, in 1863). Kingsley had been among first to give a favourable review to Darwin's On the Origin of Species, having "long since... learnt to disbelieve the dogma of the permanence of species", and the story includes a satire on the reaction to Darwin's theory, with the main scientific participants appearing, including Richard Owen and Huxley. In 1892 Thomas Henry Huxley's five-year-old grandson Julian saw the illustration by Edward Linley Sambourne (right) and wrote his grandfather a letter asking: Dear Grandpater—Have you seen a Waterbaby? Did you put it in a bottle? Did it wonder if it could get out? Could I see it some day?—Your loving Julian. Huxley wrote back: My dear Julian—I could never make sure about that Water Baby... My friend who wrote the story of the Water Baby was a very kind man and very clever. Perhaps he thought I could see as much in the water as he did—There are some people who see a great deal and some who see very little in the same things. When you grow up I dare say you will be one of the great-deal seers, and see things more wonderful than the Water Babies where other folks can see nothing.Thomas Henry Huxley_item_7_26

Cultural references Thomas Henry Huxley_section_22

See also Thomas Henry Huxley_section_23

Thomas Henry Huxley_unordered_list_8


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas Henry Huxley.