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THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY AND JULIAN
HUXLEY: AN IMAGINARY INTERVIEW1
JULIAN (rather crossly): The fellow who runs these interviews has
J told me to come here and exchange a few words with my grand-
father, Thomas Henry Huxley, who died in 1895 at the beginning of
his seventy-first year. That's all very well, but how can even the
B.B.C. put one in touch with a world of departed spirits—in the exist-
ence of which my grandfather no more believed than I do, though he
was scrupulously undogmatic in all merely speculative judgments of
I remember him very vividly, as a child does,
THOMAS HENRY : And I remember you, young Julian.
JULIAN : But what are you?
THOMAS HENRY : A projection of your private fancy.
JULIAN: That's a good working hypothesis, anyhow. After all,
your achievements, both as a scientist and as an expositor of science,
have meant a tremendous lot to me, and did exercise a most powerful
influence on my early life and career.
THOMAS HENRY : Well, there's no reason why our working hypo-
thesis should obstruct our conversation. You spoke of your career,
Julian. I understand that you have become a biologist, like myself.
I knew you had the makings of a biologist in you, my boy, from the
day that you, as a child of seven, put me right on a point of biological
JULIAN : My father often told me about that. I wish I could re-
member the occasion!
THOMAS HENRY : Yes. It was at the luncheon-table. There was
some talk about parental care in animals, and I remarked that one
didn't find it among fish. Whereupon you piped up: " What about
the stickleback, Gran'pater?" How we all laughed!
JULIAN : I bet you did.
THOMAS HENRY : The beauty of it was that you were right. My
general statement—that fishes take no care of their young—was true.
But of course there are sporadic exceptions. And the stickleback is
one of them.
JULIAN (laughing): Well, it's very gratifying. I think I'd been read-
ing one of those popular children's books on biology by Arabella
1 Originally arranged as a broadcast.