Skip to main content

Full text of "T H Huxley Scientist Humanist And Educator"

See other formats

125 347 

Those who elect to be free in thought & deed 

must not hanker after the rewards . . . which the 

world offers to those who put up with its fetters. 

Letter to Herbert Spencer* 27 December 188O 






Self-sketch of T. H. Huxley, 1847 

First American Edition 1960 
Horizon Press, New York 

Printed in Great Britain by 
Richard Clay and Co Ltd, Bungay 9 Suffolk 

Cyril Bibby, 1959 
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number : 60-8165 




MEN OF THE DAY. No. 19. 


PROFESSOR HUXLEY, the inventor of Protoplasm, is a great Mcd'cine Man 
IT among the Inqui-rmg Redskins. The renowned Ongpatonga himself was not 
mote popular in the solemn Calumet dance than Professor Huxley in the annual 
gatherings and other ceremonials observed by the various tribes of the great Philistine 
family -who roam over the deserts of the metropolis, to. the terror of the ecclesiastical 
police and the intense disgust of the respectable portion of society who go clothed 
and In their tight mind. Professor Huxley, like the rest of the Ongpatonga tribe, is 
wonderfully matter-of-fact; but; with alt his hardness and anti-transcendentalism, his 
geniality of temperament and his happy talent for illustration are hardly less remarkable 
than the logical clearness of his discourse of which it will be quite sufficient to state 
that the denizens of Vanity Fair will find a good popular specimen ih his "Lay 
" Sermons." Professor Huxley favours the movement for the Scientific Education of 
Women, He wants them to be the associates of men in the "feast of reason and 
-the flow of soul," and would no longer feed them with the fag-ends and scraps of 
knowledge which they have been accustomed to pick up In this respect his practice 
differs essentially from that of the Un-inqui-nng Redskins, whose squaws are compelled 
to keep in the background until their lords have dined, and are then admitted to a 
scramble for the bones and shreds of the repast. If Ongpatonga has a fault, it is 
one which may fairly be ascribed to incompleteness rather than intellectual vice. He 
refuses to believe in angels, because the telescope has not yet discovered diem Like 
a man who hops on one leg, instead of walking erect with his face heavenwards, he 
has to pick his steps with care through the mud of Materialism, and in this way it 
has come to pass that he has stumbled on Protoplasm, which he sees on the seamy 
side, but not on the shining inner surface. la good time, when he is tired of 
hopping, he will get both his feet firmly on the ground, and then, trusting to his 
eyes and his inner senses, he will have more to tell the world than the telescope 
has ever told him, Take him for all in all, there is no popular teacher who has 
contributed more to the awakening of the intellect, and whose career in die future 
may be more confidently associated in idea with all that is manly > and progressive in 
social science, and comprehensive, to say the least, in physical research. 

From 'Vanity Fair', 28 January 1871 


IT is RIGHT and proper that T. H. Huxley should be com- 
memorated in this centenary of the birth of the modern theory 
of evolution ; for if Darwin was its prime creator, Huxley was 
its greatest protagonist. But Huxley was much more than 
Darwin's bulldog, and Dr Bibby has done an excellent piece 
of work in describing and evaluating his career as a whole. 

I have always looked up to my grandfather with a blend of 
awe and admiration ; but I had thought mainly of his scientific 
abilities, his sheer intellectual brilliance, and his prophetic 
morality. Dr Bibby has devoted most of his book to a con- 
sideration of Huxley's role as scientific humanist and educa- 
tor. And from it I have gained a new insight into his character 
and his work, and am more than ever amazed by the range of 
his interests, his capacities and his achievements. It shows 
him as an outstanding figure in nineteenth-century thought, 
and one who left a permanent mark on the world's scientificr" 
and educational structure. He must have been endowed with 
a highly improbable combination of genes; and he certainly 
made good use of the endowment. 

Within the space of one year, as an original member of the 
London School Board, he played a decisive role in imple- 
menting the Education Act of 1870, and in setting the future 
course of elementary education in Britain. (He was also at the 
time Secretary of the Royal Society, Governor of Owens 
College, President of the British Association, and a member 
of two Royal Commissions.) He helped materially to intro- 
duce more and better science teaching in the universities and 
Public Schools (if it had not been for his membership of the 
governing body of Eton, where he so strongly fostered the 
teaching of biology, I might never have taken up a biological 



career). He was a master of lucid and beautiful English prose. 
He was a great humanist pioneer, and always insisted that 
education in all fields should be broadly based and should 
concern itself with the arts as well as the humanities and the 
sciences. He was the prime begetter of what is now the 
Imperial College of Science and Technology, and insisted 
that it should be a true university and not just a technical 
college. He helped transform Oxford and Cambridge from 
homes of classical privilege to universities of the highest rank. 
In the evening of his days, he was instrumental in securing the 
emergence of the University of London as an effective federal 
organisation, in place of the previous chaotic welter of in- 
stitutions. He was also a pioneer of adult popular education, 
and devoted a great deal of time and energy to his lectures to 
working men. Though a brilliant research zoologist, he 
stressed the need for better organisation of knowledge as 
against the mere piling up of new facts. 

Dr Bibby recounts many interesting episodes in Huxley's 
life. How he insisted on taking his duties seriously as Rector 
of the University of Aberdeen. How he was able to command 
the respect and the co-operation of many of his theological 
opponents. How he slaved away to make sure that the newly 
instituted examination system really worked. How he took 
the trouble when lecturing in Tennessee to talk about the local 
geology. How he studied theology to such effect that he could 
often confute the theologians in his disputes. How he insisted 
on music in the general curriculum, but failed to get art in- 
cluded. How and why he three times refused a post at Oxford. 

He tells us of Huxley's wit and humour; of his remarkable 
combination of stern morality with tenderness and com- 
passion; of what one of his students called his sublime quality 
as a lecturer; his deep concern for the sufferings of the poor; 
his devotion to Darwin and his dislike of Gladstone; his early 
realisation that over-population was destined to be the 
world's gravest problem; his tireless activity and his remark- 
able effectiveness in promoting the causes he thought right; 


his immense range of contacts in science, art, administration, 
politics, education and religion. 

I am personally grateful to Dr Bibby for making me more 
than ever proud of being the grandson of T. H. Huxley, and I 
commend his book as a valuable study of a great human 


MEMORIES ARE SHORT and our capacity for taking things 
for granted is almost infinite. We grumble about our educa- 
tional system, but forget that less than a century ago there 
was no system at all, merely a squalid absence of education, 
with here and there an oasis of Renaissance learning, where a 
few privileged boys could acquire the useful arts of con- 
struing Cicero and turning Gray's Elegy into heroic couplets. 

Dr Bibby's book reminds us that we have blessings to count 
as well as shortcomings to complain of, and that we owe these 
blessings to the labours of a few devoted and persistent en- 
thusiasts. The most herculean of these labourers and possibly 
the most effective was T. H. Huxley. 

Reading Dr Bibby's pages, one is constantly astonished. 
Astonished, first of all, by Huxley's extraordinary capacity 
for work and by his no less extraordinary skill in persuasion, 
diplomacy and the art of overcoming official inertia. And 
astonished even more by the extraordinary up-to-dateness of 
his ideas on education. Thus, we find him lecturing the 
classicists on the importance of science, and in the next 
breath lecturing the scientists on the importance of the 
humanities and a training in art and music. We find him 
anticipating John Dewey in his insistence upon the value of 
learning through doing and observing, in his denunciations of 
"mental debauchery, book guzzling and lesson bibbing"; 
but we find him also anticipating the critics of 'Progressive 
Education' in his equally emphatic insistence upon the neces- 
sity of a thorough and accurate teaching of fundamentals. 
We find him agreeing with the 'we-teach-children-not-sub- 
jects* school of educators to the extent of regarding "will, 
energy and honesty" as no less important than knowledge; 



but we find him sharply disagreeing with them in proclaiming 
that knowledge of subjects is at least as important as 'life ad- 
justment' or a 'well-rounded personality'. In the field of uni- 
versity education we find him advocating the specialisation 
without which scientific progress is impossible; but we also 
find him, in the last years of his life, advocating (in vain) a 
complete reorganisation of the modern university with a view 
to prying the specialists out of their pigeon-holes and en- 
couraging them to work with other specialists towards a 
synthesis of knowledge. 

Education in the West still falls short of the ideals which 
Huxley proposed for it three generations ago. When and if 
these ideals come to be realised, it will certainly be better 
than it is today. But will it, even then, produce all the trans- 
figuring results which the early enthusiasts anticipated the 
results which, to judge by television programmes and the 
popular Press, by reports of mounting juvenile delinquency 
and spreading neurosis, it has as yet so conspicuously failed 
to produce? The answer is probably in the negative. As 
Huxley remarked long ago, there are in every school dis- 
tressingly large numbers of "can't learns and won't learns and 
don't learns". Moreover, even among those who are able or 
willing to absorb the education that is given them, how few 
retain throughout their adult life that openness and elasticity 
of mind without which nobody can profit by the lessons of 
experience or adjust realistically to social changes, new know- 
ledge and unfamiliar ideas! There are, throughout the world, 
millions of educated young men and women who develop 
mental arterio-sclerosis forty or fifty years before their 
physical blood vessels begin to harden. A system of schooling 
that turns out so many educated fossils, and leaves so many 
other fossils uneducated, can hardly be described as satis- 
factory. Will it ever be possible to transform the fossils into 
fully living organisms, the won't learns, can't learns and don't 
learns into wills, cans and dos? Perhaps it will but not, I 
would guess, by the kind of educational methods in use today. 


These methods, even the best of them, require to be supple- 
mented by other methods as yet untried on any considerable 

We set out to teach our children subjects and life-adjust- 
ment; but we do nothing specifically to educate the psycho- 
physical organisms which underlie the children's personalities 
and which actually do their living for them and make possible 
their learning. We do nothing, for example, to train the 
special senses, to increase the acuity of children's perceptions 
and to render them more prompt and more discriminating. 
And yet there is good reason to believe that proper training in 
the basic arts of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching 
and body-sensing could do far more to develop a child's in- 
telligence than any of the 'mental disciplines' in use today. 
Again, we know that human beings can be trained to achieve 
a considerable measure of control over their autonomic ner- 
vous system, over their sensations of pain and fatigue, over 
their moods and attitudes. Technology has made it possible 
for us to master the external environment. It is high time that 
we developed (or borrowed from other cultures) psycho- 
physiological techniques for achieving a comparable mastery 
over that internal environment in which, willy-nilly, every 
personality must pass its life. My guess is that, if they were 
trained to perceive more efficiently and to be more aware of 
their own bodies, if they were shewn how to combine 
activity with absence of tension in all the affairs of life, if they 
were taught to use the enormous powers of auto-conditioning 
in a constructive way, many of the educated fossils would 
come to life, many of the won't learns, can't learns and don't 
learns would become educable. 

The medal, needless to say, has a reverse to it. Like any 
other kind of education, psycho-physiological training may 
be used in an undesirable way. It is said that, in the days of 
Japanese militarism, officers of the imperial navy were made 
more ruthlessly efficient by being put through a course of Zen. 
And if systematic auto-conditioning can make us more in- 


dependent of our surroundings and more capable of imple- 
menting our good resolutions, systematic hetero-condition- 
ing, especially when undergone in childhood, can make us 
more apt to implement other people's resolutions and more 
dependent upon whatever environment the conditioner wants ' 
us to be adapted to. Equally ambivalent must be our attitude 
towards another mind-changing procedure, which has re- 
cently emerged from Science Fiction into the realm of fore- 
seeable probability the procedure to which one might give 
such names as Pharmacological Education, Pill Morality, 
Synthetic Stoicism, Chemical Christianity. Nearly harmless 
tranquillisers and nearly harmless vision-inducers and cosmic 
consciousness-promoters are already on the market and more 
and better pills will surely follow. Recently the Russians 
announced that they were half-way through a Five Year Plan 
aimed at discovering a physiologically costless way of in- 
creasing psychic energy by pharmacological means. And 
without the benefit of a Five Year Plan, the West is rapidly 
moving in the same direction. Within a few years it may be 
that we shall be treating our encysted fossils, our dull or 
stubborn non-learners, not with homilies or lectures, but with 
something out of a bottle. The discovery of a harmless 
psychic energiser would have consequences either extremely 
good or extremely bad. Administered to everybody, such a 
drug might turn out to be the salvation of the democratic 
system, which depends for its survival on a high level of 
general intelligence and alertness. Reserved to the few, it 
would tend to consolidate the rule of an elite, which would 
then be genuinely and objectively superior to the masses. 
For the educator, as for all the rest of us, the future may be 
alarming; but it will most certainly not be dull. 


Any candid observer of the phenomena of modern society will 
readily admit that bores must be classed among the enemies of 
the human race; and a little consideration will probably lead 
him to the further admission, that no species of that extensive 
genus of noxious creature is more objectionable than the 
educational bore. 
Address to the Working Men's Club and Institute Union, 1877 

FOR ANY ONE proposing a study of the educational work 
and significance of T. H. Huxley, his remark about enemies of 
the human race stands as a dreadful warning. And, for one 
whose profession is education, and who daily experiences the 
awful truth of that remark, the warning has special signifi- 
cance. Yet one can find comfort in the fact that Huxley him- 
self was usually scintillating and never dull, and it would be 
very difficult to write a boring book about him. The risk, in 
any case, must be run, for a generation seeking some synthesis 
of modern science and traditional humanism cannot afford to 
neglect the greatest of scientific humanists. His two grand- 
sons, Julian distinguished in science and Aldous eminent in 
letters, have each contributed a foreword for which I am 
most grateful, and there is a peculiar appositeness about this 
dual tribute to one for whom the Public Orator of Cambridge 
adapted Terence to say humani nihil a se alienwn putat. 

The research on which this book is based was conducted in 
the Advanced Studies Department of the University of Lon- 
don Institute of Education. It involved considerable travel- 
ling for the consultation of local records, and gratitude is due 
and warmly expressed both to the many librarians and archiv- 
ists who were so helpful and to the University of London 

which made research grants towards the expenses of these 



travels. I have been fortunate in the provision of facilities 
and the advice of friends to such an extent as to make parti- 
cularised acknowledgement in this preface impossible. In- 
quiries have been answered by many scores of members of 
the academic and administrative staffs of universities, col- 
leges, schools, scientific societies, professional associations, 
voluntary organisations, libraries, museums and local 
authorities, and to all these kind correspondents I am most 

Yet the invidious task of selecting a few of these many 
helpers for individual mention may not be shirked. First, I 
must express my appreciation of illuminating conversations 
with Mrs Leonard Huxley and Sir Julian Huxley, who have 
also put me in their debt by agreeing to the publication of 
some hitherto unpublished material from family letters. The 
papers of Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff were made 
available by the Hon Mrs Ursula Grant Duff, while the Hon 
Mrs Maurice Lubbock allowed sight of the papers of Sir 
John Lubbock, first Lord Avebury. I am also most grateful 
to the Provost and Fellows of Eton College for permitting 
perusal of their Minutes and other documents, and to Sir 
Claude and Lady Elliott for their help and hospitality. The 
Linnean Society allowed access to its MacLeay correspond- 
ence, the Royal Institution to its Tyndall manuscripts, the 
Royal Society of Arts to its Committee Minutes, the Dul- 
wich Reference Library to its papers relating to the South 
London Working Men's College, the Heston and Isleworth 
Reference Library to its local history files bearing on the 
International College in Spring Grove, the Baling Reference 
Library to its material on the scenes of Huxley's eaxly child- 
hood, the Charing Cross Hospital Medical School to its 
Minutes, and the London County Council to the records of 
the first London School Board. To these institutions and 
their library staffs, and to others not individually named, I 
express my thanks, as I do to those who have been so helpful 
in the British Museum (both at Bloomsbury and at Colindale) 


and in the Universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge, Edinburgh, 
Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Oxford. I would 
also express gratitude for the provision of microfilm of 
manuscript material in the possession of the American Philo- 
sophical Society, Columbia University, Harvard University 
(Houghton Library), the Henry E. Huntington Library (San 
Marino, California) and the Johns Hopkins University (MSS. 
collection in the Lanier Room). Most important of all, I have 
had full access to the general records and to the considerable 
collection of Huxley's correspondence, diaries and notebooks 
in the Imperial College of Science and Technology, to whose 
Rector and Governors I am most grateful, as I am to Mr 
F. W. James and Mr C. K. McDowall for their continued 
helpfulness in the search of these documents. 

Permission has been liberally granted to publish from these 
many sources, as detailed in the individual references, and 
this permission is warmly acknowledged. 

It would, however, have been economically impossible to 
include in this book so much of the interesting material avail- 
able had it not been for the generosity of the Crompton 
Bequest Fund of the Society of Authors, the University of 
London Institute of Education, the Imperial College of Science 
and Technology, and the Eugenics Society, whose grants 
in aid of publication leave me under a great obligation. 

Finally, there are two friends whose aid has been so con- 
spicuous that they must be specially thanked. Professor 
Joseph Lauwerys has been an invaluable counsellor over 
many years, and to him I have habitually turned for sugges- 
tions and for solace. Mr Frank Coles accepted the ungrateful 
task of criticising each chapter at each stage of its writing, and 
that task he discharged with a kindly ruthlessness possible 
only in the closest friendship. None but these two and I can 
know how much I owe them. 


College ofS. Mark and S. John, 
University of London Institute of Education 


Foreword by Sir Julian Huxley vii 

Foreword by Aldous Huxley xi 

Preface xv 














Select List of Huxley's Publications 260 

Conspectus of Huxley 9 s Life and Times 267 

References 285 

Index 321 


Grateful acknowledgement is made to those who have permitted and facili- 
tated the reproduction of illustrations, as follows: 

Imperial College of Science and Technology 'Hornet* caricature, Bassano 
photograph, engraving from Elliott & Fry photograph, London Stereo- 
scopic Company photograph, self-sketch, 'Report of a Sad Case*. 

National Portrait Gallery Pencil sketches by Marian Huxley, pencil drawing 
by Wirgman, oil painting by Collier. 

Baling Reference Library illustrated London News* woodcut, Lock & 
Whitfield photograph, memorial plaque by Bowcher (book jacket). 

Sir Julian Huxley 'Vanity Fair* cartoon, 'Men of the Day*. 

Victoria and Albert Museum and Royal Society Oil study by Legros. 

British Museum (Natural History) Statue by Ford. 


THE PROFESSOR oil study by Alphonse Legros, 1879 Frontispiece 
THE ASSISTANT-SURGEON daguerrotype, 1846 42 

THE YO UNO EAGLE photograph by Maull & Polyblank, 1857 43 

THE COMMITTEE MAN woodcut from 'Illustrated London 

News 9 , 1870 58 

THE MAN OF THE DAY cartoon from 'Vanity Fair 9 , 1871 59 

THE FATHER pencil sketch by Marian Huxley 138 

THE FAMILY MAN pencil sketch by Marian Huxley 139 

THE TEACHER caricature from l The Hornet', 1871 154 

THE MAN OF POWER photograph by Bassano, c. 1880 155 

THE SCHOLAR engravings from photographs by Henry Hux- 
ley, 1881 (top left) and Elliott & Fry, 1885 (top right), and 
pencil drawing by T, B. Wirgman, 1882 (bottom) 218 

THE MAN OF AFFAIRS photographs by Lock & Whitfield, c. 
1880 (top left), Downey, 1890 (bottom left) and Mayall, 1893 
(bottom right), and oil painting by John Collier, 1883 (top 
right) 219 

THE MORALIST -photograph by London Stereoscopic Company 234 

THE PROPHET statue by E. Onslow Ford, in the Central Hall 

of the British Museum (Natural History) 235 


Self-sketch in ink, at Port Stephens, 1847 iv 

*Af en of the Day 9 , from ' Vanity Fair 9 , 1871 vi 

M Report of a Sad Case 9 , Pamphlet, 1863 75-76 


Strong natural talent for mechanism,music and art in 
general, but all wasted and uncultivated. Believe I am 
reckoned a good chairman of a meeting. I always find 
that I acquire influence, generally more than I want, in 
bodies of men and that administrative and other work 
gravitates to my hands. Impulsive and apt to rush into 
all sorts of undertakings without counting cost or re- 
sponsibility. Love my friends and hate my enemies 
cordially. Entire confidence in those whom I trust at all 
and much indifference towards the rest of the world. A 
profound religious tendency capable of fanaticism, but 
tempered by no less profound theological scepticism. No 
love of the marvellous as such, intense desire to know 
facts; no very intense love of my pursuits at present, but 
very strong affection for philosophical and social pro- 
blems ; strong constructive imagination; small foresight; 
no particular public spirit; disinterestedness arising 
from an entire want of care for the rewards and honours 
most men seek, vanity too big to be satisfied by them. 

Huxley's own estimate of his character, 
given to Francis Gallon in 1873 


A Man So Various 

If there is anything I thank the Gods for (I am not sure that 
there is, for as the old woman said when reminded of the 
goodness of Providence: "Ah, but he takes it out of me in the 
corns") it is a wide diversity of tastes. Barred from scientific 
work, I should be miserable, if there were not heaps of other 
topics that interest me, from Gadarene pigs & Gladstonian 
psychology, upwards ... the cosmos remains always beautiful 
and profoundly interesting in every corner and if I had as 
many lives as a cat I would leave no corner unexplored. 

Letter to Sir John Simon* 11 March 1891 

ON THE 4th May 1825, when Thomas Henry Huxley was 
born in the sleepy old village of Baling, English society still 
had its roots deep in the eighteenth century. By the 29th 
June 1895, when he died at the newly developing seaside 
resort of Eastbourne, it was already feeling its way into the 

The Baling of Huxley's childhood was a place of pleasant 
fields and farmland, where the streams and footpaths 
meandered across the parks and around the orchards of 
wealthy and aristocratic landowners. Shortly before his birth 
there had been a mere 228 voters in the Vestry, and the 
little parish church of St Mary had seating for but forty 

* Sir John Simon (1816-1904), the famous sanitary reformer, who held a 
series of pioneer posts including those of Medical Officer of Health to the City 
of London, Medical Officer to the General Board of Health and Medical 
Officer to the Privy Council. His English Sanitary Institutions (1890) is a 
masterly survey of the field. 



worshippers. There was a Poor House, no doubt badly needed 
even in the 'royal village', and each June a three-day fair on 
Haling Green provided an occasion for jollity and racing and 
gambling and drinking. A fortnight before Huxley's third 
birthday, something of a local sensation was caused by the 
arrest in Baling of William Corder, murderer of Maria 
Marten in the Red Barn; but this was a time when an English- 
man might legally be hanged for a hundred other crimes than 
murder. It was when Huxley was a child of five that William 
IV came to the throne, and not until he was seven did the 
first Reform Act increase England's electorate from less than 
a quarter of a million to nearly three-quarters. If the in- 
habitants of Baling wanted to travel, they had the choice of 
canal or road, and the 'Green Man' provided stabling for a 
hundred horses. Where Christ Church now stands there was 
a meadow, and young Tom Huxley must often have played 
about the spring and stream which Brunei covered over in 
1838 with his west-bqund railway. 

Huxley has not provided us with more than the briefest 
of autobiographies, nor does his son Leonard tell us much 
about his childhood in the standard Life and Letters. It almost 
seems, indeed, as if Huxley deliberately drew down a screen 
to protect himself from memories of unhappy early years. 
George Huxley, the father, was mathematics master at the 
local school conducted by Dr Nicholas of Wadham (the 
original of Thackeray's *Dr Tickle-Us'), but there seems 
never to have been much money to spare from his income. 
Their house opposite St Mary's was rated at the not incon- 
siderable sum of 27 per annum, but this figure takes on a 
different complexion when it is realised that the ground floor 
was a butcher's shop and the Huxley family had to make do 
in the rooms above. T. H. Huxley, at any rate, was always 
vividly aware of the conditions of life of the masses of the 
people, and in later years he was to declare "I am a plebeian, 
and I stand by my order". The Huxley boys were fortunate 
enough to attend the school where their father taught, but 


Tom at least did not count this as good fortune. "I had two 
years of a Pandemonium of a school,'* he told Herbert 
Spencer, and he deliberately affirmed that, in a life which had 
acquainted him with the highest and the lowest of mankind, 
the worst society he had known was at school. 

Yet there is something strange about this, for Great Baling 
School was claimed to be the finest private school in England, 
ranking almost with Eton and Harrow. Its social standing 
was such that Prince Louis Philippe, the 'Citizen King' of 
France, taught there during his exile, and its teaching was 
good enough for the future Cardinal Newman to go straight 
to Oxford at the age of sixteen. Other pupils were Thackeray 
the novelist, W. S. Gilbert the librettist, Charles Knight of the 
Penny Cyclopcedia, and Bishop Selwyn and, it must be 
admitted to balance the picture, a lad who was later trans- 
ported to Australia and by an astonishing coincidence 
brought Huxley his horse in a stable-yard in Sydney. The two 
brothers Nicholas, who conducted the school after the death 
of their father in 1829, were said to be fonder of riding and 
shooting than of teaching, yet the regular performances of 
classical plays were sometimes considered superior to those of 
Westminster School. Mathematics, however, seems to have 
been another story, for it was said that there was not a boy in 
the school who could explain the difference between an 
equilateral and an obtuse-angled triangle. Perhaps Huxley 
found life especially hard as the son of an ineffective teacher, 
or perhaps he was beaten and abused as a Tag' to one of the 
300-odd wealthy boys at Baling. At any rate, he was miserably 

Leonard Huxley tells us that the school broke up about 
1835, whereupon George Huxley returned to his native 
Coventry and became manager of a small local savings bank; 
but this account seems very doubtful. There is clear evidence 
that in 1846 the school moved to new premises on the demoli- 
tion of the Old Rectory, and from 1881 to 1894 local direc- 
tories list Great Baling School on the Green in St Mary's 


Road* It is just possible that the school closed down in 1835 
and opened up again a few years later, but one wonders 
whether there might not have been some other reason for the 
Huxleys' departure from Baling. Certainly the family was an 
unfortunate one, and letters survive which cast some light on 
its difficulties. 

The mother, Rachel Huxley, was a slender brunette with 
piercing black eyes and great rapidity of thought and 
enormous energy, who must have passed on many dominant 
genes to Tom, the seventh of her eight offspring. As a child, 
Tom's attachment to his mother was so close (and yet, was it 
in some way so insecure?) that he often lay awake at night 
weeping for a morbid fear that she might die. Two of the 
children died in infancy, a common enough thing in large 
families of that period, and no doubt the parents were able to 
adjust themselves to their loss. When Tom was fourteen his 
sister Ellen married a Dr Cook of Coventry, and they seem 
to have sunk into a most lamentable state, so that by 1858 
Thomas was describing his brother-in-law as "a bloated 
mass of beer and opium" and wondering "how Cookdom is 
to be saved from entire submergence". He did his typically 
generous best by making Ellen an annual allowance, but still 
had to face the unpleasantness caused by her using his name 
to secure trade credit. Brother George was by 1858 "at 
death's door with incipient phthisis", brought on it was 
thought by "extreme mental anxiety"; and, when he died in 
1863, Tom had to sell his Royal Society Medal so that its 
value as gold could be used to clear up the mess in which 
George's affairs had been left. William, six years Tom's 
senior, was completely estranged from him for thirty years 
because of a family quarrel over George's marriage and, 
despite their both living in London, the brothers seem never 
again to have met. James, two years younger than William, 
qualified as a doctor and remained on excellent terms with 
George and Thomas, but by the time he was fifty-five he was 
"as near mad as a sane man can be". With his eldest sister 


Eliza (always affectionately 'Lizzie' to him), Thomas had a 
very close emotional bond, and he once told her "of the sur- 
prising six people who sprang from our father & mother, 
you and I are the only two who seemed to be capable of 
fraternal love". Lizzie, at any rate, appears to have been a per- 
son of great stability, marrying a Dr Salt who for some 
reason soon changed his name to Scott and then bringing 
up a family happily and normally enough (with occasional 
financial help from Tom) in Tennessee. Rachel, the admir- 
able mother, died of heart disease in 1852 but her husband 
suffered no shock because he was "nearly lost to ... almost 
any other feeling beyond a vegetable existence". Soon he was 
"sunk in worse than childish imbecility of mind", and in 1855 
he died under James's care at the Banning asylum. Beatrice 
Webb was presumably ignorant of this strange family history 
when, following a conversation with T. H. Huxley some thirty 
years later, she made a most percipient note in her diary: 
"Huxley, when not working, dreams strange things: carries 
on lengthy conversations between unknown persons living 
within his brain. There is a strain of madness in him." 

But, if so, it was that thin strain to which great wits are 
near allied and from which Aristotle tells us no great soul is 
quite exempt. Reading Button's Geology in bed by candle- 
light as a lad of twelve, devouring Hamilton's Logic, learning 
German when he was supposed to be making hay on a 
Worcestershire farm, young Tom did not allow his education 
to cease with his departure from the school at Haling. While 
Huxley was still a baby, Brougham founded his Society for 
the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and soon the intelligent 
self-educator could take his choice of innumerable encyclo- 
paedias and factual periodicals. Books of all sorts were becom- 
ing cheaper and more readily available, and the adolescent 
youngster soaked himself in printers' ink and thought about 
the world around him. At the age of twelve he would cer- 
tainly have been excited by Queen Victoria's accession to 
the throne, he could not have missed the orgy of railroad 


construction while he was in the Midlands, and he must have 
heard much talk of the Charter in 1838 and the Anti-Corn 
Law League a year later. In his adolescent journal Thoughts 
and Doings, a miniature home-made affair which he kept 
from 1840 to 1845, accounts of simple scientific experiments 
jostle with immature philosophical speculations, a protest 
against the treatment of dissenters is followed by a discussion 
on the nature of the soul. Already in these pages his revolt 
against narrow doctrine is foreshadowed by a note from 
Lessing, "I hate all people who want to found sects"; 
already his wide interests come out in a plan of study which 
includes German and Italian and Physics and Physiology; 
already his philosophical bent appears in a youthful attempt 
at the classification of all knowledge, with "doubt under 
which head to put morality, for I cannot determine exactly 
in my own mind whether morality can exist independent of 
others, whether the idea of morality could ever have arisen 
in the mind of an isolated being or not". 

Unlike Newman, Huxley has left no self-regarding record 
of his own mental development, but there is no doubt that in 
these early days the dominant influence was Carlyle. From 
him Huxley gained a hatred of humbug and sham, and Sartor 
Resartus was long his standby. Heroes and Hero-Worship and 
The French Revolution appealed to a personality early 
conscious of its power, and many a quotation from Carlyle 
went down in the miniature journal. In Carlyle, too, Huxley 
found sanction for his own sympathy with the downtrodden, 
and in his pages he came across German philosophers for 
whom it seemed worth while to learn the tongue. As the years 
went by, Huxley increasingly parted company with the sage's 
prejudices and his exaltation of the great individual, but the 
early imprint was indelible and the early debt never forgotten. 
Towards the end of Carlyle's life, seeing him on the opposite 
side of the street and taking pity on his solitariness, Huxley 
crossed over to pass the time of day. Carlyle looked up, 
peered into his face, said "You're Huxley, aren't you? the 


man that says we are all descended from monkeys", and 
walked on. But even after this rebuff Huxley was glad to 
join in raising a memorial to his long-discarded mentor, for 
whose tonic influence on a young mind he remained ever 

It was apparently from no special inclination that Huxley 
took up first medicine and then biology. His early wish was 
to be an engineer; but, with no family fortune to finance him 
and with two of his sisters married to doctors, it was almost 
inevitable that he should take up that profession. At the age 
of fifteen he migrated to London to begin his apprenticeship, 
and a period in the East End left him with vivid memories 
of poverty and squalor, so that he "used to wonder sometimes 
why these people did not sally forth in mass and get a few 
hours' eating and drinking and plunder to their hearts' con- 
tent, before the police could stop and hang a few of them". 
Then, after working for a while under his brother-in-law Dr 
John Scott in North London, he managed in 1842 to secure a 
Free Scholarship for "young Gentlemen of respectable but 
unfortunate families", and his medical studies at Charing 
Cross Hospital began. He seems to have had no difficulty in 
carrying off prizes in chemistry and anatomy and physiology; 
and, if .his name did not figure more prominently in the 
honours lists, it was doubtless because he spent a good deal of 
his time making caricatures of his teachers and a good deal of 
his energy in reading outside the prescribed fields of study. 
However, he was awarded a Gold Medal in the First Medical 
Examination of the University of London, arid he had the 
satisfaction of seeing his first research paper published 
whilst yet a student. Then, since he needed to earn his living 
at some occupation which .did not demand a high medical 
qualification, Huxley became an Assistant-Surgeon in the 
Royal Navy. 

Fortunately, he failed to secure the resident hospital posi- 
tion which he had hoped for, and he was saved from a routine 
medical career by being posted to the 'donkey frigate* survey 


ship HMS Rattlesnake. The vessel leaked at the seams and 
swarmed with cockroaches, and Huxley's five-feet-eleven- 
inches must have been most uncomfortable in his lower-deck 
berth four-foot-ten in height, but there were more than com- 
pensating advantages. The official naturalist, John Mac- 
gillivray, was glad enough to have the assistance of a young 
medico anxious to do research, and there was a tacit under- 
standing that Huxley would be allowed to pursue his own 
interests. The Captain of Rattlesnake was Owen Stanley, 
brother of Dean Stanley and son of the Bishop of Norwich, 
and he allowed the chart room to be used for books and 
microscope. Leaving Spithead on the 3rd December 1846, 
cruising inside the Great Barrier Reef and up through the 
Torres Straits, Huxley worked away at the anatomy of marine 
organisms and packeted back home research papers of pecu- 
liar brilliance. His devotion to marine life was not so exclusive 
as to prevent his courting and engaging to marry a certain 
Miss Heathorn of Sydney, but it was sufficient to ensure that 
when he returned to England in 1850 there were many men of 
science most anxious to make his acquaintance. 

At a time when much was being taken on authority, and 
not very reliable authority at that, Huxley had the great 
advantage of studying biology thousands of miles away from 
a university. A lesser man might have failed to make any 
headway at all with no instructor and few books, but in his 
case it was a benison to be thrown entirely on his own re- 
sources. With no teacher to tell him what he should see in the 
specimens dredged up in his adapted wire-mesh meat cover, 
he simply recorded what in fact he saw, and what he saw was 
as novel as it was incontrovertible. Within a few months of 
touching at Plymouth he was selected for Fellowship of the 
Royal Society, and soon he was very much the young lion of 
the scientific world. "I have taken a better position than I 
could have expected among these grandees", he permitted 
himself to boast to Lizzie, "and I find them all immensely 
civil and ready to help me on." 


What he most needed was time for research, and soon 
strings were being pulled to good effect. Sir Richard Owen * 
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty to relieve Huxley of 
normal naval duties, the Royal Society and the British 
Association added their weight, and on the 3rd December 
there came a nominal six months* appointment 'for special 
service' to HMS Fisgard, stationed at Woolwich as guard 
ship, with leave of absence from naval duties. This leave was 
extended for a further twelve months, then for another year 
and then another six months, and Huxley's researches went 
apace. Memoirs came out on the development of echino- 
derms, the morphology of ascidians and molluscs, the audi- 
tory organs of crustaceans and the anatomy of the rotifers; 
and still a great mass of work on the oceanic hydrozoa 
remained unpublished. Huxley took the view that, since his 
material had been collected on a naval voyage, the Admiralty 
should pay for its publication; but the Admiralty, sym- 
pathetic as it was to scientific research, did not share that 
view perhaps understandably, since he had not even been 
the official naturalist on Rattlesnake. Some of his friends 
seem to have been a little alarmed by the way in which Huxley 
was pressing his claim (he wrote direct to the First Lord of 
the Admiralty and arranged for an intermediary to lay the 
matter before the Prime Minister), and when he was awarded 
the Royal Society's Gold Medal there was some trepidation 
about what he might say in his speech of acceptance. He 
promised a friend "I will 'roar you like any sucking dove' at 
the dinner'*, but unfortunately Huxley was never very strong 
on the habits of sucking doves. So, although he explained "I 
have been too long used to strict discipline to venture to 
criticise any act of my superiors", that did not prevent his 
making the acid remark that "The Government of this 
country, of this great country, has been two years debating 

* Sir Richard Owen (1804-1892), who achieved enormous distinction as an 
anatomist, but made many enemies by reason of his vanity and jealousy. He 
was a very stubborn man and unwilling ever to admit an error, which 
proved to be his downfall when he came into conflict with Huxley. 


whether it should grant the three hundred pounds necessary 
for the publication of these researches". But the Admiralty is 
not easily moved against its will, and no doubt it considered 
three years' leave of absence not ungenerous: at any rate, by 
January 1854 it would budge no further. 

Neither would Huxley. The letters which passed between 
him and the Admiralty must surely be unique, and he must 
have been very confident about his standing in the world of 
science. On the 7th of the month further leave was refused, 
on the 1st February Huxley was posted to Illustrious at Ports- 
mouth, six days later his application for cancellation of the 
posting was rejected, and on the 23rd the Admiralty sent an 
understandably acerbic inquiry why he had not joined his 
ship. The 1st March brought instructions to report immedi- 
ately the reason for failing to obey the thrice-repeated order 
and next day Huxley blandly explained that it was impossible 
for him to proceed to Portsmouth until the Admiralty had 
made up its mind about a grant in aid of publication. What 
nautical expletives may have accompanied the reading of this 
missive in Whitehall we can only guess, but on the 3rd March 
the Admiralty replied that, unless he immediately obeyed, 
his name would be removed from the Navy List. In those 
days, when Britannia really ruled the waves, expulsion from 
the Royal Navy was scarcely the best start to a young man's 
career in London but Huxley never bluffed, and struck 
from the Navy List he was. 

Prohibited from continuing his naval career (how fascinat- 
ing a thought is that of Admiral Huxley!), he cast around for 
other employment and even contemplated emigrating to 
Australia and becoming a brewer. "To attempt to live by any 
scientific pursuit is a farce . . .", he had written despairingly 
to Miss Heathorn. "A man of science may earn great dis- 
tinction, but not bread. He will get invitations to all sorts of 
dinners and conversaziones, but not enough income to pay 
his cab fare." Yet, although uncertain of what the future 
might hold, he seems never to have doubted that he would 


succeed in some field. "I will leave my mark somewhere/* 
he told his sister Lizzie, "and it shall be clear and distinct 
., his mark| and free from the abominable blur of 

cant, humbug and self-seeking which surrounds this present 
world that is to say, supposing that I am not already 
unconsciously tainted myself, a result of which I have a morbid 

The frequency and vigour with which Huxley declaimed 
against self-seeking imply an ambitious nature whose idealism 
feared its own ambition, but that does not make the idealism 
less real. By this time Huxley had been around the world and 
seen that poverty and squalor were not peculiar to London's 
East End, and the ruthlessness of men both black and white 
had made a deep impress on his mind. On the long sea voyages 
he had run into any number of petty jealousies and intrigues, 
he had found his towing-net hauled in with the excuse that it 
impeded the ship's passage, and he had known careful dis- 
sections thrown overboard before they could be drawn. The 
amused contempt of most of the officers for scientific pur- 
suits had been a continual discouragement, and back in 
England he soon discovered that recognition depended as 
much on lobbying as on learning. So off he went to the 
British Association at Ipswich in 1851, confiding to his 
fiancee that "Anyone who conceives that I went down from 
any especial interest in the progress of science makes a great 
mistake. My journey was altogether a matter of policy". All 
the time his reputation was growing, and by the end of 1851 
he was able to tell an Australian friend "When I last wrote I 
was but at the edge of the crush at the pit door at this great 
fools theatre now I have worked my way into it, and 
through it, and I hope am not far from the check takers". 
Nothing came of a mooted Chair of Natural, History at 
Sydney, a hoped-for appointment at Toronto went to a close 
relative of a Canadian politician, and applications at Aber- 
deen and Cork and King's College, London, met with no 
more success. Nevertheless, he told Miss Heathorn in the 


summer of 1853, "My course in life is taken. I will not leave 
London I will make myself a name and a position as well 
as an income by some kind of pursuit connected with science, 
which is the thing for which nature has fitted me if she has 
ever fitted any one for anything'*. Then, just in time to pre- 
vent his expulsion from the Royal Navy from being too 
catastrophic, he obtained a post as palaeontologist and 
naturalist at the Government School of Mines in Jermyn 
Street. His fiancee set sail from Australia and reached Eng- 
land in the following May, and soon Huxley was writing 
triumphantly to Hooker* "I terminate my Baccalaureate 
and take my degree of M.A. trimony (isn't that atrocious?) on 
Saturday, July 21st". 

It is evident from his dashing courtship and deep capacity 
for love that Huxley's resilience had preserved him from the 
emotional crippling which sometimes comes from an un- 
happy childhood, and somehow he managed to insulate his 
own marriage and family life from the sad failure of his 
father's. The toughness the hardness, perhaps which en- 
abled Mm to do this had a Puritan quality not entirely free 
from self-righteousness, and it was probably developed in 
part as a protection against powerful sensual urges. We can 
only guess at the meaning of his reminiscence of schooldays, 
that "bullying was ;the least of the ill-practises current 
among us", and his confession that "few men have drunk 
more deeply of all kinds of sin than I" is an obvious exaggera- 
tion under the shock of bereavement, but statements like 
these at least imply an awareness of desires disciplined only 
with difficulty. Huxley seems to have accepted without 
question and it is surprising in a man normally so sceptical 
of unsupported speculation the naive notion that his life- 
long tendency to dyspepsia and depression was due to some 
obscure poisoning in adolescence, and it is tempting to sup- 
pose that the true cause was a neurosis arising from repres- 

* Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1817-1911), the famous systematic botanist, 
who was a lifelong friend of Huxley and who, with his father, largely built up 
the magnificent collections at Kew. 


sion. But excursions into post-mortem psychoanalysis are 
rarely profitable, and Huxley's libido had best be left alone 
with the remark that he seems to have controlled it as effi- 
ciently as he did most things. 

When Rattlesnake put into Mauritius in the May of 1847, 
Huxley assured his mother that the place was "a complete 
paradise, and if I had nothing better to do, I should pick up 
some pretty French Eve (and there are plenty) and turn 
Adam". But it was a few months later, when the young ladies 
of Sydney set out to entertain the company of the visiting 
frigate, that he really lost his heart. Miss Henrietta Anne 
Heathorn was about three months younger than the hand- 
some assistant-surgeon who boldly came up and claimed a 
dance, and if it was not love at first sight it was something 
very like it. Nettie was fascinated by his keen sense of fun and 
ready wit and apparently boundless knowledge, and she 
waited anxiously for their next meeting. As for Hal (he was 
always Hal to her, not Tom), he could never quite make up 
his mind whether she was pretty or not, but he was head over 
heels in love. They met again at a ball at Government House, 
and a few days later Nettie saw him enter yet another ball- 
room: "O thought I there is that delightful doctor. What an 
evening of glamour it was. . . . Before we left he begged of me 
the red camellia I wore which after my darling died I found 
preserved amongst his papers." 

"God help me!", Huxley wrote in 1855, soon after their 
long separation was ended by Nettie's arrival in England, "I 
discover that I am as bad as any young fool who knows no 
better, and if the necessity for giving six lectures a week did 
not sternly interfere, I should be hanging about her ladyship's 
apron-strings all day." But her ladyship had fallen ill and 
been nearly killed by incompetent doctoring in Australia, and 
Huxley was so shocked by her appearance that he secured an 
honest opinion by presenting her to a leading London phy- 
sician as if she were merely a patient in whom he had a 
professional interest. Nettie was given six months to live: 


"Well, six months or not", announced Huxley to the indigna- 
tion of the deceived consultant, "she is going to be my wife." 
They honeymooned at Tenby, where he had to carry her to 
and from the beach, but she recovered to bear him eight 
children and eventually outlive him. 

It was during the Christmas of 1856 that Nettie presented 
her delighted husband with Noel, "a fair-haired, blue-eyed, 
stout little Trojan, very like his mother", and in the February 
of 1858 Jessie came along. They agreed to have no more, but 
a year later Marian arrived, and early in 1 860 yet another was 
on its way. Then, in September, the sturdy young Noel was 
killed by scarlet fever, and Huxley had to control his own 
grief so as to bring the frantic mother back to her senses. For 
a long time she was really ill, and could not summon up 
much interest in her two young daughters, but when Leonard 
was born (and so called to contain the letters of their dead 
first-born's name) an aching gap was filled. During the next 
few years the family was reinforced by Rachel, Nettie, 
Henry and Ethel, and it became a by-word among their 
friends for its friendliness. As for Huxley himself, he was 
always advising his bachelor friends to marry and have chil- 
drenmaking exception only of Herbert Spencer, whom 
he suspected would be incapable of selecting a suitable 

It was perhaps not altogether good for Huxley's children to 
be quite so ajvare as Leonard was of the infallible rectitude of 
his moral judgements, but the household was by no means a 
paternal dictatorship. Probably Huxley was less indulgent 
with his own children than with grandson Julian, of whom he 
remarked "I like that chap! I like the way he looks you 
straight in the face and disobeys you", but the family was 
once described as "a Republic tempered by epigram". 
Certainly, his daughters were able to persuade him that there 
was no logical reason why, equally with their brothers, they 
might not smoke. His work kept him far too much from the 
children, but he often took them walking in St John's Wood 


and between the high hedges of West End Lane, while in- 
doors they were delighted by his endless invention of funny 
drawings and his skill in carving animals from orange peel. 
As they grew older, he seems to have trusted them to behave 
sensibly in sexual matters and in the choice of marriage 
partners, although he was capable of giving shrewd enough 
advice on the characteristics of the sexes: "Men, my dear," 
he once wrote, "are very queer animals, a mixture of horse- 
nervousness, ass-stubbornness and camel-malice with an 
angel bobbing about unexpectedly like the apple in thepossett. " 
At any rate, both Nettie and Harry felt confident enough to 
become engaged to people their parents had not yet met. "I 
am prepared to be the young lady's slave", Huxley wrote to 
his youngest son on hearing the news ; "pray tell her that I am 
a model father-in-law, with my love. (By the way, you migftt 
mention her name; it is a miserable detail, I know, but would 
be interesting)," Jessie's marriage to F. W. Waller, Leonard's 
to Julia Arnold, Rachel's to W. A. Eckersley, Nettie's to J. H. 
Roller and Henry's to Sophy Stobart, seem to have been 
orthodox and uncomplicated affairs, but those of Marian 
and Ethel were tragically interconnected. If Huxley had 
favourites among his children they were these two, both of 
them brilliant personalities. Marian's marriage to Jack Col- 
lier, whose portrait of her father catches so fleetingly his pe- 
culiar melancholy, did not prevent her continuing with her 
own painting and being more than once hung in the Royal 
Academy, but after five years she was struck by a hopeless 
disease and in 1887 she died near Paris at the age of twenty- 
seven. Two years later her youngest sister Ethel, recently a 
proud prize-winner in modelling at the Slade School, decided 
to marry Marian's widower Jack, a thing not merely scandal- 
ous but illegal. But that was her decision, and her father ac- 
cepted it without question. He went with them to Norway, 
where the marriage law was less archaic, and on his return 
approached Lord Hartington to see if the Upper House could 
not be persuaded to allow the passage of a reforming Bill for 


England. (It is a remarkable coincidence that Ethel's first- 
born, Laurence, later became HM Ambassador to Nor- 

In a life always lived as fully outside the laboratory as in it, 
Huxley produced more than a hundred and fifty research 
papers, dealing with topics as varied as the morphology of the 
heteropoda and the hybridism of gentians, the classification of 
crayfish and the phylogeny of crocodiles, the physical 
anthropology of the Patagonians and the human remains 
from Neanderthal. In the five furious years following the 
appearance of Darwin's Origin of Species, Huxley's forty-six 
publications included nine important contributions to the 
evolution controversy and some scientific popularisation. 
Then, as the country turned its attention to the organisation 
of a national system of education, there followed two de- 
cades in which over a quarter of the 123 main items from his 
pen were devoted to one educational topic or another. Finally, 
in the last ten years of his life, philosophy and religion and 
public affairs accounted for most of his thirty-four major new 
publications. As one reads his writings on various aspects of 
education, on the nature of a university and on Descartes and 
Berkeley and Hume, on Aristotle's natural history and on 
Hebrew and Christian thought, one scarcely knows whether 
to admire the more his industry or his versatility or, 
perhaps, whether not to regret his dispersion of effort. 
But, at least, one can understand why Huxley has not been 
more neatly docketed and catalogued in the cabinet of 

Certainly G. K. Chesterton exaggerated in describing him 
as "much more a literary than a scientific man", but Huxley 
was a master in the craft of letters. His palimpsest manuscripts 
shew how meticulously he corrected to achieve his crystalline 
prose, and it has been argued that his example was responsible 
for the happy clarity of Stevenson and later novelists. His 
elementary textbooks contain descriptions so lucid as to 
produce the effect of a piece of chalk in a skilful hand, and at 


times one is almost inclined to accept H. L. Mencken's judge- 
ment that he was "perhaps the greatest virtuoso of plain 
English who has ever lived". Huxley once told the readers of 
The Pall Mall Gazette "I venture to doubt the wisdom of 
attempting to mould one's style by any other process than 
that of striving after the clear and forcible expression of 
definite conceptions; in which process the Glassian precept, 
'first catch your definite conceptions*, is probably the most 
difficult to obey", but there was more to his own style than 
that. Aldous Huxley has submitted his grandfather's prose to 
literary analysis, and has shewn how much of its merit is due 
to its economy and lucidity, its skilful use of alliteration, its 
neat antitheses, and its rhythm so reminiscent of the poetical 
books of the Old Testament. But perhaps it was that stormy 
petrel Ray Lankester * who really put his finger on the reason 
for Huxley's extraordinary literary effectiveness: "In his 
case more than in that of his contemporaries, it is true that 
the style is the man . . . now he is gravely shaking his head, 
now compressing the lips with emphasis, and from time to 
time with a quiet twinkle of the eye making unexpe6ted 
apologies or protesting that he is of a modest and peace- 
loving nature." And it was this power. of projecting his per- 
sonality on to the printed page which made his arguments 
appear as a direct communication to each individual 

Since his death there has crystallised a picture of Huxley 
Eikonoklastes, joyful only in destruction, but this is less than 
half the story. John Fiske f was not the only one to discover 

* Sir Edwin Ray Lankester (1847-1929), who from childhood had been a 
great admirer of Huxley and always sought his advice. In 1874 he resigned his 
Fellowship of Exeter College, Oxford, to become Professor of Zoology and 
Comparative Anatomy at University College, London, but returned to Oxford 
in 1891 as Linacre Professor. He was the main founder of the Marine Bio- 
logical Association and in 1898 became Director of the British Museum 
(Natural History). 

t John Fiske (1842-1901), the historian and philosopher who was an im- 
portant populaoser of evolution in America. A precocious youth, he could 
read ten languages by the age of twenty, but his alma mater Harvard never 
gave him a Chair. 


with surprise that "the ruling characteristic in his nature was 
tenderness", and in his Table Talk of Shirley John Skelton * 
remarked "Huxley had probably the most trenchant intellect 
of the time; yet, on the emotional side he was extraordinarily 
tender and sympathetic no woman more so". Yet, although 
we cannot discount his own confession to Lizzie, "I have a 
woman's element in me. I hate the incessant struggle and toil 
to cut another's throat among us men", there was undoubt- 
edly in him much of the pugnacious Percy, 'the Hotspur of 
the north', who killed some six or seven dozens of Scots at a 
breakfast, washed his hands, and said to his wife, "Fie upon 
this quiet life! I want work". As a young man of twenty-five 
Huxley declared "if it should be necessary for me to find 
public expression to my thoughts on any matter I have 
clearly made up my mind to do so, without allowing myself to 
be influenced by hope of gain or weight of authority", and 
it was not merely theocratic authority that he rejected. Two 
years before his notorious clash with the Bishop of Oxford 
in 1860, he was already in the bad books of Owen for refusing 
to submit to the accepted doctrines of cranial structure; two 
years before his death he was still insisting that " 'Authori- 
ties', 'disciples', and 'schools' are the curse of science; and 
do more to interfere with the work of the scientific spirit 
than all its enemies". 

It is, however, his controversies with the Christians which 
are commonly recalled, and the skill they display is immense. 
Today there is a tendency in some quarters to dismiss Hux- 
ley's carefully considered philosophy of agnosticism as an 
amateurish aberration, but his contemporaries never made 
that mistake. He was not one to enter into debate without 
being very sure of his ground, and his manuscript notes 
testify to careful study of the questions at issue. And so, 
when the Chancellor of St Paul's attempted a loosely argued 
justification of belief in Biblical miracles, he came in for a 

* Sir John Skelton (1831-1897), the Edinburgh advocate, essayist and 


dialectical dissection for which some of the tools had been 
sharpened by the medieval schoolmen. Similarly, when St 
George Mivart * argued that the idea of evolution would have 
been acceptable to the great Roman Catholic theologian 
Suarez, Huxley did not take long to dig out the learned 
Jesuit's Latin writings and "come out in the new character 
of a defender of Catholic orthodoxy, and upset Mivart out 
of the mouth of his own prophet". But Huxley was not a 
sceptic for lack of any sense of the numinous, and The 
Quarterly Review was percipient when it greeted the first 
volume of his collected essays with the salutation O testi- 
monitan animae naturaliter Ckristianae! The debates with 
Gladstone, of course, constituted a special case, for Huxley 
was so disgusted with what he considered the G.O.M.'s 
intellectual opportunism that he took particular pleasure in 
scalping him: he once compared Gladstone with "one of 
those spotted dogs who runs on in front, but is always turning 
round to see whether the carriage is coming". 

Unfortunately, Huxley's reputation as a controversialist 
has somewhat obscured his effectiveness as a man of affairs. 
Yet, when one follows the ways in which, sometimes by dull 
plodding committee work and sometimes by lobbying and 
private string-pulling and sometimes by public campaigning, 
he succeeded so often in moving matters in the direction he 
desired, one is forced to agree with an American judgement 
that "As a political operative, Huxley was devastatingly 
efficient". More than one attempt was made to tempt him to 
Westminster, and Grant Duff t did not think that he would 
have been much behind Gladstone as a debater or Bright 
as an orator, but perhaps he would not have gone so far in 

* St George Jackson Mivart (1827-1900), a distinguished, if erratic, biolo- 
gist who lectured successively at St Mary's Hospital, a Roman Catholic 
College in Kensington, and Louvain. He was eventually excommunicated for 
the repudiation of ecclesiastical authority. 

t Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff (1829-1906), who "was in the 
habit of meeting or corresponding with almost everyone of any eminence in 
social life in England, and with many similar persons abroad" (DNS) and 
whose fourteen-volume diary is a rich mine of Victorian lore. He preceded 
Huxley as Rector of Aberdeen University. 


this direction as in many others he had not the politician's 
dual requirements of une bonne digestion et im mauvais coeur. 
Yet, despite his recurrent dyspepsia, he managed to manoeuvre 
the forces for scientific and technical education in such a way 
as to produce the great South Kensington College, he so 
reconciled conflicting interests as to clear the path for a 
teaching University of London, and by his dominant influ- 
ence on the first London School Board he did as much as any 
man to sketch the pattern for England's first comprehensive 
system of elementary education. 

Those of his contemporaries who knew the man himself in 
all his fullness shared Lord Avebury's* view, "The truth is 
that Huxley was one of those all-round men who would have 
succeeded in any walk of life". He could perhaps never have 
been more than a very minor poet, but his verses on the 
death of Tennyson have real merit; in art he was entirely 
untrained, but his sketches and paintings shew great talent 
and his scientific illustrations are also works of art; in music 
he had no executive ability, but his taste was discriminating 
and his enjoyment keen. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say 
that "Huxley had more talents than two lifetimes could have 
developed. He could think, draw, speak, write, inspire, lead, 
negotiate, and wage multifarious war against earth and 
heaven with the cool professional ease of an acrobat support- 
ing nine people on his shoulders at once". And yet through 
all his wide-ranging activities there runs one strong thread. 
Whether in his professorial chair at the School of Mines or 
as Dean of the Normal School of Science or at the annual 
meetings of the British Association, whether in the pages of 
the quarterlies or in the correspondence columns of the daily 
papers, whether in committee or in cabal, from first to last his 

* Sir John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury (1834-1913), the banker and dis- 
tinguished amateur of science, whose home became a social centre for people 
of importance in many walks of life. An active Member of Parliament (re- 
membered as the originator of August Bank Holiday), he also was Chairman 
of London County Council, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London and 
Rector of St Andrews University. 


concern was with education. And, now that his scientific 
work has suffered the fate of all good research and been over- 
laid by its progeny, now that his controversial writings have 
become pieces to be admired for their elegant craftsmanship 
but no longer put to daily use, it is as an educator that 
T. H. Huxley has the greatest significance. 


A Culture Adequate to the Age 

The modern world is full of artillery; and we turn out our 
children to do battle in it, equipped with the shield and sword 
of an ancient gladiator. 

Lecture to teachers at South Kensington Museum, 1861 

LINKING MOST OF the cultural problems facing England a 
century ago was the basic question of State intervention. 
Nassau Senior spoke for many when he declared that "the 
main, almost sole, duty of Government is to give protection", 
and there were always those who opposed any national aid for 
education as a matter of principle. During the first quarter of 
the century a whole series of efforts at establishing a State- 
supported system of schools had foundered on sectarian or 
laissez faire opposition, and even when Parliament reluc- 
tantly provided 20,000 for educational purposes in 1833 
after willingly voting 50,000 to improve the Royal stables 
it did so without any apparent awareness that a new principle 
had in fact been ceded. By 1847 a Committee of the Privy 
Council was distributing 100,000 per annum in school grants, 
but still politicians spoke as if education were a purely private 
matter or solely the concern of the Churches. During the 1850s 
Acts of Parliament regulated the ancient universities, the De- 
partment of Science and Art began to exercise a powerful 
influence on the schools, and the Newcastle Commission 
investigated the possibility of providing a system of sound 



and cheap elementary instruction. In the following decades 
the Clarendon and Devonshire Commissions examined a 
wide range of educational institutions but still there was a 
sort of pretence that the State should not interfere with 
education. So, maintaining in theory a belief in non-inter- 
vention which was contravened in practice, refusing to plan 
any system as a whole but patching and building piecemeal as 
each new need appeared, England by 1870 had passed the 
point of no return. Throughout the length and breadth of the 
land, Matthew Arnold noted, there was a sense of weariness 
with the old organisations and a desire, vague and obscure as 
yet, for a general transformation. "It is in the fermenting 
mind of the nation," he declared, "and his is for the next 
twenty years the real influence who can address himself to 

Like Arnold, Huxley saw clearly that the conditions of the 
age called for radical reform, but his emotional attitude to the 
need was quite different. Arnold, educated at Rugby and 
Oxford and entering by right of birth into London society, 
was always casting lingering glances over his shoulder to the 
halcyon days when the worthiest aristocracy in the world had 
set a high example of thought and behaviour. Huxley, win- 
ning what education he could by his own efforts and as a 
young man searching for inexpensive rooms in a London 
suburb, looked forward to the day when the new fermenting 
forces would make men nobler than the world had yet seen. 
For the one the Zeitgeist was a depressing thing and the 
modern situation blank and barren; for the other the spirit of 
the age was pregnant with exciting possibilities. Despite his 
egalitarian beliefs, the poet was always one of the governing 
class and never quite at ease in an increasingly democratic 
age; although sometimes autocratic in action, the biologist 
never forgot his humble origin and revelled in a society whose 
barriers were breaking down. So, while Arnold looked with 
longing at the more uniform and centralised cultures of 
continental Europe, Huxley was optimistic about the cultural 


potentialities of his own unruly but energetic countrymen. 
And, not surprisingly, he appreciated the emerging cultures 
of the new lands in a way that was quite impossible for 

The bustle and bounce of America Huxley found not 
offensive but exhilarating, and his comment in 1876 as he 
looked down at the busy little boats in New York harbour is 
illuminating. "If I were not a man," he told the corre- 
spondent of The New- York Tribune, "I think I should like to 
be a tug." When he noted that the river skyline was domin- 
ated by the tall buildings of a newspaper and a telegraph 
company, he had no nostalgia about the dreaming spires of 
Oxford: "Ah, that is interesting; that is American," he de- 
clared. "In the Old World the first things you see as you 
approach a great city are steeples; here you see, first, centres 
of intelligence." Pioneer improvisation did not worry him 
after all, he had spent several years roughing it around the 
world and strange speech and customs did not repel. So, 
where Arnold deplored the vulgarity and lack of culture in 
America, Huxley congratulated the assembled citizens of a 
little Tennessee town upon the admirable work of their 
crude frame schools. The truth is that Huxley himself was 
(in the better sense of that word) a little 'vulgar' : his gentle- 
ness prevented abundant energy from degenerating into 
mere pushfulness, as his generosity made it impossible for 
acquisitiveness to become mere money-grubbing, but the 
hurly-burly of an expanding society suited his vigorous 
nature to perfection. It was because he not merely acknow- 
ledged the Zeitgeist, but was himself in harmony with it, 
that so often he seemed able to recognise the rigjit moment 
and manner to bring educational issues to a head. 

In this he was perhaps aided by a certain insularity. "De- 
pend upon it . . .", he told Hooker in 1858, "when tie 
English mind fully determines to work a thing out it will do 
it better than any other. I firmly believe in the advent of an 
English epoch in science & art which will lick the Augustan 


. . . into fits." As a young man he wrote to his mother that 
Rio de Janeiro was a hot and slinking town, "the odours 
here being improved by a strong flavour of nigger from the 
slaves", and the Portuguese slave-masters he dismissed with 
the comment "there is not a more vile, ignorant, and besotted 
nation under the sun". Brought up not in an enlightened 
household like that of the Mills or the Amberleys, but among 
the philistine lower middle classes, Huxley had in his early 
days a fair share of prejudices of all kinds what is striking is 
the extent to which he managed to discard them. As late as 
1865 he still believed that the average Negro was inferior to 
the average White, and his writings were disfigured by such 
phrases as "our prognathous relative" and "our dusky 
cousins". But he was too warm-hearted to accept the arbitrary 
domination of any human being by another, and too clear- 
headed to overlook the moral damage which oppression does 
to the oppressor, so the American North had his support 
against the Southern States in whose army his sister Lizzie's 
son was serving. Then in 1866, when Governor Eyre of 
Jamaica secured the execution under martial law of a coloured 
agitator named Gordon, Huxley parted from friends like 
Tyndall * and Kingsley,f and from his early hero Carlyle, to 
join with those who sought Eyre's prosecution for murder. 
It was, he said, irrelevant whether Eyre acted from high 
motives or Gordon from low, for "English law does not 
permit good persons, as such, to strangle bad persons, as 
such", and he set himself solidly against the "hero-wor- 
shippers who believe that the world is to be governed by its 
great men, who are to lead the little ones, justly if they can; 
but if not, drive or kick them the right way". A year later, 
after examining the ethnological evidence thoroughly for 
himself, he had overcome his earlier prejudice to such an 

* John Tyndall (1820-1893), the physicist who succeeded Faraday as 
Superintendent of the Royal Institution. Despite various political differences, 
he and Huxley remained the most intimate of friends. 

t Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), perhaps best remembered for.his satire The 
Water Babies. As a progressive clergyman and social reformer he had a CQri- 
siderable influence on the cultural development of his time. 


extent as to assure the citizens of Birmingham that there was 
no reliable evidence for any ideas of innate racial superiority. 

The same process of self-liberation from early prejudice 
took place in connexion with anti-semitism. In 1858 Huxley 
was capable of sending Hooker a rather nasty note about "a 
little Jew of whom I know nothing and hate as I hate all 
the chosen peoplesh (sic)", but his regular reading of the Old 
Testament gave him a mounting admiration for the Hebrew 
spiritual genius and his study of history made him deeply 
appreciative of the great achievement of a persecuted 
people. "If I were a Jew," he declared in the last year of his 
life, "I should have the same contempt as he has for the 
Christian who acted in this way towards me, who took my 
ideas and scorned me for clinging to them." He once told 
Romanes * "the only religion that appeals to me is prophetic 
Judaism. Add to it something from the best Stoics and 
something from Spinoza and something from Goethe, and 
there is a religion for men"; and, after Oxford had removed 
its religious tests, he helped the brilliant Jew Sylvester t 
to secure the Savilian Chair of Geometry. 

The position with regard to the Irish was rather different. 
Huxley once wrote disparagingly of "a pack of Hibernian 
jobbers", and in 1890 he told Hooker that the root of the 
Irish trouble was that they were all ingrained liars, but one 
suspects that such aspersions were not so much the expression 
of any real ethnic prejudice as a semi-jocular justification of 
his opposition to Home Rule. He found that he could not 
help admiring Parnell, whom he regarded as honest and clear- 
sighted and courageous, but he feared that any disturbance 
of British rule in Ireland would bring suffering and blood- 
shed. In the same way, it is doubtful if he really believed that 

* George John Romanes (1848-1894), a wealthy Canadian who worked as 
a private student under Michael Foster at Cambridge and Burdon-Sanderson 
in London. In 1890 he moved to Oxford and in the following year founded the 
Lectureship there which bears his family name. 

t James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897), who was ranked as Second Wrangler 
at Cambridge in 1833, but as a Jew could not take a degree. He occupied 
Chairs at University College, London, the University of Virginia and Johns 
Hopkins University before moving to Oxford in 1883. 


the Afghans were "a pack of disorderly treacherous blood- 
thirsty thieves and caterans", which was how he justified to 
his daughter Jessie the British suppression in 1878; but he 
was convinced that, although the Indian Empire was a curse 
to England, so long as it was held at all it must be held firmly. 
The family declared that he was becoming a Jingo, and per- 
haps the vigour of his language cloaks some inner doubt, but 
there was something to be said for his view that at that time 
real justice demanded the Pax Britamica in India. Certainly, 
despite his creditable extirpation of youthful prejudices 
against other peoples, Huxley retained to the end a consider- 
able prejudice in favour of the English. Perhaps that made the 
more effective his criticisms of English attitudes and English 

The extreme individualism of the times he regarded as 
"merely reasoned savagery, utter and unmitigated selfishness 
incompatible with social existence", and he declared that he 
would be ashamed to accept all the benefits which society 
gives and then object to paying a contribution towards the 
education of other men's children. When he stood for elec- 
tion to the London School Board in 1870, he made it quite 
clear that he had no intention of putting his constituents' 
pockets before the educational needs of the teeming children 
of the metropolis, and later in the century he favoured local 
taxation for technical education and State aid for the new 
university colleges of the provinces. Believing that all social 
and legal rights are the outcome of historical processes 
rather than of any hypothecated primeval 'social contract', 
Huxley saw no reason why private prerogatives and duties 
should not be altered as the public good demanded. He be- 
lieved that the attainment of health and wisdom might be pro- 
moted or hindered to an almost indefinite extent by educa- 
tion, and in the conditions of his time he had no doubt that 
the establishment of a satisfactory system of education 
implied much more State intervention than most of his con- 
temporaries were willing to contemplate. It was because 


Gladstone's government was the first to insist, as a matter of 
national policy, that every citizen should receive some educa- 
tion, that Huxley agreed to speak in Liverpool at the unveil- 
ing of the statue to his favourite enemy outside St George's 

Convinced by his own intimate experience of the workings 
of the Science and Art Department that private endeavour 
could not have achieved anything like the same great work, 
Huxley was impatient with those who assumed that govern- 
mental undertakings were necessarily inefficient. "The State 
lives in a glass house", he pointed out; "we see what it tries 
to do, and all its failures, partial or total, are made the most 
of. But private enterprise is sheltered under good opaque 
bricks and mortar. The public rarely knows what it tries to 
do, and only hears of failures when they are gross and patent 
to all the world." Moreover, he remarked, "If continental 
bureaucracy and centralisation be fraught with multitudinous 
evils, surely English beadleocracy and parochial obstruction 
are not altogether lovely". In 1884, when the House of Com- 
mons set up a Select Committee to consider the administra- 
tion of its Votes for education, science and art, he testified 
that he would like to see "a sagacious and influential Minister, 
with a seat in the Cabinet, enabling hi to give the greatest 
force to his views which a Minister can give". The Minister 
of Education, he thought, "would be very unwise if he at- 
tempted to meddle with the special regulations of each school, 
because they very often depend upon all sorts of local condi- 
tions", and "his business is not to interfere and reduce the 
whole educational system of the country to one dead level, 
but to correct abuses". Nevertheless, knowing that freedom 
might be interpreted by some local educational bodies as 
freedom to do nothing, he had no hesitation in saying that the 
Minister should "by distinct regulation occasionally, if 
necessary, force upon these bodies, if they would not initiate 
it voluntarily, a modification of their educational system in 
the desired direction". Sixty years later, the 1944 Education 


Act provided just that balance of powers which he had 

Huxley's support for universal education was in no way 
based upon any belief in innate equality. On the contrary, he 
believed that the native capacities of mankind vary no less 
than their opportunities, and it was with brutal frankness 
that he told a meeting of Working Men's Clubs "The great 
mass of mankind have neither the liking, nor the aptitude, 
for either literary, or scientific, or artistic pursuits; nor, in- 
deed, for excellence of any sort". But the natural inequality 
of men was not a natural inequality of classes, and Huxley 
informed a Marylebone meeting "he did not believe that if 
100 men were picked out of the highest aristocracy in the 
land and 100 out of the lowest class there would be any 
difference of capacity among them". He therefore had no 
sympathy with those who maintained that there was some- 
thing improper about a working man's becoming discon- 
tented with his station in life, and to the Birmingham and 
Midland Institute he said so in scathing terms: 

One hears this argument most frequently from the representatives 
of the well-to-do middle class ; and, coming from them, it strikes me as 
peculiarly inconsistent, as the one thing they admire, strive after, and 
advise their own children to do, is to get on in the world, and, if possible, 
rise out of the class in which they were born into that above them. 
Society needs grocers and merchants as much as it needs coalheavers; 
but if a merchant accumulates wealth and works his way to a baronetcy, 
or if the son of a greengrocer becomes a lord chancellor, or an arch- 
bishop, or, as a successful soldier, wins a peerage, all the world admires 
them; and looks with pride upon the social system which renders such 
achievements possible. Nobody suggests that there is anything wrong 
in their being discontented with their station; or that, in their cases 
society suffers by men of ability reaching the positions for which 
Nature has fitted them. 

A new-born infant, he remarked, does not come into the 
world labelled scavenger or shopkeeper or bishop or duke, 
but as a mass of red pulp very like another, and it is only by 
giving each child a decent education that one can discover 


what he is good for. "We have all known noble lords who 
would have been coachmen, or gamekeepers, or billiard- 
markers, if they had not been kept afloat by our social 
corks," he continued, and his regret was not that society 
should do its utmost to help capacity to ascend, but that it 
had no machinery to facilitate the descent of incapacity. 

Among the many in his day who promoted popular educa- 
tion, Huxley had an important advantage: the workers 
accepted him as one of themselves. He was largely self- 
educated and they knew it, he was the prophet of science and 
they shared his vision, he was the hammer of the Establish- 
ment and they enjoyed the sound of his blows. He had no 
romantic illusions about the working classes; but, because he 
was unambiguously on their side in the struggle for equality 
of opportunity, they accepted from him plain speaking which 
would have damned most men in their eyes for ever. Unlike 
some angry young men of a century later, he never despised 
the common people, and they sensed it. 

Huxley had been indelibly marked by his early experiences 
as apprentice to an East End doctor, when people came to 
him for medical aid who were really suffering from nothing 
but slow starvation: 

I have not forgotten am not likely to forget so long as memory 
holds a visit to a sick girl in a wretched garret where two or three 
other women, one a deformed woman, sister of my patient, were busy 
shirt-making. After due examination, even my small medical knowledge 
sufficed to show that my patient was merely in want of some better 
food than the bread and bad tea on which these people were living. 
I said so as gently as I could, and the sister turned on me with a kind 
of choking passion. Pulling out of her pocket a few pence and halfpence, 
and holding them out, "That is all I get for six-and-thirty hours' work, 
and you talk about giving her proper food". 

In 1870 he was delighted to be driven about Liverpool in the 
Mayor's magnificent coach as befitted the President of the 
British Association, and he mixed smoothly enough with "a 
fashionable and brilliant assemblage of ladies and gentle- 
men" in the Philharmonic Hall, but between sessions he also 


explored the city slums and he minced no words in recount- 
ing his experiences at a later gathering of the respectable: 

He declared that it had been a shock to him, walking through Liver- 
pool streets, to see unwashed, unkempt, brutal people side by side with 
indications of the greatest refinement and the greatest luxury. The 
people who formed what are called the upper strata of society talked of 
political questions as if they were questions of Whig and Tory, of 
Conservative and heaven knows what; but beneath there was the greater 
question whether that prodigious misery which dogs the footsteps of 
modern civilisation should be allowed to exist. ... He believed that 
was the great political question of the future. 

It was no doubt as a result of this outburst that the Liverpool 
United Trades Council petitioned him to speak on their 
behalf, and in the following spring he lectured in Hope Hall 
to help the Operative Trades Committee to liquidate the 
debt on their meeting-place. A few months later he was asking 
a Birmingham audience "What gives force to the socialistic 
movement which is now stirring European society to its 
depths, but a determination on the part of the naturally able 
men among the proletariat, to put an end, somehow or 
other, to the misery and degradation in which a large pro- 
portion of their fellows are steeped?" Speaking again after 
the passage of sixteen years he was still pressing the point, 
and he warned a Manchester meeting to have a care that the 
sole prospect of a life of labour should not be an old age of 
penury: "any social condition in which the development 
of wealth involves the misery, the physical weakness, and the 
degradation of the worker, is absolutely and infallibly 
doomed to collapse. Your bayonets and cutlasses will break 
under your hand". No wonder that he received complaints 
that his words were being quoted by 'socialist agitators' ! 

Huxley was far from being a socialist, but he had a deep 
contempt for 'society' and its myrmidons. The proper reward 
of intellectual distinction, he held, was the regard of those 
best qualified to assess it, and "Newton and Cuvier lowered 
themselves when the one accepted an idle knighthood, and 
the other became a baron of the empire. The great men who 


went to their graves as Michael Faraday and George Grote 
seem to me to have understood the dignity of knowledge 
better when they declined all such meretricious trappings". 
For his own part, he wanted nothing of such affairs. "It was 
known that the only peerage I would accept was a spiritual 
one," he jokingly explained to Mrs Clifford, "and as H.M. 
shares the not unnatural prejudice which led her illustrious 
predecessor (now some time dead) to object to give a bishopric 
to Dean Swift, it was thought that she could not stand the 
promotion of Dean Huxley." In the June of 1887 the Prime 
Minister invited him to a private discussion on a "matter of 
some public interest", which turned out to be a query by Lord 
Salisbury about what form of public recognition would be 
acceptable to men of intellectual distinction, and the par- 
ticular proposal was the institution of an analogue to the 
Pour le Mfrite. As it turned out, Britain's Order of Merit was 
not to be established in Huxley's lifetime, and Salisbury 
explored another possibility: would a Privy Countillorship 
be acceptable? Since this was not a mere title but an office, 
and since it seemed to him very desirable that men of science 
and letters should have some advisory function in affairs of 
State, Huxley accepted. "The Archbishopric of Canterbury 
is the only object of ambition that remains to me," he told 
Hooker. "Come and be Suffragan; there is plenty of room at 
Lambeth and a capital garden!" 

Huxley was never worried about what consequences might 
follow the emergence of the workers into positions of power. 
"Compare your average artisan and your average country 
squire," he suggested, "and I don't believe you will find a pin 
to choose between the two in point of ignorance, class feeling, 
or prejudice. . . . Why should we be worse off under one 
regime than under the other?" Some inborn plebeian blind- 
ness, he declared, prevented his seeing why pigeon-shooting 
at Hurlingham should be refined while rat-killing in White- 
chapel was low, nor could he understand why "What a lark" 
was gutter-slang while "How awfully jolly" was the mark of 


a gentleman. He not only wished to help the workers, but had 
a high view of their moral rights and intellectual potentiali- 
ties : "I believe in the fustian", he told Dyster,* "and can talk 
better to it than to any amount of gauze and Saxony." Nor 
was he content with talk: when he heard of a Southampton 
docker who spent his little spare cash in biological study, he 
saw to it that he was provided with a good microscope and 
plenty of encouragement. 

Artisans across half the land heard Huxley from time to 
time, but it was among the men and women of the metropolis 
that his main work was done. Naturally, he helped Maurice f 
by lecturing occasionally at the Working Men's College 
which a group of Christian Socialists had founded in 1854, 
but his special pride was his own South London Working 
Men's College on the other side of the Thames. The moving 
spirit in this intriguing but largely forgotten institution was a 
certain William Rossiter, a portmanteau worker who had 
joined Maurice's College in its first term and thereafter be- 
come a teacher. Huxley agreed to act as Principal of the 
College, at whose opening in Southwark he delivered his 
much-quoted 1868 address 'A Liberal Education and Where 
to Find It'. The collegiate classes ranged widely over litera- 
ture and languages, mathematics and the sciences, and vari- 
ous commercial and industrial subjects, and in addition 
there grew up an evening adult school for women and a day 
school for boys and girls. Most of the donkey work was done 
by Rossiter, but the Principal delivered occasional lectures, 
secured well-known speakers like Palgrave J and Conway 

* Frederick Darnel Dyster (1810-1893), with whom Huxley often stayed at 
Tenby when examining coastal organisms. 

t Frederick Denison Maurice (1805-1872), who had to vacate his Chair at 
King's College, London, following the publication of his Theological Essays in 
1853. He took an active part in the promotion of education for women and 
workers and, even after becoming Professor of Moral Theology at Cambridge 
in 1866, maintained his connexion with the Working Men's College. 

t Francis Turner Palgrave (1824-1897), the poet and critic, best re- 
membered for his Golden Treasury series. 

Moncure Daniel Conway (1832-1907), the Unitarian clergyman who came 
to England from America in 1863 and became 'Minister' of the South Place 
Ethical Society. His name is perpetuated in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square. 


and Payne,* and performed conscientiously the ceremonial 
duties of presiding at meetings and presenting certificates 
to students. As the years went by the College gathered 
strength and opened the first free library in South London, 
and in 1878 it migrated to fresh premises in Upper Ken- 
nington Lane. But Huxley found it increasingly difficult 
to devote much time to the institution, and at the end 
of 1880 he resigned his Principalship. The flourishing 
library soon blossomed out into branches and also opened 
an art gallery, but after 1884 the College side of the venture 
seems to have given way completely to its sturdy offspring. 
All over South London there are now free libraries, the 
Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts continues under 
the London County Council, and in Peckham Road 
the South London Art Gallery still dates its founda- 
tion from that January of 1868 when Huxley opened 
his Working Men's College, It is somehow fitting that a 
man of so catholic a mind should be remembered by a 
group of institutions of the arts in South London as well 
as by the great group of science schools in South Ken- 

Although he was never in any doubt about the intellectual 
potential of the English worker, Huxley's early attitude to 
the women of England was somewhat ambiguous. In 1860, for 
example, he refused to support LyelTs suggestion that 
females might be admitted to the Geological Society and, 
seven years later, Kate Lady Amberley noted in her journal 
that he did not believe women would ever equal men in 
power or capacity. Perhaps, however, Kate failed to dis- 
tinguish between his view of the existing state of the female 
mind and his estimate of its potentialities, and certainly his 
reluctance to admit women to the Geological Society arose 
from the fact that it was not a place for the education of 
students but a place for discussion by experts. Nine-tenths 

* Joseph Payne (1808-1876), a progressive schoolmaster who occupied at 
the College of Preceptors the first Chair of Education in England. 


of women at that time, he told Lyell,* were sunk in mere 
ignorant parsonese superstition, and no permanent advance- 
ment could come until the female half of the race had been 
emancipated. The idea that a woman should learn only so 
much as would enable her to sympathise with her husband's 
pleasures and those of his best friends, harboured even by 
a progressive thinker like Ruskin, was entirely alien to 

Granting the alleged defects of women, is it not somewhat absurd to 
sanction and maintain a system of education which would seem to have 
been specially contrived to exaggerate all these defects? . . . With few 
insignificant exceptions, girls have been educated either to be drudges, 

or toys, beneath man; or a sort of angels above him The possibility 

that the ideal of woman-kind lies neither in the fair saint, nor in the fair 
sinner . . . that women are meant neither to be men's guides nor their 
playthings, but their comrades, their fellows, and their equals, so far as 
Nature puts no bar on that equality, does not seem to have entered into 
the minds of those who have had the conduct of the education of girls. 

So far as his own daughters were concerned, he was quite 
clear that "They at any rate shall not be got up as mantraps 
for the matrimonial market", and the blatant injustices to 
which women were subjected brought him over firmly to the 
support of female education. Already in 1861 he was helping 
Elizabeth Garrett f with her physiological studies, and when 
all medical schools were closed against her he gave admission 
to his lectures at South Kensington. In 1874, when Sophia 
Jex-Blake J sought his support against various obstacles which 
were being placed in the way of women medical students at 
Edinburgh, he refused to condemn those professors who ob- 
jected to teaching anatomy and physiology to mixed classes, 
but he wrote to The Times "I am at a loss to understand on 
what grounds of justice or public policy a career which is 

* Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875), the eminent geologist who taught people to 
think in terms of millions of years and so did much to prepare the public mind 
for Darwin's theory. 

t Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917), a pioneer woman doctor and an 
early suffragist. She was a member of the first London School Board. 

t Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake (1840-1912), who was the main founder of the 
London Medical School for Women. 


open to the weakest and most foolish of the male sex should 
be forcibly closed to women of vigour and capacity". By this 
time he had sufficiently overcome his own prejudices to 
admit females to his ordinary classes and even to have a 
Memonstratrix' in physiology, and in the following year he 
said that if it depended on him women would be examined in 
Aberdeen University the next day. He had become con- 
vinced that many of the alleged disabilities of females were 
the product of their mode of life, and his 1865 lecture, 
'Emancipation Black and White', answered those who 
asked what could be done to bring about a better state of 

We reply, emancipate girls. Recognise the fact that they share the 
senses, perceptions, feelings, reasoning powers, emotions, of boys, and 
that the mind of the average girl is less different from that of the average 
boy, than the mind of one boy is from that of another; so that whatever 
argument justifies a given education for boys, justifies its application to 
girls as well. So far from imposing artificial restrictions upon the 
acquirement of knowledge by women, throw every facility in their way. 
. . . Let us have "sweet girl graduates" by all means. They will be none 
the less sweet for a little wisdom ; and the "golden hair* ' will not curl less 
gracefully outside the head by reason of there being brains within. 

Huxley seems to have retained a belief that the inevitable 
distinction of biological function between men and women 
would in general ensure that men maintained an advantage in 
the struggle for the prizes of life, but he saw no reason why 
social injustice should be added to biological handicap. His 
own experience on Royal Commissions, he once told Jowett, 
was that "no witness is so dishonest as a really good woman 
with a cause to serve", but he was still prepare^ to serve their 
causes. So we find him supporting Emily Davies * in the 
foundation of Girton College and Maria Grey | in promoting 
the National Society for the Improvement of Women's 

* Sarah Emily Davies (1830-1921), the founder of Girton College, Cam- 
bridge, originally opened at Hitchin. 

* t Maria Georgina Grey (1816-1906), main founder of the Girls' Public Day 
School Company (now Trust), after whom is named a college for teachers in 


Education ; we find him taking the chair at the public meeting 
which led to the establishment of the South Hampstead High 
School for Girls and serving on the Education Committee of 
the Princess Helena College for Girls at Baling; and merci- 
fully unsuspecting that nearly seventy years would elapse 
before the demand was granted Huxley was one of those 
who in 1880 petitioned Cambridge University to open its 
degrees to women. 

As England slowly organised its system of education, and 
increasingly set its face against nepotic place-filling, examina- 
tions of all kinds proliferated. For entry into the civil service, 
for scholarships and Fellowships at the ancient universities, 
for earning school grants from the government, examination 
success became the great essential. Already by 1863 Kingsley 
was complaining about "the Isle of Tomtoddies, all heads 
and no bodies", where the children sang morning and evening 
to their great idol Examination, and as the years went by the 
disadvantages of the system became more obvious. In his 
1874 Rectorial Address at Aberdeen Huxley spoke of students 
who "work to pass, not to know; and outraged science takes 
her revenge. They do pass, and they don't know". Three 
years later he told a meeting at the Society of Arts "The 
educational abomination of desolation of the day is the 
excessive stimulation of young people to work at high pres- 
sure by incessant competitive examinations", and he de- 
plored the destruction of youthful freshness by what he 
called "precocious mental debauchery . . . book gluttony 
and lesson bibbing". Nevertheless, he did not see how 
examinations could be dispensed with, so he concentrated on 
using s them as a check to the sham teaching he so much 

Many of those who had faith in examinations were fortified 
by a belief in the transfer of training from a school subject 
to the affairs of everyday life, and this belief was commonly 
associated with the idea that the mind consisted of a group of 
'faculties' of memory, observation, and so on. Huxley, as a 


man of his time, often used the psychological jargon of the 
time, but the usage did not commit him to any particular 
view of mental structure: 

In the language of common life, the "mind" is spoken of as an entity, 
independent of the body, though resident in and closely connected with 
it, and endowed with numerous "faculties". . . . The popular classifica- 
tion and terminology of the phenomena of consciousness, however, 
are ... a legacy, and, in many respects, a sufficiently damnosa hceredi- 
tas, of ancient philosophy, more or less leavened by theology. . . . Very 
little attention to what passes in the mind is sufficient to show, that 
these conceptions involve assumptions of an extremely hypothetical 
character. And the first business of the student of psychology is to get 
rid of such prepossessions. 

But, whether or not observation and reasoning are 'faculties', 
Huxley had no doubt that they could be developed by educa- 
tion and that it was the teacher's job to develop them. 

It was largely because he believed that science was a 
peculiarly valuable means of mental training that Huxley so 
strongly advocated its teaching, but it was only if science 
were taught in a certain way that he made any claims for it at 
all. He would not have demurred from Moberley's * com- 
plaint to the Clarendon Commission, that a scientific fact 
is "simply a barren fact" which becomes forgotten and is 
perfectly unfruitful; but he would have added that the same 
is true of a grammatical fact, and that in either case the fact 
might be so taught as to germinate in the mind and produce 
intellectual fruit. He believed that "those who refuse to go 
beyond fact, rarely get as far as fact", but that was no reason 
for closing the mind against the facts of science or for failing 
to make them a normal part of schooling. 

In the introduction to his Collected Essays Huxley spoke 
of "the conviction which has grown with my growth and 
strengthened with my strength, that there is no alleviation 
for the sufferings of mankind except veracity of thought and 
action, and the resolute facing of the world as it is when the 

* William Moberley (1803-1885), the elegant Latinist who was Headmaster 
of Winchester College and later became Bishop of Salisbury. 


garment of make-believe by which pious hands have hidden 
its uglier features is stripped off", and one of the things that 
attracted him so greatly to Goethe was the poet's courageous 
facing of fact. While he was waiting in 1856 for the birth of 
his first child, Huxley jotted down these lines in his notebook : 

Willst du dir ein hiibsch Leben zimmern, 
Musst dich ans Vergangene nicht bektimmern; 
Und ware dir auch was Verloren, 
Musst immer thun wie neugeboren. 
Was jeder tag will, sollst du fragen; 
Was jeder Tag will, wird er sagen. 
Musst dich an eigenem Thun ergotzen; 
Was andere thun, das wirst du schatzen. 
Besonders keinen Menschen hassen 
Und das Ubrige Gott iiberlassen.* 

The verse expresses perfectly his own scientific Calvinism. In 
one of his earliest lectures he pointed out that a proportion 
of pain was present even at the lowest level of the animal 
creation, and what was inevitable must be borne. Of moral 
purpose and beneficence he saw no trace in the universe 
except that which was of human making, and the world had 
to be seen as it was before it could be improved. 

Huxley repeatedly declared his allegiance to Goethe's 
thdtige skepsis, and there is wryly amused self-knowledge 
in his remark "Why I was christened Thomas Henry I do not 
know; but it is a curious chance that my parents should 
have fixed for my usual denomination upon the name of that 
particular Apostle with whom I have always felt most sym- 
pathy". He once spoke to Mivart of "the sin of faith", and it 

' * If you wish a noble life to make, 

All grief o'er what's gone by forsake; 
And whatso may be lost to you, 
Act as if you're born anew; 
What each day wills, that shall you bear; 
What each day wills, it will declare. 
To your own task devote your days; 
Let others' work receive your praise. 
Above all else, bear no man hate 
The rest to God renunciate. 


was largely because good science teaching encourages the 
habit of questioning authority that he so strongly advocated 

In the world of letters, learning and knowledge are one, and books 
are the source of both; whereas in science, as in life, learning and know- 
ledge are distinct and the study of things, and not of books, is the 
source of the latter ... the great benefit which a scientific education 
bestows, whether as training or as knowledge, is dependent upon the 
extent to which the mind of the student is brought into immediate 
contact with factsupon the degree to which he learns the habit of 
appealing directly to Nature. 

His advocacy, moreover, had no bias towards scientific 
authority, and he wanted school teaching to lay "a firm 
foundation for the further knowledge which is needed for the 
critical examination of the dogmas, whether scientific or 
anti-scientific, which are presented to the adult mind 5 '* 

It is possible to select from Huxley's writings passages 
which seem to imply that an education in science would auto- 
matically produce keen observation and clear thought, but 
he was engaged in an offensive against heavily defended 
pedagogical positions and to take his battle-cries as judicial 
statements is absurd. Considered as a whole, his published 
writings concur with his correspondence and his own prac- 
tice to demonstrate an acute awareness that the virtues of 
science teaching depend entirely on its method. Distributing 
the prizes at the Liverpool Institute School in 1883, he con- 
demned those detestable books which answered the question 
"What is a horse?" by a mere scholastic formula, "The horse 
is termed Equus caballus; belongs to the class Mammalia; 
order, Pachydermata; family Solidungula", and he laid 
down four conditions if science teaching were to be of any 
good at all, if it were not to be less than no good, if it were 
to take the place of that which was already of some good. 
These conditions were that the topics should be carefully 
selected, that the teaching should be practical and bring the 
children into direct contact with facts, that the teacher should 


himself have a real mastery of his matter, and that sufficient 
time should be devoted to the subject to allow of thorough 
study. He admitted to a Manchester audience in 1871 that 
there was a good deal of science teaching which was inferior 
as an educational instrument to the ordinary school work at 
Latin grammar, and unless science were so taught as to take 
advantage of its peculiar virtues he would prefer it not to be 
taught at all. 

Recognising that the whole of modern thought is steeped 
in science and that even those who affect to ignore or despise 
it are unconsciously impregnated with its spirit, Huxley did 
not see how anyone could claim to be educated without a 
considerable knowledge of its subject matter and a clear 
understanding of its methods. Yet he had no desire for a 
narrow curriculum, and at the opening of Sir Josiah Mason's 
Science College in Birmingham he issued a warning that an 
exclusively scientific training would bring about a mental 
twist as surely as an exclusively literary training. "The value 
of the cargo", he remarked, "does not compensate for the 
ship's being out of trim." When he came to give evidence to 
the 1884 Select Committee on Education in Science and Art, 
he said "I do not disguise my conviction that the whole 
theory on which our present educational system is based, is 
wrong from top to bottom; that the subjects which are now 
put down as essential ... are luxuries, so to speak; and that 
those which are regarded as comparatively unessential and as 
luxuries are the essentials". In advocating a complete boule- 
versement of the existing system, he looked upon English 
literature and history and political economy as having the 
same claims as natural science, and these four subjects he 
would make the common foundation of all education. 

If Huxley was right in believing that a man of average 
mind may be trained in one direction to literature or in 
another direction to science, oyr present problem of the 
shortage of scientists may not be so intractable as it some- 
times appears, but perhaps he was generalising from his own 


wide tastes and abilities. The very flavour of his writing tells 
of his love for Milton, and his urge to read the Divina Coin- 
media in Dante's own tongue was strong enough to make him 
learn Italian as a young man. Wordsworth and Shelley 
never much appealed to him, but for Tennyson and Spenser 
and Keats he had a strong affection, as for much of the early 
Browning. Always he was returning to his favourite, Mere- 
dith's Modern Love, and his library was rich in prose litera- 
ture of all kinds. His diaries shew him attending the Rabelais 
Club and the Garrick Club and the Literary Society, and in 
his younger days he went regularly to operas and concerts. 
Year by year he managed to find time for art exhibitions, and 
it was not entirely in jest that he spoke at the Royal Academy 
dinner in 1876: 

The recent progress of biological speculation leads to the conclusion 
that the scale of being may be thus stated minerals, plants, animals, 
men who cannot draw artists. . . . We have long been seeking, as you 
may be aware, for a distinction between men and animals. The old 
barriers have long broken away. Other things walk on two legs and have 
no feathers, caterpillars make themselves clothes, kangaroos have 
pockets. If I am not to believe that my dog reasons, loves and hates, 
how am I to be sure that my neighbour does? Parrots, again, talk what 
deserves the name of sense as much as a great deal which it would be 
rude to call nonsense. Again, beavers and ants engineer as well as the 
members of the noblest of professions. But . . . man alone can draw or 
make unto himself a likeness. This then, is the great distinction of 
humanity, and it follows that the most pre-eminently human of 
creatures are those who possess this distinction in the highest degree. 

Nevertheless, it was the sciences which were Huxley's 
special love, and he believed that they could be a highly 
moralising study. At times, indeed, his passion for a moral 
outcome of education led him into strangely uncritical 
remarks, as when he told a meeting at St Martin's Hall "I 
cannot but think that he who finds a certain proportion of 
pain and evil inseparably woven up in the life of the very 
worms, will bear his own share with more courage and sub- 
mission". In assessing Huxley's claims for science teaching, 


7 will leave my mark somewhere, and it shall be clear and distinct' (p. 11) 


7 am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness' (p. 68) 


however, it is important to remember that he included under 
that term not only the experimental sciences but also the 
social sciences and whatever ethical principles could be 
rationally established. He told Lord Farrer * in 1894 that 
the so-called 'sociology' of the time was riddled with a priori 
assumptions, which were as much an anachronism in the 
study of social life as they would be in hydrostatics, and that 
what was necessary was an objective study of the different 
ways in which humans would in fact behave under different 
circumstances. "The Political Economists have gone the 
right way to work . . .", he declared, "by tracing out the effects 
of one great cause of human action, the desire of wealth, 
supposing it to be unchecked. If they, or other people, have 
forgotten that there are other potent causes of action which 
may interfere with this, it is no fault of scientific method, but 
only their own stupidity." There was, he believed, much need 
for someone to do the same sort of thing for ethics, "Settle 
the question of what will be done under the unchecked action 
of certain motives, and leave the problem of 'ought' for 
subsequent consideration". And, in the meanwhile, until this 
desired science of 'eubiotics' should be constructed, he 
would have all children instructed in those ethical principles 
which appeared to lead to communal well-being and in those 
facts of social existence which had ethical implications. 

"That which I mean by 'Science'," he wrote to Charles 
Kingsley, "is not mere physical science but all the results of 
exact methods of thought whatever be the subject matter to 
which they are applied . . . people fancy that mathematics or 
physics or biology are exclusively 'Science* and value the 
clothes of science more than the goddess herself." It was to 
the cult of this goddess, she of all-pervading honesty, that 
Huxley devoted his many-sided life. And honesty, too, was 
a word with wide significance for him. There was intellectual 
honesty and artistic honesty and moral honesty, and all were 

* Sir Thomas Henry Farrer, 1st Baron (1819-1899), who as Permanent 
Secretary of the Board of Trade for some twenty years exercised considerable 
influence on English legislation. 


necessary to the complete man. Science was to be taught not 
by itself or for itself, but as an integral part of that liberal 
education which he defined at his Working Men's College in 
these words : 

That man, I think, has had a liberal education who has been so trained 
in youth that his body is the ready servant of his will, and does with ease 
and pleasure all the work that, as a mechanism, it is capable of; whose 
intellect is a clear, cold, logic engine, with all its parts of equal strength, 
and in smooth working order; ready, like a steam engine, to be turned 
to any kind of work, and spin the gossamers as well as forge the anchors 
of the mind; whose mind is stored with a knowledge of the great and 
fundamental truths of Nature and of the laws of her operations; one 
who, no stunted ascetic, is full of life and fire, but whose passions are 
trained to come to heel by a vigorous will, the servant of a tender 
conscience; who has learned to love all beauty, whether of Nature or of 
art, to hate all vileness, and to respect others as himself. 

Such an one and no other, I conceive, has had a liberal education; 
for he is, as completely as a man can be, in harmony with Nature. 


Morality and Metaphysics 

I wish not to be in any way confounded with the cynics who 
delight in degrading man or with the common run of 
materialists who think mind is any the lower for being a 
function of matter. I dislike them even more than I do the 

Letter to /. D. Hooker, 6 January 1861 

TOWARDS THE END of his days Huxley recalled how, as a 
child, he had turned his pinafore wrong side forwards to 
represent a surplice and then delivered a sermon in the kitchen 
in imitation of the local vicar. "That", he declared, "is the 
earliest indication I can call to mind of the strong clerical 
affinities which my friend Mr Herbert Spencer has always 
ascribed to me/' and Spencer was not alone in this ascriptioA. 
Favourably referred to by John Skelton as 'the John Knox of 
Agnosticism' and unfavourably by The Spectator as Tope 
Huxley', from time to time jokingly addressed by friends as 
'Reverend Sir' or 'Honoured Episcopus', Huxley had the 
amused self-knowledge to sign a letter on one occasion as his 
scientific correspondent's "right reverend father in worms 
and Bishop of Annelidae". 

Yet, although there was something of the prelate in Hux- 
ley's proud nature, there was more of the prophet, foreseeing 
the future and under compulsion to proclaim his vision 
boldly. "The longer I live," he declared', "the more obvious 
it is to me that the most sacred act of a man's life is to say and 



to feel *I believe such and such to be true' ". As is the way 
with prophets, his tenacity at times amounted almost to pig- 
headedness and his moral certitude almost to priggishness, 
and such men can be uncomfortable companions. But when 
the prophet has also a tender soul and an impish sense of 
humour, he can be a joy to all around him. "It was worth 
being born to have known Huxley", declared Edward 
Clodd,* and it was because their master saw science as a holy 
quest for truth that Huxley's pupils were infected by his 
moral fervour and became his devoted disciples. 

In his Rattlesnake diary the young assistant-surgeon had 
written "Gott hilfe mir! Morals and religion are one wild 
whirl to me", but throughout his life they were to remain 
major preoccupations. Hundreds of folios of notes bear 
witness to the seriousness with which he studied theology and 
philosophy, and he not only planned but actually started 
writing a comprehensive History of Christianity, Very soon 
his intellect drove him to agnosticism, but the quality of 
reverence in his large and generous nature comes out in the 
verses he wrote on the death of Tennyson, of which one stanza 
must here suffice: 

And oh! sad wedded mourner seeking still 
For vanished hand-clasp, drinking in thy fill 
Of holy grief; forgive, that pious theft 
Robs thee of all, save memories left: 
Not thine to kneel beside the grassy mound 
While dies the western glow; and all around 
Is silence: and the shadows closer creep 
And whisper softly: All must fall asleep. 

Huxley's morality had a strongly calvinistic streak, and he 
once told the Cambridge Young Men's Christian Association 
that "if some great Power would agree to make me always 
think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being 
turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning 

* Edward Clodd (1840-t930), friend of many Victorian intellectuals, who 
lectured at the Royal Institution as recently as 1921 and surprisingly spans 
the pre-Darwinian and the immediately pre-Atomic ages. 


before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the 
offer'*. Ten months before Darwin's Origin of Species 
appeared in print, his bulldog was already considering the 
moral implications of the theory of evolution, and he saw 
nothing in it to degrade mankind. "After all," he assured 
Dyster, "it is as respectable to be modified monkey as to be 
modified dirt", and two years later he used the first number of 
The Natural History Review to scotch the idea that a belief 
in evolution warranted any diminution of morality: 

The proof of his claim to independent parentage will not change the 
brutishness of man's lower nature; nor, except to those varlet souls 
who cannot see greatness in their fellow because his father was a cobbler, 
will the demonstration of a pithecoid pedigree one whit diminish man's 
divine right of kingship over nature; nor lower the great and princely 
dignity of perfect manhood, which is an order of nobility, not inherited, 
but to be won by each of us, so far as he consciously seeks good and 
avoids evil, and puts the faculties with which he is endowed to their 
fittest use. 

Anxious as he was to avoid the undermining of any institu- 
tion which might promote morality, Huxley did his best to 
co-operate with those liberally disposed churchmen who 
' sought to cleanse religion of inessential accretions and bring 
it into harmony with scientific fact. But not many of the 
clergy were as open-minded as 'Hang-theology Rogers* * or 
Charles Kingsley or Dean Farrar f ; and, when Huxley spoke 
in 1867 at Sion College, the City's ancient centre of theo- 
logical study, his temperate address met with the most in- 
temperate opposition. One future bishop wrote immediately 
after the meeting to apologise "that you should have been 
met by some of my brethren with a rudeness & roughness 

* William Rogers (1819-1896), the very liberal Rector of Bishopsgate who 
built up a whole network of church schools and in 1870 was elected one of the 
first members of the London School Board. 

t Frederick William Farrar (1831-1903), who had taught at Marlborough 
and Harrow before returning to Marlborough as headmaster. He became 
Chaplain to the Queen and to the Speaker of the House of Commons, as well 
as Canon of Westminster and later Dean of Canterbury, and his progressive- 
ness in both theology and pedagogy did much to help in the reorientation "of 
English education. 


which stood in painful contrast with the calm dignity, & 
gentlemanly quietness of your own manner", and thirty 
years later Farrar was still furious at the bad behaviour of the 
clergy. "I remember the meeting well . . .", he told Leonard 
Huxley. "Your father made one of his powerful and ex- 
quisitely lucid speeches furnishing the most decisive geo- 
logical & archaeological proofs of the vast antiquity of the 

world, & of man The meeting made me very angry & 

was a melancholy exhibition of clerical intolerance." Farrar 
himself, although impressed by the earnest and delightful 
conversations which he had with Huxley on religious sub- 
jects, complained that his conceptions of what the clergy 
were bound to believe were exceedingly wide of the mark. 
But, when he was told at Sion College 'that even bishops and 
archbishops had abandoned many of the traditional beliefs, 
Huxley had a simple retort: "Why, then, do you not teach 
these things to your congregations?" 

In a notebook of aphorisms Huxley made a jotting which 
reflects very clearly his general view of religion: 

Religions rise because they satisfy the many and fall because they 
cease to satisfy the few. 

They have been the day dreams of mankind and each in turn has 
become a nightmare from which a gleam of knowledge has waked the 

The religion which will endure is such a day dream as may still be 
dreamed in the noon tide glare of science. 

He declared that he had a great respect for all the old 
bottles, and that if the new wine could be contained without 
bursting them he would be very glad, but he confessed that 
he could not see how that could be done. "It is clear to me", 
he told Kingsley, "that if that great and powerful influence 
for good or evil, the Church of England, is to be saved from 
being shivered into fragments by the advancing tide of science 
an event I should be very sorry to witness ... it must be 
by the efforts of men who, like yourself, see your way to the 
combination of the practice of the Church with the spirit of 


science." However, although he continued in close friendship 
with many clergymen, the continued hostility of others 
gradually convinced him that no reconciliation was possible. 
And, in any event, he saw as the century proceeded that 
science was less in danger of suppression by clerical obscuran- 
tism than of distortion by social self-delusion. 

As its economy expanded and its wonderful machines 
gained ever new triumphs, Victorian England increasingly 
extracted from Darwin's theory an apparently scientific 
sanction for its belief in inevitable progress. For people who 
were demonstrably doing extremely well in the struggle for 
existence, it was gratifying to believe that this was due to 
biological superiority, and sensitive souls who were appalled 
by social squalor found comfort in the thought that cut- 
throat competition led ultimately to the survival of the fittest. 
From the start Huxley had set himself against such pseudo- 
science, and he maintained that "So far from any gradual 
progress forming any necessary part of the Darwinian creed, 
it appears to us that it is perfectly consistent with indefinite 
persistence in one state, or with a gradual retrogression". 
He at least cannot have been surprised that Tom the Water 
Baby, following the history of the great and famous nation 
of the Doasyoulikes (who lived by the Happy-golucky 
Mountains where flapdoodle grew wild), saw a highly cul- 
tured people gradually change into ape-like savages. 

In essays and addresses through the years, Huxley urged 
that the struggle of animal nature was one thing and the 
organisation of human society another, and he indicated the 
fallacy of all forms of Panglossism based on their confusion. 
In 1888 he produced for The Nineteenth Century a paper on 
The Struggle for Existence in Human Society', which led, as 
he had realised it would, to a quarrel with Herbert Spencer, 
who held the comfortable belief that poverty was no longer 
much of a problem in England and that in any case the State 
should not interfere. "Great is humbug, and it will prevail", 
Huxley told the editor, "unless the people who do not like it 


will hit hard. The beast has no brains, but you can knock the 
heart out of him." From the point of view of the moralist, 
his article maintained, the animal world is on about the same 
level as a gladiators' show, and he insisted that the facts of 
nature give no support to the optimistic dogma that this is 
the best of all possible worlds. As for the argument that the 
terrible struggle for existence tends to final good, he com- 
mented sardonically that it is not clear what compensation 
Eohippus got for its sorrows in the fact that some minions of 
years later one of his descendants was to win the Derby. In 
fact, he concluded, "the course shaped by the ethical man 
the member of society or citizen necessarily runs counter to 
that which the non-ethical man the primitive savage, or 
man as a mere member of the animal kingdom tends to 
adopt. The latter fights out the struggle for existence to the 
bitter end, like any other animal; the former devotes his 
best energies to the object of setting limits to the struggle". 

This of course was the great theme of Huxley's Romanes 
Lecture on 'Evolution and Ethics', delivered at Oxford in 
1893. Prohibited by the terms of his invitation from dealing 
with politics or religion, he managed to say a good deal about 
both. "There is no allusion to politics in my lecture, nor to 
any religion except Buddhism . . .", he wrote after preparing 
his draft. "If people apply anything I say ... to modern 
philosophies . . . and religions, that is not my affair. To be 
honest, however, unless I thought they would, I should never 
have taken all the pains I have bestowed on these 36 pages." 
Huxley was ailing and his voice was feeble, but The Oxford 
Magazine was enthusiastic: "We can only express our humble 
admiration of the masculine vigour of Professor Huxley's 
thought and of the language in which it is clothed. A more 
exquisitely finished academic discourse was never placed 
before any audience in any language." 

Tracing the progression of mankind from primitive condi- 
tions and analysing the r61es played by self-assertion, cun- 
ning, curiosity, imitativeness and ruthlessness, the Romanes 


Lecture also shewed how social advance had depended on 
the development of the ideas of justice and law and ethical 
obligation. Huxley agreed with people like Herbert Spencer 
that our ideas of morality have in fact evolved, but he denied 
that the evolutionary process provided any criterion of 
morality. He decried "the fanatical individualism of our time 
[which] attempts to apply the analogy of cosmic nature to 
society" and concluded that the ethical progress of society 
depends, not on imitating the cosmic process, still less on 
running away from it, but on combating it. There was nothing 
especially novel in all this, but many of those who had 
claimed scientific sanction for their political prejudices were 
resentful of a blast from this quarter. "Don't you know that I 
am become a reactionary and secret friend of the clerics?" 
Huxley gleefully asked Lord Farrer. "My lecture is really an 
effort to put the Christian doctrine that Satan is Prince of this 
. world upon a scientific foundation/' 

Why the Romanes Lecture caused surprise is difficult to 
understand, for it had been clearly foreshadowed in Huxley's 
address on 'Administrative Nihilism' more than twenty years 
earlier. Speaking at the Birmingham and Midland Institute in 
1871, at a time when ihelaissezfaire extremists were decrying 
the provisions of Forster's Education Act, he had vigorously 
opposed the view that the sole proper function of the State 
was that of keeping order, which he decried as advocating 
"neither a monarchy, an aristocracy, nor a democracy, but 
an astynomocracy, or police government". There is no evi- 
dence that Huxley ever read Marx, but there is an unmistak- 
able flavour of historical materialism about his sardonic 
remark that "men have become largely absorbed in the mere 
accumulation of wealth; and as this is a matter in which the 
plainest and strongest form of self-interest is intensely con- 
cerned, science (in the shape of Political Economy) has 
readily demonstrated that self-interest may be safely left to 
find the best way of attaining its ends". And, whatever 
political economy might have to say, he was not going to 


allow biology to be abused to the same end. The facile and 
then favourite analogy between the body politic and the body 
physiological, upon which Herbert Spencer had relied in his 
essay The Social Organism', he shewed to be quite fallacious 
indeed, he remarked, if the analogy had any validity at all 
it favoured more rather than less State intervention: "Even 
the blood-corpuscles can't hold a public meeting without 
being accused of 'congestion' and the brain, like other 
despots whom we have known, calls out at once for the use 
of sharp steel against them." 

As suspicious of a priori argument in politics as in science 
or in religion, Huxley produced in 1890 a series of highly 
critical articles for The Nineteenth Century. His essay 'On 
the Natural Inequality of Men' shot holes in Rousseau's 
derivation of egalitarianism from a postulated 'state of 
nature'; 'Natural Rights and Political Rights' demonstrated 
that, if each Londoner has a 'natural right' to a share in the 
property of the Duke of Westminster, so have the millions 
of Asia and Africa to the property of all Englishmen; 
'Capital the Mother of Labour' had great fun with the 
fallacies of Henry George. It was all extremely clever, and it 
is difficult to put a finger on any logical flaw in these essays, 
but they emit a mild aroma of conservative prejudice. Twenty 
years earlier Huxley had argued that, if the abolition of 
private ownership could be shewn to promote the good of the 
people, the State would have the same justification for abolish- 
ing property as it had hitherto had for maintaining it, but 
now the sharper edge of his dialectical sword seemed to be 
turned more often on the left than on the right. The balance 
was somewhat redressed by 'Government: Anarchy or 
Regimentation', which attacked extreme individualism 
equally with regimental socialism and emphasised that the 
great political problem of the future would be that of over- 
population, but it is difficult not to conclude that a limit had 
been set to Huxley's radicalism by his increasing stake in 
society. As a young man in the 1850s, casting about for a 


scientific competence in London, Huxley could scarcely 
produce his cab fares and did not see how he could possibly 
afford to many. But in 1864 he was earning 950 in a year 
apart from royalties, in 1871 his literary and miscellaneous 
earnings were over 1000 and his total income some 2100, 
in 1876 when the income tax was a mere threepence in the 
pound he earned about 3000, and in 1893 he noted total 
assets of over 14,000. Even with earnings like these his 
generosity sometimes left him financially embarrassed, and 
certainly he never lost his intense awareness of the pauperism 
of the people or his moral indignation at it, but few men 
could be entirely unaffected by such a change in personal 
fortune. Genuine regard for the workers Huxley had in 
plenty, intense contempt for the trappings of aristocracy and 
the apologists of privilege, but in the last resort he came down 
on the side of property. 

Darwin and Hooker both declared that in comparison with 
Huxley they felt quite infantile in intellect, and Wallace * 
experienced in his presence a feeling of awe and inferiority 
which neither Darwin nor Lyell produced, but the wide- 
ranging restlessness of his mind caused great concern to his 
scientific friends. In 1861 Hooker urged him "Do take the 
counsel of a quiet looker on and withdraw to your books and 
studies in pure Natural History; let modes of thought alone. 
You may make a very good naturalist, or a very good meta- 
physician (of that I know nothing, don't despise me), but you 
have neither time nor place for both". The strain of his many 
activities told on Huxley- two years later he was complaining 
to Darwin "I wake up in the morning with somebody saying 
in my ear, 'A is not done, and B is not done, and C is not 
done, and D is not done', etc., and a feeling like a fellow 
whose duns are all in the street waiting for him" but the 
pleasure he took in poking his finger into so many pies comes 
clearly through the complaints. In 1871 Hooker grumbled to 

* Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913), the co-author with Darwin of the 
theory of evolution by natural selection. In his later years he became absorbed 
in somewhat eccentric spiritualist and anti-vaccination activities. 


Darwin that Huxley's love of exercising his marvellous in- 
tellectual power over men was leading him "on and on 
and on God knows to where", but he knew by then that a 
laboratory was not large enough to contain his friend. Within 
a few months Huxley was gloating to Michael Foster * "I 
have been pounding Mivart & the Quarterly Reviewer as you 
will see in Contemporary for November Also discussing 
functions of Government vide Fortnightly for November; 
also discussing Ritualism see Quarterly for January; also an 
article on Lord Russell & Lord Somers see Edinburgh for 
ditto: with a paper on the distinctive character of the elo- 
quence of the Revd. Motley Punshon in the Nonconformist 
for December": what could his friends do with such a 

With his wide interests, his deep culture and his moral 
earnestness, Huxley was clearly marked out for the Meta- 
physical Society founded by Knowles f in 1869 he and 
Mivart, indeed, had discussed the possibility of forming a 
'Verulam Club' with similar intent three years earlier. What a 
constellation of intellectual stars that Society composed! 
Dean Stanley and Dean Alford from the established Church, 
Cardinal Manning and Father Dalgairns and W. G. Ward to 
represent re-emergent Rome, Huxley and Tyndall for the 
natural sciences, Gladstone and Tennyson and Froude, Mark 
Pattison and James Martineau and Frederic Harrison all 
through a decade meeting nine times a year to probe the 
foundations of their beliefs. The delightful story, that an 
absentee from one of the meetings later inquired anxiously 
"Well, is there a God?" and was told "Yes, we had a good 
majority", sounds somewhat apocryphal; but many accounts 
confirm that these men debated the most explosive questions 

* Sir Michael Foster (1836-1907), one of Huxley's closest friends, who in 
1870 became Praelector in Physiology at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 
1883 the university's first Professor of that subject. 

t Sir James Thomas Knowles (1831-1908), an architect who 'dined every- 
where' and 'knew everyone' in Victorian England. From 1870-1877 he edited 
The Contemporary Review, and then founded The Nineteenth Century, from 
which he made a fortune. 


with a mutual respect and toleration which it would be diffi- 
cult to match today. 

.Huxley was a regular attender at the Metaphysical Society 
and frequently took the chair at its meetings. His first paper, 
'The Views of Hume, Kant and Whately upon the Logical 
Basis of the Doctrine of the Immortality of the Soul 5 , was 
also the first to be printed and distributed to members; his 
second, provocatively entitled 'Has a Frog a Soul, and of 
what Nature is That Soul, Supposing it to Exist?', developed 
the same theme in a somewhat ironic fashion and it says 
much for the members' urbanity that they seem to have dis- 
cussed both papers without acrimony. Huxley's third contri- 
bution, The Evidence of the Miracle of the Resurrection', 
has been described by the Society's historian as "the most 
notorious paper ever presented to the Society and the only 
one to which an additional evening was devoted for further 
discussion", and John Morley * was so alarmed by this attack 
on "the arch-miracle which is the basis of their whole system 
of belief" that he dissuaded Huxley from publishing it. As for 
Newman, he was so appalled at the idea of Manning's allow- 
ing the paper to be read in his presence that he thanked his 
stars he was not a member comforting himself only with the 
thought "Perhaps it is a ruse of the Cardinal to bring the 
Professor into the clutches of the Inquisition". 

One regrets that a society so scintillating could not have 
gone on for ever, but the conditions of its success were 
transient. During those ten years, political passions had been 
sharpened by the Franco-Prussian war and theological 
boundaries hardened by the dogma of papal infallibility, in a 
decade of industrious discussion the members had delineated 
their grounds and defined their terms, and further argument 
became either sterile or superfluous. On 16 November 1880 
the Metaphysical Society was formally dissolved, and we 

* John Morley, 1st Viscount (1838-1923), who made The Fortnightly 
Review into a powerful organ of liberal opinion. In Parliament from 1883, he 
consistently opposed imperialism and resigned from the Cabinet with John 
Burns in 1914. 


shall be lucky if we see its like again. Let Knowles, the 
founder, recall in his letter to Leonard Huxley the atmosphere 
of this impressive institution: 

On all sides there was a wonderfully genial & kindly tone about the 
Metaphysical Society which was very largely owing to your Father & to 
Dr. Ward who habitually hit each other at the hardest but never 
with a touch of lost temper or lost courtesy. Your Father & Manning 
usually concluded our discussions (or at any rate very frequently) 
with a lively but most friendly duel and as one of the Bishops said 
"at any rate this Society has taught us that we haven't all got horns & 

This, perhaps, epitomises Huxley's contribution to the 
cause of rational morality. At a time when Darwinism seemed 
to many minds to blur the distinction between virtue and 
vice, Darwin's bulldog was patently a man of almost puri- 
tanical uprightness. Publicly and unambiguously rejecting 
traditional beliefs, he demonstrated in his daily life that an 
unbeliever may be virtuous. Before Huxley there had been 
many upper-class sceptics who, taking advantage of the 
latitude which an undemocratic era allows to the governing 
group, had expressed in their own social circle views which 
would have landed an artisan in jail. In his own day there 
were many highly respectable men who kept fairly quiet 
about their disbelief and many who proclaimed their in- 
fidelity but were not very respectable. But here was a devoted 
husband whose wife took the children regularly to church, 
who was hardworking and frugal, who objected to 'strong 
language' on the golf course at St Andrews, who was Senator 
of one university and Rector of another and Governor of 
Eton and member of Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy 
Council and yet who was as unabashed by presbyters at 
Edinburgh as by prelates at Oxford, who attacked supersti- 
tion and asserted intellectual freedom, who coined the word 
agnostic'. What further proof could be needed that loss of 
belief need not imply loss of morality or respectability? 

Unlike Darwin, whose religious beliefs atrophied un- 


noticed and eventually died from disuse, Huxley deliberately 
excised what his intellect told him were obstructive vestigial 
bodies, and it is possible to trace the progress of the opera- 
tion. His adolescent distaste for sectarianism came from 
generosity of spirit rather than theological doubt, and at the 
age of twenty-five he wrote to his sister "God bless you, 
dearest Lizzie" as if he really meant it Two years later, on 
their mother's death, he had to admit "I offer you no consola- 
tion, my dearest sister, for I know of none" ; but, following a 
cynical remark to his fiancee about the praise of eminent 
scientists, he uttered the prayer "God forgive me if I do them 
any great wrong". In 1854 he remarked in a lecture "I take it 
that all will admit there is a definite Government of this uni- 
verse", but it is noticeable that invocations in his letters in- 
creasingly tend from this time to address *the gods' rather than 
'God'. It seems that in his later twenties and early thirties 
Huxley was hovering between a vague deism and an equally 
vague pantheism, and was certainly already no Christian, but 
he had not yet decided against some sort of divinity. In 1856, 
for example, he declared at the Royal Institution that "man, 
looking from the heights of science into the surrounding 
universe, is as a traveller who has ascended the Brocken and 
sees, in the clouds, a vast image, dim and awful, and yet in its 
essential lineaments resembling himself" but he could see no 
sort of evidence that the shadow was a benevolent one as 
Christianity asserts. He did, however, make the interesting 
comments that "living nature is not a mechanism but a 
poem" and that "the aesthetic faculties of the human soul 
have . . . been foreshadowed in the Infinite mind". In the 
winter of 1858-1859 he gave a series of lectures at Jermyn 
Street to working men on 'Objects of Interest in the Collec- 
tion of Fossils', and a similar attitude appeared: 

In science, faith is based solely on the assent of the intellect; and the 
most complete submission to ascertained truth is wholly voluntary, be- 
cause it is accompanied by perfect freedom, nay, by every encourage- 
ment, to test and try that truth to the uttermost 


I have said that our faith in the results of the right working of the 
human mind rests on no mere testimony. But there is One that 
bears witness to it, and He the Highest. . . . Donati's comet lately 
blazing in the heavens above us at its appointed time . . . and hundreds 
of other like cases which I might cite, are to my mind so many signs and 
wonders, whereby the Divine Governor signifies his approbation of the 
trust of poor and weak humanity, in the guide which he has given it. 

True science and true religion are twin-sisters, and the separation of 
either from the other is sure to prove the death of both. Science prospers 
exactly in proportion as it is religious; and religion flourishes in exact 
proportion to the scientific depth and firmness of its bases. 

Before long the twin sisters were pulling each other's hair at 
Oxford, but the crystallisation of Huxley's doubts seems to 
have been caused less by what he called 'the Sammy fight* 
than by Mansel's 1858 Bampton Lectures on 'The Limits of 
Religious Thought'. He greatly admired the theologian's 
clear and forceful reasoning, and begged Sir Charles Lyell 
to read the lectures although, he added, "regarding the 
author as a churchman, you will probably compare him, as I 
did, to the drunken fellow in Hogarth's contested election, 
who is sawing through the signpost at the other party's 
public-house, forgetting he is sitting at the other end of it". 
Certainly by the autumn of 1860, distraught and nearly 
broken by the death of his first-born infant Noel, he saw 
quite clearly that he had no religious conviction which could 
bring him any comfort. 

Charles Kingsley, with characteristic kindness, had sought 
to soften the blow in a letter of conspicuous charity, but 
Huxley's reply rejected what his feelings craved but his 
intellect could not accept: 

My convictions, positive and negative, on all the matters of which 
you speak, are of long and slow growth and are firmly rooted. But the 
great blow which fell upon me seemed to stir them to their foundation, 
and had I lived a couple of centuries earlier I could have fancied a devil 
scoffing at me and them and asking me what profit it was to have 
stripped myself of the hopes and consolations of the mass of mankind? 
To which my only reply was and is Oh devil ! truth is better than much 


'Believe I am reckoned a good chairman of a meeting" (p. xxu) 





'There is 
no popular 
who has 
more to the 
of the 
(P- vi) 


profit. I have searched over the grounds of my belief, and if wife and 
child and name and fame were all to be lost to me one after the other as 
the penalty, still I will not lie. 

He had, he explained, no a priori objection to the doctrine 
of immortality ("Give me such evidence as would justify me 
in believing anything else, and I will believe that. Why 
should I not? It is not half so wonderful as the conservation 
of force, or the indestructibility of matter"), but he would 
not base convictions on mere analogies and probabilities and 
aspirations. He did not doubt the existence of human per- 
sonality or the supremacy of man over beast, but none of 
this seemed to him to be evidence for immortality. As for the 
argument that the promise of eternal reward was necessary 
to morality, he rejected it as both untrue and unworthy: 

As I stood behind the coffin of my little son the other day, with my 
mind bent on anything but disputation, the officiating minister read, as 
part of his duty, the words, "If the dead rise not again, let us eat and 
drink, for tomorrow we die". I cannot tell you how inexpressibly they 
shocked me. Paul had neither wife nor child, or he must have known that 
his alternative involved a blasphemy against all that was best and 
noblest in human nature. I could have laughed with scorn. What! be- 
cause I am face to face with irreparable loss, because I have given back 
to the source from whence it came, the cause of a great happiness, still 
retaining through all my life the blessings which have sprung and will 
spring from that cause, I am to renounce my manhood, and, howling, 
grovel in bestiality? Why, the very apes know better, and if you shoot 
their young, the poor brutes grieve their grief out and do not immedi- 
ately seek distraction in a gorge. 

Carlyle, he declared, had taught him that a deep sense of 
religion was compatible with entire absence of theology, 
science and its methods had given him a resting-place in- 
dependent of authority and tradition, and love had opened 
up to him a view of the sanctity of human nature, but he had 
no belief in an immortal soul. He accepted with some bitter- 
ness that "As our law stands, if the lowest thief steals my 
coat, my evidence (my opinion being knowij) would not be 


received against him", and he was ready to be called atheist 
and infidel and other hard names; but, he concluded, 
"One thing people shall not call me with justice and that is a 

Huxley coined the word 'agnostic', he tells us, because 
tolerably early in life he discovered that one of the unpardon- 
able sins was for a man to presume to go about unlabelled. 
"The world regards such a person as the police do an un- 
muzzled dog, not under proper control. I could find no label 
to suit me, so, in my desire to range myself and be respectable, 
I invented one; and, as the chief thing I was sure of was that 
I did not know a great many things that the ists and the 
ites about me professed to be familiar with, I called myself 
an Agnostic." Fearing that many of those who had adopted 
his label were tending to deny rather than to doubt, he em- 
phasised in The Agnostic Annual that any assertion of the 
impossibility of miracles, on the ground that the order of 
nature was uniform, begged the whole question under dis- 
cussion. As he had much earlier explained to Kingsley, "I 
know nothing of Necessity, abominate the word Law (except 
as meaning that we know nothing to the contrary), and am 
quite ready to admit that there may be some place, 'other 
side of nowhere', par exemple, where 2 + 2 = 5, and all 
bodies naturally repel one another instead of gravitating 
together. I don't know whether Matter is anything distinct 
from Force. I don't know that atoms are anything but pure 
myths. ... In other words, I believe in Hamilton, Mansel and 
Herbert Spencer so long as they are destructive, and I laugh 
at their beards as soon as they try to spin their own cobwebs", 
Not surprisingly, he feared that if there were a General 
Council of the Church Agnostic he would probably be 
condemned as a heretic. 

Early in 1886 Frank Harris * begged Huxley to write an 

* Frank Harris (1856-1937), the extraordinarily gifted confidante of so many 
in the 1890s, whose repulsive and fascinating and unreliable autobiography, 
My Life and Loves, casts an illuminating if excessively lurid light on many 
personalities of the time. 


article for The Fortnightly on the scientific basis of morality, 
but repeated illness sent him to moor and mountain in search 
of health. Then, in November, W. S. Lilley produced his 
article 'Materialism and Morality', stating that Huxley was a 
materialist and implying that therefore he could not be moral, 
and this provided the needed tonic. From Ilkley he sent Harris 
his 'Science and Morals', a hard-hitting defence of his philo- 
sophical and ethical position, "My creed may be an ill- 
favoured thing," he wrote, "but it is mine own, as Touch- 
stone says of his lady-love; and I have so high an opinion of 
the solid virtues of the object of my affections that I cannot 
calmly see her personated by a wench who is much uglier and 
has no virtue worth speaking of." He insisted strongly that 
morality has no necessary connexion with religious belief; 
and, as for putting the blame for modern wickedness on poor 
Cinderella Science, he suggested that her much older sisters 
Philosophy and Theology had more to answer for. "Cinder- 
ella . . . lights the fire, sweeps the house, and provides the 
dinner; and is rewarded by being told that she is a base 
creature. But in her garret she has fairy visions out of the ken 
of the pair of shrews who are quarrelling downstairs. She 
sees the order which pervades the seeming disorder of the 
world . . . and she learns . . . that the foundation of morality 
is to have done, once and for all, with lying." It was with 
evident relish that he asked his wife "Have you read the 
Fortnightly? How does my painting of the Lilley look?" 

Although Huxley had told Kingsley in 1863 that he could 
see no sort of evidence that the great unknown underlying the 
phenomena of the universe stands to us in the relation of a 
loving Father as Christianity asserts, another passage in this 
intriguing correspondence shews how far he was from reject- 
ing all that a liberal theology might imply: 

Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the 
great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire 
surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be 
prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever 


and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have 
only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at 
all risks to do this. 

When The Water Babies appeared, with its "one true, 
orthodox, rational, philosophical, logical, irrefragable, 
nominalistic, realistic, inductive, deductive, seductive, pro- 
ductive, salutary, comfortable, and on-all-accounts-to-be- 
received doctrine . . . that your soul makes your body, just 
as a snail makes his shell", Huxley assured its author that he 
was as ready to believe that doctrine as its converse, because 
it was impossible to obtain any evidence as to the truth of 
either. His fundamental axiom of speculative philosophy, he 
declared, was that it is absurd to imagine that we know any- 
thing with certainty about either spirit or matter. He found 
it simplest to suppose that both physical and mental pheno- 
mena are manifestations of the same essential substratum, 
but he was ready to admit that there were other possibilities : 

If you are of a different opinion, and find it more convenient to call 
the x which underlies (hypothetically) mental phenomena, Soul, and the 
x which underlies (hypothetically) physical phenomena, Body, well 
and good. The two-fluid theory and the one-fluid theory of electricity 
both accounted for the phenomena up to a certain extent, and both 
were probably wrong. So it may be with the theories that there is only 
one x in nature or two x's or three jc's. 

For, if you will think upon it, there are only four ontological hypo- 
theses now that Polytheism is dead. 

I. There is no x = Atheism on Berkeleyan principles. 
II. There is only one x = Materialism or Pantheism, according as 

you turn it heads or tails. 
m. There are two x's \ c - , . A 

Spirit and Matter / = SP*^** 8 ** 
IV. There are three x's 1 
God, Souls, Matter/ 
To say that I adopt any one of these hypotheses, as a representation 
of fact, would to my mind be absurd; but No. 2 is the one I can work 
with best. 

Although Huxley always asserted the impossibility of 
answering the ultimate questions of existence, his strict 


theoretical agnosticism does not hide a practical conviction 
that ideas express material realities. During the 1870s he 
made a series of utterances with metaphysical implications 
the address on Descartes to the Cambridge YMCA, the essay 
on Bishop Berkeley in Macmillcafs^ the British Association 
address at Belfast on animal automatism, the admirably 
lucid little volume on Hume, and the discourse at the Royal 
Institution on sensation and the sensiferous organs and 
in all of them the formal argument impartial between 
materialism and idealism is accompanied by incidental in- 
dications of a belief in the reality of the material world. 
Lenin was right when he remarked "Huxley's philosophy is 
as much a mixture of Hume and Berkeley as is Mach's 
philosophy. But in Huxley's case the Berkeleian streaks 
are incidental, and agnosticism serves as a fig-leaf for 

After his retirement in 1885, Huxley began once again to 
take up the theologico-philosophical questions which had 
been with him all his life but which the heavy calls of official 
duties had forced him latterly to neglect. Early in 1886 his 
scientific and religious interests were most fruitfully combined 
in 'The Evolution of Theology: an Anthropological Study', 
which traced the course of religious beliefs from animism 
through monolatry to the refined monotheism of the Hebrew 
prophets. The extent to which he anticipated the great theme 
of Frazer's Golden Bough is remarkable (although he had 
himself been in some sense anticipated by Newman's 'Essay 
on Development'), and this work gives some indication of 
his constructive ability when he was not concerned to de- 
molish an opponent. His temperament was admirably suited 
to the theological mode of thought, and it was not a slip of the 
pen which caused Bishop Thirlwall to inform a friend that 
two of the contributors to the discussions of the Metaphysical 
Society were "Archbishop Huxley and Professor Manning". 
"What a Paley was in Huxley lost!", lamented The Quarterly 


Towards the end of 1886, lazily convalescing in Yorkshire, 
Huxley read a sermon preached in St Paul's by its Chancellor, 
Dr Liddon, who argued that the surprising and catastrophic 
events chronicled in the Scriptures could be explained as the 
suspension of the lower laws of nature by a higher law. 
This led Huxley to consider the meaning of the word 'law' in 
science, and the outcome was his vivacious article 'Scientific 
and Pseudo-scientific Realism*. The idea that the laws of 
nature are efficient causes rather than convenient sum- 
maries of observed fact, he remarked, was a deplorable 
relic of medieval realism, and he objected to the saddling of 
science with scholastic universals. He paid high tribute to the 
dialectical skill of the schoolmen (observing in passing that 
"When a logical blunder may ensure combustion, not only 
in the next world but in this, the construction of syllogisms 
acquires a peculiar interest"), and he admired their devotion 
to exact thought. Even if his tribute to the early theologians 
seemed suspiciously like a rebuke to their modern successors, 
he carefully refrained in this essay from any sort of personal 
attack on Liddon; but, when the Duke of Argyll * entered 
the fray with his 'Professor Huxley on Canon Liddon', and 
complained of the unfairness of criticising a preacher 
whose calling debarred hi from disputation, the tempera- 
ture rose considerably. Replying with 'Science and Pseudo- 
Science* mThe Nineteenth Century for April, Huxley wondered 
whether his Grace ever read the religious newspapers with 
their continual controversies, and scathingly commented 
"Nothing has done more harm to the clergy than the practice, 
too common among laymen, of regarding them, when in the 
pulpit, as a sort of chartered libertines, whose divagations are 
not to be taken seriously". "So much", he concluded his intro- 
duction, "for the lecture on propriety." When the editor 
received the manuscript of this paper he gave "one gasp of 

* George Douglas CampbeU, 8th Duke of Argyll (1823-1900), a prominent 
Whig of the day. He became Chancellor of St Andrews and Rector of Glas- 
gow, and had some considerable learning, but Huxley could not stomach what 
he regarded as his intellectual evasiveness. 


delight", and Holyoake * told Huxley that it ought to have 
been entitled "The Ignorance of the Duke of Argyll'. But, if 
he was nothing else, Argyll was persistent and, coming out 
of his corner with 'A Great Lesson', he painted a picture of a 
scientific world terrorised by the massive reputation of the 
dead Darwin and the overwhelming authority of the very 
living Huxley. No doubt the Duke deserved the demolition to 
which he was then subjected in 'Science and the Bishops', 
but perhaps it was unnecessarily unkind. 

Despite his archiepiscopal tendencies, Huxley was much 
offended by the "effete and idolatrous sacerdotalism" whose 
growth seemed to him the saddest spectacle which his genera- 
tion of Englishmen had witnessed, and he was not much more 
favourably inclined towards that "incongruous mixture of 
bad science with eviscerated papistry" which was Positivism. 
It was in 1868, in a 'lay sermon' at Edinburgh, that he pro- 
duced his brilliant definition of the system of Auguste 
Comte as "Catholicism minus Christianity". He had read 
both the Philosophie and the Politique some sixteen years 
earlier, and had formed as low an opinion of their author's 
intellectual rigour as of his treatment of his wife. Naturally, 
he approved of the proposal to reform society sans ni dieu ni 
roi, but he was repelled both by Comte's later authoritarian- 
ism and by what he considered the sham pietism of his 
followers, and his article on 'Scientific Aspects of Positivism' 
in The Fortnightly was biting. 

In the autumn of 1888, the opportunity occurred to deal 
with Christianity and the Religion of Humanity together. 
Addressing an enthusiastic Church Congress meeting in Man- 
chester, the Principal of King's College, London, declared 
that those who called themselves agnostics were really 
infidels, and implied that Huxley lacked the courage to use 
that hard name. Huxley's reply was delayed by convalescence 

* George Jacob Holyoake (1817-1906), the Co-operative leader and 
secularist who was imprisoned for blasphemy. He and Huxley were never 
close friends, but they corresponded and met occasionally and Huxley con- 
tributed to the support of the Leicester Secular Hall. 


in the Engadine, but in the following February The Nineteenth 
Century carried his essay, 'Agnosticism', which answered 
both Dr Wace and a recent criticism of agnosticism by the 
Positivist leader, Frederic Harrison.* Wace hit back with 
* Agnosticism: a Reply'; Huxley replied with * Agnosticism: 
a Rejoinder*; back came Wace with 'Christianity and 
Agnosticism*; and finally there was Huxley's * Agnosticism 
and Qiristianity'. Knowing something of Huxley's capacity 
for abstract thought, one might have hoped for valuable 
metaphysical discourse in these three papers on agnosticism, 
but in the main such hopes are disappointed. 

When he had completed the last of the trilogy, Huxley 
wrote to his friend Hooker "I want you to enjoy my wind-up 
with Wace in this month's XIX. . . . It's as full of malice as an 
egg is full of meat and my satisfaction in making Newman 
my accomplice has been unutterable". And that, no doubt, 
explains the disappointment. Huxley was capable of shedding 
light, but he too much enjoyed engendering heat; he could 
construct a consistent ideology, but he preferred to demolish 
the shaky structures erected by his opponents. It was his 
'agnosticism' which provided the unifying idea for many 
ancient strands of sceptical criticism, but for a substantial 
study of the wider implications of the agnostic approach one 
has to go to Leslie Stephen. Yet, in the conditions of his time, 
Huxley was perhaps justified by his comment in another con- 

There is a prevalent idea that the constructive genius is in itself 
something grander than the critical, even though the former turns out 
to have merely made a symmetrical rubbish heap in the middle of the 
road of science, which the latter has to clear away before anybody can 
get forward. The critic is told : It is all very well to show that this, that or 
the other is wrong; what we want to know is, what is right? 

Now, I submit that it is unjust to require a crossing sweeper in 
Piccadilly to tell you the road to Highgate ; he has earned his copper if he 
has done all he professes to do and cleaned up your immediate path. 

* Frederic Harrison (1831-1923), the lawyer and philosopher who founded 
The Positivist Review. 


Smiting the Amalekites 

It is assuredly of no great use to tear ones life to pieces before 
one is fifty But the alternative, for men, constructed on the 
high pressure tubular boiler principle, like ourselves is to lie 
still & let the devil have his own way And I will be torn to 
pieces before I am forty sooner than see that. 

Letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 December 1860 

IN 1887, WHEN the Bishop of Ripon sought Huxley's 
advice about a scientific reference in the Jubilee sermon he 
was to preach to the House of Commons, the recently retired 
biologist told him "in part from force of circumstance & in 
part from a conviction that I would be of more .use in that 
way I have played the part of something between maid of all 
work and gladiator-general for science". But, willing as he 
ever was to perform the daily chores of the maid-of-all-work, 
it was in the role of gladiator-general that he really revelled. 
He once admitted to John Skelton that an article of Glad- 
stone's "caused such a flow of bile that I have been the better 
for it ever since", and he commonly found controversy 
admirably cholagogic. "Where there was strife, there was 
Huxley", Justin McCarthy recalled, and Lecky expressed a 
common view when he wrote sarcastically "What an un- 
fortunate man you are! With your 'deep sense of the blessed- 
ness of peace' engaged, I believe, in no less than 3 fairly 
vehement controversies !" It comes as something of a palinode 
to find Huxley telling his protege Ray Lankester that "battles* 



like hypotheses, are not to be multiplied beyond necessity", 
yet there was justice in the remark "No use to tu quoque me. 
Under the circumstances of the time, warfare has been my 
business and duty". That it was also his pleasure does not 
affect the main issue. 

In one of his notebooks Huxley copied out from Piers 
Plowman the apophthegm "whan alle tresores ben tryed 
treuth is the beste", and it was because he believed that the 
Bishop of Oxford * had offended against the ploughman's 
vision that he trounced him so unmercifully in 1860. Yet the 
famous clash at the British Association meeting was not of 
Huxley's choosing. He had warned Darwin in the previous 
autumn that his Origin of Species would be greeted with con- 
siderable abuse and misrepresentation, and had assured 
him "I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness", 
but he had no intention of making the fur fly in Oxford. 
When the university's Professor of Botany presented a 
paper on 28th June to Section D, 'On the final causes of the 
sexuality of plants, with particular reference to Mr. Darwin's 
work on The Origin of Species', Huxley declined an invitation 
to take part in the discussion, for he felt that the audience 
was one which would allow sentiment to interfere unduly 
with reason. And, even when Sir Richard Owen made mis- 
statements about the comparative anatomy of man and 
gorilla, he contented himself with a direct contradiction and a 
promise to produce his evidence later. But soon the university 
grapevine was saying that the Bishop would settle the here- 
tics' hash on the last day of the month, and Huxley could not 
withstand the pressure from his friends to postpone his de- 
parture from Oxford until after the meeting. So, while Dr 
Draper of New York droned out his lecture 'On the intel- 
lectual development of Europe considered with reference to 
the views of Mr. Darwin', Wilberforce and Huxley sat not 
fax from each other on the platform. 

* Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873), Bishop of Oxford from 1845 to 1869 
and thereafter Bishop of Winchester. A brilliant scholar and Fellow of All 
Souls, his memoiy is perhaps unduly clouded by the 1860 episode. 


Attracted by the prospect of episcopal pyrotechnics, an 
audience of some seven hundred arrived at the Museum and 
the meeting was transferred to a larger hall. Massed in the 
middle of the room were the clergy, in one corner sat a small 
knot of pro-Darwin undergraduates, and down the length of 
one side the ladies waited and fluttered their handkerchiefs. 
After the lecture two or three members discussed Dr Draper's 
paper for a few minutes, but the crowd soon tired of the 
grape-shot and called out for the heavy artillery. Bland and 
jovial, aware of his brilliance and comfortable in the know- 
ledge that the audience was with him, 'Soapy Sam' spoke "for 
full half an hour with inimitable spirit, emptiness and unfair- 
ness". And he made the fatal error of an offensive personal in- 
quiry about Huxley's own simian ancestry. "The Lord hath de- 
livered him into mine hands", the young biologist muttered to 
his neighbour, and he proceeded to enlist against his adversary 
the Victorians' high regard for truthfulness and good taste. His 
quiet gravity contrasting with the Bishop's smiling insolence, 
Huxley triumphed completely. The many accounts of the 
episode differ in detail, but nothing conflicts with that which 
Huxley himself sent to his friend Dyster in South Wales : 

Samuel thought it was a fine opportunity for chaffing a savan 
However he performed the operation vulgarly & I determined to punish 
him partly on that account and partly because he talked pretentious 

So when I got up I spoke pretty much to the effect that I had listened 
with great attention to the Lord Bishops speech but had been unable to 
discover either a new fact or a new argument in it except indeed the 
question raised as to my personal predilections in the matter of an- 
cestryThat it would not have occurred to me to bring forward such 
a topic as that for discussion myself, but that I was quite ready to meet 
the Right Revd. prelate even on that ground If then, said I the 
question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grand- 
father or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means 
of influence & yet who employs those faculties & that influence for the 
mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion 
I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape. 

Whereupon there was inextinguishable laughter among the people 


and they listened to the rest of my argument with the greatest attention. 
... I think Samuel will think twice before he tries a fall with men of 
science again. ... I believe I was the most popular man in Oxford for 
full four & twenty hours afterwards. 

Science had served notice on Theology that she would be no 
longer subservient, and one lady fainted at the declaration of 
independence. In his quiet country retreat, far from the fray, 
Darwin received the news with nervous chuckles of delight: 
"how durst you attack a live bishop in that fashion? I am 
quite ashamed of you! Have you no respect for fine lawn 
sleeves? By Jove, you seem to have done it well!" 

Yet Huxley's devastating speech was not primarily an 
attack on the Church, and the view of him as sacerdos semper 
ubique et omnibus inimicus is quite false. The essential enemy 
was intellectual dishonesty wherever it might be found, and 
only the peculiar conditions of the time led Huxley to cross 
swords so often with the clergy. In 1886, writing a chapter for 
Darwin's biography, Huxley recalled that in the 1850s he 
was by no means an uncritical evolutionist and, "reversing 
the apostolic precept to be all things to all men, I usually 
defended the tenability of the received doctrines when I had 
to do with the transmutationists; and stood up for the 
possibility of transmutation among the orthodox". One of 
the privileged few to be admitted to Darwin's thoughts before 
his theory appeared in print, Huxley had from the start 
maintained that there were serious gaps in the evidence 
which had been marshalled. "I by no means suppose that the 
transmutation hypothesis is proved or anything like it ", he 
told Lyell in 1859, "but I view it as a powerful instrument of 
research Follow it out & it will lead us somewhere while 
the other notion is like all the modifications of 'final causa- 
tion* a 'barren virgin 5 ." Darwin's theory he believed to be 
not only a possible explanation of the biological facts; but, 
more important, a possible explanation. The current theo- 
logico-scientific views seemed to hi to be not explanations 
at all, but merely discreditable attempts to satisfy both 


science and religion by means of ambiguity; and, although he 
had no a priori objection to the Genesis account of creation, 
he felt entitled to demand some particle of evidence for a 
statement which seemed to him to be highly improbable. 
Therefore, he declared, "The only rational course for those 
who had no other object than the attainment of truth was 
to accept 'Darwinism' as a working hypothesis and see what 
could be made of it. Either it would prove its capacity to 
elucidate the facts of organic life, or it would break down 
under the strain'*. What he was not prepared to allow was 
the smothering of Darwin's theory by prejudice and abuse, 
and he set himself to secure a fair hearing. When Darwin 
subscribed a letter in 1859 with the words "Farewell my good 
& admirable agent for the promulgation of damnable 
heresies", he already knew what a valiant ally he had found. 
It is interesting that, not very long after his marriage, 
Huxley had himself settled on 1860 as the year of decision in 
his life. Shortly before midnight on the last day of 1856, 
sitting in the little room he used as a study and waiting for 
his wife to be delivered of their first child, he made an addi- 
tion to his adolescent journal: 

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. 
... In 1860 I may fairly look forward to fifteen pr twenty years 

To smite all humbugs, 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. 

It was a man conscious of his matured power whom Wilber- 
force had crossed, and before the summer was out Huxley 
was enjoining Hooker "take care of yourself, there's a good 
fellow. . . . We have a devil of a lot to do in the way of 
smiting the Amalekites". 


Huxley's first Amalekite, as a matter of fact, had been 
not the Bishop of Oxford but the Archbishop of Compara- 
tive Anatomy. Sir Richard Owen, Director of the Hunterian 
and later of the British Museum, and sometimes called 'the 
British Cuvier', was a person of immense prestige and equal 
vanity and arrogance. His influence with the Admiralty after 
Huxley had been paid off from Rattlesnake was invaluable 
to the young assistant-surgeon, but the condescension with 
which he granted a request for a testimonial in 1852 was such 
that Huxley felt like knocking him down. Earlier in the year 
the younger man had feared that his powerful senior might 
allow jealousy to impede the publication of his Royal Society 
memoir, 'On the Morphology of the Cephalous Mollusca*, 
but he managed to manoeuvre the paper into print at the 
same time assuring his fiancee "On my own subjects I am his 
master, and am quite ready to fight half a dozen dragons". 
Things were made no better in 1856, when Owen took 
advantage of facilities provided at Jermyn Street to arrogate 
to himself Huxley's title as Professor of Palaeontology in the 
School of Mines. Further feeling was generated when Hux- 
ley's 1858 Croonian Lecture, 'On the Theory of the Verte- 
brate Skull* (delivered at the Royal Society with Sir Richard 
himself in the chair), dared to demolish Owen's claim that 
the skullbones were modified vertebrae, and Huxley was 
unkind enough to write to Hooker that the British Cuvier 
stood in precisely the same relation to the French as British 
brandy to cognac. With pomposity and jealousy on the one 
side, and boundless vigour and missionary zeal on the other, 
it is not surprising that the final clash between Owen and 
Huxley was a resounding one. 

Huxley's reply to Owen's assertion at Oxford, that the 
brain of the gorilla differed more from the brain of man than 
it did from the brains of the very lowest quadrumana, 
appeared in January 1861 in the first number of The Natural 
History Review, and Wilberforce was not left long in ignor- 
ance of the undermining of his scientific adviser: 


The Athenaeum 
Jany 3rd, 1861 

Professor Huxley presents his compliments to the Lord Bishop of 
Oxford Believing that his Lordship has as great an interest in the 
ascertainment of the truth as himself, Professor Huxley ventures to 
draw the attention of the Bishop to a paper in the accompanying num- 
ber of the Natural History Review "On the Zoological relations of 
Man with the Lower Animals". 

The Bishop of Oxford will find therein full justification for the dia- 
metrical contradiction with which he heard Prof. Huxley meet certain 
anatomical statements put forth at the first meeting of Section D, 
during the late session of the British Association at Oxford. 

Owen had declared unambiguously that the structure known 
to anatomists as the hippocampus minor occurred only in the 
human brain, and unambiguously he was wrong. "The fact 
is", Huxley commented, "he made a prodigious blunder in 
commencing the attack, and now his only chance is to be 
silent and let people forget the exposure." But Owen would 
not keep quiet, and the dispute was brought to the Pimch- 
reading public in a series of comic verses. One, headed THE 
GORILLA'S DILEMMA, had this touching first stanza: 

Say am I a man and a brother, 

Or only an anthropoid ape? 

Your judgment, be't one way or t'other, 

Do put into positive shape. 

Must I humbly take rank as quadruman 

As OWEN maintains that I ought: 

Or rise into brotherhood human, 

As HUXLEY has flatt'ringly taught? 

Another, headed MONKEYANA and contributed by 'Gorilla 9 
from the Zoological Gardens, delighted in the contest: 

Then HUXLEY and OWEN, 

With rivalry glowing, 

With pen and ink rush to the scratch; 

Tis Brain versus Brain, 

Till one of them's slain; 

By Jove! it will be a good match! 


Its final two stanzas left no doubt about which contestant 
had been slain: 

Next HUXLEY replies 
TTiat 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!" 

For the less sophisticated there appeared in 1863 a burlesque 
eight-page pamphlet, A Report of a Sad Case . . . Owen versus 
Huxley, recounting how the two biologists had caused a 
breach of the peace: 

Policeman X "Well, your Worship, Huxley called Owen a lying 
Orthognathous Brachycephalic Bimanous Pithecus; and Owen told 
him he was nothing but a thorough Archencephalic Primate." 

Lord Mayor "Are you sure you heard this awful language?" 

Even the nurseries of England heard obscure echoes of the 
clash, for many a nanny must have read to her charges the 
passage in The Water Babies describing how "The Professor 
... got up once at the British Association, and declared that 
apes had hippopotamus majors in their brains just as men 
have. Which was a shocking thing to say; for, if it were 
so, what would become of the faith, hope, and charity of 
immortal millions?" 

It was not because Wilberforce and Owen differed from 
him that Huxley set about them so sharply. He was capable, 
when he regarded a scientist as worthy and painstaking, of 
going out of his way to avoid any hurt while correcting his 
scientific views. And, where a clergyman seemed to be con- 
scientiously trying to take account of the new knowledge, 
Huxley would be patient and considerate and tolerant. But 



Recently tried before the Lord Mayor, 

OWEN ver&us 

In which will le found fully given the 
Merit* of the great Recent 

o .A. s 

O BT D O K. 

Policeman X lie behaved uncommon plucky, though his 
lieart seemed broke. He tried to give Huxley as good as lie 
gave, but he could not, and some people cried " Shame/' and 
" he's had enough/* and so on. .Never saw a man so mauled 
before. 'Twas the monkey that worrited him, and Huxley's 
crying out, " There they are bone for bone, tooth for tooth, 
foot for foot, and their brains one as good as t'other/' 
Lord Mayor That was certainly a great insult. 

Huxley So they are, my lord, I can show - 

Here a scene of indescrible confusion occurred. Owen 
loudly contradicted Huxley; the lie was given from one to the 
other; each tried to talk the other down; the order 'Silence*- 
was unheeded; and for a time nothing could be heard but in- 
temperate language, mingled with shouts of " Posterior Cornu," 
" Hippocampus/ 1 * Third Lobe/' &c., &e. When order was 
restored, the Lord Mayor stated that, in all his experience, he 
had never witnessed such virulent animosity among 

The Lord Mayor 'here asked whether either party were 
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 TOomtted 
him to death ; but I don't think it was so had as that. Hears 
as Owen takes the chair at a crib in Blooinsbury. I don't 
think it be a harmonic meeting altogether. And Huxley hangs 
out in Jermyn Street. 

Lord Mayor Do you know any of their associates ? 

Policeman X I have heard that Hooker, who travels in 
the green and vegetable line, pats Huxley on the back a good 
deal; and Lyell, the resurrectionist,, and some others, /-who 
keep dark at present, are pals of Huxley's. 

Lord Mayor Lyeli, Lyell ; surely I have heard that name 

Policeman X "Very like* you may, your "Worship ; there's 
a fight getting up between him and Falconer, the old bone -man, 
with Prestwitch, the gravel sifter, for backer. 

Owen He's as bad as any of 'em, my lord. I thought he 
was a friend of mine, but he's been saying things of 'me as I 
don't like; but I'll be even with him some day. 

Lord Mayor Silence ! Have yon seea the prisoners in 
the company of any ticket-of-leavc men? 


cleric and layman alike felt his lash if they tried to suffocate 
intellectual freedom by the weight of traditional authority, 
"We are in the midst of a gigantic movement greater than 
that which preceded and produced the Reformation, and 
really only the continuation of that movement . . .", he wrote 
to his wife in 1873, "nor is any reconcilement possible be- 
tween free thought and traditional authority. One or other 
will have to succumb after a struggle of unknown duration, 
which will have as side issues vast political and social 
troubles." And, he concluded, the movement will be fur- 
thered most by "those who teach men to rest in no lie, and to 
rest in no verbal delusions. I may be able to help a little in this 
direction perhaps I may have helped already". Magna est 
veritas etprevalebit was his deepest conviction, and in one of 
his notebooks he jotted down the stages by which victory was 
to come: 

The Four Stages of Public Opinion 

I (Just after publication) 

The Novelty is absurd and subversive of Religion & Morality. The 
propounder both fool & knave. 

n (Twenty years later) 

The Novelty is absolute Truth and will yield a full & satisfactory 
explanation of things in general The propounder man of sublime 
genius & perfect virtue. 

ffi (Forty years later) 

The Novelty won't explain things in general after all and therefore is 
a wretched failure. The propounder a very ordinary person advertised 
by a clique. 

IV (A century later) 

The Novelty a mixture of truth & error. Explains as much as could 
reasonably be expected. 

The propounder worthy of all honour in spite of his share of human 
frailties, as one who has added to the permanent possessions of science 

Confident as he was in the ultimate victory of truth, Huxley 
saw no reason why he should not speed up the process, and 
Wilberforce and Owen were not the only Amalekites in need. 


of smiting. In 1862, unexpectedly called upon to deliver the 
anniversary address to the Geological Society owing to the 
illness of the President, he decided to make a critical examina- 
tion of the state of geological knowledge. "I am going to 
criticise Palaeontological doctrines in general", he told 
Hooker, "in a way that will flutter their nerves considerably. 
. . , I mean to turn round and ask, 'Now, Messieurs les 
Palaeontologues, what the devil do you really know?' " In his 
address he excused his procedure "because it was useful to 
look into the cellars and see how much gold was there, and 
whether the quantity of bullion justified such an enormous 
circulation of paper", and it is scarcely surprising that after 
the meeting there were some protests at his boldness. Seven 
years later, by then himself President, he once again gave the 
anniversary address to the Geological Society, and this time 
emphasised the considerable assumptions made in eminent 
scientists' calculations of the age of the earth. "If I were in 
your shoes", declared a deliriously titillated Darwin, "I 
should tremble for my life." The one thing which annoyed 
Huxley more than unwarranted assumptions by clerics was 
unwarranted assumptions by scientists and, when the occa- 
sion was not opportune to act himself, he did his best to 
secure a surrogate. "I wonder if you are going to take the line 
of showing up the superstitions of men of science", he asked 
Kingsley before a lecture at the Royal Institution. "Their 
name is legion and the exploit would be a telling one. I would 
do it myself only I think I am already sufficiently isolated and 

Usually, however, Huxley was ready to do his own smiting, 
and most often the Amalekites were men who opposed the 
theory of evolution. The readiness with which he always 
sprang to the defence of Darwin is so striking as to require 
further explanation than is provided by regard for scientific 
truth: there was a deep emotional attachment, too, and the 
way in which the younger man took on the protective part of 
elder brother is at times quite touching. So soon as The Origin 


appeared Huxley arranged for a review by himself to be 
printed in the leading daily as if by a staff writer: "the edu- 
cated mob who derive their ideas from the Times ", he 

declared, "shall respect Darwin & be d d to them.** Re- 
peatedly the devoted disciple advised Darwin to keep quiet 
and leave the wrestling to him, and as often the meek master 
expressed gratitude for this eminently satisfactory arrange- 
ment. "You ought to be like one of the blessed gods of Ely- 
sium," Huxley wrote, "and let the inferior deities do battle 
with the infernal powers" : Darwin enjoyed receiving protec- 
tion, Huxley enjoyed giving it, and both were happy. 

The autumn of 1864 provided two occasions for the func- 
tioning of this strange symbiosis. Criticisms of Darwin's 
theory were published by the German histologist Rudolf von 
Kolliker and by the French physiologist M. J. P. Flourens, 
and in each case the criticism was misconceived. Darwin was 
as usual delighted with Huxley's demolition of his opponents, 
and Huxley as usual gratified by Darwin's delight. "If I do 
not pour out my admiration ... I shall explode" came the 
chortle from Down; "Hang the two scalps up in your wig- 
wam!" came the contented crow from Jermyn Street. Two 
months later, when the Royal Society sufficiently overcame 
its conservatism to award Darwin its Copley Medal, there 
came another opportunity to deal with attempted denigration 
Darwin, as usual, staying in his rural retreat while the ruc- 
tions proceeded. Colonel Sabine, the President, managed to 
insinuate into his address that the medal was for the reci- 
pient's general biological achievement but not for his work 
on evolution, and of course this brought Huxley to his feet to 
demand that the relevant Minute of Council be read to the 
meeting "Sabine didn't exactly like it, I believe", he told the 
honoured absentee. 

It was more than a decade before Darwin's own university 
honoured him with a doctorate, and, while he dined quietly 
with his wife, his bulldog barked on his behalf at the Cam- 
bridge Philosophical Society's dinner in dare: 


Mr. Darwin's work had fully earned the distinction you have today 
conferred upon him four and twenty years ago ; but I doubt not that he 
would have found in that circumstance an exemplification of the wise 
foresight of his revered intellectual mother. Instead of offering her 
honours when they ran a chance of being crushed beneath the accumu- 
lated marks of appreciation of the whole civilised world, the University 
has waited until the trophy was finished, and has crowned the edifice 
with the delicate wreath of academic appreciation. 

True, Darwin was later assured that "There was only a little 
touch of the whip at starting, and it was so tied round with 
ribbons that it took them some time to find out where the 
flick had hit", but it is difficult to believe that all Cambridge 
hides were so insensitive. 

A few months after flicking the whip at Cambridge, Huxley 
was telling John Morley "Controversy is as abhorrent to me 
as gin to a reclaimed drunkard", and certainly for a while he 
was comparatively quiet. The idea of evolution was now 
fairly widely accepted and Darwin had little need of an agent- 
general, the promotion of technical education took up a good 
deal of time and effort, and the new Normal School of Science 
at South Kensington needed putting on its feet. Between 1880 
and 1885, some of Huxley's time was also taken for his duties 
as Inspector of Salmon Fisheries, Governor of Eton, Crown 
Fellow and Senator of the University of London, Trustee of 
the British Museum, President of the Royal Society and mem- 
ber of two Royal Commissions, and always his health was 
uncertain. During the British Association meetings at Dublin 
in 1878 one woman was overheard remarking to another "Oh, 
there comes Professor Huxley; faded, but still fascinating", 
and for a few years it looked as if the fading might be per- 
manent. Left lethargic by recurrent dyspepsia and depression, 
deprived of the comfort of his pipe by the extraction of all his 
teeth in 1884, Huxley seemed for a while to have become not 
merely a drunkard reclaimed but one who had lost the 
capacity to drink. 

It was towards the end of 1885, when freedom from the 


daily cares of a full-time post was beginning to bring fresh 
vigour to a body nearly broken, that the decisive mental tonic 
was administered by Gladstone. The Grand Old Man had 
always been a favourite target (Huxley once remarked 
"Some of these day's he will turn inside out like a blessed 
Hydra and I dare say he will talk just as well in that state as 
in his normal condition. I have never heard or read of any 
body with such a severely copious chronic glossorrhoea"), 
and now in the November Nineteenth Century he provided 
a magnificent object for dissection. Asserting in his article 
The Dawn of Creation and Worship' that the order of 
events adumbrated in Genesis was in harmony with the 
findings of Science, Gladstone set off an heroic conflict 
which was to continue intermittently for the best part of a 

A quarter of a century earlier, when The Origin of Species 
first appeared, most Christians had felt confident enough to 
set themselves in unambiguous opposition. They could, after 
all, count on the support of many eminent scientists, and 
Huxley himself admitted that the palaeontological evidence at 
that time was far from decisive. After another ten years of 
geological research there was a clear balance in favour of 
evolution, by 1876 an immense variety of American fossils 
had provided detailed information about the stages through 
which certain forms of animal life had passed, and by 1881 
Huxley regarded the evidence of the fossil record as so un- 
equivocal that if biology had not already provided a theory of 
evolution geology would have had to do so. Nor was it any 
longer possible for the Church to rely on the great force of 
educated ignorance, for right across the land geology had be- 
come a favourite hobby of country clergymen and the evi- 
dence for evolution could be denied only by those willing to 
deny their own eyes. The ideological status of science had 
risen to a new peak, and it was clearly necessary for theology 
to come to terms. Gladstone, a leader in both Church and 
State, was very conscious of this need, and in 1877 he had 


gone with Huxley and others to visit Darwin at Down. Now, 
when the French theologian Reville presented the Genesis 
story of creation as merely a charming primitive tradition, 
Gladstone claimed that its account of the serial production 
of the earth and its various orders of living things was 
affirmed by science itself. Unfortunately for Gladstone, his 
knowledge of geology was markedly inferior to Huxley's 
knowledge of Biblical exegesis, and the contest was too 

Beneath the conventional courtesies of Huxley's reply there 
was a good deal of venom. As President of the Royal Society 
he had felt that good taste demanded a certain restraint on 
his part, but Gladstone's article sent him "blaspheming about 
the house with the first healthy expression of wrath known 
for a couple of years"; and, having recently resigned the Pre- 
sidency, he was now a free man. 'The Interpreters of Genesis 
and the Interpreters of Nature* was a hard-hitting rebuttal of 
Gladstone's arguments: "Do read my polishing off of the 
G.O.M.," Huxley begged Herbert Spencer, "I am proud of it 
as a work of art, and as evidence that the volcano is not yet 
exhausted." Gladstone had perhaps not expected Huxley to 
intervene so effectively in his dispute with Reville, but even 
after being rebutted he was not wise enough to leave well 
alone. His Troem to Genesis' in January's Nineteenth ceded 
some of Huxley's points but failed to admit other errors, 
and soon his opponent was telling Farrer "the extreme 
shiftiness of my antagonist provoked me, and I was tempted 
to pin him and dissect him as an anatomico-psychological 

When Knowles received the manuscript of 'Mr. Gladstone 
and Genesis' he was moved to write "may I take my courage 
in both hands & ask you to be a little less fierce & more good 
humoured about your vivisection?". Next day Huxley re- 
turned his 'wild cat' to Knowles with the assurance "He is 
now castrated; his teeth are filed; his claws are cut; he is 
taught to swear like a 'mieu'; and to spit like a cougji; and 


when he is turned out of the bag you won't know Mm from a 
tame rabbit" but the rabbit, if tame, was crafty. Huxley had 
at his disposal all the arts of advocacy, and in this essay they 
were used with devastating skill. Setting himself up in mock 
humility as "a simple-minded person, wholly devoid of 
subtlety of intellect", and so unable to fathom the depths of 
alternative meaning in Gladstone's propositions, he pro- 
ceeded to demonstrate how probing his plummet could be. 
Identifying himself with "my respected clients, the people of 
average opinion and capacity", and getting in a side-blow at 
the G.O.M. by remarking that "a representative of average 
opinion . . . appears to be the modern ideal of a leader of 
men", he went on to display a far from average knowledge 
both of palaeontology and of textual criticism. Humbly ad- 
mitting that it would be presumptuous to instruct his adver- 
sary on Indian and Greek philosophy, he nevertheless man- 
aged to suggest that Mr Gladstone could with benefit consult 
"that most excellent and by no means recondite source of 
information, the 'Encyclopaedia BritannicaV* And, all in all, 
he managed to make the Prime Minister look something of a 

It is easy today to conclude that two great minds might well 
have found something more important to debate than the de- 
tails of pentateuchal cosmogony, but it is not difficult to 
understand why the clash was so sensational and led to such 
a vast subsidiary correspondence in the daily and periodical 
Press. The issue was at that time a major one: Gladstone 
sought to prove that the ground which science had made its 
own was of no strategic importance to religion, which indeed 
had prepared the way for the advance ; Huxley replied that the 
Church was slyly seeking to cover an important retreat by a 
glossographic smokescreen. Those who admitted that Genesis 
was in conflict with science Huxley regarded as honest and 
enlightened, those who maintained the literal infallibility of 
scripture he regarded as honest if impervious to argument, 
but those who tried to keep a foot in both camps he held in 


contempt. In one of his notebooks he jotted down a satirical 
verse on a Church Congress : 

Benevolent maunderers stand up and say 

That black and white are but extreme shades of grey: 

Stir up the black creed with the white, 

The grey they make will be just right. 

These few lines express perfectly his deep disgust with all 

When Canon Liddon, the Chancellor of St Paul's, preached 
towards the end of 1889 a sermon on 'The Worth of the Old 
Testament', and sought to counter the modernists of Lux 
Mwdi with the assertion that the trustworthiness of the Old 
Testament is, in fact, inseparable from the trustworthiness of 
our Lord Jesus Christ, Huxley produced a reply which was 
entirely polite. The opportunity to have fun with Lot's wife 
and Jonah and the whale was too good to miss, and 'The 
Lights of the Church and the Light of Science' was perhaps a 
little unkind, but there was not much acid in the article. A 
year later, when Gladstone paraded a pony out of the same 
stable, he was treated in a very different manner. Huxley's 
trip to the Canaries in the spring of 1890 had given him a pro- 
digious appetite and a new zest; and, when he read in Good 
Words an attack on one of his earlier essays, he whooped joy- 
fully "Yes Mr. Gladstone has dug up the hatchet. We shall 
see who gets the scalp". 

Huxley's essay 'Agnosticism', written in reply to Dr Wace, 
had remarked that the wanton destruction of other people's 
property in tfae story of the Gadarene swine was clearly a 
misdemeanour, and this was the point of Gladstone's attack. 
Quite ignoring the fact that Huxley had denied credence to 
the story, and thus converting the remark into an attack on 
Jesus's personal character, he managed to generate in his 
article a good deal of odium theologicum. Angrier than he had 
been for a long time, Huxley produced in 'The Keepers of the 
Herd of Swine' as hard-hitting an essay as one may have the 


fortune to read, and space must be spared for its opening 

I had fondly hoped that Mr. Gladstone and I had come to an end of 
disputation, and that the hatchet of war was finally superseded by the 
calumet, which, as Mr. Gladstone, I believe, objects to tobacco, I was 
quite willing to smoke for both. But I have had, once again, to discover 
that the adage that whoso seeks peace will ensue it, is a somewhat hasty 
generalisation. The renowned warrior with whom it is my misfortune to 
be opposed in most things has dug up the axe and is on the war-path 
once more. The weapon has been wielded with all the dexterity which 
long practice has conferred on a past master in craft, whether of wood 
or state. And I have reason to believe that the simpler sort of the great 
tribe which he heads, imagine that my scalp is already on its way to 
adorn their big chief's wigwam. I am glad therefore to be able to relieve 
any anxieties which my friends may entertain without delay. I assure 
them that my skull retains its normal covering, and that though, 
naturally, I may have felt alarmed, nothing serious has happened. My 
doughty adversary has merely performed a war dance, and his blows 
have for the most part cut the air. I regret to add, however, that by 
misadventure, and I am afraid I must say carelessness, he has inflicted 
one or two severe contusions on himself. 

After this light-hearted introduction, Huxley proceeded to 
hurl massive and well-digested learning at Gladstone's head 
with elegant and almost contemptuous ease. Marshalling the 
evidence that Gadara was a Gentile rather than a Jewish city 
("And I may remark that, if my co-trustee of the British 
Museum had taken the trouble to visit the splendid numis- 
matic collection under our charge, he might have seen two 
coins of Gadara*'), displaying an intimate knowledge of the 
works of Josephus and of recent Biblical scholars, he soon 
made hay of Gladstone's assertion that the Mosaic Law for- 
bade Gadarenes to keep pigs; and the other points at issue 
were disposed of with equal dexterity. Whether it was worth 
doing may perhaps be doubted, butit was done supremely well. 
When Gladstone incorporated his Good Words articles in a 
separate volume, The Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture, 
Huxley replied with 'Illustrations of Mr. Gladstone's Con- 
troversial Methods'* and he defended the devotion of so much 


attention to this story of the swine. The question at issue, he 
declared, was "whether the men of the nineteenth century are 
to adopt the demonology of the men of the first century, as 
divinely revealed truth, or to reject it, as degrading falsity. 
. . . Whether the twentieth century shall see a recrudescence 
of mediaeval papistry, or whether it shall witness the sever- 
ance of the living body of the ethical ideal of prophetic Israel 
from the carcase, foul with savage superstitions and cankered 
with false philosophy, to which the theologians have bound 
it". There is no doubt about the depth and sincerity of Hux- 
ley's conviction; nor need one question his assertion that "My 
object has been to stir up my countrymen to think about these 
things; and the only use of controversy is that it appeals to 
their love of fighting, and secures their attention". Yet, one 
fears, there were other and somewhat less worthy motives. 
To his intimate Hooker, Huxley wrote "Why the fools go on 
giving me the opportunity of saying the most offensive things 
to their beloved 'Christianity', under the guise of justifiable 
self-defence it is hard to say Except that they are fools of 
the worst sort to wit, clever fools". To his son Leonard he 
later remarked "As to Gladstone and his Impregnable Rock, 
it wasn't worth attacking them for themselves; but it was 
important at that moment to shake him in the minds of sen- 
sible men" : the moment was one in which Gladstone's whole 
Irish policy was at a crisis following ParnelTs adultery with 
Kitty O'Shea. 

Grant Duff told Leonard Huxley that when his father 
crossed words with Gladstone "the contest was like nothing 
that has happened in our times save the struggle at Omdur- 
maa. It was not so much a battle as a massacre", and certainly 
Huxley's adversaries commonly came out of these contests 
looking uncommonly slashed about Mostly this was the 
inevitable result Of getting in the way of one unsurpassed in 
the skDls of controversy, but Huxley had another advantage 
of which his opponents were presumably unaware: the Nine- 
teenttis editor was on his side. When it was not possible to 


provide proofs of Gladstone's and Argyll's articles, Knowles 
sent advance copies of the periodical at the earliest possible 
moment, and he was very ready to allow Huxley to have the 
last word with Wace. In part, no doubt, this partiality was due 
to personal regard for Huxley, in part to general approval of 
his line; but Knowles was an extremely shrewd business man, 
and he naturally went out of his way to humour a contributor 
whose writings repeatedly sent his journal into second or 
several editions. 

But for this prince of controversialists the end was drawing 
near and, appropriately enough, it was in the middle of a 
controversy that he died. On the Boxing Day of 1889 he had 
told Tennyson "I envy your vigour, and am ashamed of my- 
self beside you for being turned out to grass. I kick up my 
heels now and then, and have a gallop round the paddock, but 
it does not come to much", and within the year he had moved 
to a more remote paddock at Eastbourne. A leisurely seaside 
life did him good, and he saw Tennyson buried in West- 
minster Abbey in 1892, but in the following year he barely 
found the strength to deliver his Romanes lecture at Oxford. 
A summer visit to Maloja set him up sufficiently to stand the 
winter, he managed to struggle through 1894 against influenza 
and miscellaneous minor ailments, and then the February of 
1895 brought a fillip in the form of The Foundations of Belief, 
by A. J. Balf our . * Knowles complained to Huxley "Since you 
have forsaken the constable's beat the loose characters of 
thought have plucked up too much courage", and begged him 
to review the book. Wilfrid Ward f has related how, a few 
days later, Huxley called on him in high spirits and declared 
"Mr. Balf our has acted like the French in 1870: he has gone 
to war without any ordnance maps, and without having 

* Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), the eminent politician and elder 
brother of Huxley's prot6g6 F. M. Balfour, the biologist. He was Vice- 
Presidentof the Council of Education for Scotland, Rector of St Andrews and 
of Glasgow, Chancellor of Edinburgh and Senator of London University. 

t Wilfrid Philip Ward (1856-1916), second son of W. G. Ward. After 
studying at the Gregorian University in Rome he became a leading apologist 
of Roman Catholicism and is best remembered for his life of Newman. 


surveyed the scene of the campaign", and the following morn- 
ing the first half of his review-article was in the post. Knowles 
speeded things up with a special messenger to carry proofs 
down to Eastbourne, and *Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnos- 
ticism' appeared in the March number. "I think the cavalry 
charge in this month's Nineteenth will amuse you", Huxley 
wrote to one of his daughters. "The heavy artillery and the 
bayonets will be brought into play next month." But next 
month Huxley was on his back in bed with influenza, before 
the end of June he was dead, and his wife refused all urgings 
to allow the posthumous publication of her husband's last 
article. For once, Huxley did not have the final word. 


Science for the Citizen 

I have said that the man of science is the sworn interpreter 
of nature in the high court of reason. But of what avail is his 
honest speech, if ignorance is the assessor of the judge, and 
prejudice the foreman of the jury? I hardly know of a great 
physical truth, whose universal reception has not been pre- 
ceded by an epoch in which most estimable persons have 
maintained that the phenomena investigated were directly de- 
pendent on the Divine Will, and that the attempt to investigate 
them was not only futile, but blasphemous. And there is 
wonderful tenacity of life about this sort of opposition to 
physical science. Crushed and maimed hi every battle, it yet 
seems never to be slain; and after a hundred defeats it is at 
this day as rampant, though happily not so mischievous, as 
in the time of Galileo. 

Lecture at Royal Institution, 10 February 1860 

ALTHOUGH HUXLEY is so well remembered for his major 
controversial battles, these were of less importance than the 
long slow campaign of attrition which he waged against 
educated ignorance. A public speaker of outstanding bril- 
liance, he was fortunate to build his public career at a time of 
rapidly mounting interest in science, when people would will- 
ingly forgo an evening of mysterious illusions by Maskelyne 
and Cook, or of impersonations by the great Maccabe, in 
order to see and hear an eminent scientist 

The first lecture Huxley ever gave in his life was 'On Animal 
Individuality', delivered on 30 April 1852 as a Friday Evening 



Discourse at the Royal Institution, whither the fashionable 
intelligentsia of the metropolis would repair periodically for 
scientific instruction seasoned with social intercourse. Stand- 
ing as a tyro in the place of Faraday, before the 'best' audi- 
ence in London, the young biologist was understandably 
nervous. Yet, although it was only by careful study that he 
perfected his public speaking, his lectures were from the start 
sufficiently impressive to make him a regular star performer 
at the Royal Institution. Altogether he gave twenty-two of 
these Friday evening discourses, which during his first six 
years ranged over a fairly wide biological field. In the June of 
1859, with Darwin's Origin about to come off the press, 
Huxley flew a kite in his lecture, *On the Persistent Types of 
Animal Life', in which he argued that the theory of evolution 
was quite consistent with the continuance of some types 
unaltered over long periods. It was in his 1860 lecture, 'On 
Species and Races, and Their Origin*, that he made his strik- 
ing claim that science should appear before a knowledgeable 
judge and an unbiased jury, and for many a year to come he 
was to be Britain's most popular scientific preceptor. 

During the 1860s and 1870s Huxley's Royal Institution lec- 
tures dealt with embryology and human palaeontology, ethno- 
logy and comparative morphology, evolution and psycho- 
neurology, and the public seems to have lapped it all up. 
Then, in 1880, with the idea of evolution generally accepted, 
came a triumphant lecture *On the Coming of Age of "The 
Origin of Species" *. It is a tribute to his devotion to the spirit 
of 'science that, on this jubilant occasion, he paused to urge 
caution on the enthusiastic votaries of Darwinism: 

History warns us ... that it is the customary fate of new truths to 
begin as heresies and to end as superstitions ; and, as matters now stand, 
it is hardly rash to anticipate that, in another twenty years, the new 
generation . . . will be in danger of accepting the main doctrines of the 
"Origin of Species", with as little reflection, and it may be with as little 
justification, as so many of our contemporaries, twenty years ago, 
rejected them. 


What the Royal Institution was to the West End, the Lon- 
don Institution was in some sort to the City, and there the 
office workers flocked to hear Huxley deliver lectures singly 
and in series. Whatever the ostensible subject, whether animal 
motion or the pedigree of the horse or the elements of psycho- 
logy, the real subject was always the same: the necessity to 
base beliefs on adequate data and honest thinking. Other 
sections of London's public crowded out the lecture room at 
the Zoological Gardens to hear Huxley on starfish or on 
snakes or on squids; yet others repaired year by year to 
Jennyn Street for his winter courses of evening lectures; and 
the total effect of all this on the upper and middle classes of 
London must have been immense. 

There was no radio or television in those days to cany the 
words of the wise men of the metropolis into every provincial 
parlour, but all over the country there were flourishing literary 
and philosophical societies able to attract to their meetings 
speakers of the highest reputation. And, with the very ,full 
reporting commonly given by the virile local Press, such 
speakers had an educational influence radiating far beyond 
the ranks of those who actually heard them. Huxley once 
refused an invitation with the explanation that he "did not 
care to address a dilettante audience such as Leamington was 
likely to afford", but through the years he spoke in most of 
the important regional centres. In 1 862 he gave the Edinburgh 
Philosophical Institution two lectures on the relation of man 
to the lower animals, based on a series which he had already 
given to working men in London. "Fancy unco guid Edin- 
burgh requiring illumination on the subject!", he wrote to his 
wife. "They know my views, so if they do not like what I shall 
have to tell them it is their own fault." Whereas Darwin in his 
Origin largely evaded the question of human evolution, con- 
tenting himself with the bland remark, "Light will be thrown 
on the origin of man and his history", Huxley at Edin- 
burgh "told them in so many words that I entertain no doubt 
of the origin of man from the same stock as the apes". The 


Presbyterian Witness came out with a furious attack on the 
audience for applauding this "blasphemous contradiction to 
biblical narrative and doctrine ... the vilest and beastliest 
paradox ever vented in ancient [or] modern times amongst 
Pagans or Christians", and in fine sarcasm it expressed sur- 
prise that the meeting had not resolved itself into a Gorilla 
Emancipation Society. When Lyell saw some of the proofs of 
Huxley's little volume Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature, 
incorporating the substance of these Edinburgh lectures, he 
wrote "I hope you send none of these dangerous sheets to 
press without Mrs. Huxley's imprimatur". But the book went 
to press and quickly needed reprinting, was published in 
America and soon translated into German, and Darwin's 
muted cat was out of the bag with a loud squall. 

Six years later, invited by an unorthodox clergyman to 
deliver a Sunday evening 'lay sermon 5 which would shame the 
liberal thinkers of Edinburgh out of their moral cowardice, 
Huxley returned to the northern capital. The theme of his 
lecture, 'On the Physical Basis of Life', was the essential unity 
of all living things, both plant and animal, and his bold 
generalisations so held the audience that they seemed almost 
to cease to breathe. Today, when any schoolcbild may be 
taught about the common protoplasmic basis of life, it is 
difficult to understand why the lecture should have been 
greeted as gross and brutal materialism, but we have John 
Morley's word for it that "No article that has appeared in any 
periodical for a generation back (unless it be Deutsch's article 
on the Talmud in the Quarterly of 1867) excited so profound 
a sensation as Huxley's memorable paper On the Physical 
Basis of Life (1869). The stir was like the stir that in a political 
epoch was made by Swift's Conduct of the Allies, or Burke's 
French Revolution' 9 . 

In the year before his Edinburgh lay sermon', Huxley had 
given two lectures on 'The Character, Distribution and Origin 
of the Principal Modifications of Mankind' to the Birming- 
ham and Midland Institute. In a sentence which has a remark- 


ably modern ring, he pointed out to his audience "They would 
perceive that he was very careful not to use races, species, 
varieties, or any such phrases; for all those words were simply 
theories and hypotheses", and he adjured those present to 
put out of mind their prejudices and passions* The English, 
he remarked, would have seemed to the Romans 2000 years 
ago as uncivilised as the nineteenth-century natives of New 
Zealand appeared to the English, and one could not assume 
that primitive peoples were incapable of advancement. Going 
straight to the sexual centre of racial prejudice, he gave ex- 
amples to shew that the results of miscegenation depend 
markedly upon the social setting, and he concluded that a fair 
study of the facts would not support any assumption that the 
peoples of Europe were biologically more advanced than 
those of Africa. Finally, for good measure, he declared that 
he knew an Australian 'blackfellow' who was as intelligent 
and good a man as one half of the British Philistines, "and he 
supposed that even Mr. Matthew Arnold did not regard the 
British Philistine as a distinct species of animal". 

Returning to Birmingham in 1868 to lecture on the lowest 
forms of animal life, in 1870 to describe the recently dis- 
covered fossils intermediate between birds and reptiles, in 
1871 to deliver his Presidential Address to the Institute, and 
in 1874 to unveil the city's statue to Joseph Priestley, Huxley 
kept reminding the Midlands that scientific advance depended 
above all on freedom of thought and intellectual integrity. 
During the 1860s Hull's Royal Institution was told about the 
methods of palaeontology, Liverpool's Philomathic Society 
heard the much-quoted address on scientific education, the 
Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society was impressed with 
the ethnic diversity of England's expanding Indian domains, 
and the Bradford Philosophical Society was shewn how much 
could be learned from alump of coal. And so the tale continues 
from year to year, in one centre of population or another, 
with Huxley using whatever was his own current research 
interest as the text for a sermon on science and its methods. 


In addition to hearing individual lectures by eminent scien- 
tists, the provincial towns entertained in turn the annual 
circus of the British Association for the Advancement of 
Science. Each year, from its foundation in 1831, the 'British 
Ass' brought the leading lights of science together for a week 
or so, and in those days the meetings received countrywide 
newspaper publicity beyond the dreams of the Association's 
Press officials today. The 1860 clash with the Bishop of Ox- 
ford brought Huxley right into the limelight and, from that 
time forward, his British Association speeches were powerful 
magnets for reporters and editorial writers. At the Cambridge 
meetings in 1862 he was President of the Biology section and 
was practically nominating all the officers in that section and 
in Physiology and Anthropology; at Norwich in 1868 the 
'blasphemy' which was uttered in the city produced a meeting 
of protest by the clergy; at Exeter the following year a verit- 
able gale of declamatory appeal to orthodoxy blew through 
the Anthropology section and naturally attracted to its 
centre the recently elected President of the Ethnological 

For the Liverpool meetings of 1870, Huxley was President 
of the Association, and it was in this capacity that he de- 
livered his memorable address on 'Biogenesis and Abio- 
genesisV Thousands were still dying yearly of infectious 
diseases spread in ignorance of their mode of communication, 
and it was of vital importance that the people should accept 
the newfangled 'germ theory*. Admitting that, on the face of 
it, it seemed absurd to suppose that the air contained millions 
of minute living organisms, Huxley emphasised that science 
digs below surface appearances, and he gave his listeners pre- 
cise directions for the performance of some simple experi- 
ments by which they could prove to their own satisfaction 
that the apparent absurdity was veritable truth. So far his 
thesis, though at that time still disputed, had no objectionable 
theological implications, but he went on to complete the 
trilogy of which the first two parts had been delivered in Edin- 


burgh in 1862 and 1868. Having on the first occasion asserted 
his conviction that man as much as other animals had been 
produced by the process of evolution, and on the second that 
all living things both animal and vegetable had a common 
material basis, he now declared that "if it were given to me 
to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time ... I 
should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living proto- 
plasm from not living matter". But 1870 was not 1860, and a 
decade of strenuous endeavour in the scientific education of 
the British public had produced its effect: the Earl of Derby 
congratulated Huxley on the temperate spirit of his address, 
and The Liverpool Mercury breathed not a word of abuse. 

Across the Irish Sea four years later, at the British Associa- 
tion's Belfast meetings, Huxley delivered his paper 'On the 
Hypothesis that Animals are Automata, and its History', and 
received in the local newspapers as many encomia as re- 
proofs. By this time he was a familiar figure to wide sections 
of the public, and it was no longer possible for him to be pre- 
sented as anything other than an honest, well-meaning and 
entirely charming mortal. The citizens of Ulster, reading 
accounts of the dinner of the Red Lion Club in the Linenhall 
Hotel, must have felt that these scientists who held such dread- 
ful opinions were not, after all, such dreadful people. Meeting 
each year to feed on beef and ale and to provide a social even- 
ing for a group of progressive scientists who found the official 
Association dinners either too expensive or too dull or both, 
the club conducted itself with a vigorous and somewhat juve- 
nile jocosity which one can only envy in these more sophis- 
ticated and self-conscious days. Its crest was a red lion 
regardant, holding a tankard in one paw and a churchwarden 
pipe in the other, and its motto was Duke et decorum est 
desipere in loco. The Lion-King (the chairman) wore at each 
meeting a velvet cap emblazoned with red lions rampant, and 
the Lion-Chaplain preceded meat with the grace, "Brother 
Lions, let us prey". The waiters were understandably alarmed 
when each service was acknowledged not by "Thank you" but 


by a growl or a snap, and the savants greeted each speech or 
song not by clapping their hands but by wagging their tails. 
Unfortunately we do not have the text of TyndalTs after- 
dinner communication 'On the Fortuitous Concourse of 
Atoms, with Special Reference to the First Chapter of Gene- 
sis', nor of Carpenter's paper, *On Huxleyism, and the Abnor- 
mal Exercise of the Critical Function', but they seem to have 
been well received. 

When the British Association was first founded, its appeal 
was especially to the middle and upper class intelligentsia, and 
for many years it made no effort to reach the manual worker. 
In 1 866, however, it was resolved that in future there should be 
given each year a popular lecture for the benefit of the artisan 
classes, and Huxley undertook to explain the scheme to a 
meeting of workers gathered together at a few hours* notice. 
Despite the inadequate warning, a large number attended in 
the Drill Room of Nottingham Castle, and they may be for- 
given the impatience which developed as they waited a full 
hour for the platform party. The mayor made things no better 
by explaining to the not-too-well-fed audience that the delay 
was due to an exceptional prolongation of the official banquet 
in the Exchange Hall, but Huxley's exposition of the Associa- 
tion's plan was greeted with loud cheers. His own contribu- 
tion to the series, 'On a Piece of Chalk', was given to the 
working men of Norwich on a miserable day in the August of 
1868, and is a brilliant piece of scientific popularisation. Even 
the dyspeptic Norwich Argus, which made an editorial attack 
on Huxley while he was in the city, had to admit that his 
working men's lecture was a great success, "Notwithstanding 
the moisture of the atmosphere and the dryness of the 

In his full-time courses at South Kensington Huxley always 
refrained as far as possible from propounding his own theo- 
logical and cosmological opinions, for he was anxious that his 
students should form their own competent conclusions from 
the facts, but in the case of occasional public lectures the posi- 


tion was quite different. Father Hahn, a Jesuit priest who had 
studied biology under him, once asked why he always pro- 
claimed himself an evolutionist in public but scarcely men- 
tioned evolution to his regular students, and Huxley's reply 
is instructive. "Here in my teaching lectures", he explained, "I 
have time to put the facts fully before a trained audience. In 
my public lectures I am obliged to pass rapidly over the facts, 
and I put forward my personal convictions. And it is for this 
that people come to hear me.'* 

In 1870 an audience of more than a thousand arrived at 
Hulme Town Hall to hear Huxley 'On Coral and Coral Reefs', 
and a year later the organisers of Manchester's 'Science Lec- 
tures for the People' took the Free Trade Hall for his talk on 
'Yeast'. Lecturing to artisans up and down the land, Huxley 
put his scientific knowledge at the disposal of men much more 
eager for it than their social superiors. "The English nation 
will not take science from above," he once told Hooker, "so 
it must get it from below We the doctors, who know what is 
good for it, if we cannot get it to take pills, must administer 
our remedies par derriere" But, although he was always pre- 
pared to perambulate the country in a good cause, it was 
London that really held his heart, and it was London's work- 
ers who had the greatest opportunity to see and hear him. 

The Government School of Mines provided each winter at 
Jermyn Street several series of evening lectures for artisans, 
and the finely paternal suggestion of the Office of Works, that 
"The respectability of these persons should be vouched for by 
their employers", did not keep out Karl Marx when he 
wanted to learn sufficient science to write the section on 
machinery in Das KapitaL After his appointment to the 
School in 1854, Huxley naturally participated in this evening 
programme, and his respect for the workers ensured that their 
lectures were as meticulously prepared as any others that he 
gave. "I am sick of the dilettante middle classes", he told 
Dyster when sending a copy of the prospectus for his first 
course, "& mean to see what I can do with these hard handed 


fellows who live among facts." After the first three meetings 
he declared that the working men "are as attentive and as in- 
telligent as the best audience I ever lectured to. In fact they 
are the best audience I ever had & they react upon me so that 
I talk to them with a will. ... I have studiously avoided the 
impertinence of talking down to them". 

Year by year Huxley kept the artisan students informed of 
the progress of his own and other researches, and the 600 seats 
of the lecture theatre were usually crammed full. "Feeling 
anxious to hear how Dr. Huxley will make the complex phe- 
nomena of nerve action clear to his auditors", Bernard 
Becker wended his way one evening through rain and hail to 
Jermyn Street, and found the hall crowded despite the 
weather. "It wants twenty minutes to the appointed hour," he 
continues, "and the happy possessors of tickets are arriving 
in great strength ... the benches appear to possess a certain 
elastic property, and every corner is occupied. ... I look 
around me at the audience and am content. Here he is, this 
working man, whom I have so often sought and found not. 
His place is not usurped by smug clerks and dandy shopmen." 
True, there were some who were prepared to pose as pro- 
letarians in order to secure entry (one clergyman wrote to beg 
a ticket, and promised that if admitted he would not dress up 
like an amateur casual and leave his brougham at the corner), 
but Huxley's Jermyn Street audiences were so genuinely arti- 
san that Frederic Harrison wrote to a friend "The intimate 
alliance foretold by Comte between philosophers and the 
Proletariat has commenced". 

In the early spring of 1861, fresh from his encounter with 
Wilberforce at Oxford, Huxley gave a course of lectures 'On 
the Relations of Man and the Rest of the Animal Kingdom', 
which prepared the ground for the Edinburgh address so 
anathematised by The Witness the following year. After a 
few lectures he was telling his wife "My working men stick by 
me wonderfully, the house being fuller than ever last night. 
By next Friday evening they will all be convinced that they 


are monkeys", and Lyell was astonished by the size and atten- 
tiveness of the audience. During the winter of 1862 Huxley 
spoke to his artisans c On Our Knowledge of the Causes of the 
Phenomena of Organic Nature* and, since his lectures con- 
tained nothing new but were merely a restatement of Darwin's 
Origin, he had no intention of publishing them. However, he 
agreed to their being taken down in shorthand and printed 
for the use of his auditors, and before long they were adver- 
tised everywhere and sold in large numbers with Huxley re- 
gretting that he had not turned an honest penny by publishing 
them himself. When the book reached the other side of the 
Atlantic, Youmans * described it as "the most perfect little 
gem of a book I have met with. . . . Huxley beats Hugh 
Miller f out of sight in lucidity", and Darwin inquired 
"What is the good of writing a thundering big book when 
everything is in this little green book, so despicable for its 
size? In the name of all that is good and bad, I may as well 
shut up shop altogether". 

None of Huxley's other Jermyn Street lectures to working 
men on human races, on bodily motion, on the crayfish and , 
the dog and the oyster had quite the impact of those of 
1862, but through the years their cumulative effect was very 
great. The rapport between Huxley and his artisan audiences 
was by all accounts quite exceptional, and perhaps part of the 
explanation is that they respected him not merely as a tna.n of 
learning but also as one in contact with the sort of reality 
which constituted their own daily lives. They recognised, in 
fact, the claim which he once staked for himself: 

I am, and have been, any time these thirty years, a man who works 
with his hands a handicraftsman. I do not say this in the broadly 
metaphorical sense in which fine gentlemen, with all the delicacy of 
Agag about them, trip to the hustings about election time, and protest 
that they too are working men. I really mean my words to be taken in 

* Edward Livingston Youmans (1821-1887), the American chemist and 
educationist, who was a friend of Huxley, Spencer, Tyndall and many leading 
British scientists. 

t Hugh Miller (1802-1856), whose Old Red Sandstone and Footprints of the 
Creator did much to arouse popular interest in geology. 


their direct, literal, and straightforward sense. In fact, if the most 
nimble-fingered watch-maker among you will come to my workshop, he 
may set me to put a watch together, and I will set him to dissect, say, a 
blackbeetle's nerves. I do not wish to vaunt, but I am inclined to think- 
that I shall manage my job to his satisfaction sooner than he will do his 
piece to mine. 

These were days when the workers, inheritors of a radical 
anti-clerical tradition and resentful of the power and privilege 
of the Church, were hungry for the scientific knowledge which 
they believed would help them to better their lot. Huxley not 
only fortified their tradition, but also assuaged their hunger. 
"It will be something to show my mates and keep for my 
children", explained an Eastbourne working man when beg- 
ging a used envelope bearing Huxley's signature. "He have 
done me and my like a lot of good; no man more." 

It would be tedious to continue with accounts of Huxley's 
many other addresses to different sections of the general pub- 
lic a course on physiography to three hundred women in 
1869 and a course on elementary biology in 1871, an 1866 
series of 'Sunday Evenings for the People' for those who did 
not attend places of worship but wished to listen to discourses 
on the wonders of the universe, lectures here and lectures 
there on this scientific topic and on that. Many of these 
addresses reached a very wide reading public, and the genera- 
lity also bought up books produced primarily for the educa- 
tional market. Lessons in Elementary Physiology 9 greeted by 
Kay-Shuttleworth * on its appearance in 1866 as a model of 
simplicity and clarity, was read by Elliot Smith | in far-away 
Australia and determined him on a scientific career, and in 
England it went through thirty printings in as many years. An 
edition of 10,000 of Coral and Coral Reefs quickly sold out 
on publication in 1871, and when Physiography came out in 
1877 over 3000 copies went in a few weeks. Two separate 

* Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth (1804-1877), the first Secretary to 
the Committee of Council on Education, and well called "the founder of 
English popular education". 

t Sir Grafton Elliot Smith (1871-1937), the anatomist and pioneer ethnolo- 


Russian translations of Man's Place in Nature appeared the 
year after the first English printing; others of Huxley's scienti- 
fic books were quickly translated into French and German 
and Polish and Hungarian. Never has there been such a 
potent purveyor of science for the citizen. 

In 1894 Andrew Lang * remarked "In England when people 
say 'science' they commonly mean an article by Professor 
Huxley in the Nineteenth Century", but Huxley was busy with 
scientific journalism long before then. Initially, his interest 
was frankly financial when he was invited in 1853 to write 
for The Westminster Review he made of the editor "one most 
base & mechanical preliminary inquiry to wit: What* s the 
pay?" but he soon came to take deligjit in the hectic busi- 
ness of keeping the compositors busy. By 1858 he was dis- 
cussing with Hooker and Tyndall the possibility of starting a 
review to do for science what The Quarterly and The West- 
minster did for letters, and in the meanwhile he marshalled 
the scientists of the metropolis to produce an article each 
fortnight for The Saturday Review with a guarantee that there 
would be no editorial alterations. 

Then, in 1860, it was suggested that the Irish Natural 
History Review should be published in England, and Huxley 
exuberantly told Hooker "if I chose to join as one of the 
Editors the effectual control would be pretty much in my 
hands". His friends were horrified at the thought of his taking 
on this extra burden, but the combined admonitions of Dar- 
win and Hooker and Lyell proved ineffective. No doubt 
attracted by the prospect that, as he put it, "The tone of the 
Review will be mildly episcopophagous", Huxley threw him- 
self into the venture with enormous energy and meticulous 
attention to detail. The first number appeared in the January 
of 1861 with the motto EPur Si Muove, and Huxley was hope- 
ful for the future, but he was soon to find that his friends* 
forebodings had been justified. "It is no use letting other 
people look after the journal", he was complaining before 
* Andrew Lang (1844-1912), the folk-lorist and man of letters. 


long, "I find unless I revise every page of it, it goes wrong", 
and even the appointment of paid editors did not put things 
right. For a while the review struggled on, but in 1865 this 
first venture of its kind came to an untimely end. The same 
year saw the failure of The Reader, started in 1863 by Tom 
Hughes * and J. M. Ludlow | as a 'Review of Literature, 
Science and Art', and it seemed that England was not yet 
ready for a semi-popular periodical dealing with science. 
Soon, however, the House of Macmillan was flexing its 
vigorous young muscles to this end, and in the November of 
1869 Huxley had the satisfaction of introducing the first 
number of Nature. The prime object of the new publication 
was "to place before the general public the grand results of 
Scientific Work and Scientific Discovery, and to urge the 
claims of ^Science to a more general recognition in Education 
and in Daily Life", and for many years Huxley took a god- 
fatherly interest in its editing. What he would think of the 
Nature of today, as unlikely to appeal to the general public 
as any periodical that ever came off the press, we can only 

This was a period of feverish activity in the publication of 
new periodicals and, although the majority soon failed, there 
were some which were destined to play a great part in the 
moulding of informed opinion. The application of steam 
power to printing made it possible for large editions to come 
off the press quickly and cheaply, and there were hundreds of 
thousands of homes which looked to the quarterlies and 
monthlies as their main source of serious instruction and 
ideas. Each periodical had its own peculiar confraternity of 
readers, ranging from the literate artisan in some cases to the 
high academic in others, and each new issue was awaited with 

an eagerness which our generation does not know. The 


* Thomas Hughes (1822-1896), the author of Tom Brown's Schooldays and 
an energetic Oiristian Socialist, who was for a while Principal of the Working 
Men's College. 

t John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow (1821-191 1), who is sometimes claimed to 
have been the real founder of the Working Men's College. 


earlier reviews, like The Edinburgh and The Quarterly, catered 
for a comparatively small cultivated audience and followed 
the tradition of anonymous authorship, but the later journals 
went over to signed articles and the more successful writers 
had a popular following like that of today's television 'per- 
sonalities'. Founded in the November of 1859, and edited 
first by David Masson and later by George Grove and John 
Morley, Macmittarfs provided each month a not too contro- 
versial miscellany of serialised fiction, travel, history, politics 
and popular science, and at times its issues went into a hun- 
dred thousand respectable homes. The second number carried 
Huxley's 'Time and Life', an early salvo in the Darwinian 
battle, and later issues took to a wide readership his South 
London address 'A Liberal Education and Where to Find it', 
his Norwich lecture 'On a Piece of Chalk', his after-dinner 
speech to the Liverpool Philomathic Society on 'Scientific 
Education', his address to the Cambridge YMCA on Des- 
cartes, his 'Bishop Berkeley on the Metaphysics of Sensation', 
and his Royal Institution lecture on the border territory 
between animals and plants. 

The Fortnightly Review, founded in 1865 on the model of 
the Revue des Deux Mondes and despite its title very soon a 
monthly, became in the capable hands of Morley the most 
talked-about journal in England. As the principal organ of 
mid- Victorian progressive and rationalist thought, and with a 
readership much in excess of its circulation, The Fortnightly 
provided an excellent medium for Huxley's papers *On the 
Methods and Results of Ethnology', 'On the Adviseableness of 
Improving Natural Knowledge', 'The Scientific Aspects of 
Positivism', 'Administrative Nihilism', 'Science and Morals' 
and 'An Apologetic Irenicon'. His essay "The Physical Basis 
of Life' sent the February 1869 number into seven editions, 
and Morley was understandably anxious not to lose such an 
author to other journals. However, when Knowles took over 
The Contemporary Review from Dean Alford in 1870, he be- 
came a serious competitor. The Contemporary had been 


founded by Alexander Strahan in 1866 to cater for those 
Christians who were not afraid of collision with modern 
thought, and its solid learning and quiet fervour appealed 
greatly to the increasing number of liberal clergy interested in 
anything from art and music and literature to science and 
theology and women's education. Huxley gave Knowles 
'Some Fixed Points in British Ethnology*, his 'School Boards' 
and 'Mr. Darwin's Critics', his Bradford address 'On the 
Formation of Coal', his Manchester lecture 'Yeast', and his 
'Universities: Actual and Ideal'. By 1874 Morley was seri- 
ously worried by the competition: "Anything from you will 
always be a powerful help to the Review ," he wrote, "and 
I hope that you will remember it as often as you can." But he 
had to be content with Huxley's assurance, "I am becoming 
as spoiled as a maiden with many wooers. However, as far as 
the Fortnightly, which is my old love, and the Contemporary 
which is my new, are concerned, I hope to remain as constant 
as a persistent bigamist can be said to be". 

This was a gratifying position, no doubt, for the bashful 
maiden, but less so for the ardent suitors: "Knowles and I 
are going about like ravening lions . . .," wrote Morley three 
years later, "and I am eager for all you will throw me." But by 
this time Knowles had started his immensely successful Nine- 
teenth Century > to which he attracted the varied talents of the 
Metaphysical Society, and increasingly he was to secure the 
lion's share. Several times each year, and quite apart from his 
controversial essays, Huxley edited an extensive 'Recent 
Science' section, and thus had his rostrum in a journal so 
widely read and influential as to be called "the fourth estate 
of Britain". Ever in demand and able to pick whatever perio- 
dical best suited his particular purpose, on occasion writing 
for little-known magazines like Youth* s Companion, and with 
a style such that "The plainest of plain folk can read him with 
instruction; the finest of lettered folk can read him with de- 
light", he was able to bring a better understanding of science 
and its methods to great numbers of all classes. 


Whenever he spoke about science, wherever he wrote, 
Huxley urged that the great essential was to dig below words 
to things, and it is not surprising that he had a high view of 
the educational potential of museums. He had not been long 
at Jermyn Street before he realised that the sort of arrange- 
ment and cataloguing of specimens which suited the research 
worker was quite useless for the education of the general pub- 
lic, and he sent the Director a memorandum advising the pre- 
paration of a popular catalogue. In less than three yeaxs he 
had rearranged the specimens and written simple introduc- 
tions to the various sections, and the Museum of Practical 
Geology became an instrument capable of popular scientific 

This was a time when museums were being developed not 
only in the great cities, but also in small towns all over the 
country. The Warwickshire Natural History and Archaeo- 
logical Society was wise enough to seek Huxley's advice, and 
he urged that a modest local museum should not seek to emu- 
late a great collection, but should concentrate on providing a 
truly educational conspectus of the locality. Chester received 
the same advice, and a century later one can only regret that 
dozens of other small museums were not warned against "the 
ordinary lumber-room of clubs from New Zealand, Hindoo 
idols, sharks' teeth, mangy monkeys, scorpions, and conch 
shells who shall describe the weary inutility of it?" Such a 
collection, Huxley believed, merely led the unwary to look for 
scientific objects elsewhere than under their noses, when they 
should realise that, as William Meister had it, their America 
is here. 

In the case of a larger museum it was possible to be more 
ambitious, but it was equally important for ambition to be 
intelligently regulated and to look for maximum utility rather 
than superficial impressiveness. When the Commissioners 
who were planning a Natural History Museum for Manches- 
ter sought Huxley's advice in 1868, he laid down six prin- 
ciples of museum management as valid today as then: 


1. The public exhibition of a collection of specimens large enough 
to illustrate all the most important truths of Natural History, but not so 
extensive as to weary and confuse ordinary visitors. 

2. The accessibility of this collection to the public. 

3. The conservation of all specimens not necessary for the purpose 
defined in (1) in a place apart. 

4. The accessibility of all objects contained in the museum to the 
curator and to scientific students, without interference with the public 
or by the public. 

5. Thorough exclusion of dust and dirt from the specimens. 

6. A provision of space for workrooms, and, if need be, for lecture- 

Nearly twenty years later he was advising on a new museum 
in Cambridge, and again urged the importance of a rational 
organisation to meet the quite distinct needs of the specialist 
engaged in research and the non-specialist looking for some 
general scientific education. "On the present plan or no 
plan," he pointed out, "Museums are built at great cost, and 
in a few years are choked for want of room/* 

In the great British Museum itself, then containing the 
scientific as well as other exhibits, there was the same failure 
in arrangement, and Huxley complained that "people stroll 
through the enormous collections ... but the sole result is 
that they are dazzled and confused by the multiplicity of un- 
explained objects, and the man of science is deprived ... of 
the means of advancing knowledge". By 1858 it was clear 
that the biological section could not be properly displayed in 
the Bloomsbury building, and a considerable debate deve- 
loped about what should be done. Darwin had so low an 
opinion of the governing classes' interest in science that he 
thought it wise to "stick to the mummies and Assyrian Gods 
&c." as long as possible, and other biologists were divided 
among themselves. Some wanted to move the whole collection 
to South Kensington, some wanted to transfer the herbarium 
to Kew, and Huxley had the notion of sending a representa- 
tive selection to South Kensington for public display and 
housing the remainder near enough to Regent's Park for them 


to be studied side by side with the living animals in the Zoo. 
He canvassed men of influence, including the Prince Consort 
himself, but a decade elapsed before any decisive step was 
taken. Then, in 1870, Henry Cole * sent Huxley a confidential 
note asking his views about a Natural History Museum at 
South Kensington, then another note asking him to inspect a 
possible site for "a Huxley-sized Museum'*, and the great new 
venture was under way. As early as 1863 Robert Lowe f had 
said that Huxley was the only man fit to be at the head of the 
nation's natural history collections, and later he was offered 
the post, but instead he nominated William Flower. J He be- 
came a trustee of the British Museum in 1884, but had neither 
the time nor the energy to do anything at all revolutionary. 
One can imagine how much more effective instruments of 
popular education our museums would have been had they 
developed as Huxley wished, and it may be a long time before 
such great opportunities are with us again. 

Herbert Spencer once described Huxley as "about the last 
man I should thinlc of as likely to give up the point in argu- 
ment, or be persuaded to abandon a course he had decided 
on". But, he continued, "Nevertheless, there is a sense in 
which he is ... too yielding. For if he is asked to undertake 
anything, either for the benefit of an individual or with a view 
to public benefit, he has difficulty in saying no". The public 
benefit required that Huxley should devote a large share of 
his time and energy to the scientific education of the people; 
and, if this means that we have fewer of his beautiful research 
papers than would otherwise have been the case, who is to say 
they are not well lost? 

* Sir Henry Cole (1803-1882), Secretary of the Department of Science and 
Art Cole was a man of extraordinarily varied interests and talents, ranging 
from the utilisation of sewage to the designing of tea services, and he was the 
main organiser of the 1851 exhibition. 

t Robert Lowe, 1st Viscount Sherbrooke (1811-1892), who was Vice- 
President of the Committee of Council on Education from 1859-1864, Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer from 1868-1873, and Home Secretary 1873-1874. As 
a young man he had gone to practise law in Australia, and was there during 
the visit of Rattlesnake. 

{Sir William Henry Flower (1831-1899), whose Observations on the 
Posterior Lobes of the Quadrumana decisively vindicated Huxley against Owen. 


Building a School of Science 

To speak nautically, I have been there long enough to "know 
the ropes" and I shall take pleasure in working the place into 
what I think it ought to be. 

Letter to F. D. Dyster, 18 August 1858 

ON THE 9th November 1850, when Huxley was paid off at 
Chatham from Rattlesnake, the Crystal Palace was rising in 
Hyde Park and everyone was talking about the next year's 
Great Exhibition. British railway engineers were at work 
across half the world, a submarine cable had been laid under 
the English Channel, and industry and commerce were about 
to experience an unprecedented expansion. Prices were soon 
to drop and living standards to rise, everywhere there was the 
throbbing of a mighty economic machine slipping into high 
gear, and England was all set for a period of remarkable 
social stability. Well might it be said that of all decades in our 
history a wise man would choose the 1850s to be young in. 

During the three years while Huxley had leave of absence 
to work on his Rattlesnake material, the Government School 
of Mines was still trying to settle its purpose. It was in 1835 
that the Geological Survey had been founded as a branch of 
the Ordnance Survey, with small offices in Craig's Court off 
Whitehall, and in 1841 the Museum of Practical Geology was 
opened to the public. The people flocked in their thousands to 
inspect the great collection of mining models and railway 



sections and building materials, including the considerable 
range of stones accumulated for the Commission advising 
on the rebuilding of the Houses of Parliament, and new 
premises were provided in Jermyn Street in time for the 1851 
exhibition. Performing a triple task as technical school 
of mining, geological museum, and centre for the scientific 
instruction of the general public, the School of Mines was 
for many a year to be pulled this way and that by rival en- 

In 1854 the School's palaeontologist migrated to Edinburgh 
to become Professor of Natural History there, and the lec- 
tures which Forbes * was due to give at Jermyn Street were 
taken over by Huxley at short notice in May. In July he re- 
ceived a half-lectureship in palaeontology at 100 per annum 
(soon to be doubled in both scope and salary), in August he 
was commissioned on fee to make a coastal survey, and in the 
following April he was also appointed Naturalist at a salary 
of 200 rising to 600. Settled down at the School with which 
he was to spend his whole working life, Huxley's letters to 
Lizzie took on a confident and well-satisfied tone: 

I'll tell you how many irons I have in the fire at this present moment: 
(1) a manual of Comparative Anatomy for Churchill: (2) my "Grant" 
book: (3) a book for the British Museum people (half done): (4) an 
article for Todd's Cyclopaedia (half done): (5) sundry memoirs on 
Science: (6) a regular Quarterly article in the Westminster: (7) Lectures 
at Jermyn Street in the School of Mines : (8) lectures at the School of Art, 
Marlborough House: (9) lectures at the London Institution, and odds 
and ends. 

Already he was becoming what Herbert Spencer later called 
him, a man who was continually taking two irons out pf the 
fire and putting three in. 

Characteristically, Huxley gave at Jermyn Street twice as 
many lectures as he was obliged to deliver, and brilliant 

* Edward Forbes (1815-1854), a Manxman whose early death cut short a 
career of great promise. He was by all accounts the most charming and witty 
of men and was always in demand for after-dinner entertainment at scientific 


lectures they seem to have been. He often maintained that 
he found public speaking difficult, but if he had difficulties his 
auditors were unaware of them. "As a class lecturer," wrote 
G. B. Howes,* "Huxley was facile princeps, and only those 
who were privileged to sit under him can form a conception 
of their delivery. Clear, deliberate, never hesitant or unduly 
emphatic, never repetitional, always logical, his every word 
told." A student remembers "that rich fund of humour ever 
ready to swell forth when occasion permitted, sometimes 
accompanied with an extra gleam in his bright dark eyes, 
sometimes expressed with a dryness and gravity of look which 
gave it a double zest" ; another recalls that "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 prob- 
lem was as fine a thing as to win a battle" ; yet another tells 
how he "sat in face of his blackboard and watched hiin em- 
broider it most exquisitely with chalks of varied hue; the 
while he talked like a book; with absolute precision, in chosen 
words". This last, it is true, feared that Huxley's basilisk 
artistry might hypnotise students into merely imagining that 
they were learning, but few others ever qualified their 

Huxley himself was never sure how much students benefited 
from any lecture course (although he was in no doubt about 
the benefit to himself in the necessary preparation), and mere 
book learning in science he regarded as a sham and a delusion. 
He recalled an occasion when an instructor in physiology for 
the Science and Art Department, seeing a drop of blood under 
a microscope for the first time, exclaimed "Dear me ! it's just 
like the picture in Huxley's Physiology" ; and such dependence 
on the authority of print it was important to demolish. Un- 
fortunately, the building in Jermyn Street had no adequate 
laboratory facilities for a thorough practical course, and for 
some years he had to content himself with the next best thing 

* George Bond Howes (1853-1905), who went to the School of Mines in 
1874 to help Huxley in the development of practical biological teaching. 


"namely, as full an exposition as I could give, of the charac- 
ter of certain plants and animals, selected as types of vege- 
table and animal organisation". 

This 'type system', by which the student learned about yeast 
and fern and flowering plant, about amoeba and earthworm 
and crayfish, about cockroach and frog and rabbit, spread 
right across the world and still remains the common mode of 
biological teaching. In the hands of succeeding generations of 
pedants it has become a by-word for unimaginative instruc- 
tion, but Huxley is not to blame for that. As soon as he got 
an adequate laboratory he made his students observe each 
type for themselves, and that in itself was a revolution. 
Patrick Geddes * relates how, instructed by Huxley to examine 
the radula of a whelk, he found that the mechanism was dif- 
ferent from that described by his master. Huxley told him to 
look again, then looked again himself and slapped his 
student's shoulder in delight: "Ton my word, you're right!", 
he declared. "You've got me! I was wrong! Capital! I must 
publish this for you!" and had the discovery published by 
Geddes in the Zoological Society's Transactions explicitly as 
a correction of his own work. Today, when every secondary 
school and college has a biological laboratory in direct de- 
scent from the one which Huxley devised for his students, it 
is difficult to remember that things have not always been so. 
"It was a real stroke of genius to think of such a plan", wrote 
Darwin. "Lord, how I wish that I had gone through such a 
course." In Huxley's hands, Jeffery Parker f assures us, the 
type specimens were not treated as the isolated things they 
necessarily appear in a laboratory manual or an examination 
syllabus, but took their places as examples of different grades 

* Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), the pioneer of town planning and com- 
munity development, who studied biology at the School of Mines and later 
taught science and sociology at several universities, being especially re- 
membered at Edinburgh. 

t Thomas Jeffery Parker (1855-1897), a student of Huxley's who later 
became his demonstrator and then went to New Zealand as the first Professor 
of Natural History in the University of Otago. 'Parker and Hasweir is still in 
its most recent edition a standard textbook of zoology. 


of organisation in a biological course which included a good 
deal of work of a more general character. 

His contemporaries knew of Huxley's brilliance as a 
lecturer, and most biologists today know that it was he who 
really established the practical teaching of their subject, but 
one must go to the Council Minutes of the School of Mines 
to appreciate his part in promoting what was eventually to 
become England's first university of science and technology. 
At the time of Huxley's appointment in 1854, De La Beche* 
and most of his colleagues were determined that the School 
of Mines should be a technical school of mining. To Huxley, 
on the other hand, any move which might convert the School 
to a general college of science was welcome, and for many 
years the tug-of-war was to continue. Within a year of Hux- 
ley's appointment De La Beche died, and Murchison,f the 
new Director, recognised from the start the power in the 
personality of the junior lecturer. In his second session at 
Jermyn Street, Huxley arranged to go* north for some field 
work on Arraa at the time of an inter-staff dispute, and the 
Director's comment is a striking tribute to the place which 
the newcomer had already made for himself: "How we are to 
get the whole machine in the right working order is not yet 
quite clear to me. If you were present all would go right; but 
in your absence the two rivals cannot be made to cooperate 
for the good of the Establishment." 

For his part, Huxley regarded Murchison as "a very trying 
old party", and he himself cannot have been an amenable 
underling. In 1856 the Director received an inquiry from the 
President of the Board of Trade, why an evening course of 
lectures to the general public had not been delivered during 
the session, and Huxley provided the laconic explanation that 
"he did not find it convenient to repeat his course". Thus en- 
couraged by their newest colleague, the professors went on to 

* Sir Thomas Henry De La Beche (1798-1855), one of the leading geolo- 
gists of his day and the firet Director of the Geological Survey 

t Sir Roderick Impey Murchison (1792-1871), the field geologist who 
founded the three great divisions of Silurian, Permian and Devonian rocks 


resolve that, if asked to give lectures outside their normal 
School of Mines commitments, "they must be the subject of 
a new engagement which they are individually at liberty to 
accept or decline 9 '. Before he had been in the place a year, 
Huxley was elected to be one of the two professors who 
audited accounts prior to the distribution of students' fees 
among them; he soon became one of the few authorised to 
sign cheques on behalf of the School; he and Smyth * were 
deputed to arrange the recatalogoing of the scientific collec- 
tions; and in general the Minutes indicate that almost from 
the day of his appointment influence gravitated into Huxley's 
hands. By 1859 he was arranging for the Chair of Physics to 
be offered to his friend and educational ally Tyndall; in 1860 
he was asked by his colleagues to undertake the complete 
recasting of the Prospectus; in 1861 he and Smyth and Ram- 
say t were invited to consider both the matriculation of 
students and the type of certificate which they should receive. 
Why a junior member of staff, without any of the wealth or 
family influence which often explains so much, should have 
immediately become so influential in the School of Mines is 
an interesting question. Yet, given his energy, his decisiveness, 
his confidence and his immense personal charm, and adding 
to these the wide divisions of opinion among his senior col- 
leagues and his own sixth sense for the underswell of social 
change, could it have been otherwise? There is no missing the 
note of self-satisfaction in a letter of 1858 to sister Lizzie, but 
perhaps he may be forgiven a little vaunting within the family 

You want to know what I am and where I am well, here's a list of 
titles. T.H.H., Professor of Natural History, Government School of 
Mines, Jennyn Street; Naturalist to the Geological Survey; Curator to 
the Palaeontological Collections (non-official maid-of-all-work in 
Natural Science to the Government); Examiner in Physiology and 

* Sir Warington Wilkinson Smyth (1817-1890), Professor of Mineralogy 
at the School of Mines and later also Inspector of Crown Minerals. 

t Andrew Crombie Ramsay (1814-1891), the best field geologist of the day, 
who in 1871 became Director-General of the Survey on the death of Murchi- 


Comparative Anatomy to the University of London; Fullerian Pro- 
fessor of Physiology to the Royal Institution (but that's just over); 
F.R.S., F.G.S., etc. Member of a lot of Societies and Clubs, all of 
which cost him a mint of money. 

Three times in a decade the School of Mines was subjected 
to examination by commissions recommending as to its 
future, and it is gratifying that this repeated uprooting for in- 
spection did not lead to complete wilting. The first inquiry 
was made in 1861 under the chairmanship of Lord Gran- 
ville,* and Huxley and Smyth were deputed by the School's 
Council to report on the commissioners 9 proposals: perhaps 
bis colleagues were unaware that Huxley had already sent 
Granville a long letter of seven foolscap pages, and thus en- 
sured that his own personal views were fully considered. He 
urged the appointment of additional staif and argued that 
students in their first year should pursue a wide scientific 
course in common, specialising in mining or metallurgy or 
geology only in. their second year, and he wanted external as 
well as internal examiners. The evening lectures for working 
men and general audiences he would continue, and he urged 
that the museum should provide adequately for the public as 
well as for students. Otherwise, he wanted as little outside 
control as possible: "the Professors, the due discharge of their 
duties being provided for ... should be allowed to develope 
[sic] the resources of the Institution in any way that may seem 

The second inquiry, by the 1868 Select Committee on 
Scientific Instruction, came at a time when the School of 
Mines was being heavily criticised for the small number of 
qualified students produced in return for the public money 
provided. In his evidence, Huxley counter-attacked strongly: 

I must take leave to deny that the School of Mines has been a failure. 
It is very true that the number of students who have been turned out of 
that School is comparatively small, especially if it is looked at as a mere 

* Gnuavflk George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville (1815-1891), twice 
Lord President of the Council and for many years Chancellor of the Uni- 
versity of London. 


matter of arithmetic in relation to expenditure, but those persons who 
have taken the associateship of the School of Mines are instructed 
men, most of them have filled and are filling important positions, and 
act as centres for the diffusion of science throughout this country, and 
the Colonies; and more than that, they have been of great value as 
leading people everywhere, though slowly, to admit the importance of 
professional training. 

He laid the blame for the paucity of students at the door of 
the country's manufacturers, who failed to recognise the need 
for the higher technical training of senior staff, and again he 
urged that the School needed more teachers. In particular, he 
desired the addition of professors of botanyand mathematics, 
and advocated that the Royal College of Chemistry in Oxford 
Street should be physically integrated with the School and a 
great central college of science developed. He took the oppor- 
tunity to point out that he could not teach his own branch of 
science properly because he had no adequate laboratory, and 
presumably a well-timed piece of string-pulling a com- 
plaint about "Professor Huxley's anatomical preparations 
[having to be made] in a dark closet about eight feet square** 
was aired at just the right moment in Parliament. As to the 
academic autonomy of the teaching staff (it is a remarkable 
thing that it was so long preserved in an institution under 
direct government control), his position was unambiguous: 
"I am not aware that there would be any utility in having a 
governing body at the college; important educational bodies 
are managed by a council of professors, represented by a 
dean of faculty, and I think there is no need for anybody 
else." The Select Committee reported in terms very favour- 
able to his views, but major changes were not to come yet 

When the third inquiry took place, by the Duke of Devon- 
shire's Commission on Scientific Instruction appointed in 
1 870, Huxley was in the comfortable position of being himself 
one of the commissioners. His ally Tyndall had left for the 
Royal Institution in 1868, and most of the senior professors 


were content (or insistent) that the School of Mines should 
remain in Jermyn Street as an adjunct to the Geological Sur- 
vey. On the 22nd April 1871 Murchison, Ramsay, Smyth, 
Percy * and Hunt f combined in a memorial urging that the 
School remain in close connexion with the Mining Record 
Office and the Museum of Practical Geology: presumably 
they did not know that, two days earlier, their junior col- 
league Huxley had told a friend "Of course, / do not want to 
examine Percy or Smyth or Ramsay and I shall have no 
questions to put if they come. But ... I think it will be very 
desirable to put on record all that the opposition has to say. 
... I think they are fools for their pains, but that is their 
business". When the Commission reported in favour of mov- 
ing the whole School to a large site in South Kensington The 
Times thundered out against the plan: 

A Royal Commission, on which Professor HUXLEY has occupied 
a prominent lace suggests the amalgamation of the School of 

Mines with a general School of Science at South Kensington We 

express no opinion here of Professor HUXLEY'S plan for founding an 
imposing National College of Science, but there is really no reason 
why the practical branches of instruction should be removed from 
their present most commodious and accessible position only that they 
may follow in the wake of biology, chemistry, and mathematics down 
to the all-absorbing suburb. 

Huxley wrote a letter protesting that, although as one of the 
signatories of the Report he accepted its recommendations, 
he should not be singled out as peculiarly responsible for the 
plan. One may feel that perhaps he protested too much. 

In 1871 Murchison died, Ramsay became Director-General 
of the Survey, and the School was placed under separate 
management. This management, laid down in a letter from 
the Science and Art Department, was of a kind to Huxley's 


My Lords direct that pending the consideration of the Report of the 
Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction the Royal School of Mines 

* John Percy (1817-1889), Professor of Metallurgy, 
t Robert Hunt (1807-1887), Keeper of Mining Records, 


shall be administered by a Committee composed of its Professors. The 
Senior Professor will act as Chairman. 

Now Huxley and two others who wished to move to South 
Kensington found themselves opposed on a major matter of 
policy by most of the senior professors, including Smyth, the 
new Chairman of the Council; and so, discontented with their 
constricted conditions of work, they "got up a little sort of 
pronunciamento to say that we really could not go on teach- 
ing in that way any longer". In the July of 1872, no doubt 
after much debate, the Council resolved to transfer the in- 
struction in Chemistry, Physics and Natural History to new 
buildings in South Kensington, and at last the great move got 
under way. Superficially honours were even, for the three 
professors who wished to move, moved, while those who 
wished to stay, stayed. But, in fact, the issue was decided: the 
times called for a great expansion of the School, and expan- 
sion was impossible in Jermyn Street. Geology, Metallurgy 
and Mining eventually migrated, and the dream of a great 
central school of science at South Kensington became a 

Since first going to Jermyn Street in 1854, Huxley had be- 
come a great power. By 1872 he had served as President of 
the British Association and of several scientific societies, he 
had become Secretary of the Royal Society and received 
honorary degrees at home and abroad, he had been a member 
of six Commissions and of the first London School Board* he 
had been appointed Governor of Owens College, and he was 
on the point of being elected Rector of Aberdeen University. 
Up and down the land he had lectured to local audiences, his 
fluent pen had made his name a household word, and he was 
on intimate terms with many of that close-knit circle which 
then administered England. At this time Huxley appears to 
have occupied dejure no special position in the School, but 
that did not prevent his acting as its de facto chief. Through- 
out the whole period 1872-1880 the permanent future of the 
School was still under governmental consideration, and such 


a situation of flux was favourable to a determined man who 
knew his own mind. In 1873 Donnelly* wrote from the 
Department of Science and Art to tell him that Lord Aber- 
dare,f the new President of the Council, was "very nice and 
all that but scarcely vertebrate. Nothing is settled as to this 

place We are just told to drift on as well as we can", and 

while others drifted Huxley set sail. It had once been sug- 
gested that he should become the Department's Director of 
Science, but he had preferred to support Donnelly and it 
must have been greatly fortifying to know that he was work- 
ing under an official chief whom he himself had recommended 
for appointment. Those professors who opposed the plan to 
widen the scope of the School of Mines still spoke out in 
public with a freedom of language which rebukes our modern 
reticence, but there was now no doubt about who was in the 

By 1880, as Donnelly pointed out in an official memoran- 
dum, the School of Mines had become "a place where a few 
persons connected with the mining industry are educated in 
science, and where a much larger number attracted by the 
eminence of the professors, and disregarding the name of the 
School ... go through its curriculum". Huxley, always 
vividly aware that the key to further advance in science was 
the production of a sufficient number of good teachers, 
seized the opportunity to press for a change in the nature of 
the School. He told the Department that "the teaching of 
science in the existing training colleges is so bad that it would 
be absurd to look to them to provide elementary science 
teachers", and he regarded the institution of a Normal School 
of Science as the necessary crowning of the educational edi- 
fice* Other professors sent letters criticising the proposal, but 
Huxley advised that "hostile criticism is like physic one may 

* Sir John Fretehfield Dykes Donnelly (1834-1902), a Royal Engineers 
officer who eventually became Secretary of the Department of Science and 

t Henry Austin Bruce, 1st Baron Aberdare (1815-1895), Vice-President 
of the Committee of Council from 1864 to 1866, Home Secretary from 1868 
to 1873, and Lord President of the Council from 1873 to 1874. 


as well take a good dose while one is about it". On the 19th 
March 1881, the Vice-President of the Committee of Coun- 
cil communicated officially with the Secretary to the Treasury : 

Their Lordships are ... clearly of opinion that all such steps 
should be taken as are possible to bring back the School to its object as 
defined in 1853, and to make it a Metropolitan School or College of 
Science, not specially devoted to Mining but to all Science applicable to 
Industry, and with a special organisation as a Training College for 

The Treasury concurred and the metamorphosis was 

Now the eminence grise stepped out into the forefront as 
formal head of the reconstituted 'Normal School of Science 
and Royal School of Mines'. It was during the summer vaca- 
tion that he received the official invitation: 

Spencer House, 

St. James' Place, S.W. 

18 August 81 
My dear Mr. Huxley, 

We are organizing the new Normal School of Science at South 
Kensington, and we are to have a Dean at the head of the Professors. 
It would be of great advantage, if you would consent to accept this 

You are in every way the right man for it. 

You would bring distinction to the office, and we should like to mark 
by this Honorary appointment our sense of the services which you have 
already rendered to our Science Schools. 

Yrs scly, 

Professor Huxley. 

Within the week Huxley was amusedly rebuking Donnelly, 
his official chief: "I am astonished that you don't know that a 
letter to a Dean ought to be addressed 'The Very RevdA I 
don't generally stand much upon etiquette, but when my 

* John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl (1835-1910), who served two terms as 
Viceroy of Ireland and was at this time Lord President of the Council. He later 
became Chancellor of the Victoria University of Manchester. 


sacred character is touched, I draw the line", and he was not 
the only one who found the title somewhat incongruous. 
However, it had its advantages H. G. Wells, an early 
student at the Normal School, tells us that his mother, fear- 
ful of her son's contamination by a notoriously irreligious 
man, was reassured when he explained that Huxley was a 

The General', as he was usually called by his colleagues, 
could be rather stern and exacting to a new subordinate; but, 
once convinced that confidence was justified, he practically 
let him take his own course and never interfered in matters of 
detail. His conviction that it was mere ruin to any service to 
let seniority interfere with the promotion of men of marked 
superiority led him at times into a certain ruthlessness, but he 
took disciplinary action only after the fullest investigation and 
he was prepared when necessary to defend his subordinates 
with all his considerable stubbornness. During the four years 
of his full-time Deanship, Huxley had many other public 
commitments and his health was deteriorating, but it proved 
possible to get the new institution firmly on its feet. The 
library and collections of specimens were reorganised, the 
Assocdateship of the School was opened to women, research 
facilities were provided free of charge to students of proved 
ability, and in the June of 1885 there came a new scheme of 
instruction with that common course in the first year and 
elective courses in the second which Huxley had so long 

But by this time his health was failing badly, and after 
thirty years at the School he felt it was time to retire: in the 
September of 1884 he wrote to Donnelly "Surely I may sing 
my nunc ctimittis with a good conscience'*. Donnelly replied, 
"Very very sorry not the less so that I knew it would come 
and must come you are so extravagant of your vis viva", 
but he did his best to delay the resignation. Huxley was urged 
to go on leave for two months to get his liver and lights in 
order, and soon the wheels were turning to extend the leave. 


"I am sure this will be a true economy", Mundella * wrote 
from the Privy Council Office to Donnelly, and soon Don- 
nelly was writing to tell Huxley "We decided you ought not 
to come home till after Easter devilish good natured, wasn't 
it? Gave you no trouble of saying yes or no". He had to add, 
"Home Office that's the bogey**, so the Home Secretary was 
approached personally to remove all difficulties, and until 
April the convalescence continued in Naples, Florence, 
Rome, Venice and San Remo. But even this prolonged holi- 
day could not restore full health and, on 11 May 1885, 
Huxley gave formal notice of resignation. How his services 
had been appreciated appears in a letter from the Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Committee of Council, enclosing a Treasury deci- 
sion that his superannuation would be 1200 per annum a 
sum which, with a Civil List Pension of 300, meant that he 
retired on full salary: 


House of Commons. 

June 19, *85. 
My dear Huxley, 

The enclosed will give you the final decision of the Treasury in 
your case. I know it has been twice before the Prime Minister and I 
have done all I could to get the largest possible sum. I hope the amount 
fixed will be satisfactory to you. 

Always faithfully yours, 
A. J. Mundella. 

Even then the School would not let him go completely. An 
official memorandum by Donnelly pointed out that "Mr. 
Huxley has developed in the Normal School a systematic 
course which is now being adopted generally by the Universi- 
ties and other places of instruction in this country and has 
extended to America and the Colonies", and the memoran- 
dum went on to urge that at least part of his services should 
be retained: 

* Anthony John Mundella (1825-1897), the son of an Italian political 
refugee, who was Vice-President of the Committee of Council from 1880 to 
1885 and after whom Nottingham's Mundella School is named. 


It is of the very highest importance to the Normal School of Science 
that, if it be possible so to arrange it, he should continue to act as Dean, 
and to retain a general charge of and control over the biological section 
of that recently formed School. The eminence of his position as a Man 
of Science renders his connection with it in any capacity of the greatest 
service for the prestige it gains and that position combined with his 
sound judgment and business capacity enables him to fill the office of 
Dean with an efficiency which no one else that I know of could 

The Treasury was at first reluctant to agree, but by August 
everything had been arranged and Huxley continued in the 
role of Grand Old Man, called in for occasional consulta- 
tion and for the settling of disputes between what Donnelly 
in a moment of indignation called "the respective functions of 
the God Almighty Professor and the black beetle official". In 
1889 he moved to Eastbourne and gave his biological library 
to the institution he had served so long and so well, and a year 
later the Normal School became the Royal College of Science. 
There were those who had never forgiven frirn for converting 
a mining school into a general school of science, but the 
students at South Kensington knew what had been gained. 
"We are now part of what will in time become a great 
Science University;" their magazine proudly proclaimed, "the 
Royal College of Science as a nucleus, teaching pure science, 
laying the foundation for the special knowledge to be acquired 
afterwards in a chain of technical schools with which it will 
be surrounded." The great science university which is now 
the Imperial College of Science and Technology is an im- 
pressive memorial to its chief builder. 


Technical and Professional 

There is a well-worn adage that those who set out upon a 
great enterprise would do well to count the cost. I am not 
sure that this is always true. I think that some of the very 
greatest enterprises in this world have been carried out 
successfully simply because the people who undertook them 
did not count the cost; and I am much of the opinion that, in 
this very case, the most instructive consideration for us is the 
cost of doing nothing. 

Address on behalf of the National Association for the Promotion of 
Technical Education, 29 November 1887 

IN 1 8 5 1 ENGLAND had twice as many domestic servants as 
cotton workers, and agriculture was still the greatest industry., 
but the population had doubled in half a century and a huge 
urban proletariat was already established. It was apparent 
that the country's rapidly developing industry would need 
large numbers of men with all sorts of technical skills, and 
many of the Mechanics' Institutes founded earlier in the cen- 
tury made noble efforts to fill the gap. At the university level, 
both University College and King's College in London had 
Professors of Engineering, and in 1855 a Regius Chair of 
Technology was established at Edinburgh, but few students 
studied these subjects. There was as yet no adequate basis of 
elementary education to support such endeavours, but a band 
of far-sighted men went on planning the system of technical 
K 123 


education which was to be built in the last decades of the 

It was in 1853, following the immensely successful Great 
Exhibition, that the Department of Science and Art was 
founded, with Henry Cole as Secretary for Art and Lyon 
Playfair * as Secretary for Science. Formed initially under 
the Board of Trade, the Science and Art Department at first 
directed its efforts mainly towards adult workers in industry, 
but after coordination with the Education Department in 1856 
it became a powerful engine for the promotion of practical 
teaching in the schools. As early as 1854 Huxley was lecturing 
for the Department at Marlborough House and, even if at 
first his interest was at least as much financial as educational, 
he soon became convinced of the great value of the work. He 
was convinced, too, that in the conditions of his time thorough 
and searching testing was an indispensable accompaniment of 
teaching, so he gave much time and effort to the nation-wide 
system of examinations built up by the Department. Huxley 
was not blind to the defects and dangers of written examina- 
tions* which he regarded as an imperfect test of knowledge 
and an even poorer test of capacity, but he considered them 
to be the only practicable check upon the sham teaching 
which was encouraged by the system of 'payment by results'. 
He therefore tried to make the check an effective one, and his 
correspondence reflects an acute concern that the questions 
should be carefully considered and the answers meticulously 

"It is commonly supposed", Huxley pointed out at Aber- 
deen, "that any one who knows a subject is competent to 
teach it; and no one seems to doubt that any one who knows 
a subject is competent to examine in it. I believe both these 
opinions to be serious mistakes." He regarded examining as 
an art, and a difficult one, which like any other art had to be 

* Sir Lyon Playfair, 1st Baron (1818-1898), who left the Department in 
1858 to become Professor of Chemistry at Edinburgh and later spent nearly a 
quarter of a century as a Member of Parliament. For a while he was Vke- 
President of the Committee of Council on Education, 


learned. Beginners, he complained, always set questions which 
were too difficult, which was like trying to assess the relative 
physical strength of a group of young men by asking them 
each to swing a hundredweight about. "You must give them 
half a hundredweight, and see how they manoeuvre that", he 
insisted, and examination questions must be easy enough to 
let reason, memory and method have full play. But, although 
he would have easy questions, Huxley could be hard enough 
in his marking: "You did quite right in plucking all those 
fellows", he told an assistant examiner. "I let off a few that 
you were doubtful about but the great majority are slain 
. . . sending up such papers as these is a mere swindle." And, 
when there were complaints about the numbers who had been 
ploughed, he told Donnelly that if the 'great heart' of the 
people ajid its thick head couldn't be got to appreciate 
honesty, the sooner they shut up shop the better. 

Outside the Department of Science and Art, the great 
forum of technical education in the third quarter of the cen- 
tury was the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the 
Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Huxley was never one of 
its most active members, but his name keeps cropping up in 
its records. As a young man he lectured at the Educational 
Exhibition organised in 1854, and in succeeding years we find 
him interested in subjects ranging from submarine telegraphy 
to modes of preserving meat. He played an important part in 
the Society's conference on technical education in the January 
of 1868, he helped to organise the Educational Division of the 
International Exhibition of 1871, and he was one of those 
who initiated the Society's system of technical examinations. 
Huxley rarely attended meetings of the sub-committee ap- 
pointed by the 1868 conference to prepare a scheme for 
technical education, but this need not mean that a man so 
expert in string-pulling was without influence on its proceed- 
ings. And when, later in the year, the House of Commons 
appointed its Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, it 
was to ears well attuned that Huxley and others trumpeted the 


urgent need for technical education. To breathe the air of 
those days it is well to repair to the Royal Albert Hall, built 
originally not for Promenade Concerts but as a meeting-place 
for men of learning, and read the words of the great frieze 
inscription: "This Hall was erected for the Advancement of 
the Arts and Sciences and Works of Industry of all Nations 
in Fulfilment of the Intention of Albert Prince Consort." 

One of the agenda of the January Conference had been to 
consider how far technical education could be aided by exist- 
ing endowments, and soon The City Press, sensitive to the 
continual muttering about the vast unused funds of the 
Liveries, admitted that there was no good reason why they 
should not be devoted to education. In 1870 a meeting in 
Common Hall decided to press the Livery Companies to 
adopt measures for promoting technical education, then 
Gladstone joined the chorus and suggested that the Com- 
panies might use some of their wealth for this purpose, and 
the time was ripe for Huxley to capitalise those assets of good- 
will which he had long been accumulating in City circles. 
Over a period of years he had been a guest at Mansion House 
banquets* and it would be out of character if in conversation 
through the courses he did not tie a few strings for later pull- 
ing. After 1870 his name figured more prominently in the re- 
ports of City feasts, until at the Haberdashers' banquet in 
1875, to "upwards of 150 noblemen and gentlemen", only 
the Lord Mayor, the Vice-President of the Privy Council 
and the Senior Charity Commissioner had precedence over 
him. From then on, Huxley was persona gratissima to the 

It is not surprising that the City's committee on technical 
education, set up in 1876, turned to him for advice, and it 
was with some gratification that he told the Working Men's 
dub and Institute Union a year later that the livery com- 
panies had remembered that they were the heirs and repre- ' 
sentatives of the medieval trade guilds. The leading part in 
this movement was taken by the Drapers and Clothworkers 


and Goldsmiths, and it is presumably more than a coinci- 
dence that Huxley's diaiy for 1878 records engagements with 
these three very companies. At the Drapers' banquet that 
year he was publicly thanked for his advice, and five years 
later the Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths was to recall that 
his had been the most valuable of the various reports they 
had received. The outcome of this advice was a recommenda- 
tion that the Guilds should spend 30,000 in building a new 
central technical institution ("regard being had primarily as 
Professor Huxley suggests rather to what is wanted in the 
inside than what will look well from the outside"), and that 
they should also provide 10,000 per annum for salaries and 
another 20,000 for exhibitions and technical schools and 
classes. Huxley was, one of its leading members declareid, 
"really the engineer of the City and Guilds Institute; for 
without his advice we should not have known what to have 

Ever urgent, Huxley was not content to sit back and let 
events take their slow unaided course. In December 1879, 
presiding at a meeting at the Society of Arts, he took the 
opportunity to remind the Guilds that they "possessed enor- 
mous wealth, which had been left to them for the benefit of 
the trades they represent . . . that they were morally bound 
to do this work, and he hoped if they continued to neglect the 
obligation they would be legally compelled to do it". Con- 
tinuing his campaign by letters to The Times, he complained 
that the public had not yet been told whether the Guilds had 
accepted their own committee's report, and rather acidly he 
pointed out that "The inmost financial secrets of the Church 
and of the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge have been laid 
bare by those universal solvents, Royal Commissions; but no 
Government which has existed in this country for the last 
century has been strong enough to apply such aqua regia to 
the strong-boxes of the City Guilds". Huxley, having already 
inspected a potential site in Kensington, knew perfectly well 
the way things were going, and it seems likely, if we may judge 


from a letter to the old Chartist George Howell,* that his 
public admonition to the Livery was a carefully calculated 

I suppose I have some ten years of activity left in me, and you may 
depend upon it I shall lose no chance of striking a blow for the cause I 

have at heart The animal is moving and by a judicious exhibition of 

carrots in front and kicks behind, we shall get him into a fine trot 

presently The Companies should be constantly reminded that a 

storm is brewing. There are excellent men among them, who want to do 
what is right, and need help against the sluggards and reactionaries. It 
will be best for me to be quiet for a while, but you will understand that I 
am watching for the turn of events. 

This watching was facilitated when, early in 1881, Huxley 
became Inspector of Salmon Fisheries. Harcourt,f in offering 
the post, had apologised that "It is not a grand place nor as 
good in its emoluments as I could desire, for it is worth only 
700 per arm.", but he pointed out that "Salmon have the 
good taste to addict themselves to healthy & picturesque 
localities . . . [and] ... I do not see why you should not in- 
spect the fish as well as Newton governed the Mint". It is to 
Huxley's credit that he required hard pressing, but eventually 
he fell in with this extremely tempting piece of scientific 
pluralism, and he now found further opportunities to lobby 
the Liveries. His diaries record many visits to the Fishmon- 
gers and Salters Companies; and, since his correspondence 
at this time refers frequently to technical education, presum- 
ably he did not confine his conversation to formal Fisheries 
business. At any rate, when Huxley was asked to accept the 
Salters* Freedom in 1883, the Master of the Company wrote 
"I think you must admit that the City Companies have 
yielded liberally to the gentle compression you have exercised 

* George Howell (1833-1910), the son of a mason, who started work at 
eight and became a Chartist while still a lad. He eventually became Secretary 
to the London Trades Council (1861). the Reform League (1864) and the 
Parliamentary Committee of the TUC (1871). 

t Sir William G. G. V. V. Harcourt (1827-1904), Gladstone's Home 
Secretary. A Liberal MP from 1868, he regularly took a progressive line in 
Parliament on educational matters, opposing sectarian teaching in the schools 
and religious tests in the universities. 


on them ... we propose to legitimise your claim for educa- 
tion". Soon the 'City and Guilds of London Institute for the 
Advancement of Technical Education' had established two 
technical colleges, the one to be opened in Finsbury in 1883 
and the other at South Kensington in 1884. And, when Hux- 
ley delivered his Presidential Address to the Royal Society in 
1885, he was able to announce that about 250 technical classes 
in different parts of the kingdom were affiliated to the Insti- 
tute, and that some of them were already developing into 
efficient technical schools. 

As the fabric of the South Kensington college neared com- 
pletion, and some in the City began to assume that their work 
was done, Huxley issued a warning that in fact it had only just 
started. "That building'% he pointed out when distributing 
the Institute's prizes, "is simply the body, not the flesh and 
bones, but the bricks and stones . . . and I can assure you 
making a soul for anything is an amazingly difficult opera- 
tion." How difficult was to appear very soon. Enrolments at 
first were few and there were mutterings that the great new 
venture was already a failure. Soon Donnelly was suggesting 
that Huxley's "pet institution on the opposite side of the 
road" should be handed over to the Science and Art Depart- 
ment with a decent income, and by 1887 Huxley himself was 
beginning to lose heart. He declared in The Times that the 
new college, despite looking so portly outside, was very much 
starved within; and, taken to task for failure to appreciate the 
generosity of the Livery, he replied sadly that "munificence 
without method may arrive at results indistinguishably simi- 
lar to those of stinginess ... a man who has only half as 
much food as he needs is indubitably starved, even though his 
short rations consist of ortolans and are served up on gold 
plate". Yet the City and Guilds College was there and was to 
thrive, joining eventually with the Royal College of Science 
and Royal School of Mines to form the great Imperial College 
of Science and Technology. 

This year, 1887, was Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and the 


Prince of Wales suggested that the occasion might be worthily 
marked by the foundation of an imperial industrial institu- 
tion in London. Soon the Press was buzzing with rumours of 
what the Prince's committee was intending, and before long 
there arose a rip-roaring controversy. It seems to have been 
by accident if any of his controversies were ever entirely 
accidental that Huxley became involved. He was unwell at 
the time of the great inaugural City meeting in January, but 
at the request of the Prince he agreed to speak. The flirtation 
of the last thirty years between science and industry, he sug- 
gested, had now reached such a stage of intimacy that it was 
high time the young couple married and set up an establish- 
ment for themselves, and he regarded the proposed Imperial 
Institute as "the public and ceremonial marriage of science 
and industry". There appears to have been no official inten- 
tion that he should play more than a minor part in the pro- 
ject, but it was his contribution which caught the public ear. 
"With the exception of Professor Huxley, whose interesting 
speech we give in full elsewhere,'* The Pall Mall Gazette in- 
formed its readers next day, "everybody was dull, stale, and 
unprofitable/' Striking while the iron was unexpectedly so 
hot, Huxley wrote to The Times emphasising that he had no 
intention of expressing any enthusiasm for the establishment 
of a vast permanent bazaar, but hoped for something which 
would do for the advancement of industrial knowledge what 
the Royal Society and the universities did for learning in 
general. For he believed, as he had confided to Herbert 
Spencer a couple of days before, "the Institute might be made 
into something very useful and greatly wanted if only the 
projectors could be made to believe that they had always in- 
tended to do that which your humble servant wants done". 

In his Times letter Huxley envisaged the Imperial Institute 
as being placed in the City, convenient for those working 
there, and he visualised it as "a port of call for all those who 
are concerned in the advancement of industry ... a sort of 
neutral ground on which the capitalist and the artisan would 


be equally welcome ... a place in which the fullest stores of 
industrial knowledge would be made accessible to the public; 
in which the higher questions of commerce and industry 
would be systematically studied and elucidated; and where, 
as in an industrial university, the whole technical education 
of the country might find its centre and crown". The Times 
declared that his admirable letter should be circulated far and 
wide and learned by heart by all who would have the organis- 
ing of the Institute; and, when the Prince's committee came to 
issue a pamphlet outlining its intentions, Huxley had the 
gratification of seeing his definition of aims officially adopted. 
But the cost of a City site proved prohibitive, the Imperial 
Institute was built in South Kensington where Huxley said it 
had as much chance of serving the interests of commerce and 
industry as a fish had of thriving out of water, and history has 
shown how nearly right he was when he told Michael Foster 
"The thing is already a failure. I daresay it will go on and be 
varnished into a simulacrum of success to become eventu- 
ally a ghost like the Albert Hall or revive as a tea garden'*. 
What he would say of the present plan to move the Institute 
still further out to Holland Park, instead of seizing the oppor- 
tunity to bring it in to the South Bank, one almost trembles to 

With the slow start of the City and Guilds College and the 
decision against a City site for the Imperial Institute, the 
spring of 1887 saw the low-water mark of Huxley's hopes for 
technical education. But by May his resilience was returning 
and, after urging Lord Harrington to continue the campaign, 
he wrote in the same sense to Roscoe: * "I may go on crying 
in the wilderness until I am hoarse, with no result, but if he 
and you and Mundella will take it up, something may be 
done." All through the first half of 1887 Huxley's recurrent 

* Sir Henry Enfield Roscoe (1833-1915), a Liverpudlian who was Professor 
of Cfoemistry at Manchester's Owens College and greatly helped it to achieve 
university status. He was a member of the 1881-1884 Royal Commission on 
Technical Instruction, became MP for South Manchester in 1885, and in 
1896 became Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. 


ill health forced him to alternate between London and the 
Isle of Wight although he managed to continue serving on 
the Council of the Royal Society, examining for the Science 
and Art Department, presenting one or two papers to scienti- 
fic societies, attending various committees of the University 
of London and disputing at large in the Nineteenth Century. 
An attack of pleurisy prevented his speaking at the July meet- 
ing which launched the National Association for the Promo- 
tion of Technical Education, August and September were 
spent convalescing in Switzerland, and soon after returning 
to London he had to leave for Hastings on account of his 
wife's health. Then, on the 19th November, a terrible blow 
was dealt him by the death of his darling daughter Marian. 

His friends tried to dissuade him from keeping a promise to 
speak on technical education in Manchester ten days later, 
but he insisted on fulfilling the engagement. "I am not proud 
of chalking up *no popery' and running away . . .", he told 
Foster, "and, having done a good deal to stir up the Technical 
Education business and the formation of the Association, I 
cannot leave them in the lurch when they urgently ask for my 
services." Braced by his reception at the great meeting in 
Manchester Town Hall, Huxley was soon writing to Hooker 
in jubilation: 

I was rather used up yesterday, but am picking up. In fact my 
Manchester journey convinced me that there was more stuff left than 
I thought for I travelled 400 miles, & made a speech of 50 minutes in a 
hot crowded room all in about 12 hours & was none the worse. Man- 
chester Liverpool and Newcastle have now gone in for technical 
education on a grand scale & the work is practically done Nunc 

Now the fruits were ripening fast. In 1889 local authorities 
received rating powers under the Technical Instruction Act, a 
year later financial life-blood was provided under the Local 
Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act, and before Huxley died 
in 1895 there were half a dozen polytechnics in London and 
technical colleges all over the provinces. 


The Victorians, like us, were divided about the purpose and 
proper scope of technical education, Magnus * defined its 
object as being "to train persons in the arts and sciences that 
underlay the practice of some trade or profession", and Syl- 
vanus Thompson f said that "Education is technical only so 
far as it is directed to the training of the individual in and for 
his business in life", but with such narrow views Huxley 
would have no truck. In the first place, he was not willing to 
sacrifice the people's education to purely commercial de- 
mands; and, in the second, he did not believe that even from 
a commercial point of view any narrowly technical instruction 
would be effective. 

The dispute about the proper scope of technical education 
was not an abstract question of definition and terminology: 
it was the immediately practical question of whether the arti- 
san and his child should be merely instructed to perform their 
industrial tasks or educated folly to live a rich and fruitful 
life. When he presided for Thompson at the Society of Arts in 
1879, Huxley came out strongly against any attempt to 
encroach on the limited schooldays of the workers* children 
for purposes of technical instruction. "Although it was a 
great thing to make good workmen", he remarked, "yet it 
was much more important to make intelligent men", and he 
believed that the elementary schools had quite, enough to do 
without taking on this additional burden. On the other hand, 
once the earlier stages of education were passed and the 
worker was faced with the achievement of skill in his particu- 
lar occupation, Huxley would have him concentrate his atten- 
tion on that objective as closely as possible. 'There are some 
general principles which apply to all technical training", he 
told the Easingwold Agricultural Club, "and the first of these 
... is that practice can be learned only by practice. The 

* Sir Philip Magnus (1842-1933), Director and Secretary of the City and 
Guilds of London Institute and later a member of the Technical Education 
Board of the London County Council. 

t Sylvanus Phillips Thompson (1851-1916), who had been a student at the 
School of Mines before becoming a schoolmaster, Professor of Physics at 
Bristol and then Professor of Physics at Finsbury and South Kensington. 


fanner must be made by and through farm work." Therefore 
he would not include in a technical scheme for agriculture any 
courses in the pure sciences as such, but would teach "the 
history of a bean, of a grain of wheat, of a turnip, of a sheep, 
of a pig, or of a cow . . . with the introduction of the elements 
of chemistry, physiology and so on as they came in". He 
believed that a firm seat could be found on two stools, general 
preparatory education and specific technical instruction, and 
he did not propose to fall between them. 

Nor was he ready to accept the over-simple view that wide- 
spread vocational instruction was all that was needed to 
ensure for Britain the lead in the economic race of the nations. 
"Many persons", he pointed out to the London School 
Board, "thought they had only to have a school for science, 
and that everything would be done that was needful, that 
manufactures would flourish henceforth, and that this was 
the one thing needful; but he believed that to be a profound 
and mischievous mistake." Perhaps the most succinct state- 
ment of his views is to be found in some notes which he drew 
up in 1887 for the Charity Commissioners: 

Technical education in its strictest sense, is only one of a number of 
conditions or operations on which the full development of the In- 
dustrial productibility of any body of men depends. 

These are 

I. Elementary school education as a preparation for life hi general. 
n. Technical education proper as a preparation for special callings 
consisting of 

A. Preparatory Instruction in Science and Art 

B. Special technological Instruction. 

C. Training and providing teachers in A and B. 

IH. Contributory agencies 

A. Capacity catching apparatus. 

B. Physical and moral training. 

He told the Commissioners that "the savage of civilisation is 
a more dangerous animal than any other wild beast; and that 
sooner or later every social organization in which these ferae 


accumulate unduly, will be torn to .pieces by them", and he 
therefore urged that in addition to technical education in the 
narrowest sense the nation should provide "baths, gymnasia, 
cookery schools, free libraries, Reading rooms & innocent 
amusements as a contribution to industrial development of 
prime importance'*. A comprehensive scheme of technical 
education, Huxley held, should cover all those means by 
which the productive capacity of an industrial population 
may be fully and permanently developed; and it is as true 
today as when he insisted on it at Manchester that 

Our sole chance of succeeding in a competition, which must con- 
stantly become more and more severe, is that our people will not only 
have the knowledge and the skill which are required, but that they shall 
have the will and the energy and the honesty, without which neither 
knowledge nor skill can be of any permanent avail. 

Huxley has been criticised for describing medicine, law and 
theology as "technical specialities", but such statements must 
be assessed in the light of his general outlook: it was not that 
he took a low view of professional education, but that he 
took a high view of technical education. He did not believe 
that brainwork is, in itself and apart from its quality, a nobler 
or more respectable thing than handwork, and in his evidence 
to the 1868 Select Committee he made no distinction of status 
between the 'profession* of medicine and the 'technology' of 
engineering. Seven years earlier, indeed, he had suggested the 
establishment of a professional corporation, to be known as 
the Royal Mining College, which should stand in relation to 
mining, metallurgy and geology rather as the Royal College 
of Surgeons did to medicine. Nearly a century later the 
suggestion was to be revived and extended, as the recently 
proposed College of Technologists. 

Although he had abandoned the practice of medicine on 
leaving Rattlesnake, Huxley knew a good deal about the usual 
sort of preparation, and neither his experiences as a student, 
nor as a lecturer at St Thomas's and Hunterian Professor 
at the College of Surgeons, had done much to elevate his 


estimate of the value of the courses then common. During a 
decade as examiner in the University of London he had looked 
in candidates* papers for a real, precise and thorough know- 
ledge of fundamentals, but what he commonly found was a 
large, extensive and inaccurate knowledge of superstructure. 
His prescription for the improvement of medical education 
was a drastic one, in some ways more drastic than the British 
Medical Association has been prepared to suggest three 
quarters of a century later. In 1871 he told the medical 
faculty of University College, London, that it would be im- 
possible to put things right until the professors devoted them- 
selves exclusively to their work instead of carrying on private 
practice, and he would cut out from the course all that was 
irrelevant or outmoded. Provided that the student had some 
knowledge of science before starting his medical training, 
Huxley would not trouble hi with botany or zoology or 
comparative anatomy, and he would retain physics and 
chemistry only in their relation to medicine. As for 'materia 
medica', "I cannot understand the arguments for obliging a 
medical man to know all about drugs and where they come 
from. Why not make him belong to the Iron and Steel In- 
stitute, and learn something about cutlery, because he uses 

On the other hand, he had no intention of accepting an in- 
adequate course. He remembered that in his own student 
days, when there were twenty-one licensing bodies, including 
the Archbishop of Canterbury and various archaic corpora- 
tions concerned only to collect fees, lazy and incompetent 
medical practitioners had been "turned loose upon the pub- 
lic, like death on a pale horse". He knew, too, that there 
were those who considered it unreasonable to demand a 
thorough training for practitioners who would never earn 
large fees, and he could not agree that the poor man's doctor 
needed less complete preparation than the rich man's. When, 
therefore, Lord Spencer asked him to Serve on the 1881 Royal 
Commission on the Medical Acts, urging "The Public would 


have much confidence in you", he was very ready to accept 
the invitation. The majority of the Commission was so con- 
cerned to have a uniform standard of professional prepara- 
tion that it would have vested all licensing in a single Board 
for each Kingdom, providing at the same time for compensa- 
tion to the existing bodies. Huxley, however, disliked both the 
idea of excessive uniformity and that of subsidising the black- 
sheep corporations, and he argued that the desired result 
could be obtained in another way. His proposal was to limit 
recognition to examining bodies which covered the threefold 
field of medicine, surgery and midwifery, and also admitted 
external examiners nominated by the Medical Council. And, 
in the event, the Medical Act of 1886 followed his line rather 
than that of the majority. 

It was a similar concern for professional competence 
which caused Huxley to write so unkindly to Roscoe in 1887 
about the colleges where most teachers received their train- 

Ever since I was on the London School Board I have seen that the key 
of the position is in the Sectarian Training Colleges and that wretched 
imposture, the pupil teacher system. As to the former Delendae sunt no 
trace or pact to be made with them, either Church or Dissenting. Half 
the time of their students is occupied with grinding into their minds 
their tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee theological idiocies, and the other 
half in cramming them with boluses of other things to be duly spat out 
on examination day. 

Agnostic though he was, Huxley's objections to the training 
colleges related less to their religious teaching than to their 
educational inadequacy, and three quarters of a century later 
one can still sympathise with his remarks at Manchester in 
the same year: 

I remember somewhere reading of an interview between the poet 
Southey and a good Quaker. Southey was a man of marvellous powers 
of work. He had a habit of dividing his time into little parts each of 
which was filled up, and he told the Quaker what he did in this hour and 
that, and so on through the day until far into the night The Quaker 
listened, and at the close said, "Well, but, friend Southey, when dost 


thee [sic] think?*' The system which I am now adverting to is arraigned 
and condemned by putting that question to it. When does the unhappy 
pupil teacher, or over-drilled student of a training college, find any time 
to think? 

Himself a teacher to the finger-tips, Huxley was vividly 
aware that the profession was one demanding deep thought 
and high skill. "Teaching in England", he complained to the 
1868 Committee, "is pretty much a matter of chance, and the 
mass of the people are ignorant of the fact that there is such a 
thing as a scientific method in teaching." It is not surprising, 
therefore, that he sought to awaien teachers to the implica- 
tions of their task and to encourage proper training and pro- 
fessional organisation. His diaries record meetings at the 
College of Preceptors, visits to the training colleges in Batter- 
sea and the Borough Road, and a speech for the Teachers' 
Training and Registration Society in aid of the Bishopsgate 
Training College for Women (now Maria Grey College). We 
find him also speaJdng in connexion with the loan exhibition 
of scientific apparatus at South Kensington, advising the 
Society of Arts on syllabuses in domestic science, concerning 
himself with a scheme to teach teachers the laws of health, 
and serving as President of the National Association of 
Science Teachers. 

From its inception, one of the stated aims of the School of 
Mines had been the training of science and technical teachers, 
but under the influence of the mining engineers and geologists 
it had contented itself with a few gestures. In 1853 it was 
resolved to admit members of the College of Preceptors and 
certificated schoolmasters to courses at half-fee, and a year 
later it was agreed that the precedent set by admitting two 
students from Battersea should be extended to training col- 
lege students in general, but not much more had been done. 
But Huxley, working with schoolmasters on the British 
Association's committee on science teaching, had deepened 
his understanding of the needs of teachers and become in- 
creasingly discontented with the inadequacy of their methods. 


This and the sketch overleaf were made by Huxley's daughter Marian 

for each other' (p. 233) 


And, when Joseph Payne suggested that if men of science 
were really in earnest they would condescend to teach in the 
schools, Huxley accepted the challenge. Early in 1869 he 
arranged with William Rogers to give a series of demonstra- 
tion lessons to London schoolchildren, stipulating only "that 
we shall have a clear understanding on the part of the boys 
and teachers that the discourses are to be Lessons and not 
talkee-talkee lectures". His great object, he said, was "to set 
going something which can be worked in every school in the 
country in a thorough and effectual way, and set an example 
of the manner in which I think this sort of introduction to 
science ought to be managed". 

One outcome of these lessons was that admirable element- 
ary textbook Physiography, in whose preface he emphasised 
that a general course of science should never become "an 
omnium gatherum of scraps of all sorts of undigested and un- 
connected information". Yet that, he feared, was precisely 
what would happen unless teachers had an adequate training. 
In 1861, lecturing to schoolmasters at South Kensington, he 
had insisted that "what you teach, unless you wish to be im- 
postors, that you must first know", and in 1869 he pointed 
out at Liverpool that the teacher without real knowledge 
would be "afraid to wander beyond the limits of the technical 
phraseology which he has got up and a dead dogmatism 
[would result]". In Liverpool again, distributing the prizes at 
the Institute High School in 1 883, he pressed the central point 
once more: 

There are a great many people who imagine that elementary teaching 
might be properly carried out by teachers provided with only elementary 
knowledge. Let me assure you that that is the profoundest mistake in 
the world. There is nothing so difficult to do as to write a good ele- 
mentary book, and there is nobody so hard to teach properly and well 
as people who know nothing about a subject 

The passage of Forster's Education Act in 1870 focused 
attention on the needs of the schools, and it soon became 
quite clear that teachers competent in science were simply not 


to be found. So, after extracting from a not usually generous 
Treasury the considerable sum of 750 to pay lecturers and 
buy material and apparatus, Huxley set about "a course of 
instruction in Biology which I am giving to Schoolmasters 
with the view of converting them into scientific missionaries 
to convert the Christian Heathen of these islands to the true 
faith". A year later, after his accumulating labours on the 
London School Board had led to a bad breakdown in health, 
he firmly refused an offer by his friends to relieve him of the 
course planned for the following summer. "Many thanks for 
all your kind and good advice about the lectures", he wrote 
to Tyndall, "but I really think they will not be too much for 
me and it is of the utmost importance I should carry them 
on. They are the commencement of a new system of teaching 
which, if I mistake not, will grow into a big thing and bear 
great fruit, and just at the present moment (nobody is neces- 
sary very long) I am the necessary man to carry it on." 
By September he was planning the 1873 course, for 1874 
he had seventy applications, and year by year there was 
keen competition for entry. His assistants included people 
like Sydney Vines, Thiselton-Dyer, Foster, and Lankester, 
and the methods devised for these schoolmaster courses 
quickly spread to universities and colleges all over the 

When the South Kensington College became the 'Normal 
School of Science and Royal School of Mines' in 1881, Hux- 
ley felt that at last a long-held ambition had been realised. In 
proposing the name 'Normal School* he had in mind the 
Ecole Normale of Paris, and it was often said that he con- 
sidered the welfare of the teacher students at the expense of 
those concerned with mining. On the other hand, H. G. Wells, 
one of those select young pedagogues who, as described in 
Love and Mr. Lewisham, bound themselves to teach science 
and so received free instruction and a guinea a week, com- 
plained that the course was purely and strictly scientific in 
character with no attention to teaching method. Certainly the 


schoolmaster students at South Kensington after Huxley's re- 
tirement shared Wells's view, and from 1892 to 1894 the 
College magazine carried a long line of complaints about the 
lack of any adequate pedagogic instruction. On the other 
hand, Wells affirms, "That year I spent in Huxley's class was, 
beyond all question, the most educational year in my life. It 
left me under that urgency for coherence and consistency, 
that repugnance from haphazard assumptions and arbitrary 
statements, which is the essential distinction of the educated 
from the uneducated mind". The conclusion seems clear: 
Huxley's own teaching was in itself a pedagogical lesson, he 
trained schoolmasters well because he was himself a man of 
high culture and a teacher to the core, but he failed to estab- 
lish at South Kensington a course systematic enough to en- 
sure that lesser men gave proper training or strong enough to 
survive his own retirement. 

Yet this failure was not due to any lack of thought about 
the sort of organisation which would be appropriate to pro- 
fessional training. Huxley has left a manuscript note, dated 
30 November 1859, which shews that he was already devising 
a means by which the projected South Kensington college 
could co-operate with provincial colleges to provide a 
national system of teacher training. The note suggests that an 
examining body for the whole group of colleges might be 
selected from among their lecturers, and 'degrees' granted by 
the Minister on the recommendation of the examiners. This 
examining body, it is proposed, should be called not a 'Uni- 
versity', but an Institute' ; and, allowance being made for the 
fact that there was then no network of local universities to 
provide nodes of regional organisation, the scheme remark- 
ably anticipates our post-war system of Institutes of Educa- 

During most of his lifetime Huxley had no confidence that 
the universities would be able to play any very valuable part 
in professional education, and he was anxious to keep medi- 
cal training out of the clerical hands which he considered to 


be so damaging to teacher training. This is understandable 
when one recalls how reactionary many of those who then 
dominated the universities were, and when one considers how 
hopeless it must have seemed to reconcile the vested interests 
involved. Yet Huxley was in no doubt that, if the universities 
were willing to bring themselves into line with the needs of the 
age, they could become the unifying force of professional 
education. And towards the end of 1892 he sent the Vice- 
Chancellor of the University of London a most striking plan. 
The university, he suggested, should have not only institu- 
tions providing for general studies and for research, but also 
for "Professional education in (a) Law (b) Medicine (c) The 
Industrial Professions (d) The Scholastic Profession (e) Paint- 
ing, Sculpture and Architecture (f) Music". Each professional 
'College' would be organised on a federal basis ("London 
Schools & Colleges of medicine organised into one body = 
College of Medicine of the University"), would draw up its 
own schemes of instruction and examination, and would pre- 
sent its students to the university for the award of professional 
'degrees* on an ad eundem basis. He feared that it was quite 
hopeless to expect the various theological institutions in Lon- 
don' to combine into a 'College' in the same way as other pro- 
fessional institutions, but he would have welcomed such an 
arrangement so far as the basic non-sectarian studies were 
concerned. Cutting across his 'Colleges', Huxley would have 
had 'Schools' consisting of the lecturers in the various disci- 
plines of scholarship so that, for example, there would have 
been regular meetings of philosophers (irrespective of whether 
they were concerned with professional training in theology or 
pedagogy or general education in arts or science), and simi- 
larly of scientists (whether engaged in pedagogy or the pure 
sciences or medicine or engineering), and so on. There can be 
only regret that our present mode of university organisation 
does not normally provide any such salutary cross-fertilising 
machinery, but leaves the lecturers in each of the professional 
departments largely isolated from those in the other pro- 


fessions and those in the basic disciplines. Today, with the 
example of the University Institutes of Education before 
us, and with the continuing debate about the proper relation- 
ship of the higher technological colleges to the university, 
we might do worse than return to study Huxley's notes of 


The London School Board 

The politicians tell us, "You must educate the masses be- 
cause they are going to be masters**. The clergy join hi the cry 
for education, for they affirm that the people are drifting away 
from church and chapel into the broadest infidelity. The manu- 
facturers and the capitalists swell the chorus lustily. They 
declare that ignorance makes bad workmen; that England 
will soon be unable to turn out cotton goods, or steam engines, 
cheaper than other people; and then, Ichabod! Ichabod! the 
glory will be departed from us. And a few voices are lifted up in 
favour of the doctrine that the masses should be educated be- 
cause they are men and women with unlimited capacities of 
being, doing, and suffering, and that it is as true now, as ever it 
was, that the people perish for lack of knowledge. 

Address to South London Working Men's College, 4 January 1868 

IF ONE HAD to select a single season as Huxley's busiest, it 
would be that of 1870-1871. During these years he was serv- 
ing on one Royal Commission on the Contagious Diseases 
Acts and another on Scientific Instruction and the Advance- 
ment of Science, he was President of the Geological Society 
and the Ethnological Society and the British Association, he 
became Governor of Owens College in Manchester, and he 
took on the onerous post of Secretary to the Royal Society. 
He travelled to give addresses at Leicester and Liverpool and 
Bradford and Birmingham and Cambridge, he joined with 
Manning and Knowles to form a relief committee for Paris as 
soon as its siege was raised, he brought out his Lay Sermons, 



Addresses and Reviews and his Manual of the Anatomy of 
Vertebrated Animals, he produced research papers geological 
and biological and anthropological, and all the time he was 
busy arranging to remove the School of Mines from Jermyn 
Street to South Kensington. There were other miscellaneous 
commitments connected with the South London Working 
Men's College and the International College at Isleworth and 
the University of London, but all this did not prevent his 
standing for election to the London School Board. No won- 
der he once remarked to Othniel Marsh * "If I could only 
break my leg, what a lot of scientific work I could do!" And 
to George Smalley he explained, "The great secret is to pre- 
serve the power of working continuously sixteen hours a day 
if need be. If you cannot do that you may be caught out any 

Forster's Education Act of 1870 required for its imple- 
mentation a comprehensive system of elementary schools 
and, since there was then no network of local education 
authorities, the first necessity was the setting up of ad hoc 
School Boards. The Act in general left local option in the 
matter John Morley remarked somewhat cynically that "In- 
stead of the School Boards being universal, they should only 
come into existence where the ecclesiastical party was not 
strong enough in wealth, influence and liberality, to keep 
them out" but in the case of the metropolis the inadequacy 
of elementary education was so notorious that the immediate 
election of a London School Board was prescribed. The pro- 
ceedings of this Board during its first twelve months were 
taken much as a model for other Boards the country over, 
and the record of that first year is an impressive one. 

All parties recognised the key position which the London 
Board would hold, and the sects put into the election cam- 
paign all the energies which had hitherto been devoted to 
parliamentary manoeuvring. During the November of 1870 

* Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899), the first Professor of Palaeontology 
in the USA, whose fossil collections at Yale were of major importance in 
establishing the geological record of evolution. 


the newspapers were full of accounts of election meetings, the 
front pages of The Times carried large advertisements of the 
claims of the competing candidates, and all in all the London 
School Board election was "the one home subject within the 
last month which has been able to divert people's attention 
from the war in France". The Established Church secured 
the election of powerful people like Canon Cromwell of St 
Mark's College in Chelsea, Dr Barry of King's College in the 
Strand, William Rogers of St Botolph's in Bishopsgate, and 
Lord Lawrence, a distinguished and moderate layman. The 
Nonconformists had equally eminent representatives Dr 
Rigg of Westminster College for the Wesleyans, Dr Angus of 
Regent's Park College for the Baptists, Benjamin Waugh the 
founder of the NSPCC for the Congregationalists, and Mem- 
bers of Parliament like Samuel Morley and Charles Reed. 
The Roman Church, too, had its men; the women's vote was 
triumphantly organised to return Emily Davies and Elizabeth 
Garrett (Anderson); and, most significantly for the Board's 
effectiveness, T. H. Huxley was elected for Marylebone. 

Not content with his vulnerability as a non-believer, Hux- 
ley took as team-mate a radical carpenter named Cremer,* 
who had been one of Garibaldi's reception committee on his 
earlier visit to England and who had signed an Address of 
English to French Workmen calling for united action "against 
the cajolery and brute force of the so-called rulers". Their 
joint election broadsheet solicited the Marylebone ratepayers 
to "Vote for the TWO CANDIDATES . . . who, if elected, 
will represent two distinct and special principles: Professor 
HUXLEY, and Scientific Education, W. R. CREMER, and 
the Educational Wants of the Working Classes". The polling 
hours were such that hundreds of working people were un- 
able to vote, and Cremer was not elected, but Huxley (who 
had remarked at one of his meetings that "no breeder would 

* William Randal Cramer (1838-1908), who helped to form the Amalga- 
mated Society of Carpenters and Joiners in 1859 and the London Artisans 9 
Club and TnftHtnfo in 1868. He became a Member of Parliament for Shore- 
ditch and was eventually knighted. 


bring up his pigs under such conditions as those to which the 
poorer classes of England were now subjected") did not fail to 
represent both principles. 

Arthur Hobhouse* told his wife how "Two most dis- 
reputable looking chaps called here yesterday. They were a 
'deputation' from Huxley's Committee, or perhaps the Com- 
mittee itself, to ask me to be the treasurer of the funds col- 
lected. They explained that their brethren would feel more 
confidence in a treasurer above their own rank in life. The 
treasure, it is supposed, will not amount to more than 
100. . . . The only contribution at present is 5 of my own". 
Very soon, however, the working men on the election com- 
mittee were reinforced by names like Lubbock, Tyndall, John 
Stuart Mill and Auberon Herbert, forming as representative a 
collection of 'workers by hand and brain' as might well be 
imagined. Huxley had neither the means nor the time for a 
regular election canvass and, unlike most candidates, he took 
no newspaper space for advertisement. However, he held four 
meetings at St George's Hall in Langham Place, at St Pan- 
eras Vestry Hall, at a hall in Paddington, and at St George's 
Hall in Gray's Inn Road and explained that he had asso- 
ciated himself with Cremer because, unlike nine out of ten of 
the other candidates, neither of them had any personal 
interests to serve. 

His election address left the voters under no misapprehen- 
sion about his attitude to educational expenditure: 

It seems to be the fashion for Candidates to assure you that they wfll 
do their best to spare the poverty of the Ratepayers. It is proper, there- 
fore, for me to add that I can give you no such assurance on my own 

You may trust me that no waste or extravagance that I can prevent 
shall be permitted. But every penny levied by an Education Rate and 
rightly employed, now, means hundreds of pennies taken off the Police 

* Arthur Hobhouse, 1st Baron (1819-1904), a highly successful Chancery 
lawyer who served successively as a Charity Commissioner, a Statutory Com- 
missioner under the Endowed Schools Act, Law Member of the Council of the 
Governor-General of India, and on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Coun- 
tiL From 1882-1884 he was himself a member of the London School Board. 


Rates and the Poor Rates of the future; and thousands of pennies saved 
and gained by the increase of frugality, the amendment of the habits of 
life, and the development of the power of production, of the poorer 
classes of the people. 

Of all the illustrators of the "penny wise and pound foolish' ' proverb, 
those who object to pay for education are, to my mind, the most out- 
standing; and my vote will be given for that expenditure which can be 
shown to be just and necessary, without any reference to the question 
whether it may raise the rate a halfpenny. 

Despite this uncompromising announcement, Huxley came 
second to Elizabeth Garrett, whose committee had organised 
the cumulative vote system to great effect in this first im- 
portant election with female voters. 

Huxley was under no illusion that Forster's Act was any- 
thing more than a patched-up compromise, but he saw that 
the situation was one of sufficient flux to allow a determined 
Board, avoiding both skinflint economy and stultifying 
sectarianism, to make a decisive contribution to the educa- 
tion of London's teeming children. As recently as 1861 the 
Newcastle Commission had reported that "none are too old, 
too poor, too ignorant, too feeble, too sickly, too unqualified 
in one or every way** to be regarded as suitable for teaching, 
and the streets of tie metropolis were overrun by little arabs 
who never went to school at all. England had fallen badly be- 
hind Germany and France in the provision of elementary 
education, but at last the conflicting interests of church and 
chapel had been temporarily reconciled and it was possible to 
make a start. Huxley's Contemporary Review essay, "The 
School Boards: What They Can Do and What They May 
Do', extracts from which were prematurely published before 
the poll and made a great public impression, indicates that he 
had thought carefully about the sort of education which the 
Board Schools should provide. 

Naturally he advocated the teaching of science, as of draw- 
ing and singing, but first he put physical training, which he 
regarded as not only necessary for the bodily health of the 
neglected street urchin but also as an invaluable means of 


approaching his higher nature. Next and not exclusively for 
girls he put the elements of household work and domestic 
economy, by ignorance of which the misery of England's poor 
was intensified, and then came training in the elementary laws 
of conduct and social responsibility. "But the engagement of 
the affections in favour of that particular kind of conduct 
which we call good", he continued, "seems to me to be some- 
thing quite beyond mere science*', and it was necessary not 
only to teach the science of morality but also to develop a 
religious sense, to inculcate an ethical idealism. 

It had been widely expected that the London School Board 
would see an immediate head-on clash between Huxley and 
the orthodox, but he recognised that the law did in fact per- 
mit religious teaching of a non-sectarian character and, as he 
had told one of his election meetings, he "desired simply to 
administer this Act as an honest man, according to the letter 
and the spirit of the law, and not to throw difficulties into the 
way of its operation". In his Contemporary Review article he 
had given clear warning that he would oppose, and if neces- 
sary carry an appeal to the Education Department against, 
any effort to teach theological doctrines in the schools, but 
Bible-reading was a different matter. The Act permitted it, 
most parents would desire it, and he did not see how an 
honest man could oppose it. He must have sympathised with 
those who, like Lucraft,* wished to restrict religious instruc- 
tion to Bible-reading without religious note or comment, and 
with those who, like Chatfield Clarke, t feared that if even 
this were permitted the teachers would inevitably introduce 
denominational ideas without knowing it He must have 
known how right Rogers was in his remark "A teacher 
brought up at St. Mark's or Battersea was thoroughly im- 
pregnated with the doctrines of his Church, and he was not a 

* Benjamin Lucraft (1810-1897), a member for Finsbury, who had been 
supported by the Labour Representation League and who wished to keep all 
trace of sectarian teaching out of London's schools. 

t Thomas Chatfield Clarke (1829-1895), a member for Finsbury, who held 
that religious teaching should be left entirely to the Churches. 


faithful teacher unless he carried out those doctrines in his 
teaching'*. He must have seen the sense in Waugh's * query 
about who was to ensure that if Bible-reading were permitted 
no denominational doctrine was taught: "were the children 
themselves to perform this task, and be made spies for ever 
on the watch to tell their parents whether the teacher said 
anything Trinitarian, Unitarian, Ritualistic, or evangelical?" 
But, above all, he wanted to get the schools working quickly, 
and to the surprise of some in both camps he supported the 
famous religious compromise formulated by W, H. Smith: | 

That in the schools provided by the Board, the Bible shall be read, 
and there shall be given such explanation and such instruction there- 
from in the principles of morality, and religion, as are suited to the 
capacities of Children, provided always: 

L That in such explanation and instruction the provisions of the Act, in 
Sections VII and XIV, be strictly observed, both in letter and spirit, 
that no attempt be made in any such schools to attach children to any 
particular denomination. 

2. That in regard to any particular school, the Board shall consider and 
determine upon any application by managers, parents, or ratepayers 
of the district, who may show special cause for exception of the school 
from the operation of this Resolution, in whole or in part. 

Because of his own agnosticism, Huxley had been forced 
to give a good deal of thought to the religious education of 
children. "I go into society", he told Kingsley, "and except 
among two or three of my scientific colleagues I find myself 
alone on these subjects and as hopelessly at variance with 
the majority of my fellow men as they would be with their 
neighbours if they were set down among the Ashantees -I 
don't like this state of things for myself least of all do I see 
how it will work out for my children But as my mind is con- 
stituted there is no way out of it and I can only envy you if 

* Benjamin Waugh (1839-1908), a member for Greenwich and a Congre- 
gational parson, who was mainly responsible for the formation of the National 
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. 

t William Henry Smith (1825-1891), a member for Westminster and son of 
the pioneer newsagent He-became Tory leader in the House of Commons, and 
was once described as 'Smith the Smoother, the quie*, unpretentious reconciler 
of conflicting opinions** 


you can see things differently." Kate, Lady Amberley, re- 
cords an interesting conversation with Huxley on bringing up 
children in a different way from those around them, on the 
danger of making them pariahs, or of making them think 
themselves superior to others; and, aware of the dangers of 
childhood rootlessness, Huxley once said to St George 
Mivart "Children should be brought up in the mythology of 
their own time and country, but as they grow up their ques- 
tions should be answered frankly". His wife took their own 
children to church, and each time she had one of them bap- 
tised it put Huxley in a bad temper, but on the whole he ac- 
cepted her wishes with good enough grace. "You may judge 
what my opinions are touching the sacrament of Baptism " 9 
he wrote to Lubbock, "but my wife likes to have the children 
christened & she has a right to her own way in such matters I 
am afraid she is not very orthodox but looks upon the process 
as a kind of spiritual vaccination without which the youngsters 
might catch Sin in worse forms as they grow up." 

So, he told the London School Board, "If they had to 

deal with a fresh and untouched population ... it would not 
enter into Ms mind to introduce the religious and ethical idea 
by the agency of that admirable and venerable book which 
we called the Bible" ; but, he argued with sociological insight, 
"Any system, to gain the attention of these people to these 
matters . . . must be a system connected with or not too 
widely divorced from their own system and beliefs". So far 
as the England of his time was concerned, he had no doubt 
that the best medium of ethical instruction was the Bible, and 
his Contemporary essay explained why: 

Take the Bible as a whole; make the severest deductions which fair 
criticism can dictate for shortcomings and positive errors; eliminate, as 
a sensible lay-teacher would do, if left to himself, all that it is not de- 
sirable for children to occupy themselves with; and there still remains in 
this old literature a vast residuum of moral beauty and grandeur. And 
then consider the great historical fact that, for three centuries, this book 
has been woven into the life of all that is best and noblest in English 


history ; that it has become the national epic of Britain, and is as familiar 
to noble and simple, from John-o'-Groat's House to Land's End, as 
Dante and Tasso once were to the Italians; that it is written in the 
noblest and purest English, and abounds in exquisite beauties of mere 
literary form; and, finally, that it forbids the veriest hind who never left 
his village to be ignorant of the existence of other countries and other 
civilisations, and of a great past, stretching back to the furthest limits of 
the oldest nations in the world. By the study of what other book could 
children be so much humanised? 

Years later he justified his support of Smith in a letter to 
Edward Clodd: 

. . . though, for the last quarter of a century I have done all that lay in my 
power to oppose and destroy the idolatrous accretions of Judaism and 
Christianity, I have never had the slightest sympathy with those who . . . 
would throw the child away along with the bath and when I was a 
member of the London School Board I fought for the retention of the 
Bible to the great scandal of some of my liberal friends who cannot 
make out to this day whether I was a hypocrite or simply a fool on that 

But my meaning was that the mass of the people should not be de- 
prived of the one great Literature which is open to them not shut out 
from the perception of their relation with the whole past history of 
civilised mankind. 

Although it has been claimed that Huxley came to see that 
his support of Bible-reading was a mistake, eight months be- 
fore his death he still did not repent of the compromise: 
"Twenty years of reasonably good primary education is 
'worth a mass' ", he told Lord Farrer. 

Unfortunately, although Huxley believed that "The per- 
sons who agreed to the compromise, did exactly what all sin- 
cere men who agree to compromise do . , . they accepted 
what was practically an armistice in respect of certain matters 
about which the contending parties were absolutely irrecon- 
cilable", not all parties had the same high sense of armistice 
obligations. Within a week the Roman Catholics were seek- 
ing authority for children in Board Schools to read the Douai 
Bible with instructors approved by their parents; and, al- 
though Huxley admitted that it might seem hard on Roman 


Catholics to have only the authorised version, he insisted 
that "they could not amend the Act of Parliament; their 
business was to administer it". The Catholic motion was de- 
feated, whereupon Huxley counter-attacked with a proposal 
"That in all elementary schools in which the Bible is read, a 
selection from the Bible, which shall have been submitted to 
and approved by this Board, shall be used for that purpose". 
He made it clear that his purpose was not a bowdlerising one 
"On the contrary, what we find in the Bible is a plain- 
spokenness . . . which in many cases I think ought to be 
imitated at the present day with very considerable advantage 
to morality" and he referred with approval to "the good 
old Biblical word 'harlot' ". But, he remarked, "I don't sup- 
pose that any sensible man will maintain that it is desirable to 
occupy the minds of young children with the laws of Leviti- 
cus"; and, more important, "there are, in the Hebrew Scrip- 
tures particularly, many statements to which men of science 
absolutely and entirely demur . . . and what you as honest 
men must grant, is this, that these tender children shall not be 
taught that which you do not yourselves believe". However, 
this the majority would not grant, and his motion was de- 

After the Board had ruled out both suggestions for revised 
Bibles, a month did not pass before Canon Cromwell * pro- 
posed that it should pay all or part of the fees of poor chil- 
dren attending church schools, and now the fat was in the 
fire. "Unless [my] ears deceive [me]", Huxley remarked, re- 
calling the Douai episode, "some of those members of the 
Board who cheered the assertion that the Act was opposed to 
denominational education were now to be heard supporting 
the amendment . . . [but] ... [I do] not wish to go into that 
now, because men's opinions might naturally change from 
time to time." He poured scorn on Canon Cromwell's tear- 
provoking picture of the poor widow who could not afford 

* John Gabriel Cromwell (c. 1824-1908), a member for Chelsea and Prin- 
cipal of the Anglican St ^Mark's College, who in his election campaign had 
pressed strongly for religious education in the Board Schools. 


school fees, and he sincerely hoped that no greater hardship 
would fall upon the widow whose case had been so pathetic- 
ally depicted than that of being obliged to send her child to 
one of the Board Schools. His vigorous attack on this pro- 
posal "for the outdoor relief of denominational education" 
had a marked effect, but Cromwell mustered 23 votes to 
Huxley's 20. 

Quickly laying a stymie by moving 'the previous question*, 
Huxley made it crystal clear that this was the point of no 

... if any motion of that kind became part of the regulations of the 
Board, he should personally and individually decline to take any share 
in carrying out conditions which he believed entirely unjust and so 
utterly opposed to what was expedient and what was right . , . and if 
such a scheme were carried out, he would undertake to raise a discussion 
on the case of every child. . . The time for compromise was over in 
this matter. ... He had done his best since he had been at the Board to 
work harmoniously: very often he had even violated his sense of what 
was right, for the purpose of enabling this Act to be carried into opera- 
tion ... he had . . . given his best support to the carrying of Mr. 
Smith's resolution but if he had imagined that the spirit of that 
resolution would have been so thoroughly and completely violated . . 
he would have done his best to vote against it. 

Nowhere else in these early records of School Board debates 
is there a speech so instinct with passion and determination 
as this; and, although Currie * and Rigg f urged the Board 
not to submit to Huxley's threat, the sectarians had seen the 
red light: fifteen abstained, but only a single member voted 
against 'the previous question'. 

Now began a marathon match in which Huxley stone- 
walled heroically against relays of bowlers. Canon Crom- 
well's April resolution was still being debated in October 
adjourned at 6 p.m. on the 25th, adjourned again at 6 p.m. 

* Sir Edmund Hay Currie (1834-1913), a member for Tower Hamlets. He 
was a wealthy nonconformist distiller and later became chairman of the East 
End's People's Palace. 

f James Harrison Rigg (1821-1909), a member for Westminster and Prin- 
cipal of the Wesleyan Westminster Training College. 


'There is nobody so hard to teach property 
and weft as people who know nothing about a subject (p. 139) 


7 always find that 1 acquire influence, generally more than I wan? (p. xxii) 


on the 26th, and at the same hour on the 27th, continued on 
the 30th, the 31st, and into the early days of November. 
Huxley declared that, if the proposal were passed, he would 
oppose any bye-law to make school attendance compulsory, 
because "he would never be a party to enabling the State to 
sweep the children of the country into denominational 
schools". Finally, on 4 November, he delivered a bitter attack 
on the Roman Church as an engine "carefully calculated for 
the destruction of all that was highest in the moral nature, in 
the intellectual freedom, and in the political freedom of man- 
kind", and proceeded with a majestic rebuke to the Church 
parties in general: 

There were some of them who had made great sacrifices for the sake 
of peace and for the sake of education. He himself had made a con- 
siderable sacrifice, which at the time he fondly hoped would be suffi- 
cient. ... He had hoped that the compromise would be reciprocal, but 
he could not say there had been any relaxation of those attempts to get 
back by any means possible, into the hands of the ecclesiastical parties 
in the country, that denominational education of which it was the whole 
purpose of the Act of Parliament to deprive them. 

Midway through the marathon, Manning wrote to Gladstone 
"Do not fail to read Huxley's speech. We shall have an Im- 
perial Parliament of little Britain if this goes on", and within 
a fortnight of this outburst Huxley was being pressed to stand 
for Parliament. This he refused to consider, but he had halted 
the wholesale subsidisation of denominational schools in 

Although it was the debates on religious education whose 
thunder reverberated across the land in 1871, the great work 
of the London School Board's first year was the planning of a 
comprehensive scheme of education. The Scheme of Educa- 
tion Committee (whose appointment was first suggested by 
Huxley at the Board's second meeting) was faced with an 
appalling educational position in the metropolis. Even the 
Home and Colonial School Society's 'model' infant school of 
200 pupils consisted mainly of a singje room divided by a 



made scathing play of the way in which the "ghost of the 
pious founder" came in the way of proposals such as his, but 
"When some great corporate body devotes its funds to the 
interests of a large and powerful section of society, and that 
section of society can make itself heard, the voice of the pious 
founder is completely lost in the din". When he ran into 
opposition from defenders of the status quo, he made the 
theological concession that "if Alderman Cotton * objected 
to his saying that the pious founder 'looked down' upon 
them, he was quite willing to say that the pious founder 
looked up' "; but he insisted that "those children who show 
ability and capacity in our schools have a legal and moral 
right to the better education which is afforded at present to 
the middle classes by the funds". Finally, strongly supported 
by Lucraft and others, he saw his motion agreed without a 
division and was even permitted to nominate the members of 
a committee of inquiry. 

The curricular recommendations of the Scheme of Educa- 
tion Committee ran into somewhat heavier weather than 
those establishing the stages of Infant, Junior, Senior and 
Evening Schools. In his initial speech suggesting the estab- 
lishment of the committee, Huxley had taken care to prepare 
the minds of any members who might be inclined to grudge 
Board School pupils anything like a liberal education and to 
warn them that he would not allow his ideas to be written off 
as unrealistic: 

This Board, like all educational bodies, has to steer between Scylla 
and Charybdis. There is the Scylla of teaching too little, and the Charyb- 
dis of teaching too much, and the great practical problem of education, 
here, as elsewhere, is to avoid both rocks. We have had before us already 
for some time in this country, a very excellent example of Scylla. I mean 
the system of trying to teach too little by the Revised Code, which pro- 
duces instruction in the tools of learning and denies any fragment of 
real knowledge or information when you have got the tools. It is a sort 

* William James Richmond Cotton (1822-1902), a member for the City and 
later Lord Mayor of London. Although in some ways reactionary, he had an 
independent mind and a strength of character which made him a valuable 
member of the Board. 


of system which might be described as the teaching a carpenter to go 
through the motion of the saw and plane, yet never let him have wood 
to work upon with either (laughter). I am not at all sure that some 
members of the Board may not think that I am about to furnish them 
with an example of Charybdis by proposing to teach too much. But I 
will endeavour . . . [not to exceed] ... the narrow limits of that which 
is practicable. 

Anticipating objections to the introduction of music and 
drawing and science, he remarked, "people tell me, 'You 
might just as well teach them Hebrew'. Why, they are taught 
Hebrew at present and taught exceedingly well, too ... in 
the East of London"; and, quoting from a German school 
curriculum, he denied that the young London child was one 
whit stupider, or less capable of improvement, or one particle 
less open to these higher studies than the little peasants who 
ran about Wiirtemburg. 

Later, when he came to present his committee's report, 
Huxley was unable to defeat an amendment by Canon Crom- 
well which removed Latin from the list of 'discretionary' sub- 
jects that Senior Schools might teach; but when it came to 
music, which he regarded as "one of the most civilising and 
enlightening influences which a child can be brought under", 
he was adamant. One member moved that music teaching 
should be purely vocal, since "otherwise they might have the 
piano taught, and he ventured to think that no practical man 
would propose anything so absurd" : Huxley replied, to much 
laughter, that in fact "they did not intend to teach the piano 
any more than the harp, the sackbut, or the psaltry", but he 
succeeded in keeping the door open for the teaching of in- 
strumental music. Urging similarly that as broad an inter- 
pretation as possible should be given to the term 'drill* 
< (which he explained, was used because some members had 
considered his original term 'physical training' too grand), 
that elementary science should include local geography, that 
the frequent use of corporal punishment was a mark of in- 
competency and that there should be regulations restricting its 


use, at every point Huxley spoke for liberality in the educa- 
tion of the children of the poor. Spalding did not exaggerate 
when he stated that "This committee, presided over by the 
late Professor Huxley, rendered signal service to the cause of 
education in London, and through London, by example, to 
the country generally. Its report created a revolution in educa- 
tional ideals". 

Reading through these early papers of the London School 
Board, one is repeatedly impressed by the way in which 
Huxley seems to have dominated the proceedings; and it is 
clear that he indulged in no idle boast when telling Michael 
Foster "I ... bore the brunt of the battles when the policy of 
the Board was being settled until the beginning of 1872 when 
as you know I collapsed". Apart from the two major matters 
of religious instruction and the scheme of education, he seems 
to have been involved during the first year in every other issue 
of importance. He largely prevented the exclusion from Lon- 
don's schools of the inspectors of the Education Department, 
who, some members feared, might be apt to have fancy 
notions about cubic space and fresh air and the hygienic 
standards of the schools generally. He strongly supported 
Mee * in his (unsuccessful) attempt to establish a pension 
scheme for teachers, realistically remarking "It was very well 
to say men ought to make provision for themselves, and so 
they ought; but very often they did not, especially when they 
had families and their incomes were of moderate character". 
He stood for the professional independence of the teacher, 
opposing a suggestion that Board members be entitled to 
enter the schools and declaring that they "could not be 
allowed to come in and set the authority of the teacher at 
defiance". Further, it was on his proposal that two inquiries 
were set on foot "in reference to the mode of teaching and 
the training of teachers"; he was one of the deputation 
appointed to discuss proposed regulations with the Vice- 

* John Mee (1824-1883), a member for Southwark and formerly Secretary 
of the Church Missionary Society. As Vicar of St Jude's he did excellent work 
for the poor of London, 


President of the Committee of Council; he was one of those 
charged with the selection of books and apparatus for the 
schools; he was a member of the Works and General Pur- 
poses Committee and the Statistics Committee and the School 
Management Committee and the Divisional Committee for 
Marylebone. It comes as no surprise to turn to the memoran- 
dum which the London School Board later produced, outlin- 
ing its work during the first three years of its existence, and 
there to find that only one member, Professor Huxley, is 
mentioned by name. 

How, one is forced to ask, did this happen? How did a man 
who had been so anathematised establish leadership of a 
Board so largely composed of churchmen? And how did such 
a busy person manage, in the brief fourteen months before 
his health broke down, to get on to the Minute Book of the 
London School Board resolutions in favour of practically 
everything which he had declared should be done? 

Largely, no doubt, by his incredible capacity for work. 
During the election campaign it had been suggested in The 
Times that, while he was qualified in every sense of the word 
but that of leisure, he could scarcely be expected to find time 
for the onerous duties which Board membership would 
involve; but his working ability had been underestimated. 
Apart from the holiday period he missed not a single Board 
meeting until finally he fell ill, he attended altogether some 
170 meetings of the Board and its committees during the 
year, he paid visits to various schools in the metropolis, and 
he even went to Liverpool's Myrtle Street Gymnasium to see 
how physical education could be given to children. No won- 
der that, writing to Anton Dohrn on 3 January 1872, he re- 
marked "I am somewhat *erfcrankf . . . . Unwillingly, I begin 
to suspect that I overworked myself last year'* nor that, in 
the front of his 1872 diary, Mrs Huxley wrote the injunction 
"First consideration. Take care of my precious husband & not 
overwork him". 

Partly the explanation of Huxley's success lies in his genius 


for lobbying and string-pulling: his diaries for 1870 and 1871 
shew that he met privately some of the key witnesses called to 
the Scheme of Education Committee, and visited Elizabeth 
Garrett Anderson at her home, and had appointments with 
Chatfield Clarke and other Board members, and engaged to 
meet Manning and more than once to visit Westminster 
Palace and it would be surprising if he did not use these 
occasions to smooth the way for his School Board plans. 
Doubtless he was helped by his eloquence and clarity and his 
gift of wit and repartee. Yet, in the last resort, it was his 
statesmanship and charm of character and transparent sin- 
cerity which enabled him to do what he did. 

But even Huxley could not go on for ever at this pace, and 
early in the New Year he had to tell Lord Lawrence * that 
his physician had ordered complete rest: 

I am told, & have every reason to hope, that I shall be quite well 
again in a short time; but I have now experimentally determined the 
limits of my powers of work, . . And, under the circumstances the only 
course open to me is to place my resignation in your hands. I cannot 
take this step however without expressing my deep regret, that it is no 
longer in my power to co-operate with the colleagues whose laborious 
devotion to their great task has filled me with admiration. 

Lawrence was reluctant to accept the resignation and said 
that he would not place it before the Board without waiting to 
see what rest and change would do, but Huxley insisted on his 
letters going forward. On 7 February 1872, when Huxley was 
already convalescing in Cairo, his resignation from the first 
London School Board was accepted. 

The expressions of regret with which his fellow members 
received the news ring absolutely true. Dr Rigg referred 
warmly to "his great fairness and impartiality with regard to 
all subjects that came under his observation" ; Canon Miller,f 
although "diflFering toto caelo from Professor Huxley in many 

* Sir John Laird Mair Lawrence, 1st Baron (1811-1879), a member for 
Chelsea and first Chairman of the London School Board. He is perhaps best 
remembered as Viceroy and Governor-General of India. 

t John Cale Miller (1814-1880), a member for and Vicar of Greenwich. 


most important matters", nevertheless could not help saying 
that he had aroused his admiration by his general deportment 
at the Board; Charles Reed * thought "the Board might con- 
gratulate itself that at any rate for one year they had had the 
advantages of his services, and that Professor Huxley had left 
his mark upon the education of the country". Benjamin 
Waugh was impressed by "his consideration for intellectual 
inferiors. . . . 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 re- 
sult 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". And Waugh was not the only one 
who, despite initial prejudice against Huxley, "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". 

Since his fellow members were men big enough to collabor- 
ate with this agnostic tornado of energy which had appeared 
among them, the London School Board was able in little 
more than a year to set the shape of English elementary 
education for three-quarters of a century to come. Much later 
Huxley was to write "I am glad to think that, after all these 
years, I can look back upon that period of my life as perhaps 
the part of it least wasted". 

* Sir Charles Reed (1819-1881), the nonconformist philanthropist, whose 
printing firm became very affluent. A staunch Liberal in politics, and MP for 
Hackney, he became Chairman of the School Board in 1873. 


Schools of the Upper Classes 

Scientific knowledge is spreading by what the alchemists 
called a "distillatio per ascensum"; and nothing can now pre- 
vent it from continuing to distil upwards and permeate English 
society, until, in the remote future, there shall be no member 
of the legislature who does not know as much of science as an 
elementary schoolboy. 

Address to Working Men's Club and Institute Union, 

1 December 1877 

IN THE SECOND half of the nineteenth century, when for the 
first time England was establishing a system of elementary 
education for the children of the poor, the schools which 
catered for the upper classes were setting about the reform of 
their regimen and curriculum. In earlier times, the ancient 
public schools had included pupils from a wide range of 
society and had provided an education not unworthy of their 
origins, but they had been brought nearly to extinction by 
their harsh discipline and appalling hygiene and lax morality. 
Dr Arnold and his disciples had transformed the ethos of the 
public school during the second quarter of the century, but 
the curriculum was still out of touch with reality. England's 
expanding economy, moreover, was widening the gap between 
master and man, and the newly wealthy industrialist was as 
anxious as the landed aristocrat to see his son taken through a 
classical curriculum which had become above all a mark of 
social distinction. In 1 850 the public schools were the preserve 



of the wealthy and the stronghold of educational traditional- 
ism, and even the newer proprietary schools set their faces 
against whatever might appear basely mechanical. 

Here and there a few traces survived of the eighteenth- 
century dissenting academies where eminent scientists like 
Priestley had taught, and Mill Hill was teaching astronomy 
and chemistry in 1820, but in general the mid-century adult 
was quite ignorant of science. Huxley had to be assured that 
Tennyson was not joking .when he inquired whether the 
ascent of sap in plants did not disprove the law of gravitation, 
and those responsible for selecting school texts in 1870 could 
approve one which declared that "the fly keeps the warm air 
pure and wholesome by its swift and zig-zag flight". Not 
everyone was content with this state of affairs, and from its 
foundation in 1835 the High School of the Liverpool Mecha- 
nics Institution employed a full-time 'Philosophical Master* 
and gave several hours* science each week to every class ; but 
in most places a boy like Martin, with a passion for natural 
history and experiment, would still have been as much of an 
oddity in the 1850s as he was in Tom Brown's schooldays. 

Not even the public schools, however, could remain in- 
definitely indifferent to new ideas, and a turning-point came 
on 23 April 1861 when Grant Duff asked in the House of Com- 
mons for a commission of inquiry. Three years later the 
Clarendon Commission recommended that natural science 
should be taught in the public schools, and in the following 
May the House of Lords set up a Select Committee to con- 
sider a proposed Public Schools Bill. It was not long before 
Lord Wrottesley * was seeking Huxley's advice, and in par- 
ticular his reply to three questions : 

1. In what branches of Physical Science should instruction be given 
in our public Schools, & what branches, if any, should be excluded? 

2. In what manner should that instruction be imparted? Should 

* Sir John Wrottesley, 2nd Baron (1798-1867), an amateur astronomer of 
some distinction, who was an active member of the Society for the Diffusion 
of Useful Knowledge and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee of the 
British Association. 


there be periodical Examinations of the Pupils, & prizes for proficiency, 
& by whom should such examinations be conducted & such prizes 

3. Should instruction in Science be made imperative by positive En- 
actment, & if not in what mode should it be promoted & encouraged 
by the Legislature? 

Huxley, like the other scientists who were approached, natur- 
ally enough answered the first question in the affirmative, but 
his arguments were more interesting than most. For any study 
to be regarded as an essential element in education, he sug- 
gested, it must be shewn to furnish either indispensable means 
for the acquirement of knowledge (as with reading and writ- 
ing), or mental discipline of a kind not to be attained other- 
wise (the common claim for the classics), or information of 
paramount practical or speculative importance (as may be 
gained from history, geography, morality and theology). But, 
he urged, "The need for scientific education is demonstrable 
by cogent arguments belonging to all three classes", and espe- 
cially he advocated the teaching of physics and human physio- 
logy. "I am sure**, he continued, "that the great aim should 
be to teach only so much science as can be taught thoroughly ; 
and to ground in principles and methods rather than attempt 
to cover a large surface of details." As to the manner of in- 
struction, he made his usual plea for practical study and the 
avoidance of sham verbalism, and to test this he would have 
the pupils examined by a board constituted from the univer- 
sities. Finally, he declared, although as a matter of abstract 
principle he disliked State interference, "in the actual con- 
dition of the nation ... I cannot doubt the wisdom and jus- 
tice of enforcing the teaching of science upon the public 
schools by positive enactment". 

Pending, and not very much expecting, such positive enact- 
ment, the reformers set about securing support for their 
views. In the autumn of 1865 Huxley discussed with Farrar, 
then teaching at Harrow, the formation of a small committee 
of scientists and teachers, to produce a report which would 


thoroughly arouse public opinion. "This is the main object 
wh. the Committee wd. accomplish;'* wrote Farrar, "& it is 
almost the only practical way of working on the minds of 
Head Masters/ 5 So, when the British Association met at 
Nottingham in 1866, Huxley opened up the subject by lament- 
ing excessive specialisation among scientists and tracing it to 
the lack of adequate general scientific education in the 
school. Farrar followed with a paper on science teaching, 
and a committee was appointed to report on the best means 
of promoting scientific education. 

The members including Tyndall and J. M. Wilson * met 
frequently, dining sometimes with Farrar at Harrow and 
sometimes with Huxley in Marylebone, and they seem to have 
worked amicably and well. True, Huxley did at one point 
gravely object that a draft statement, that "reform in educa- 
tion must begin from above", might seem to commit htm to 
theological views which he was not prepared to accept, but 
badinage of this sort acted only as a stimulant to the com- 
mittee's deliberations. Its report, adopted at the Association's 
Dundee meeting in 1867 ajid presented to the Lord President 
of the Council, aroused immense interest on its publication 
and was a milestone in the promotion of science teaching in 
England. Education in natural science was justified not only 
on the grounds of utility and mental training, but also because 
many boys found it interesting and stimulating, because it 
provided an additional intellectual pleasure for adult life, and 
because the whole thought of the age had become so impreg- 
nated with science that a man was not ftlly educated without 
it. Before the year ended there also appeared the celebrated 
volume of Essays on a Liberal Education, and the scientific 
movement was rapidly gathering momentum. It was at this 
time that Huxley agreed to give a talk to the Natural History 
Society of Harrow School, andhe wrote to Farrar encouraging 

* James Maurice Wilson (1836-1931), at this time a teacher at Rugby and 
later Headmaster of Clifton. In 1890 he became Archdeacon of Manchester 
and later Canon of Worcester. 


him to continue his efforts at curricular reform. But with the 
encouragement came a striking warning: 

Do not despair. You are in the thick of the educational fight and 
must needs feel the struggle more clearly than you can see the inch by 
inch gain of ground But you may depend on it victory is on your side 
We or our sons shall live to see all the stupidity in favour of Science 
& I am not sure that that will not be harder to bear than the present 
state of things. 

Meanwhile, discontent with the public schools had been 
sharpened by the 1864 report of the Clarendon Commission, 
and many groups of forward-looking citizens set about the 
establishment of educational institutions with fewer cultural 
and domestic deficiencies. Of these, one of the most intriguing 
was the International College at Spring Grove. If today it 
were proposed to found boarding schools in different coun- 
tries, with similar curricula and methods of teaching so that 
their pupils might migrate from one to another and thus 
acquire linguistic fluency and an international outlook with- 
out disrupting their studies, what charges of Utopianism 
might not be made! Yet, nearly a century ago, such a plan 
was propounded and national committees formed and schools 
actually started. Those at Chatou near Paris and Godesburg 
near Bonn presumably came to an end with the Franco- 
Prussian war, but the London school, of which Huxley was a 
governor, flourished for more than twenty years. 

The scheme originated with a committee, appointed by the 
commissioners of the Paris Universal Exhibition to award 
prizes for essays on the advantages of educating together 
children of different nationalities, and in England the idea was 
taken up by Cobden and his supporters. When Cobden died 
in 1865 his place as chairman of the International Education 
Society was taken by A. W. Paulton, a political journalist who 
had been educated for the Roman priesthood but instead be- 
came a lecturer for the Anti-Corn Law League, and the pro- 
moters went ahead undeterred by criticism that the plan 
would weaken the development of national character. Apart 


from Paulton and Huxley, the governing body included Tyn- 
dall, William Ewart the progressive Liverpool politician, Wil- 
liam Smith the translator of Fichte, W. B. Hodgson the for- 
mer Principal of the Liverpool Mechanics' Institute School, 
and M. Octave Delapierre the Belgian Consul. Huxley sought 
to secure the support of John Stuart Mill, but the 'saint of 
rationalism' did not see how, with his opinions, he could 
publicly associate himself with a school which would include 
theology among its subjects of study. The apostle of agnos- 
ticism, however, never one to worry about guilt by associa- 
tion, continued to give the scheme his active aid. 

The International College opened in temporary premises in 
Isleworth in 1866, William Ellis * advanced a large part of 
the money needed to purchase land and erect a permanent 
building, an eight-acre site in fashionable Spring Grove was 
approved on sanitary grounds by the Queen's physician, and 
on 10 July 1867 came the grand ceremonial opening. A 
large engraving in The Illustrated London News portrays great 
flagpoles bearing the banners of the nations, an enormous 
maiquee presumably for refreshments, and a politely cheering 
crowd of the well dressed and well fed. At one o'clock the 
Prince of Wales arrived in a magnificent coach-and-four with 
police outriders, a gun was fired and the royal standard 
hoisted, and with a silver spade the Prince planted a Welling- 
tonia gigantea. So, with rich supporters and royal patronage, 
with the Prince's old tutor Dr Schmitzf as its first Head- 
master and eighty pupils in residence in its first term, the 
International College at Spring Grove got off to a flying 

"Unfettered by traditional usages," an impressive adver- 
tisement in The Times announced, "this college, while 

* William Ellis (1800-1881), who amassed a fortune as a marine under- 
writer and founded at his own expense five schools which he named after 
George Birkbeck. He is commemorated by the school of his name in North 

f Leonhard Schmitz (1807-1890), born at Aix-Ia-Chapelle and educated 
partly at Bonn, who was known as a disciple of Niebuhr. He was Rector of 
the Edinburgh High School before taking up his post at Spring Grove. 


preserving what is good in the older institutions, assigns a 
prominent place in its curriculum to subjects of the utmost im- 
portance in our time, viz., modern languages and the natural 
sciences." The work in languages seems to have been admir- 
able, the pupils discoursing at an open day not only in Latin 
and Greek but also in French, German and Italian, but the 
headmaster was apparently reluctant to give science all the 
school time which Huxley would have wished. However, fol- 
lowing several meetings of the College Council during the 
summer of 1867, Huxley and Tyndall were invited to draw up 
a scheme for science teaching, and the former produced a 
most interesting plan. 

Hie first class of eleven-year-olds was to spend three hours 
per week on "the most elementary truths of Astronomy, Geo- 
logy, Physical Geography, Meteorology & Natural History", 
largely in the form of object lessons; in the second year there 
was to be instruction in elementary physics and botany, "the 
teaching in the former case to be thoroughly experimental; 
and in the latter to be based upon the actual observation & 
working out by each scholar of the parts of common plants" ; 
the third year was to start with elementary chemistry "with 
as much experimental illustrative practical work as possible", 
and then continue with elementary human physiology "illus- 
trated by demonstrations upon animal structures"; in the 
fourth year the pupils were to take more advanced experi- 
mental physics and begin the study of social science. "After 
passing through this preparatory course which should be 
obligatory upon all scholars," Huxley continued, "option 
may be given according to the necessities of the administra- 
tion of the College or to the special gifts & proclivities of the 
pupil", and he proposed four alternative science courses for 
the remaining three years. One of the options was to be in 
mathematical physics, mechanics, astronomy, crystallo- 
graphy and the use of physical instruments; one in advanced 
chemistry including qualitative analysis; one in zoology, 
general physiology and "the Natural History of man up to 


the point at which Ethnology & Archaeology touch History" ; 
and the last in advanced social science including the theory of 
commerce, law and government. For Tyndall, apparently, 
Huxley's conception of science teaching was too wide, and he 
objected to the inclusion of some of the social science. His 
own proposal, for a logical progression from 'Observational 
Science' to 'Classificatory Science* and finally to 'Inductive 
Science', indicates how much more he knew of the theoretical 
shape of scientific method than of the development of chil- 
dren's interests and the nature of the teaching process. 

The extent to which the school managed to achieve its 
internationalist aim is surprising. The boys must have come 
from wealthy homes (the school fees were higher than those 
of Clifton or Lancing or Giggleswick), but they were not 
restricted by nationality or religion or race. In the early 1870s 
the pupils included French, Germans, Spaniards, Portuguese, 
Indians and North and South Americans, and one pupil re- 
membered "raw Brazilians, Chilians, Nicaraguans and what 
not . . . [and] ... a negro from Bermuda, a giant of a fellow, 
who raged over the ground like a goaded bull". This mixed 
bag of young men, some of them used to settling quarrels by 
means of a knife, must have been hard to handle, and a local 
news-sheet records one occasion of open rebellion: 

For some reason doubtless a proper onethe Principal of the 
International College, Spring Grove, deemed it necessary to stop cer- 
tain holiday privileges to the pupils. A deputation to the gentleman, 
headed by the son of a well-known literary man, failed to get a rescind 
of the terrible denial: and hence a feeling of supposed injustice and ill- 
advised insubordination. Forming among themselves a Council of Re- 
sistance, the boys proceeded to purchase provisions in the shape of 
hams, preserved meats, bread, biscuits, jams, sweets, tobacco, &c., 
wherewith to stand the discomfort of a self-imposed siege. A portion of 
this had been smuggled into the rooms of the College, the remainder 
being granaried at a "public" somewhere hi the neighbourhood, to be 
delivered by ropes let down at night-time, as the wants of the garrison 
should demand. On the Saturday evening, a tumbling noise overhead 
awoke the officials to something unusual. Upon going to ascertain the 
cause it was found that the boys had barricaded the doors with chests 


of drawers and bedding, taking the dormitory-doors from their hinges, 
and adding them by means of long screws, making admission impossible 
without the use of great force. In vain they were asked tp surrender. 
The Principal was sent for, but could do nothing. A much-loved under- 
master's appeal did not alter their determination. As a last resort, on 
Sunday morning, the aid of the police was sought, and they made short 
work of the mutineers. Bursting in the doors, they were assailed by 
brandy-balls from many a catapult! but the Helmet-and-Blue-cloth of 
law and order quickly brought surrender and subjection. A drum-head 
school-martial proclaimed the dread sentence of expulsion to ten of the 
offenders, who were considered principals in the fitful fray a severe 
punishment, but a lesson that will stand as a terrible menace to the 

The incident, fortunately, does not seem to have interfered 
unduly with the progress of the College in 1871 an addi- 
tional wing and gymnasium brought the expenditure on 
buildings to 42,000 and soon the boys had the rare luxury of 
baths with hot and cold water and as late as 1887 it was 
apparently flourishing with a staff of fourteen masters. Two 
years later, however, the premises were sold to Borough Road 
Training College, and all trace of this fascinating international 
venture is lost. 

Meanwhile, the reform of the older schools of England had 
been proceeding apace. Already in the 1860s the City of Lon- 
don School was teaching a good deal of chemistry, Wilson at 
Rugby and Farrar at Harrow had some success in converting 
their colleagues, and in 1873 the Headmaster's Conference re- 
solved at Winchester "That it is desirable that Natural 
Science should form part of the curriculum of all first grade 
schools' 5 . Eton had felt sufficiently secure to ignore much of 
the criticism which came from The Cornhitt and The Edin- 
burgh Review in 1860 and 1861, but the Public Schools Act of 
1868 produced a new constitution which gave one seat on its 
governing body to a nominee of the Royal Society, and this 
seat Huxley occupied on 13 May 1879. 

The Headmaster of Eton at that time was Hornby,* who 

* James John Hornby (1826-1909), the first Oppidan and Oxonian to be 
appointed to that very lucrative post for many generations. 


had been appointed in 1 868 with the intention that he should 
initiate reform. The mainly classical masters, however, put up 
stubborn opposition to all efforts at substantial change, and 
by the time Huxley arrived at Eton Hornby had largely given 
up the struggle. A critical Assistant described his Head as 
"Hornby the Hermit', and asserted that in his time at the 
school "taking to drink was a much less serious offence than 
taking to think 9 *, but that is an exaggeration. Outside the 
regular school work there were many opportunities for boys 
to follow their own intellectual interests, and some teachers 
did a great deal to develop the minds of their pupils. The 
housemasters were still fighting against the attempt to bring 
them under closer control by the Headmaster, and Huxley 
told his son that the whole system of paying the Eton masters 
by the profits of their boarding houses was to his mind detest- 
able. He recognised, however, that the system could not at 
that time be altered, and concentrated his efforts on the re- 
form of the curriculum. 

The reports of the Devonshire Commission during the 
1870s had penetrated even to Windsor, and Huxley had been 
making some moves even before he became a Fellow. Prob- 
ably a pupil of the time was wrong in his impression that the 
introduction of science teaching was on Huxley's advice, and 
a master may be mistaken in believing that it was he who 
persuaded the school to teach biology, but certainly Oscar 
Browning * invited him some time before 1875 to give a talk 
to the boys in his House. Then, in 1878, the Chairman read 
to the governing body a letter from Huxley on the subject of 
science teaching and a report was requested on the best means 
of adapting rooms to that purpose. It is not surprising, there- 
fore, that at his second meeting as governor Huxley was asked 
to inquire with the Bursar into an application by some of 
the masters for scientific instruments, and it is, clear that he 

* Oscar Browning (1837-1923), whose vigorous but not always diplomatic 
endeavours to reform Eton led to his dismissal in 1875. A fine scholar, here- 
turned to teach at Cambridge, where he became Principal of the University 
Day Training College. 


interpreted the remit widely. The next meeting received a 
general account of the school's facilities for science teaching: 

Professor Huxley reported that he had been over the Buildings in 
which science was taught. He considered the accommodation in the 
Chemical Laboratory Theatre and so forth good and the Museum 
handy excellent and useful but the Sheds were simply discreditable they 
could not be looked on with respect and threw a slur on the Teaching 
they were not well contrived utterly inconvenient and unfit and the 
Fittings he condemned The Governing Body left it to Professor Huxley 
to Report on the Requirements to the next meeting. 

Within three months Huxley was ready not only with a state- 
ment of requirements but also with a rough estimate of cost, 
which he thought would be about 3000 apart from the site, 
and the governors agreed to go ahead with the building of a 
new science block. By the May of 1880 the Bursar had plans 
and drawings ready, it was resolved "That the Plans be 
adopted and the work commenced without loss of time", and 
'Huxley's Folly' was on its way to erection. It was at this 
same meeting of the governing body that annual prizes were 
instituted for biology, and three meetings later the expendi- 
ture of 300 on cabinets and specimens and apparatus was 
approved. Within another three years it was resolved that 
natural science should be placed on the same footing as 
classics and mathematics in the examinations for scholarships 
to the sister foundation at Cambridge, and Huxley could well 
be pleased with the changes which had taken place at Eton 
during the first five years of his governorship. 

At Eton as on the London School Board, however, he was 
not concerned solely with science. He was one of a committee 
appointed by the governing body in 1882 "to obtain informa- 
tion from other Schools as to the Rules or practice which they 
may have adopted for the instruction of Boys in Music and 
Drawing", and individually he was asked to obtain further 
information about drawing from South Kensington and else- 
where. The Headmaster opposed, on the grounds that it 
would interfere with existing school work, the committee's 


proposal that all boys should in their first or second year 
devote up to two hours a week to drawing, but the committee 
got its way. As to music, however, it was decided "that it 
would not be expedient at present to make further addition to 
the regular Studies of the School". 

Now a more important issue arose : Hornby was appointed 
Provost, and it became necessary to elect a new Headmaster. 
The favourite candidate was Warre,* but a group of progres- 
sives campaigned for Welldon,t and Huxley was deeply con- 
cerned for the outcome. "I look to the new appointment with 
great anxiety", he told his son. "It will make or mar Eton. If 
the new Headmaster has the capacity to grasp the fact that 
the world has altered a good deal since the Eton system was 
invented, and if he has the sense to adapt Eton to the new 
state of things, without letting go that which was good in the 
old system, Eton may become the finest public school in the 
country. If on the contrary he is merely a vigorous representa- 
tive of the old system pure and simple, the school will go to 
the dogs. I think it not unlikely that there may be a battle in 
the Governing Body over the business, and that I shall be on 
the losing side. But I am used to that, and shall do what I 
think right nevertheless." He travelled up to Windsor for the 
two meetings which settled the matter and, although the 
Minutes disclose no details, it would be surprising if he were 
not one of the two unnamed Fellows who voted against 
Warre's appointment 

Whether because he had no faith in the new Headmaster, 
or merely on account of failing health, Huxley's attendance at 
meetings now became irregular. In 1888 he resigned from 
Eton's governing body, where, as a fellow-governor put it, he 
had "stoutly advocated the claims of natural science . . . but 

* Edmond Warre (1837-1920), a Scholar of Balliol and Fellow of All Souls, 
who is often ranked as one of the three or four greatest Headmasters of Eton. 
It was in his time that sport came to reign at Eton. 

t James Edward Cowel! Wdldon (1854-1937), successively Fellow of 
King's, Headmaster of Dulwich and then Harrow, Bishop of Calcutta, Dean 
of Manchester and Dean of Durham. He had an infectious personality and 
made a great impact on Harrow from 1885 to 1898. 


earned general respect, as he always did, by the fairness and 
moderation of his practical views". He had found the public 
and private schools of England a less favourable field for his 
peculiar talents than the elementary schools established under 
democratic control, and perhaps he did not care passionately 
enough about them to make any major impact. But, if we still 
have legislators who know less of science than an elementary 
schoolboy, it is not for want of effort on Huxley's part. 


The Older Universities of 

It is as well for me that I expect nothing from Oxford or Cam- 
bridge, having burned my ships as far as they were concerned 
long ago. 

Letter to John Tyndatt, 22 July 1874 

HUXLEY RATHER ENJOYED the feeling of being an outsider 
(or, rather, he found pleasure in claiming to be one), and 
certainly it would not have been surprising had Oxford and 
Cambridge kept him at arm's length. Both universities were 
governed academically and socially by what Robert Lowe 
once called "a clerical gerontocracy", and there was a good 
deal of truth in Huxley's jibe that they were "half clerical 
seminaries, half racecourses, where men are trained to win a 
senior wranglership, or a double first, as horses are trained to 
win a cup**. Another side of university life was not unfairly 
characterised by his ironic reference to "the host of pleasant, 
moneyed, well-bred young gentlemen, who do a little learning 
and much boating by Cam and Isis", but things were chang- 
ing rather rapidly. In Huxley's childhood days there had been 
a revival of interest in serious learning, and during his early 
manhood the younger dons who favoured reform were moving 
slowly into positions of power. By the time Huxley was well 
established in his first academic post at Jermyn Street, the idea 
of a university had been given classic shape by Newman in his 



Dublin discourses, the Natural Sciences Tripos had been in- 
stituted at Cambridge, and the first Royal Commissions on 
the ancient universities had started their investigations. 

An early outcome of the Oxford Commission was the 
foundation of the Linacre Chair of Physiology, and his 
friends suggested that Huxley should put in for it. "Such a 
position," he told Fumivall,* "yielding income enough to 
render extra work unnecessary and allowing plenty of leisure 
for the pursuit of original investigation is of all things that 
which I most covet. . . . Here I am worked to death for a 
pittance." But already he had theological doubts, and he was 
never one to give verbal assent whilst making mental reserva- 
tion. Although brought up in the Church, he explained, he 
was no churchman; and, despite the wide variation of mean- 
ing which attached to the word 'believer*, he was not inclined 
to claim that description for himself. It might be, he admitted, 
that with the passage of time his doubts would clear up, but 
he could pledge himself to nothing. Therefore, he asked Fur- 
nivall, "Will you ascertain for me whether what I have just 
said is consistent or inconsistent with the understanding upon 
which an honest man could become a professor at Oxford? 
If it is I will go in for the Chair at once if not I must give up 
all thought of it". Debarred from the Linacre Chair by his 
own integrity, Huxley promoted the candidature of Rolles- 
ton,f and his man defeated the nominee of the mighty Sir 
Richard Owen. "I shall set to work", Rolleston promised Hux- 
ley after receiving the good news, "so as never to give you 
cause to regret the share you have had in my promotion." 
It was not long before the new professor was consulting 
Huxley about the conduct of university examinations, and 

* Frederick James Fumivall (1825-1915), who took part in the Christian 
Socialist movement and helped to found the Working Men's College. He later 
became an outspoken agnostic and offended many by his frankness. He is best 
remembered as the founder of the Early English Text Society, the Chaucer 
Society, the Ballad Society, the New Shakspere Society and the Browning 

t George Rolleston (1829-1881), a physician of vast knowledge but diffuse 
thought, who had practised at the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond 
Street before going to Oxford. 


under his influence the 'type system* of zoological study was 

Two years after Rolleston's appointment at Oxford, Hux- 
ley visited Cambridge for the 1862 meetings of the British 
Association. He stayed at Trinity Hall as the guest of Faw- 
cett * and, while there, took the opportunity of founding a 
"Society for the propagation of honesty in all parts of the 
world". This Thorough Club', so named because its object 
was the promotion of a thorough and earnest search after 
scientific truth, seems to have been short-lived, but it served 
for a while as a useful link between the forward-looking 
younger men of science. Four years later Cambridge's Pro- 
fessor of Anatomy was writing "Any time you could spare a 
day we should be delighted to see you & show you the pro- 
gress we are making the answer to the question you put at 
the "Thorough' dinner here 'What are the universities doing 
for science?' '* 

But, despite partial reforms following the first Royal Com- 
missions, there were some at Oxford and Cambridge who 
wanted more fundamental changes, among them Mark Patti- 
son f and Goldwin Smith.} The former complained that the 
university had renounced her high vocation to take up the 
easier business of school keeping, and was operating as "a 
spiritual police to maintain an arbitrary juste milieu of Church 
government and doctrine"; the latter said that the profes- 
soriate had fallen into decay and spoke scathingly of "the 

* Henry Fawcett (1833-1884), Professor of Political Economy from 1863 to 
his death. Despite blindness from a shooting accident in 1858, he took an 
active part in many movements of reform, and as MP for Brighton fought 
strongly for the abolition of religious tests in the universities. 

t Mark Pattison (1813-1884), an erstwhile follower of Newman and Pusey, 
who had abandoned the High Church party and become heterodox in theol- 
ogy. In 1861 he became Rector of Lincoln College, and over many years wrote 
vigorously on educational matters. 

J Goldwin Smith (1823-1910), who became a Fellow of University College 
in 1846 and Regius Professor of Modern History in 1858. He took a most 
active part in public affairs, serving as Joint Secretary of the 1850 Royal Com- 
mission on Oxford and the subsequently appointed Statutory Commissioners, 
and as a member of the 1858 Newcastle Commission on elementary education. 
In 1866 he migrated to the USA to a Chair at Cornell, and thereafter went to 


conjoint operation of celibacy, clericalism and sinecurism". 
Pattison in particular disliked the dominance of the colleges 
over the university and the resulting concentration on the 
tutorial system, and the example of the German universities 
led some of the reformers to advocate a reversal which would 
put the professors in power and unseat the tutors. Huxley, 
however, was not blinded to the essential virtues of the 
tutorial system by its accidental excesses, and he told the 1868 
Select Committee on Scientific Instruction that a major defect 
in his own School of Mines was its entire dependence on the 
professorial system. "Both of these systems ought to be com- 
bined in any completely organised course of instruction", he 

Superficially, it would seem unlikely that there should be 
much in common between the Darwinian who invented the 
word Agnostic and the Tractarian who ended as a Cardinal 
of the Roman Church, but there is a quite marked resemb- 
lance between Huxley's views on university education and 
those of Newman. Certainly Newman's essentially aristocratic 
outlook was totally alien to Huxley, who would have opened 
the universities to poor scholars not as a charitable conces- 
sion but as a social and moral right, and on the fundamental 
issue of the Church's regency over education they were poles 
apart. But, while they were both children of England in her 
heyday, alike proud of their Englishness and even somewhat 
insular in it, each had a high regard for traditional values 
going back to the days when Europe was a cultural unity. 
Both men had a love of exact scholarship which made them 
suspicious of the tendency to overload curricula to the point 
of rendering study superficial, and yet each had a universal 
respect for learning which made him reluctant to admit spe- 
cialisation to the point of narrowness. Both had a passionate 
regard for truth and intellectual integrity combined with a 
contempt for all merely human authority, both were haunted 
by a feeling tijat the universe was more complex than nine- 
teenth-century materialism implied. "J.H.N. was simply a 


sceptic who backed out of it", remarked Leslie Stephen; 
"Somewhere in Professor Huxley lurks the mystic whose ears 
are open to the spiritual world", noted The Quarterly Review. 
Perhaps it is not surprising that, although Huxley saw more 
clearly than Newman how the university could be adapted to 
the modern world, their educational ideas were more similar 
than is commonly recognised. 

To each the university was, above all, the coping-stone of 
the nation's system of education, and not simply an academy 
of manners for the wealthy or a rich store of sinecures for the 
scholarly. "University education", Huxley declared at Balti- 
more, "should not be something distinct from elementary 
education, but should be the natural outgrowth and develop- 
ment of the latter, . . . The primary school and the university 
are the alpha and omega of education." He would therefore, 
he told the University of Aberdeen, exclude no subject as in 
itself unfit for a university, provided that it was studied in 
depth and with integrity : 

In an ideal University, as I conceive it, a man should be able to obtain 
instruction in all forms of knowledge, and discipline in the use of all 
methods by which knowledge is obtained. In such a University, the 
force of living example should fire the students with a noble ambition 
to emulate the learning of learned men, and to follow in the footsteps 
of the explorers of new fields of knowledge. And the very air he breathes 
should be charged with that enthusiasm for truth, that fanaticism of 
veracity, which is a greater possession than much learning; a nobler gift 
than the power of increasing knowledge; by so much greater and nobler 
than these, as the moral nature of man is greater than the intellectual; 
for veracity is the heart of morality. 

On these grounds, so reminiscent of Newman's discourse 
'Knowledge its Own End', Huxley always urged due recogni- 
tion of the natural sciences, but he also asked "If there are 
Doctors of Music, why should there be no Masters of Paint- 
ing, of Sculpture, of Architecture?", and declared "I should 
like to see Professors of the Fine Arts in every University". 
Newman, of course, had professors of the sciences at Dublin, 
and intellectually he accepted science as Huxley accepted. 


letters. JJut, whereas the man of science had a fine feeling for 
literary excellence, the man of letters had no real understand- 
ing of the scientific mode of thought, and Huxley is the more 
convincing advocate of a truly catholic university curriculum. 
The idea that Newman would have altogether excluded re- 
search from the university is quite erroneous he once spoke 
of the university as "the high protecting power of all know- 
ledge and science, of fact and principle, of inquiry and dis- 
covery, of experiment and speculation" but he certainly 
held the prosecution of original investigations to be quite 
subsidiary to the function of teaching. For Huxley, how- 
ever, the enlargement of knowledge was of the essence of an 
up-to-date university, and not a mere accidental: 

The mediaeval university looked backwards: it professed to be a 
storehouse of old knowledge, and except in the way of dialectical cob- 
web-spinning, its professors had nothing to do with novelties. . . . 

The modern university looks forward, and is a factory of new know- 
ledge: its professors have to be at the top of the wave of progress. Re- 
search and criticism must be the breath of their nostrils. . . . 

Moreover, whereas Newman considered that specialist acade- 
mies were more suitable than universities for extending the 
boundaries of knowledge, and regarded discovery and teach- 
ing as distinct gifts commonly found in different persons, 
Huxley feared the effects of isolating studies in separate 
institutions and divorcing research from teaching. "I do not 
thinV that it is any impediment to an original investigator to 
have to devote a moderate portion of his time to lecturing, or 
superintending practical instruction", he said at Aberdeen. 
"On the contrary, I think it may be, and often is, a benefit to 
be obliged to take a comprehensive survey of your subject; or 
to bring your results to a point." And, at Johns Hopkins 
University, he agreed that the best investigators were usually 
those who had also the responsibilities of instruction, gaining 
thus the incitement of colleagues, the encouragement of 
pupils and the observation of the public. 
In the main, therefore, Huxley did not take sides in the 


debate about the respective r61es of tutor and professor, but 
set himself instead to the more immediate task of securing 
posts at Oxford and Cambridge for men capable of both in- 
vestigation and instruction. In 1866 he was conferring with 
Sidgwick * about the best person for a Praelectorship in 
Natural Science which it was hoped to establish at Trinity, 
but the proposal was defeated at the December College Meet- 
ing. Soon, however, with W. H. Thompson f as Master, 
Trinity moved to the forefront of Cambridge reform, and in 
the spring of 1870 Huxley heard from a Fellow that there had 
been a more positive response to another such proposal: 

I read your letter to the Seniority yesterday. Your suggestion as to 
the Praelectorship of Physiology and the man to fill it, was most favour- 
ably received. . . ; If Mr. Foster will come and spend a day with me, I 
can explain everything to him. ... If he is appointed, we will set to 
work about establishing the Physiological Laboratory. 

His nominee once established in the new post, Huxley had a 
useful channel through which to influence science teaching at 
Cambridge, and for the next quarter of a century Michael 
Foster never ceased to consult him. 

In Oxford, the episode of 1860 had not been forgotten and, 
when it was suggested ten years later that Huxley should be 
given an honorary degree, there was powerful opposition* 
"There seems to have been a tremendous shindy in the Heb- 
domadal Board about certain persons who were proposed;" 
Huxley wrote to Darwin, "and I am told that Pusey J came 
to London to ascertain from a trustworthy friend who were 
the blackest heretics out of the list proposed, and that he was 

* Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900), Fellow of Trinity and from 1883 Professor 
of Moral Philosophy. He and his wife were leaders in the movement for the 
higher education of women. 

t William Hepworth Thompson (1810-1886), Regius Professor of Greek 
from 1853 to 1867, and Master of Trinity from 1866 to his death. He was the 
author of the famous saying, "We are none of us infallible, not even the 
youngest among us". 

t Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882), Regius Professor of Hebrew and 
Canon of Christ Church. As a Fellow of Oriel he had joined with Newman 
and Keble in the Tractarian movement, but always opposed the secession of 
Anglo-Catholics to Rome. 


glad to assent to your being doctored, when he got back, in 
order to keep out seven devils worse than that first!" How- 
ever, this did not prevent Huxley's being brought in as asses- 
sor when Exeter College offered a Fellowship in science in 
1872, and his choice fell upon that stormy petrel Ray Laukes- 
ter. Very soon, however, Lankester was feeling a frustration 
which comes out clearly in a letter asking his sponsor to look 
about for another post for him: 

I would not bother you about these personal concerns if I did not 

regard you as a father-in-science No one knows who does not live 

in the place the inextricable mess of mediaeval folly and corporation- 
jealousy and effete restrictions which surround all Oxford institutions. 

A commission comes and examines people such as Acland and of 
course hears the smoothest, most cheerful account of everything but 
many of his statements are untrue and meant to deceive. . . . Other 
witnesses give necessarily a favourable account of things which they 
themselves have constructed. . . . 

The Colleges are really, without an exaggeration now nothing more 
than large proprietary schools. We, fellows, try to get as many fees out 
of the undergraduates as we can and to get as many as possible to 
come to the College and as we can't get many sharp youths we take 
stupid and lazy ones and undertake (to their parents) to force them to 
attend lectures & somehow or other to get them through the degree 
examination. ... I am simply kept to my present position a mere 
college advertisement "We have a Natural Science lecturer on our 
staff". * . many men have their lives ruined by taking residential fellow- 
ships. They stay up making large incomes (for bachelors) and spending 
a great deal. . . . Their fellowships are forfeited by marriage so they 
don't marry. They don't work for why should they? Their time is 
sufficiently occupied with routine duties and routine amusements such 
as riding, dining and whist. To these may be added an occasional visit 
to London for unknown purposes. This is the society of Oxford . . . 

Lankester, unfortunately, for all his efforts to model him- 
self on his master, never found it easy to take a balanced view 
of things, and in fact Oxford was rapidly waking up to the 
importance of science. Already in 1868 there were forty to 
fifty students attending lectures in physiology, and both Mer- 
ton and The Queen's College were offering science scholar- 
ships. Soon Exeter and New did likewise, and in 1873 Mag- 


dalen and Merton held a joint examination for a Fellowship 
with preference to biology. At Merton and at University 
College Huxley was brought in to advise on the selection of 
Fellows, and at Cambridge likewise he did his best to see that 
new posts were filled by able men. In the autumn of 1873 he 
sent Michael Foster 'seven teasers' for the written examina- 
tion for a Trinity Fellowship, and he travelled up to take a 
personal part in the viva voce. The examiners made a new 
departure by inviting the submission of records of original 
investigations, and Huxley was so impressed by the research 
abilities of F. M. Balfour * that he recommended him for the 
Fellowship. Six years later, when Trinity again asked him to 
select a biology Fellow, he assured the Master that he would 
so test the breadth and reality of the candidates' knowledge 
as to exclude mere "Spider stuffers and Hay botanists", and 
his promise that the College should have a good man or none 
was well kept by the appointment of Adam Sedgwick.f 
Finally, as the diversion of ancient endowments by the 1877 
Commissioners strengthened the professoriate, he became an 
elector to the Cambridge Chairs of Physiology, Anatomy, 
and Zoology and Comparative Anatomy. 

The university world in those days was small and closely 
knit, and much could be done by a group of friends working 
well together. In 1872 a party including Huxley, Mark Patti- 
son, Henry Sidgwick and Charles Appieton met at Free- 
masons* Tavern in London to consider the endowment of 
research and form the short-lived 'Association for the 
Organisation of Academical Study', and there were many 
similar meetings during the 1870s. Some idea of the sort of 
co-operation which existed between reformers within the 

* Francis Maitland Balfour (1851-1882), to whom Huxley had already 
awarded a natural history prize at Harrow. Later appointed University 
Lecturer in Animal Morphology, Balfour established the great Cambridge 
embryology school, and his tragic death in a climbing accident deprived 
science of the man commonly regarded as Huxley's natural successor m the 
leadership of British biology. 

t Adam Sedgwick (1854-1913), who later became successively Reader in 
Animal Morphology and Professor of Zoology at Cambridge, and then 
Professor of Zoology at Imperial College. 


walls and those without is given by a few extracts from the 
letters of Jowett,* the Powerful Master of Balliol: 

To Huxley, 23 April 1877 

I am hoping to introduce or rather to persuade others to introduce 
more physical science in the University. I am inclined to think that some 
knowledge of it (as of Arithmetic) should be one of the requirements for 
a degree. Some scientific men appear to be opposed to this on the ground 
that it will lower the character of such studies. I cannot agree with them : 
no study can reach a very high standard with the mass of students. Yet 
it may do them great good & gain something from them in return. 

To Mrs Huxley, 6 May 1877 

I want to have the opportunity of talking to Mr. Huxley about a move 
which I am thinking of trying to make here for requiring a knowledge 
of Physical Science of all Candidates for a degree. 

To Huxley, 7 May 1878 

There are many things about which I should like to have the pleasure 
of talking to you, specially about the possibility of making Oxford 
somewhat more of a Medical School than at present. 

To Huxley, 2 December 1885 

We are just passing a new medical statute at Oxford which will I hope 
be successful. ... I should greatly like to talk with you about Scientific 
Education at schools & at the University I would like to make a cer- 
tain amount of science compulsory as Latin & Greek are: but I do not 
find that the Professors of Science at Oxford are inclined to support this 

One of the schemes which Jowett and Huxley discussed was 
that of persuading the Royal Society to petition Oxford to 
allow the sciences to be taken in Responsions, but this reform 
had to wait until 1920. They and their allies, however, were 

* Benjamin Jowett (1 8 1 7-1 893), who had been deprived of the emoluments 
of his Regius Professorship of Greek for ten years on suspicion of heresy. 
When he had built up his College's influence, he reputedly remarked "if we 
had but a little more money, Balliol could absorb the University", and he 
certainly succeeded in gathering many Oxford strings into his capable hands. 
Light is cast on certain aspects of his character by the verse devised by 
students for a Balliol mime: 

I come first, my name is Jowett, 
If it's knowledge then I know it; 
What I don't know isn't knowledge, 
I'm the Master of the College. 


more successful in their move to relieve science students of the 
need to take Latin and Greek in Moderations, and after 1886 
the Oxford scientist was free of classical tests beyond Respon- 

A somewhat similar battle, about which more details are 
available, had been fought at Cambridge some years before. 
Following an earlier unsuccessful move in 1871, a powerful 
band of petitioners, including scientists like Huxley and 
Hooker and Tyndall, men of letters like Arnold and Carlyle, 
and headmasters like Hornby and Butler * and Abbott,t 
presented in 1878 a memorial urging that Greek be no longer 
compulsory in the Previous examination. Impressed by the 
weight of the signatories, Congregation appointed a Syndi- 
cate to consider the memorial and report before the end of the 
Michaelmas term of 1879. Each petitioner was invited to fur- 
nish a fuller statement of his views, and Huxley's was unques- 
tionably the most cogently argued of them all. 

He emphasised that in signing the memorial nothing had 
been further from his mind than any wish to depreciate the 
value of a study of Greek, either on its own account as litera- 
ture and history, or as an instrument of education, or as an 
auxiliary to the pursuit of philosophy, mathematics and 
science, all of which had Greek origins. But, he argued, he 
had not noticed any correlation between ordinary Greek 
scholarship and literary culture, and he did not think that a 
knowledge of Greek was any more indispensable to a liberal 
education than a knowledge of Sanskrit or the Differential 
Calculus or Vertebrate Morphology. Ignorance of any one of 
these, he admitted, shuts off a large and fertile field of 
thought, but it was quite possible to become well educated by 
the aid of other studies. The Greek required for the Previous 

* Henry Montagu Butler (1833-1918), Headmaster of Harrow from 1859 
to 1886 and thereafter Master of Trinity and for a time Vice-Qianceilor of 
Cambridge. He was a brother-in-law of Sir Frauds Galton and kept closely in 
touch with science, which he gave a formal place in the Harrow curriculum. 

t Edwin Abbott Abbott (1838-1926), Headmaster of the City of London 
School from 1865 to 1889 and a prolific author of religious writings and text- 


examination, moreover, was generally admitted to be but a 
useless smattering, and he could not doubt that the time 
spent in learning it might be better employed. But, despite 
such strong arguments, despite a clear consensus among 
forty-three headmasters that a change was necessary, despite 
a recommendation from the Syndicate that students proceed- 
ing to a Tripos should be allowed to substitute French or 
German for Greek in the Previous, the conservatives would 
not concede. Finally, after long and tortuous discussion, the 
Grace to confibrm the Syndicate's recommendation came to 
Senate, swollen by the attendance of non-residents from the 
country, in the November of 1880, and there received only 
145 placets to 185 non-placets. And not until 1919 did Greek 
cease to be compulsory for entry to Honours courses at 

In Oxford, meanwhile, the 1877 Commissioners had con- 
sidered the desirability of providing for the teaching of Eng- 
lish, and in 1885 the university instituted the Merton Chair of 
English Language and Literature. However, to the indigna- 
tion of many and especially of J. C. Collins,* who had him- 
self nourished hopes of being appointed the electors chose 
A. S. Napier,f whose interests were almost exclusively in 
philology. Collins was soon telling Huxley that he proposed 
trying to block the appointment, and urged "A protest from 
you in any public paper would I am convinced, have such an 
effect at Oxford that it would turn the scale when the matter 
comes before Congregation". No such public protest seems 
to have been made in time, and the appointment was con- 
firmed. Soon, however, Collins was organising a large-scale 
attack on the whole Oxford tendency to equate English 
literature with Middle-English philology, and The Pall Mall 
Gazette printed a series of statements by men of eminence. 

*John Churton Collins (1848-1909), whose articles in The Quarterly 
Review and The Pall Mall Gazette did much to focus attention on the need for 
a serious study in the universities of their own country's literary wealth. In 
1904 he became Professor of English Literature at Birmingham. 

t Arthur Sampson Napier (1853-1916), who had thitherto held posts at 
Berlin and Gottingen. 


Matthew Arnold sent Collins a strangely tepid letter, indicat- 
ing that he would like to see the great works of English litera- 
ture taken in conjunction with those of Greek and Latin in 
Liter ce Humaniores, but not supporting the establishment of a 
new School for modern literature or modern languages. Hux- 
ley, however, came hotly to the defence of his native tongue, 
and his statement was given pride of place in the Pall Mall 
series. He declared that "the establishment of Professorial 
chairs of philology, under the name of literature, may be a 
profit to science, but is really a fraud practised upon letters*', 
and he enlarged on the general question of literary style and 

That a young Englishman may be turned out of one of our universities, 
"epopt and perfect" so far as their system takes him, and yet ignorant 
of the noble literature which has grown up in these islands during the 
last three centuries ... is a fact in the history of the nineteenth century 
which the twentieth will find hard to believe; though, perhaps it is not 
more incredible than our current superstition that whoso wishes to 
write and speak English well should mould his style after the models 
furnished by classical antiquity. ... I mark among distinguished con- 
temporary speakers and writers of English, saturated with antiquity, 
not a few to whom, it seems to me, the study of Hobbes might have 
taught dignity; of Swift, concision and clearness; of Goldsmith and 
Defoe, simplicity. . . * It has been the fashion to decry the eighteenth 
century, as young fops laugh at their fathers. But we were there in 
germ; and a "Professor of Eighteenth Century History and Literature" 
who knew his business might tell young Englishmen more of that which 
it is profoundly important they should know . . . than any other in- 

The attack was not without effect: before long Hebdomadal 
Council appointed a committee to consider the position and, 
despite procrastination, Statutes were eventually approved 
instituting a Final Honours School of English and a new 
Chair of English Literature. 

It would be wearisome to detail various other indications of 
Huxley's influence on the development of the newer studies at 
Oxford his letter to the Vice-Chancellor urging the univer- 
sity to support the proposed Plymouth Marine Biological 


Station, his backing for a new biological laboratory for 
Romanes, his securing of the Linacre Chair for Lankester 
against the desire of the Archbishop of Canterbury that it 
should go to his cousin, his support for Tylor * in getting 
Anthropology accepted as a subject for Honours. It is, 
however, worth while to take a closer look at the two very 
flattering efforts which were made to get Huxley to go to 
Oxford himself. 

The Commissioners of 1877 had founded a new Chair of 
Physiology and diverted the Linacre Chair to Human and 
Comparative Anatomy, and just as these changes were about 
to come into effect Rolleston died. Now, a couple of decades 
after he had refused to go in for the original Linacre Chair 
because of his conscientious scruples, Huxley was pressed to 
take the modified post. Jowetf s anxiety to have his ally within 
the university is indicated by the almost indecent haste with 
which he wrote to sound out Mrs Huxley: 

You will have heard with grief of poor Dr. Rolleston's death yester- 
day. ... I wonder if Professor Huxley could be induced to stand for his 
Professorship: We should be delighted to have him here. . . . The 
Electors are the Presidents of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, 
the Warden of Merton, the President of the Royal Society, & the Abp. 
of Canterbury. The three last happen to be friends of mine. 

The first four electors happened to be friends of Huxley's, and 
it is obvious that the hare could have been bagged without 
the slightest difficulty. The Warden of Merton f waited for 
Rolleston to be buried before making his approach, but im- 
mediately after the funeral he wrote direct to Huxley with a 
similar inquiry: 

Could you entertain the idea of succeeding our Mend Rolleston, 
whom I deeply lament, as Linacre Professor . I do not suppose that 

* Sir Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917), whose researches into primitive 
cultures laid many of the foundations of his science. In 1895 he became 
Oxford's first Professor of Anthropology. 

t George Charles Brodrick (1832-1903), who had become an intimate of 
Huxley's during some twenty-odd years in London as a barrister and 
journalist. He had become a member of the London School Board and a 
Governor of Eton in 1877, and later he served as a member of the Selborne 
Commission on the University of London. 


you wd. be willing to become a candidate. The question is whether, if 

invited to accept the office, you might be disposed to do so. If you 

do entertain the idea at all, it wd. be easy to arrange for talking it over 
at the Athenaeum. 

The post offered 800 to 900 a year, with a Fellowship of 
250 or more to accompany it, and Huxley was assured that 
he would be able to devote most of his time to research. 
Moreover, Jowett emphasised, Huxley's appointment would 
not now arouse the theological opposition which it would 
have done twenty years before, and others agreed with Him 
that it would be the very best thing that could happen to the 
university. But it was not to be, and Huxley wrote to Brodrick 
explaining why: 

I am getting old, and you should have a man in full vigour. I doubt 
whether the psychical atmosphere would suit me, and still more, whether 
I should suit it after a life spent in the absolute freedom of London . . . 
[but] ... if I had been ten years younger, I should have been sorely 
tempted to go to Oxford. 

"I am most truly sorry that you are not to come to us", wrote 
Henry Smith,* "I never supposed, however, that we could 
hope to catch you." 

Later in the year an even greater temptation confronted 
Huxley, but he put this behind Mm too. On the death of Dean 
Stanley,t Dr Bradley J gave up the Mastership of University 
College to succeed him at Westminster, and Faulkner tried 
to get Huxley as the new Master. The prospect was an attrac- 
tive one, and for a while Huxley wavered: 

* Henry John Stephen Smith (1826-1883), the Savilian Professor of Geo- 
metry, of whom Jowett said "He was possessed of greater natural abilities 
than any one else whom I have known at Oxford", and whom Grant Duff 
described as "the only man in Oxford who was without an enemy". 

t Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (1815-1881), who had been Professor of Ecclesi- 
astical History for eight years at Oxford before becoming Dean of Westminster 
in 1864. He was a consistent supporter of theological liberalism and attracted 
men of many shades of opinion to Westminster Abbey, whose dignity he did 
much to restore. 

J George Granvflle Bradley (1822-1903), who had been Master of Uni- 
versity College since 1870. 

Charles Joseph Faulkner (1834-3890), Fellow of University College and 
successively Bursar, Tutor and Dean of Degrees. 


I have been thinking very carefully over the proposition which you 
were so good as to make to me on Friday. I gathered from our con- 
versation that no fixed duties, beyond six months residence, are imposed 
upon the Master of University College; that a salary of 1300 a year 
and a house are attached to the office; and, from your coming to me, I 
take it for granted that there are no theological tests or obligations. . . . 

I must confess that after living in London for thirty years the notion 
of transplanting myself & my family into such totally different condi- 
tions as those of Oxford, fills me with some alarm * . . [and this con- 
sideration] . . . would still be effective were it not for the prospect of 
rest & leisure which the the [sic] Mastership offers 

I have no inclination to be a sinecurist but I want to employ myself to 
my own liking and it seems to me that if I were elected to the Mastership 
my thirty years experience of all sorts of work connected with scientific 
life and education might enable me to be of use to the College to the 
University [sic] as a sort of Minister for Science without portfolio 
and that at the same time I could secure the opportunity of devoting 
myself to the best work of which I am capable which I covet 

He feared, however, that the move would involve him in a 
diminution of income and that the practical working of the 
Mastership might be very different from what it seemed on 
the surface, so Faulkner set about removing his doubts. 
Under the new statutes soon to come into force, he pointed 
out, the Master's salary would be free of income tax, his 
house would be free of rent and rates and taxes and kept in 
repair by the College, and there would be a retiring pension 
of 500 per annum at the age of seventy-five. As to the duties 
of the Master, he indicated that these depended almost en- 
tirely on the incumbent's own inclinations, and some of his 
characterisations of other Heads of Houses are illuminating. 
Plumptre, the Master of University College preceding Brad- 
ley, had been left stranded by the reforms of the 1850s because 
the new ideas were beyond him, and the trivial duties he had 
performed could have occupied but half an hour a day; 
Jowett of Balliol stood out in contrast, yet his published work 
demonstrated that even an active Head could find plenty of 
time for his own studies; Patti^n did absolutely nothing as 
Rector of Lincoln, and Liddell was able enough but did no- 


thing as Dean of Christ Church; and, to summarise, Huxley's 
administrative efficiency should enable him to perform the 
duties of the Mastership without too much expenditure of 
time. It is difficult to imagine what more Huxley could have 
wanted; but, despite further correspondence and additional 
assurances, he decided to stay where he was. The decisive 
reason, no doubt, was that which he gave to his son Leonard: 
"I do not think I am cut out for a Don nor your mother for a 

Looking back on the Oxford and Cambridge of a century 
ago, one is inclined to concentrate on their obscurantism and 
their slowness to change. But in both places there were vigor- 
ous reformers, and it would have been quite impossible for 
Huxley to exercise the influence he did unless there had been 
a general movement into line with the needs of the modern 
world. True, Cambridge lagged behind Breslau and Edin- 
burgh and Dublin in giving him an honorary degree, and 
Oxford behind Wiirtzburg also, but both universities man- 
aged to get in ahead of Bologna and Erlaagen. In the June of 
1 879 Huxley was able to tell Baynes * "I shall be glorious in a 
red gown at Cambridge tomorrow, and hereafter look to 
be treated as a PERSON OF RESPECTABILITY. I have done 
my best to avoid that misfortune, but it's of no use**. Sk 
years later, retiring from South Kensington, he received a 
similar honour at Oxford, telling Price t that the ceremony 
would be "a sort of apotheosis coincident with my official 
death, which is imminent. In fact, I am dead already, only the 
Treasury Charon has not yet settled the conditions upon 
which I am to be ferried over to the other side". His early 
fear, that he had burned his boats so far as the two older 
universities were concerned, was proved in both cases base- 

* Thomas Spencer Baynes (1823-1887), the Shakespearean scholar who 
edited the 9th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. 

t Bartholomew Price (1818-1895), Sedleian Professor of Natural Philoso- 
phy from 1853 and Master of Pembroke from 1892. 


The Universities of Scotland 

If your annals take any notice of my incumbency, I shall pro- 
bably go down to posterity as the Rector who was always 
beaten. But if they add, as I think they will, that my defeats 
became victories in the hands of my successors, I shall be well 

Rectorial Address to the University of Aberdeen* 
27 February 1874 

IN SCOTLAND, AS in England, the latter half of the nine- 
teenth century was a period of heated academic debate and 
decisive educational reform. The universities north of the 
border had never been converted into the hauls lycees for the 
sons of the wealthy which their southern counterparts had 
become, and the survival of the ancient office of Rector still 
provided an opportunity for the student body to give periodic 
expression to its wishes. Like Oxford and Cambridge, the 
universities of Scotland were modelled on Paris, with a little 
of Bologna too, but their subsequent development had been 
quite different. Three of the four St Andrews, Glasgow and 
Aberdeen were founded in the fifteenth century by the 
bishops of their respective dioceses, and Edinburgh a century 
later by the Town Council, and the difficulties of travel in the 
northern hills had kept them all fairly local in their appeal. 
They also remained quite small in 1872 St Andrews had but 
157 students and Aberdeen only 605 and the comparative 
poverty of the country prohibited the development of a rich 



collegiate structure. The 'colleges' of St Andrews were in effect 
collateral branches of the university, while those of Aberdeen 
were independent universities until their jointure in 1858, and 
in Scotland there was never any danger of the universities* 
being eaten up by wealthy colleges as had happened in Eng- 
land. But, if the Scots founded no great residential houses like 
those of Oxford and Cambridge, they endowed in their zeal 
for education innumerable bursaries, which brought a stream 
of intelligent lads straight from the soil to the four centres of 
higher learning. Without affluence or pride of family, the poor 
students lodged for the most part in the houses of the towns- 
folk, and were looked on by them as their own. The universi- 
ties of Scotland maintained into the nineteenth century not 
only much of their early form, but also their early aims. They 
were peoples' universities, and their whole functioning and 
tradition were so different from those of England as to make 
it almost impossible for most of the leading figures south of 
the border to play any very effective part in Scottish univer- 
sity reform, Huxley, however, had not been conditioned by an 
orthodox public school and university education, and he was 
able to develop wide and influential connexions with the 
universities of Scotland. 

Soon after Forbes left the School of Mines in 1854 to take 
the Chair of Natural History at Edinburgh, he suggested that 
Huxley should also go North and deputise for the ailing Pro- 
fessor of Physiology, with the intention of ultimately succeed- 
ing him, and the offer was a tempting one made in a flattering 
manner. But, Huxley felt, "Had I accepted, I should have been 
at the mercy of the actual Professor and that is a position I 
don't like standing in, even with the best of men", so he re- 
fused to move. Tragically, however, Forbes died less than two 
months later, and Huxley was approached to allow his name 
to be put forward for the vacant Chair of Natural History. 
"People have been at me about the Edinburgh chair", he told 
Hooker. "I have written to say that if the Professors can 
make up their minds they wish me to stand, I will if not, I 


will not", and very soon he was able to inform his sister Lizzie 
that several of the most influential professors had strongly 
urged him to allow his name to go forward. Huxley was 
greatly attracted by the prospect of a rise in salary from 200 
to 1000 a year, but he was torn two ways. "I dread leaving 
London & its freedom its Bedouin sort of life for Edin- 
burgh & no whistling on Sundays", he confided to Dyster, 
and he painted an amusing picture of his mixed feelings: 

Apropos of Edinburgh I feel much like the Irish hod-man who betted 
his fellow he could not carry him up to the top of a house in his hod. 
The man did it, but Pat turning round as he was set down on the roof, 
said "Ye've done it, sure enough, but, bedad, I'd great hopes ye'd let 
me fall about three rungs from the top." Bedad, I'm nearly at the top 
of the Scotch ladder, but I've hopes. 

One thing to which Huxley particularly objected was the 
heavy load of lecturing which lay in those days on the pro- 
fessors of Scotland, and in the February of 1855 he withdrew 
his name from consideration. Edinburgh was still reluctant to 
lose him, and in April he was within an ace of falling to the 
financial temptation, but just in time the Government offered 
him 600 a year at the School of Mines, and in London he 

In 1866, the first British university to do so, Edinburgh 
conferred on Huxley the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws 
and he travelled north with Carlyle and Tyndall, who were to 
be similarly honoured. Evidently not everyone in Edinburgh 
approved, for the newspapers reported that, unlike his fellow- 
recipients, he was greeted not simply with "cheers" but with 
"cheers and slight hisses". The hisses, however, seem to have 
carried little weight with the university, for in 1869 the Court 
recognised Huxley's lectures on natural history as a qualify- 
ing course for graduation in medicine, and for nearly twenty 
years candidates for the Edinburgh degree were able to 
attend his lectures in London in part fulfilment of require- 
ments. A year later the Crown was seeking Huxley's advice 


about filling the Regius Chair from which he had himself 
recoiled as a young man : 

Private Home Office, 

Oct. 26, 1870. 
Dear Mr. Huxley, 

You are aware that the Professorship of Natural History in the 
University of Edinburgh is vacant 
There are four applicants for the post 
Dr. Wyville Thomson 
Dr. Macintosh 
Dr. Nicholson & 
Dr. Anderson (now Director of the Calcutta Museum of Natural 


I hope you will not refuse to assist me with your advice in choosing 
the best man. 

I have read your testimonial in favor of Dr. W. Thomson. It shows 
that you think him a fit man. But is he the fittest of the four? 
If you will answer me that question you will greatly oblige me. 

Ever sincerely yours 
H. A. Bruce. 

Huxley's reply has not been traced, but perhaps we can guess 
it from the fact that his friend Thomson * was appointed. 

In 1875 Wyville Thomson was to be absent while carrying 
out a survey in HMS Challenger, and Huxley took his place 
as Professor of Natural History in a concentrated course 
lasting from May to July. Some 600 students attended the 
first lecture and the enrolment for the full course was 353, 
a record for any Edinburgh class. "I ... positively polished 
off the Animal Kingdom in 54 lectures", Huxley told Michael 
Foster on the conclusion of the course. "French without a 
master in twelve lessons is nothing to this feat.'* Even he 
found the feat a trying one, and in mid-course he remarked to 
Dyster "Talk about brains being important to a man I be- 
lieve in bowels". But his efforts were well rewarded, for his 
agreement with the university had been that he should take 
the fees and out of them pay his laboratory assistants a very 

* Sir Charles Wyville Thomson (1830-1882), who had studied medicine a 
Edinburgh and then lectured at Aberdeen, Belfast and Dublin. 


satisfactory arrangement for one who could attract so many 
students. "I cleared about 1000 by the transaction,'* he told 
Tyndall, "being one of the few examples known of a south- 
erner coming North and pillaging the Scots." 

Meanwhile, Thomson had written from Japan asking Hux- 
ley to repeat the course in the summer of 1 876, and the univer- 
sity was very anxious for him to do so. In September Sir 
William Turner * wrote to say "there is no one who would 
be so acceptable both to the students and to the University 
generally ... if you could not come I scarcely feel prepared 
to recommend that the additional leave should be given to 
Thomson". Anxious as he was to oblige Thomson, Huxley 
was reluctant to meet the request lest people said that he was 
deserting his regular duties for work that paid better, but he 
was willing to consider the proposal providing the Admiralty 
urged it and he himself had to take no initiative in the matter. 
Turner seized on this opening, Christison f also weighed in, 
and soon the Secretary to the Education Department was 
writing to tell Huxley that, in consequence of applications 
received from the Admiralty and the University of Edinburgh, 
he was granted further leave of absence to deputise again in 
1876. He seems to have found some difficulty in getting down 
to the level of his students, for one of them records that "he 
had the sense of panting to keep pace with the demands of the 
lecturer. It was not merely that the texture of scientific reason- 
ing in the lectures was so closely knit . . . but the character of 
Huxley's terminology . . . presupposed a knowledge of 
Greek. . . . The strain on the attention of each lecture is so 
great as to be equal to any ordinary day's work. I feel quite 
exhausted after them". But, he added, "with all these draw- 
backs, I would not miss them, even if they were ten times as 
difficult. They are something glorious, sublime". 

* Sir William Turner (1832-1916), Professor of Anatomy at Edinburgh, 
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, and in 1903 the first Englishman to become 

t Sir Robert Christison (1797-1882), Professor of Medical Jurisprudence 
and then of Materia Medica and Therapeutics at Edinburgh. 


Huxley himself had sufficient energy left after the day's 
work to get through an enormous quantity of reading, in- 
cluding some tough biological monographs and a few bio- 
graphies and some novels of George Sand, but he complained 
that he was harassed with "another confounded commission, 
on the Scottish universities, which wastes half my time and 
throws all my plans out of gear". However, membership of 
this Royal Commission enabled him to learn much more 
about the University of Edinburgh, he kept contact with the 
university's many medical men in the metropolis, and ten 
years later he received evidence of the regard in which he was 
held by the student body: 

The office of Lord Rector of Edinburgh University becomes vacant 
in the beginning of November of this year, and ... the Independent 
Association of the University beg that you will do them the honour of 
becoming their candidate for the office. 

Should you be so good as to give your consent, the success of your 
candidature would be perfectly certain . . . there is a growing feeling in 
favour of the object for which our Association exists, namely, that 
our Lord Rector should not always be chosen on merely political 

. . . there will probably be opportunity for aiding in the progress of 
University Reform, an object which, it is well known, you have at 

The Association most earnestly hope that you will give this request 
a favourable answer, and allow the Students of this University the 
opportunity of bestowing the highest honour in their power on one, 
whom they deem so worthy of it 

Huxley replied that he would have liked to renew his relations 
with the university, "but my health, though I am glad to say 
greatly improved is not very solidly rectorial ... & the 
attempt to prepare & deliver an address as Lord Rector 
would probably end in nothing but a forlorn 'Hie Jacet' ", 

At St Andrews, also, forward-looking students wanted 
Huxley as Rector, and Leonard Huxley mentions two occa- 
sions when his father's name was mooted the first in 1872, 
when he was convalescing abroad after the breakdown which 


had caused his resignation from the London School Board; 
the second five years later, when Leonard himself was a St 
Andrews student and asked his father to stand. What does 
not seem to be generally known is that, although on the 
second of these occasions Huxley felt that as a member of the 
Scottish Universities Commission he could not possibly 
accede to his son's request, on the earlier occasion ids name 
was actually put to the poll and he was very nearly elected. 

The first Huxley heard of the matter was when he was in 
Naples on the way back to England, and he indicated to Tyn- 
dall his annoyance at not being consulted: 

Since my arrival here, on taking up the "Times", I saw a paragraph 
about the Lord Rectorship of St. Andrews after enumerating a lot of 
candidates for that honour, the paragraph concluded "But we under- 
stand that, at present, Professor Huxley has the best chance." It is really 
too bad if any one has been making use of my name without my per- 
mission. But I do not know what to do about it. I had half a mind to 
write to Tulloch * to tell him that I can't and won't take any such office 
but I should look rather foolish, if he replied that it was a mere news- 
paper report and that nobody intended to put me up 

It was, however, more than a mere newspaper report, and the 
whole story is available in contemporary records. There had 
already been one contest, but Ruskin's election had been de- 
clared invalid on the technical grounds that his Poetry Pro- 
fessorship at Oxford excluded him under a literal interpreta- 
tion of the Scottish Universities Acts, and the University 
Court ordered a new election at short notice. It was in these 
exceptional circumstances, and with Huxley away in Egypt, 
that a group of students nominated him without consent. At 
the nomination meeting it was argued that it was time a 
scientist occupied the high office of Rector, and that Huxley 
was qualified both by his position in the world of science and 
by his eminence as an educationist. At another meeting, a few 
days later, there was a foretaste of the odium theologicum 
which was so fully to flavour the Aberdeen election later in 
* John Tulloch (1823-1886), Principal of St Mary's College at St Andrews. 


the year, one opponent sneering that "Huxley's object in 
Egypt at present was to visit the Catacombs in search of the 
primeval jelly from which he asserts all life was evolved". The 
students, however, were not so easily deterred; and when the 
result was announced it was seen to have been a near thing: 

THE ELECTION OF RECTOR, The election took place on Thurs- 
day forenoon. Sir Roundel Palmer and Dean Stanley having been 
withdrawn the contest lay between Lord Neaves and Professor Huxley. 
The meeting was very close, Professor Huxley leading for some time 
but after Neaves got the start he kept his advantage, and at eleven the 
result was declared in his favour 73 votes being recorded for him and 
70 for Huxley. 

Where the students of St Andrews just failed to get a Rector 
who would move with the times, those of Aberdeen just suc- 
ceeded. In the earliest universities of Europe the Chancellor 
was appointed by the Church, usually acting through a local 
prelate; the teachers, organised in their faculties, had cor- 
porate voice in the Senate; and the students, grouped accord- 
ing to their nations of origin, chose a Rector to guard their 
interests. When universities grew up at Oxford and Cam- 
bridge, Chancellors continued to represent the Pope (or, 
later, the King), and Senates still spoke for the teachers, but 
the students had no voice. Later still, however, when univer- 
sities were founded in Scotland, the close cultural connexions 
with France led to the more faithful following of the original 
model, and the Rector remained in the constitution alongside 
Chancellor and Senate. At Aberdeen the grouping by nations 
survived, students from two halves of Aberdeen diocese con- 
stituting the 'nations* of Buchan and Mar, those from north 
of the Grampians making the 'nation' of Moray, and those 
from the south the 'nation' of Angus. Each nation elected a 
procurator, the procurators chose the Rector, and in the event 
of a tie the final decision lay to the Chancellor. The Court of 
Aberdeen University consisted, after the reorganisation of 
1858, of only six men the Rector, the Principal, and an 
Assessor each for the Chancellor, the Rector, the Senatus and 


the General Council and if the Rector attended in person he 
had both a vote and a casting vote. Such a situation, where a 
determined Rector could make effective use of a powerful 
constitutional position, was one exactly to Huxley's taste. 

Some general preliminary discussion about possible can- 
didates had begun before the 1872 summer vacation, and a 
vigorous newspaper correspondence developed during Octo- 
ber and November. The students, infected by the general 
atmosphere of the times, were dissatisfied with the state of 
the university, and one of them wrote to The Aberdeen Free 
Press urging that "the office should be a real one, and not an 
empty title, as was formerly the case, when the Lord Rector 
was never seen, but when he delivered his inaugural address". 
Not knowing Huxley, he proceeded to lump him with the 
other eminent men whose names had been canvassed, asking 
"What more than an inaugural address can we expect from 
such men as Darwin, Huxley, Carlyle, Earl Derby, or the 
Duke of Argyll men living at a distance and altogether un- 
connected with Aberdeen?" At a student meeting on 4 
November several names, including that of Scotland's His- 
toriographer Royal, J. H. Burton, were proposed; but soon 
Darwin had declined nomination on health grounds, Glad- 
stone had refused to let his name go forward, and the effective 
contestants were quickly reduced to two Huxley and the 
young Marquis of Huntly.* The Sassenach scientist might 
have seemed a poor match for the Cock o* the North, whose 
ancestors for nearly four centuries had exercised powerful 
influence at Aberdeen, but things did not turn out that 

When the names of Darwin and Huxley were first mooted, 
C A Christian and a Scotchman' informed The Aberdeen Free 
Press of his concern : 

* Charles Gordon, 16th Earl and llth Marquess of Huntly, 7th Earl of 
Aboyne, 2nd Baron Meldrum of Morven, and Chief of the Clan Gordon 
(1847-1937), who had high personal distinction as a scholar in addition to the 
immense prestige accruing from his great estates and position in the clans. 
In 1890, eighteen years after his defeat by Huxley, he was elected Rector of 


If all men of character and culture are shocked at the coarse pro- 
fanities of Bradlaugh, and the tribe of obscene lecturers who ane en- 
gaged in spreading his views through all classes of our people, they have 
still greater reason to shudder at the deeper and darker blasphemies (as 
we are prepared to prove) of that nest of scientific infidels, of which 
Darwin, Huxley and Tyndall form the select committee. 

It was asserted that the medical students were not really re- 
sponsible for Huxley's nomination, but were merely being 
used as a 'front* by hidden secularists; and then 'Enquirer' 
asked, if the Pope were elected to the Rectorship would not 
that be accounted a recognition of Romanism, and would not 
the election of Huxley similarly be a recognition of Atheism? 
Some of Aberdeen's students, however, were no longer to be 
frightened by the comminations of the orthodox, and soon 
two letters introduced a type of blackmail by suggesting that, 
if Huxley were elected, parents would not wish to send their 
sons to a university where there would be so much danger of 
contagion by infidelity. A week later, 'P.Q.R.* wrote to pro- 
test against "a sort of influence which can only be termed 
intimidation" by some professors and parents, one of whom 
had threatened to turn his son out of doors if he voted for 

By now both gown and town were thoroughly aroused, and 
towards the end of November the Editor had to insert a note 
that "Our correspondence on this subject is accumulating on 
our hands. Our student friends therefore must excuse us if we 
are at times unable to attend to their requirements in the 
matter of space". Then, as the heat of the debate grew in 
letters published day by day, the Editor announced that 'This 
correspondence is getting a little too personal, and we must 
decline to publish any letters in which this element is not kept 
in abeyance" an announcement which, in view of the tone 
of the letters which were published, intriguingly implies the 
scabrous possibilities of those that were suppressed. Mean- 
while, similar correspondence appeared in other local news- 
papers, a good specimen being the letter of T.Q.', who asked 


"Why has the claimant to the Tichborne title and estates not 
been brought forward? ... A man of renown he is of 
world-wide renown!", and went on to suggest that the stu- 
dents would surely prefer 'Sir Roger', "to the discomfiture of 
the Descendant of the Monkey glorying in that descent". 
However, discontent with the idea of a simply decorative 
Rector continued, and the Editor of the Free Press, who sup- 
ported a local man, emphasised the point in an editorial: 

The kind of Rector now wanted is one who, in the first place, has 
himself had a high educational training; one who, in addition to that, 
has, by mixing in the world, had opportunity of forming distinct 
opinions regarding the sort of educational training that will be of 
greatest service to a young man entering the world; who takes an in- 
terest in education; and perhaps most important of all one who will 
attend the meetings of the University Court, and interest himself in its 

Huxley sent a letter to a student saying that during most of 
the year there would be no obstacle to his attending the meet- 
ings of the University Court, and there was jubilation among 
his supporters. 

The formal nomination meeting on the 7th December was 
conducted with the usual clamour, scuffles and throwing of 
peasemeal projectiles, in which Huxley's supporters had the 
better of things. After his nominator had been shouldered 
away in triumph, still waving defiantly the last remnant of his 
coat, Huntly's backers tried to do likewise, "but it proved 
abortive from their insufficient numbers, many having gone 
after the followers of Huxley". A week later the voting took 
place, with the following result: 

Nation For Huxley For Huntly 

Moray ... 37 37 

Mar .... 76 52 

Angus ... 79 36 

Buchan ... 82 95 

Despite Huxley's overall majority of 54, it was a close thing, 
for, as he explained to Tyndall, "the mode of election is such 


that one vote . . . would have turned the scale by giving my 
opponent the majority in that [Moray] nation. We should 
then have been ties & as the chancellor, who has under such 
circumstances a casting vote, would have (I believe) given it 
against me, I should have been beaten". But Huxley's two 
nations to Huntly's one settled the matter, and the students 
had the Rector they wanted. No doubt it was in part the rising 
tide of scientific and medical advance which had swept Hux- 
ley into office, but equally important was the desire of the 
students to have a vigorous Rector who would try to jolt the 
university out of its traditional grooves. Although initially 
nominated by medical students, Huxley was also strongly 
supported by those reading other subjects : and, as he himself 
commented, "the fact of any one, who stmketh in the nostrils 
of orthodoxy, beating a Scotch peer at his own gates, in the 
most orthodox of Scotch cities, is a curious sign of the 
times' 5 . 

The central occasion of Huxley's Aberdeen incumbency 
was his Rectorial address, 'Universities: Actual and Ideal', 
delivered on 27 February 1874 to an audience of some two 
thousand. He told his wife that "the students made a terrific 
row at intervals, though they were quiet enough at times", 
but he was presumably unaware of just how disorderly these 
meetings might be. The Aberdeen Free Press, more experi- 
enced in such matters, reported that "Throughout the whole 
of the address the greater body of the students listened with 
marked attention much more than on any former occasion 
of which we can remember". As for The Scotsman, it de- 
scribed Huxley's speech as courageous, brilliant and wise, and 
"worth volumes of the emasculate stuff which the Lord Rec- 
tor of Glasgow University [Disraeli] recently presented to the 
students who had placed him in his honourable post". That 
not everyone was pleased is indicated by an anonymous 
pamphlet, with the unusually intriguing title of Protoplasm, 
Powheads, Pbrwiggles; and the Evolution of the Horse from the 
Rhinoceros; illustrating Professor Huxley's Scientific Mode of 


Getting up the Creation and Upsetting Moses. A Guide for 
Electors In Choosing Lord Rectors, which followed fourteen 
pages of abuse in prose with nineteen pages of scoffing in 
verse, of which the following is a sample: 

The Rector hath a treatise wrote . . . 
The Title of it ought to be 
The Book of Huxley's Revelations; 
And specially should those savants 
Most piously peruse the book, 
Who rather would in Huxley trust, 
Than Moses and the Pentateuch. 

The students, however, were sufficiently satisfied with their 
new Rector to institute a new custom by entertaining Hm to 
supper in the University Bail-Room, and doubtless some of 
the orthodox opposition was mollified by his willingness to 
attend the customary ceremonial Presbyterian service. 

In preparing his address Huxley had, he told Michael Fos- 
ter, "used the Aberdonians for the benefit of Oxford & Cam- 
bridge much as Tacitus used the manners of the Germans for 
the benefit of the Romans*', and he congratulated the Scots 
that they did not make the university "a school of manners 
for the rich; of sports for the athletic; or a hot-bed of high- 
fed, hypercritical refinement*'. But he would not allow the 
Aberdonians to imagine that their own university was perfect, 
and he drew attention to the incompleteness of its studies. 
Candidates for the degree of Master of Arts had to do some 
natural history as weU as classics, but he could not under- 
stand why the creative arts were so neglected: 

. . . the man who is all morality and intellect, although he may be good 
and even great, is, after all, only half a man. There is beauty in the 
moral world and in the intellectual world; but there is also a beauty 
which is neither moral nor intellectual the beauty of the world of Art. 
There are men who are devoid of the power of seeing it, as there are men 
who are born deaf and blind, and there are others in whom it is an 
overpowering passion; happy men, born with the genius of the 
Artist. But, in the mass of mankind, the Aesthetic faculty, like the 
reasoning power and the moral sense, needs to be roused, directed, and 


cultivated; and I know not why the development of that side of his 
nature . . . should be omitted from any comprehensive scheme of Uni- 
versity education. 

He doubted, in fact, if the curriculum of any modern univer- 
sity shewed so clear and generous a comprehension of culture 
as did the medieval Trivium and Quadrivium in their time. 
In the case of medicine, he admitted that all sorts of sub- 
sidiary studies might in themselves be valuable; but, since the 
time available for study was limited, he urged the excision of 
all that was irrelevant to the purpose of medical training. 
"Methuselah**, he remarked, "might, with much propriety, 
have taken half a century to get his doctor's degree; and 
might, very fairly, have been required to pass a practical 
examination upon the contents of the British Museum, be- 
fore commencing practice as a promising young fellow of two 
hundred, or thereabouts. But you have four years to do your 
work in, and are turned loose, to save or slay, at two or three 
and twenty.** As for natural science, he pointed out that 
Oxford during the preceding twenty years had spent more 
than 120,000 on new laboratories, and Cambridge was 
taking the same course: he did not ask how much Aberdeen 
was spending, but the question had been set to germinate in 
his hearers* minds. And, he declared, just as students might 
go on from the general Arts Faculty for technical or pro- 
fessional training in the specialised Faculties of Theology, 
Law and Medicine, there should in a modern university be a 
Faculty of Science to which students might go for further in- 
struction more advanced and specialised than would be 
proper in the Faculty of Arts. 

Within a few days of his election, Huxley had arranged to 
meet his predecessor in office to discuss the affairs of the 
university; and he made it clear to his friends that he intended 
making full use of the ancient Rectorial prerogatives : "Unlike 
other Lord Rectors", he told Tyndall, "he of Aberdeen is a 
power and can practically govern the action of the University 
during his tenure of office." At his first Court meeting it was 


reported that a student had been deprived of a 'Drum' divi- 
nity bursary on the ground that he was not preparing to be a 
minister of the Established Church, and the Senatus spokes- 
man in the Court objected to the admission of a letter of 
appeal. Much as he must have disliked doing so at his first 
" meeting, Huxley ruled against the Senatus objection, and he 
remarked that the time might come when professors of divi- 
nity would have to choose between loyalty to their Church and 
loyalty to their university. However, he received little support, 
and had to tell Michael Foster "I have been in Aberdeen 
fighting for the admission of Scotch dissenters to bursaries in 
my University & getting beaten the parsons being too many 
for me but we shall win yet". 

At this same meeting Huxley announced receipt of a peti- 
tion from nearly 200 students that is, virtually all those 
reading medicine requesting changes in the regulations for 
medical degrees, and he gave notice of his intention to intro- 
duce proposals on the matter. Within a few days he was 
exchanging views with Alexander Harvey (the Professor of 
Materia Medica) and Alexander Dyce Davidson (his Assist- 
ant), who had just been appointed to a Council Committee 
on the Medical Curriculum, and a letter from Harvey casts an 
unfavourable light on the condition of medical education in 
Scotland. When he was a student, he recalled, few Aberdeen 
medicos had graduated because of the prior requirement of 
an MA, but had instead taken the London diploma of the 
College of Surgeons. The minority who went on to Edinburgh 
to graduate found that their Aberdeen courses were not re- 
cognised because they had not included sufficient lectures, and 
Aberdeen had been forced to follow the Edinburgh example 
of lectures in each subject five days a week. As a result, 
students no longer had time to read standard works or spend 
much time in the laboratory, but sat almost continuously in 
lectures another manifestation of the national addiction to 
long sermons with milestones of heads and sub-heads. And, 
all in all, the only cheerful feature was that "Your letter leads 


me fondly to hope, that your influence and exertions as Lord 
Rector of this University will avail effectually to put matters 
on a better footing here, and elsewhere". 

Encouraged by the knowledge that John Knox's The Buke 
of Discipline was on his side in his wish to free the medical 
course from choking accretions, Huxley made public through 
Nature the four resolutions which he intended moving in the 

I. That, in view of the amount and diversity of the knowledge which 
must be acquired by the student who aspires to become a properly 
qualified graduate in medicine; of the need recognised by all earnest 
teachers and students for the devotion of much time to practical 
discipline in the sciences of chemistry, anatomy, physiology, thera- 
peutics, and pathology, which constitute the foundation of all 
rational medical practice; and of the relatively short period over 
which the medical curriculum extends it is desirable to relieve that 
curriculum of everything which docs not directly tend to prepare the 
student for the discharge of those highly responsible duties, his 
fitness for the performance of which is certified to the public by the 
diploma granted by the University. 

IL That it would be of great service to the student of medicine to have 
obtained, in the course of his prelimihary education, a practical 
acquaintance with the methods and leading facts of the sciences 
comprehended by botany and natural history in the medical curri- 
culum; but that, as the medical curriculum is at present arranged, 
the attendance of lectures upon, and the passing of examinations 
in, these subjects occupy time and energy which he has no right to 
withdraw from work which tends more directly to his proficiency in 

HI. That it is desirable to revoke or alter ordinance No. 16, in so far as 
it requires a candidate for a degree in medicine to pass an examina- 
tion in botany and zoology as part of the professional examination; 
and to provide, in lieu thereof, that the examination in these sub- 
jects shall, as far as possible, take place before the candidate has 
entered upon his medical curriculum. 

IV. That it is desirable to revoke or alter said ordinance No. 16, in so 
far as it requires candidates for the degree of doctor of medicine to 
have passed an examination in Greek, and that, in lieu thereof, 
either German or French be made a compulsory subject of exami- 
nation for said degree, Greek remaining as one of the optional sub* 


The resolutions came before the Court on 26 February 1874, 
when Huxley was supported by his Assessor John Webster 
and the Council's Assessor John Christie, and there was ap- 
parently no member of the Court prepared to argue against 
the principle of the proposals. Campbell,* however, pointed 
out that such changes might need discussion with the other 
Scottish Universities and a new Act of Parliament; and an 
unusually blunt assertion of vested interest came from the 
Professor of Botany "with reference to his patrimonial rights" 
which, under the system of remuneration by means of fees, 
would be endangered by any relaxing of the ordinance requir- 
ing all medical students to attend his lectures. The Court re- 
ferred the resolutions to the Senatus for its views on the best 
mode of implementation, the Council accepted unanimously 
very similar proposals from its Committee on the Medical 
Curriculum, and Huxley was jubilant. "Did I tell you that I 
carried all my resolutions about improving the medical curri- 
culum?" he asked his wife in a letter following the Court 
meeting. "Fact, though greatly to my astonishment. To- 
morrow we go in for some reforms in the arts curriculum, and 
I expect that the job will be tougher." 

The reforms in the Arts curriculum came up at the Court 
on 2 March, on a proposal from the Senatus to institute the 
new degree of Bachelor of Science. Such a proposal Huxley 
might have been expected to support strongly, but the pig was 
in a poke and he was not the man to buy it without full in- 
spection of its pedigree. On examination, it emerged that the 
proposal of the Senatus was that this so-called 'science de- 
gree* should include courses and examinations not only in 
mathematics and natural science, but also in mental science, 
Latin, English, and either Greek, French or German: it 
represented, in fact, a dead-end to which the Council and the 
Senatus had side-tracked an earlier unwelcome suggestion 
that science should be put on an equal footing with the tradi- 

* Peter Colin Campbell (181CM876), the first Principal and Vice-Chan- 
cellor of the united Aberdeen University. 


tional subjects in the Master of Arts degree. By this ingeni- 
ous device, not only was the MA to be saved from any sub- 
stantial scientific contamination, but holders of the new in- 
ferior degree of BS would not be admitted to the privileges of 
the magistracy. It transpired, moreover, that the university 
regulations would allow existing bursaries to be held only by 
men preparing for the MA which meant that, in a Scotland 
of bursary tradition, the proposed new degree would be likely 
to attract few students. The whole Senatus plan was simply 
an attempt to avoid giving science a place of real equality in 
the university. It was too transparent for Huxley's gaze: he 
accepted the principle of a science degree, but only "pro- 
viding a sufficient share of the endowments would be devoted 
to it", and the Court remitted the scheme to the Senatus for 

Huxley was familiar enough with the delaying tactics of 
academic traditionalists, and he can scarcely have been sur- 
prised that a stubborn Senatus managed to avoid producing 
any new scheme for science degrees during his term of office. 
He warned the Court on 8 May 1875 that "if the University 
of Aberdeen was not inclined to advance in this matter, it 
would in all probability stop still and go back ... the great 
Universities [of England] whose example Aberdeen need 
not be ashamed to follow were all moving in the direction 
which was taken by the proposal of the University Court. 
That was to say, they were allowing candidates for the Arts 
degree, after passing through a common preliminary ex- 
amination, to take different lines"; but five months later the 
Council concluded that a satisfactory solution would have to 
await a Royal Commission on Scottish university education. 
Similarly, the proposed changes in the medical curriculum were 
held up by an opposing petition to the Privy Council from 
the University of Edinburgh, and by the end of his rectorial 
term not one of Huxley's desired reforms had been effected. 

That, however, was not the end of the story, for a year 
later a Royal Commission on the Universities of Scotland 


was appointed, and Huxley was one of its members. He se- 
cured from Principal Campbell of Aberdeen an admission 
that the only science ever included in examinations for 
bursaries was such as might be crammed from one or two 
primers, and Principal Grant of Edinburgh had to agree that 
the lad who learned Latin and Greek at school was also 
capable of learning science. Principal Caird of Glasgow pro- 
duced the hoary argument that a prospective scientist needed 
to know Greek in order to understand technical terminology, 
but his own scientific knowledge was inadequate to combat 
Huxley's contention that in such matters etymology is rarely 
a reliable guide. Huxley's purpose in all this, however, was 
not to add science to the university entrance examinations, 
but rather to oppose such examinations altogether as an un- 
necessary and undiscriminating barrier to higher study. He 
had in mind not only the boys who came straight from school, 
but also the older men who saved and scraped to go to a uni- 
versity and then found themselves barred by their ignorance 
of classical languages. Glasgow's Professor of Divinity sug- 
gested that such men might go back to school for a while, but 
Huxley protested that it was unreasonable to expect adults to 
sit side by side in class with children and that the university 
itself should provide tutorial assistance to mature students. 
Principal Tulloch of St Andrews argued that a fixed entrance 
examination was necessary to maintain the level of lectur- 
ing, but Huxley got several witnesses to admit that some of 
their best students had been men with no initial knowledge of 
their subjects, while a professor from Edinburgh agreed that 
"considering what examinations are at present [it is] some- 
times an advantage to have a man coming to you knowing 
nothing". On the question of science degrees, it was brought 
out that the proposed Aberdeen BS was a bogus inferior 
general degree rather than one specially suited to scientists, 
and it also emerged that the Glasgow BSc required no know- 
ledge whatever of biology. In the matter of medical studies, 
Huxley pressed witness after witness to agree that much of 


the traditional but irrelevant botany, zoology and pharmac- 
ology should be excluded; on the general question of examin- 
ations he urged the testing of each section of the work so soon 
as it was completed instead of allowing it all to accumulate 
for a great final examination; and he expressed his dis- 
approval of compulsory attendance at lectures. By and large, 
he seems to have missed few opportunities of directing atten- 
tion to the matters in which he advocated change. 

When the four substantial volumes of the Royal Com- 
mission's report appeared in 1878, Huxley must have been 
gratified by its recommendations. A rigid university entrance 
examination was looked on with disfavour, and instead it was 
suggested that there should be a 'First Examination* to be 
taken fairly early in the student's university career. This ex- 
amination was to include mathematics and English and Latin 
for all students, but those intending to study science or 
medicine or law were to be allowed to take French or German 
instead of Greek, which was to remain compulsory only for 
those proposing to read arts. Natural science was to be 
added to the examination so soon as conditions in the schools 
made it practicable, and the sort of science which it was sug- 
gested the schools should teach was simply a summary of 
Huxley's recently published Physiography. It was proposed 
that there should be five alternatives to the traditional course 
for the MA degree, the student being allowed to choose be- 
tween literature and philology, philosophy, law and history, 
mathematics, and natural science. For the scientific course 
there were to be four alternative subject groupings, so that 
each student would study some physics and chemistry and in 
addition a selection of physiology, botany, zoology, geology 
and applied mathematics. It was also recommended that each 
of the four universities should institute a BSc degree for those 
wishing to specialise in sciences, and that for this it should be 
necessary to take three instead of two of the science subject 
groupings. In the case of medical students, the purely scien- 
tific studies were to be completed at an early stage so as to 


allow subsequent concentration on the professional subjects, 
and the commissioners suggested that degree examinations in 
all departments should be arranged in instalments. In view 
of the narrowness of his own election at Aberdeen, Huxley 
must have been particularly pleased by the recommendation 
that rectorial elections should be decided by total votes 
rather than by numbers of 'nations'; and all in all he could 
scarcely have written a better report himself. Not everything 
he wanted was included in the Universities (Scotland) Act of 
1889, but that measure included sufficient to justify his fore- 
cast that his defeats would become victories in the hands of 
his successors. 


The University of London 

I had quite given up the hope that anything but some wretched 
compromise would come of the University Commission, when 
I found, to my surprise, no less than gratification, that a strong 
party among the younger men were vigorously taking the 
matter up in the right (that is, my) sense. 

In spite of all my good resolves to be a "hermit old in mossy 
cell", I have enlisted for ambulance service if nothing 

The move is too important to spare oneself if one can be of 
any good. 

Letter to Sir William Flower, 27 June 1892 

DURING THE DECADES when the ancient universities were 
adjusting themselves to the new demands of the nineteenth 
century, other institutions of similar rank were emerging at 
home and fresh universities springing up abroad. There were 
still many who, like Sir Christopher Mowbray in Disraeli's 
Vivian Grey, "could as easily fancy a county member not 
being a freeholder, as an University not being at Oxford or 
Cambridge", but others were less inhibited in their imagina- 
tion. The second quarter of the century saw the foundation of 
University and King's Colleges in London and a University 
at Durham; in the next quarter there came Owens College in 
Manchester and Yorkshire College in Leeds; in the last 
quarter there followed Firth College in Sheffield and Mason 
College in Birmingham and University College in Liverpool. 



During these years the first universities were also appearing 
in England's overseas possessions, and in the rapidly expand- 
ing United States of America new foundations followed in 
quick succession. We keep coming across traces of Huxley's 
fingers in many of these promising pies, but his most im- 
portant connexions were with the colleges and university of 
his native London. 

Surprisingly enough, he did not play a very prominent part 
in the affairs of University College, which had been founded 
in 1826 by a group of utilitarians and philosophic radicals 
under the name of 'London University*. To the Christopher 
Mowbrays of England a non-residential university in Gower 
Street was incomprehensible; to the supporters, of religious 
tests a secular university was reprehensible; but for Huxley 
one might have expected it to have had considerable attrac- 
tions. He was one of its governors and gave evening lectures 
there from time to time, and his 1870 address on medical 
education was an event of some importance, but his main 
activity seems to have been connected with the establishment 
of the two Jodrell Chairs. Three years after telling the medical 
faculty that its professors should be so remunerated as to 
abstain from private practice, he learned that T. J. P. Jodrell, 
a wealthy amateur of science, was prepared to provide an en- 
dowment of 7500. Following consultation with Huxley, 
Jodrell wrote to tell the President of University College that 
he was advised that the work of the two part-time professors 
in physiology might be given as efficiently by one full-time 
professor with the aid of a demonstrator, and he explained 
that the purpose of the proposed endowment was to induce 
men of eminent ability to forgo more lucrative sources of 
emolument and devote themselves to original research. At 
first the College was reluctant to accept the rather stringent 
conditions which were attached to the offer, so Jodrell con- 
sulted with Huxley again, with an eminently satisfactory out- 
come: "Since I saw you I have had another interview with 
the U.C Deputation at which being fortified by yr. opinion I 


assumed a more confident tone & the result was that they ac- 
quiesced at once in my view." The intention of the endow- 
ment was admirably fulfilled by the first Jodrell Professor of 
Physiology, Biirdon-Sanderson; * and, when a few years 
later the founder's wish to do something more for science 
took shape at Huxley's suggestion in the Jodrell Chair of 
Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, the first occupant was 
that well-loved prodigal proteg6, Ray Lankester. 

With King's College in the Strand, founded by the Angli- 
cans to counter the godless institution in Gower Street, 
Huxley seems to have had little to do apart from an un- 
successful application in 1853 for the Chair of Physiology. 
Nor, despite his general support for female education, did he 
have much connexion with the colleges founded for women, 
replying to a request that he should lecture at one of them 
with the query "what on earth should I do among all the 
virgins, young and old, in Bedford Square? ... I should be 
turned out ... for some forgetful excursus into the theory 
of Parthenogenesis or worse". He gave occasional lectures at 
the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution, grown from 
the London Mechanics* Institute and later to become Birk- 
beck College; he helped to establish the Peoples* Palace, the 
parent of Queen Mary College in the East End; he did his bit 
for the university extension movement. With the medical 
schools and colleges of London he was always intimate, and 
in South Kensington he was busy building the components 
of the future Imperial College. But it was with the original 
University of London, founded in 1835 by Lord Melbourne's 
government to conduct examinations and award degrees, and 
with the movement in the latter part of the century to co- 
ordinate the many metropolitan institutions of higher educa- 
tion into a great new teaching University of London, that 
some of his most important work was done. 

* Sir John Scott Burdon-Sanderson (1828-1905), who had thitherto been 
part-time Professor of Practical Physiology and Histology. In 1882 he went 
to Oxford as the first Waynflete Professor of Physiology and eventually be- 
came Regius Professor of Medicine there. 


In 1856 Huxley succeeded Carpenter * as University Ex* 
aminer in Physiology and Comparative Anatomy, soon he 
was examining in Zoology also, and during most of the four- 
teen years until his resignation in 1870 his field ranged from 
matriculation to eleven different degree examinations in the 
Faculties of Arts, Medicine and Science. For almost the 
whole of that period the degrees of the University of London 
were open to all comers, and those who controlled them were 
able to determine the curricula of many educational institu- 
tions throughout the English-speaking world. In this way, 
Huxley was able to make his examining a means of spreading 
the new spirit in biology, and Michael Foster recalls the 
pleasure with which as a student he looked forward to the 
viva voce test. It was also while Huxley was examiner that 
the regulations for medical students were altered to require the 
completion of the preliminary scientific studies before the 
start of the regular medical course, and he was largely re- 
sponsible for the introduction of a practical physiology test 
in 1871. 

During the 1850s it was still the dominant view that scien- 
tific studies were not sufficiently 'liberal 9 to form the centre 
of a university course, but the regulations for the London 
BA nevertheless allowed candidates to take Honours in a 
wide range of subjects, including both physical and biological 
sciences. There was, however, nothing of a standard to suit 
those who wished to specialise in science, and in 1857 Huxley 
was one of a group of scientists who urged the Senate to 
establish a higher scientific degree comparable with that of 
Master of Arts. A year later, he took the initiative in calling 
together a group of signatories to a second memorial, raising 
the question of science degrees in general, and the Senate ap- 
pointed a committee to consider the matter. The memorial 
pointed out that the ancient fourfold division of human 
knowledge into Arts, Theology, Law and Medicine, while 

* William Benjamin Carpenter (1813-1885), Registrar of the University of 
London from 1865 to 1879, when he became a Crown Fellow. 


'Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion' (p. 61) 


'Continually taking two irons out of the f re and putt ing three in* (p. 109 


possibly adequate to the age in which universities first arose, 
was quite inadequate since a fifth branch of knowledge, 
Science, had grown up. It also objected that "Academic 
bodies . . . continue to ignore Science as a separate Pro- 
fession; and even the University of London, though specially 
instituted to meet the wants of modern times, can confer no 
Degree upon the first Chemist and Physicist of his age, unless 
he possess at the same time a more than average acquaintance 
with classical literature". Huxley's evidence to the committee 
indicates that he was still thinking mainly of a degree at the 
magistrate rather than the baccalaureate level, but the com- 
mittee reported in favour of instituting both BSc and DSc 
degrees. The regulations for the former were based very much 
on the course which students passed through at the School of 
Mines, and by 1860 it was possible for the first time in Eng- 
land to graduate in the sciences. 

Had Huxley foreseen all the consequences of this success, 
he might have been less pleased than he was. Once the 
scientists had their own degree, there were moves to 
make the course for BA entirely non-scientific, and by 1874 
Huxley was having to fight for the retention of physiology. 
He recognised that it would be impossible for students 
specialising in the arts to acquire a thorough and practical 
knowledge of the sciences, but some knowledge they should 

I apprehend that every degree implies or should imply that the pos- 
sessor of it has in the first place so much general knowledge as is neces- 
sary for the equipment of every fairly instructed person and has under- 
gone a certain discipline which entitles him to the particular degree 
which he takes. . . . 

The possessor of a Scientific degree ought not I think to be ignorant 
of the existence of Cromwell & of his general significance in Rnglfch 
Historythough I think it would be most unreasonable to require him 
to have read Mr. Carlyle's edition of Cromwell's letters & speeches . . . 
It would be as great a scandal that any person possessing a University 
degree in Arts should be ignorant of the law of gravitation, or of the 
chemical fact that air is not an element ... or of the circulation of 


blood in his own body ... as that a B.Sc. should be ignorant of Crom- 
well's existence. 

And I am quite certain that such knowledge of science though it be 
mere information . . . would save our statesmen our public writers our 
literary men & our theologians from many of the blunders into which 
they are constantly falling & which a properly instructed child would 

The matriculation examination already required some 
knowledge of chemistry, and Huxley urged that physics and 
elementary human physiology should be retained in the first 
BA examination so as to ensure that no graduate of the uni- 
versity would be devoid of a fair tincture of scientific know- 
ledge. The committee seems to have been convinced, for it 
recommended the retention of physiology, but Huxley was 
already having second thoughts on the whole question of a 
dichotomy between arts and science in degrees at the bachelor 
level. In this same year he opposed the institution of a 
separate first degree in science at Aberdeen, and a year later 
he was advising that university to follow the older universities 
of England in the introduction of scientific specialisations for 
a common Bachelor of Arts. In the conditions of the 1850s he 
could scarcely have done other than fight for the recognition 
of the right of science to a degree of its own, but all that we 
know of his love of wide culture combined with deep special- 
isation makes it fairly certain that what he would really have 
liked would have been something similar to the flexible 
system into which the Triposes of Cambridge have now 
grown, with a preliminary general course such as has recently 
been devised at the University College of North Stafford- 

In 1883, two years before his retirement from South Ken- 
sington, Huxley was invited to become a Crown Fellow and 
Senator of the University of London. Ailing badly, he replied 
that his many other commitments would permit his attending 
meetings only rarely, and that he was unwilling to accept an 
office whose duties he could not perform properly, but the 
Chancellor's neat retort left him little choice in the matter: 


II Carlton House Terrace. 

July 28th, 1883. 
My dear Professor Huxley, 

Cay, the great whist player, once made a mistake and said to his 
partner, "My brain is softening", the latter answered, "Never mind, I 
will give you 10,000 down for it, just as it is". 

On that principle and backed up by Paget * I shall write to Harcourt 
on Monday. 

Yours sincerely, 


The Home Secretary concurred in this estimate of an only 
partially functioning Huxley, and in August the appointment 
was made. As he had warned would be the case, Huxley 
attended Senate infrequently only sixteen times in twelve 
years but his influence on the university's development was 
considerable. He was elected to many committees, dealing 
with matters ranging from the control of the Brown Animal 
Sanatory Institution to the selection of examiners and the 
regulation of examinations, but some of these appointments 
may have been no more than nominal. However, when from 
1885 onwards the Senate set about the pressing problem of 
university reorganisation, his role was not merely active but 
often decisive. 

Ever since 1858, when the requirement that candidates for 
London degrees must have attended recognised colleges was 
abandoned, there had been discontent that the university 
could exercise no formal control over the methods of study 
of those who would be its graduates. Unfortunately, sus- 
picion and recrimination among the many metropolitan 
quasi-university institutions repeatedly prevented the sorting 
out of a sorry state of affairs, and by 1880 the situation had 
become one of great complexity. Some were by then con- 
vinced that the only solution was the complete absorption of 
the London colleges by the university; others would have 
granted degree-giving powers to the colleges and professional 

* Sir James Paget (1814-1899), the eminent sui-geon and anatomist, whose 
highly fashionable practice included Queen Victoria. At this time he was Vice- 
Chancellor of the University of London. 


schools; others would have left the existing university as an 
imperial examining body and formed a new federal university 
for London out of the existing schools and colleges. In addi- 
tion, and cutting right across these three parties, there was 
another tripartite division. Many of the professoriate, in- 
fluenced by German example and encouraged by the con- 
siderable transfer of power in the older universities from 
Heads of Houses to the main body of teachers, insisted that 
the reorganised university must be effectively ruled by its 
professors; the growing body of graduates scattered about 
the land wanted more power for Convocation; and a stub- 
born section of men in authority wanted to retain an essen- 
tially autocratic form of university government. It scarcely 
seemed that any compromise could be possible. 

Then, in 1884, an Association for Promoting a Teaching 
University for London was founded, and Huxley was one of 
the Special Committee appointed by the Senate in 1886 to 
consider its views. The importance he attached to the matter 
is indicated by the fact that, despite ill health which repeated- 
ly drove him to Bournemouth and Ilkley and Switzerland, he 
managed to attend six committee meetings, and the Vice- 
Chancellor kept him well informed of what was afoot in his 
absence. Now, however, the position was complicated by the 
presentation of petitions to the Privy Council by several of 
the existing institutions. The Senate followed the recom- 
mendations of its Special Committee in opposing the re- 
quests of University College and King's College for a full 
university charter, but it was divided about the wish of the 
Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons to grant medical 
degrees. Huxley thought it unfair that Scottish medical 
students might get degrees as a matter of course, while Lon- 
don students obtained only diplomas on the conclusion of 
the equally severe conjoint examination, and to those who 
argued that a degree should not be given for purely profes- 
sional studies he replied that "a man who knows no language 
but his own, but has had a thorough training in medicine and 


its ancillary branches of knowledge, has had a more truly 
liberal education than the high classic who is devoid of any 
tincture of scientific culture'*. He therefore supported a suc- 
cessful motion that the university would not oppose the 
granting of medical degrees by the conjoint colleges, pro- 
vided that they were clearly distinguished from the uni- 
versity's own degrees and that their recipients had an ade- 
quate preliminary education, and in the June of 1888 the 
Special Committee asked Lord Justice Fry * to prepare a 
scheme on these lines. But by this time the air was so thick 
with schemes and counter-schemes that the Government tried 
to clear it by appointing a Royal Commission under the chair- 
manship of Lord Selborne.f 

Huxley's Senate attendances had been so few, and his 
health so poor, that about this time he sought to resign, but 
Paget persuaded him to continue. "We can always consult 
you by letter or personally," he wrote, "and be influenced or 
guided by your opinion." Things were brought to a head by 
the report of the Selborne Commission, which favoured the 
establishment of a new federal university substantially similar 
to that proposed in the earlier petitions of University and 
King's Colleges; and, when the Senate appointed another 
Special Committee to consider the report, Huxley was again 
a member. The proposed new university would have con- 
demned the existing university to a perpetuity of mere ex- 
aminership, and powerful opposition developed to the Sel- 
borne proposals. The House of Commons rejected the Com- 
mission's scheme, and it became clear that the only hope of 
progress lay in some form of federation of the existing col- 
leges and the existing university. At the beginning of 1891, 
therefore, the Senate produced its own plan, in which the 

* Sir Edward Fry (1827-1918), a member of the famous Bristol Quaker 
family. His early researches held promise of eminence in biology, but he 
decided to devote his great energies and talents to the law. His connexion with 
the University of London, in one form or another, lasted for half a century. 

t Sir Roundell Palmer, 1st Earl Selborne (1812-1895), the eminent lawyer 
who was Lord Chancellor from 1872 to 1874 and 1880 to 1885. He entered 
Parliament in 1847 as a Conservative, but his independent views gradually 
led him over to the Liberal side. 


reorganised university was to be governed by representatives 
of University and King's Colleges, the Royal Colleges of 
Surgeons and Physicians, the teachers through the Faculties, 
and the graduates through Convocation. Huxley attended no 
Senate meetings during this year, but some pencilled notes 
on his copy of the Senate's scheme shew the way his mind 
was working. He proposed to halve the representation of 
Convocation and of University and King's Colleges, whilst 
doubling the representation of the university's teachers; he 
would have added representatives of the Royal Society and 
the Royal Academy; and he wanted adequate provision for 
the representation of painting, sculpture, architecture and 
music. But the Senate's plan was rejected by Convocation, 
and one more was added to the growing discard of proposals 
for the reorganisation of higher education in the metropolis. 
By the spring of 1892 Huxley seems to have given up hope 
of any valuable outcome from the complex conflict, and his 
correspondence was full of despairing phrases. The whole 
affair, he lamented to Donnelly, was "a perfect muddle of 
competing crude projects and vested interests"; he told 
Lankester that "unless people clearly understand that the uni- 
versity of the future is to be a very different thing from the 
university of the past, they had better put off meddling for 
another generation"; he warned Weldon * "to take care that 
no such Philistine compromise as is possible at present, be- 
comes too strong to survive a sharp shake". In the meanwhile, 
he advised the professors at the Royal College of Science to 
see that they were not hooked into the hotch-potch, and he 
saw nothing for it but that the medical, legal and theological 
corporations should cut adrift and make their own arrange- 
ments for professional graduation. A new Royal Commission 
(the so-called 'Gresham' Commission) was appointed under 

* Walter Frank Raphael Weldon (1860-1906), who had recently succeeded 
Lankester in the Jodrell Chair of Physiology at University College, where he 
took an active part in the movement for promoting a professorial university in 
London. In 1899 he moved to the Linacre Chair of Comparative Anatomy at 


Lord Cowper,* but Huxley saw no reason to expect anything 
of it. He thought that pretty much what was wanted could be 
got by "grafting a College de France on to the University of 
London, subsidising University College and King's College 
(if it will get rid of its tests, not otherwise), and setting up two 
or three more such bodies in other parts of London", but he 
had no hope of that's happening. Even when Karl Pearson f 
and a group of vigorous young teachers in the London col- 
leges set up the Association for Promoting a Professorial Uni- 
versity of London, Huxley refused to join it on the Simon 
Pure ground that it would be improper for a member of 
Senate to do so which must have seemed excessively meticu- 
lous to those who knew that he had given much help to the 
earlier APTUL, whilst insisting for tactical reasons that all 
his contacts should be oral. He was ailing, sadly deaf and 
deeply dispirited, and he had no confidence that there could 
be any result worth fighting for. 

Then, quite suddenly, opinion began to crystallise, and 
Huxley's hopes sprang high. The liberal Speaker printed on 
25 June an editorial praising the new Association and remark- 
ing on the extraordinary unanimity evident among those 
actually engaged in teaching, and within two days Huxley 
was back in the fray. "I am in great spirits about the new 
University movement," he wrote to Foster, "and have told 
the rising generation that this old hulk is ready to be towed 
out into line of battle, if they think fit, which is more com- 
mendable to my public spirit than my prudence." The rising 
generation decided that the old hulk was seaworthy enough 
to fly the admiral's flag, and on 7 June The Times an- 
nounced that Huxley had accepted the Presidency of the 
Association. Karl Pearson, who had signed on most of the 

* Francis Thomas De Grey Cowper, 7th Earl (1834-1905), who had served 
'as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1880 to 1882, with W. E. Forster as his 
Chief Secretary. 

t Karl Pearson (1857-1936), the mathematical biologist who virtually 
founded the science of biometry. He was a brilliant investigator and teacher, 
but [DNB] "was apt to attribute intellectual differences of opinion to 
stupidity or even moral obliquity". 


crew, was delighted that Huxley had come to lead them, but 
as the fleet set sail he began to have second thoughts. His 
idea had been to found a university on German lines, with all 
power to the professors and no compromise with the existing 
colleges and university, but Huxley had other ideas. Pearson 
later complained, "Huxley . . . brought his enormous force 
to work on a small executive committee of which I was secre- 
tary to carry out a plan of his own . . . with all the force of an 
old hand [he] completely confused me". The complaint was 
factually justified, but Pearson should have known that the 
old warrior would not be content to fly the admiral's flag and 
let somebody else set the course. 

By December the executive committee had been persuaded 
that the only workable plan was that of a federal university, 
and Pearson resigned his secretaryship in a bitter open letter 
in The Times. Huxley's reply rebuked Pearson for resigning 
in the daily Press rather than in committee, and explained 
why he had opposed the original plan: 

As for a government by professors only, the fact of their being special- 
ists is against them. Most of them are broadminded, practical men; 
some are good administrators. But, unfortunately, there is among them, 
as in other professions, a fair sprinkling of one-idea'd fanatics, ignorant 
of the commonest conventions of official relations, and content with 
nothing if they cannot get everything their own way. It is these persons 
who, with the very highest and purest intentions, would ruin any ad- 
ministrative body unless they were counterpoised by non-professorial, 
common-sense members of recognised weight and authority in the con- 
duct of affairs. 

Pearson was a man of genius but tiresome and difficult to 
work with and, if Huxley managed to get the Association to 
follow him rather than its founder, that was a cause for 
legitimate disappointment rather than for accusations of im- 
morality. Huxley's note following an Association meeting, 
"had to show that I am the kind of head that does not lend 
itself to wagging by the tail", betokens a certain ruthlessness, 
but that was the only kind of head which could have brought 
order out of chaos. 


Some of London's more eminent scholars, not unnaturally, 
wanted a constitution which would ensure that the leaders in 
each branch of study occupied permanently a position of 
authority in university affairs, but they found Huxley against 
them. "That to which I am utterly opposed", he told Weldon, 
"is the creation of an Established Church Scientific, with a 
hierarchical organisation and a professorial Episcopate. . . . 
[Each university teacher], if he is worth his salt, will be a man 
holding his own views on general questions, and having as 
good a right as any other to be heard. Why is one to be given 
a higher rank and vastly greater practical influence than the 
rest? . . . The besetting sin of able men is impatience of con- 
tradiction and of criticism. Even those who do their best to 
resist the temptation, yield to it almost unconsciously and 
become the tools of toadies and flatterers." At a meeting of 
the executive committee of the Association, consisting largely 
of men who might reasonably have expected to head their 
respective branches of learning, Huxley found only one sup- 
porter against a motion to restrict Senate membership to 
very senior professors: the following day he suggested (no 
doubt with his tongue in his cheek) that perhaps he ought to 
resign his Presidency, and that put 'paid' to all idea of ex- 
cluding junior teachers from an effective part in university 

Meanwhile, through the summer of 1892, the Senate's 
Special Committee had been meeting without making much 
progress, and at last Huxley put in an appearance. "I am 
going to a meeting of the University this day week to try my 
power of persuasion", he told Michael Foster in November. 
"If the Senate can only be got to see where salvation lies and 
strike hard without any fooling over details, we shall do a 
great stroke of business for the future generations of Lon- 
doners." The sciences were fairly well represented on the 
Special Committee, but Huxley was concerned at the possi- 
bility that the creative arts and crafts might be overlooked in 
its plans. "You should see the place I am claiming for Art in 


crew, was delighted that Huxley had come to lead them, but 
as the fleet set sail he began to have second thoughts. His 
idea had been to found a university on German lines, with all 
power to the professors and no compromise with the existing 
colleges and university, but Huxley had other ideas. Pearson 
later complained, "Huxley . . . brought his enormous force 
to work on a small executive committee of which I was secre- 
tary to carry out a plan of his own . . . with all the force of an 
old hand [he] completely confused me". The complaint was 
factually justified, but Pearson should have known that the 
old warrior would not be content to fly the admiral's flag and 
let somebody else set the course. 

By December the executive committee had been persuaded 
that the only workable plan was that of a federal university, 
and Pearson resigned his secretaryship in a bitter open letter 
in The Times. Huxley's reply rebuked Pearson for resigning 
in the daily Press rather than in committee, and explained 
why he had opposed the original plan: 

As for a government by professors only, the fact of their being special- 
ists is against them. Most of them are broadminded, practical men; 
some are good administrators. But, unfortunately, there is among them, 
as in other professions, a fair sprinkling of one-idea'd fanatics, ignorant 
of the commonest conventions of official relations, and content with 
nothing if they cannot get everything their own way. It is these persons 
who, with the very highest and purest intentions, would ruin any ad- 
ministrative body unless they were counterpoised by non-professorial, 
common-sense members of recognised weight and authority in the con- 
duct of affairs. 

Pearson was a man of genius but tiresome and difficult to 
work with and, if Huxley managed to get the Association to 
follow him rather than its founder, that was a cause for 
legitimate disappointment rather than for accusations of im- 
morality. Huxley's note following an Association meeting, 
"had to show that I am the kind of head that does not lend 
itself to wagging by the tail", betokens a certain rathlessness, 
but that was the only kind of head which could have brought 
order out of chaos. 


Some of London's more eminent scholars, not unnaturally, 
wanted a constitution which would ensure that the leaders in 
each branch of study occupied permanently a position of 
authority in university affairs, but they found Huxley against 
them. "That to which I am utterly opposed", he told Weldon, 
"is the creation of an Established Church Scientific, with a 
hierarchical organisation and a professorial Episcopate. . . . 
[Each university teacher], if he is worth his salt, will be a man 
holding his own views on general questions, and having as 
good a right as any other to be heard. Why is one to be given 
a higher rank and vastly greater practical influence than the 
rest? . . . The besetting sin of able men is impatience of con- 
tradiction and of criticism. Even those who do their best to 
resist the temptation, yield to it almost unconsciously and 
become the tools of toadies and flatterers." At a meeting of 
the executive committee of the Association, consisting largely 
of men who might reasonably have expected to head their 
respective branches of learning, Huxley found only one sup- 
porter against a motion to restrict Senate membership to 
very senior professors: the following day he suggested (no 
doubt with his tongue in his cheek) that perhaps he ought to 
resign his Presidency, and that put 'paid' to all idea of ex- 
cluding junior teachers from an effective part in university 

Meanwhile, through the summer of 1892, the Senate's 
Special Committee had been meeting without making much 
progress, and at last Huxley put in an appearance. "I am 
going to a meeting of the University this day week to try my 
power of persuasion", he told Michael Foster in November. 
"If the Senate can only be got to see where salvation lies and 
strike hard without any fooling over details, we shall do a 
great stroke of business for the future generations of Lon- 
doners." The sciences were fairly well represented on the 
Special Committee, but Huxley was concerned at the possi- 
bility that the creative arts and crafts might be overlooked in 
its plans. "You should see the place I am claiming for Art in 


the University", he wrote to his painter son-in-law John 
Collier. "I do believe something will grow out of my plan, 
which has made all the dry bones rattle. It is coming on for 
discussion in the Senate, and I shall be coming to you to have 
my wounds dressed after the fight" If today the metropolitan 
institutions for painting ahd sculpture and music are still 
largely isolated from the University of London, it is not for 
want of effort on Huxley's part. In the December of 1892 he 
introduced to the Special Committee a deputation from the 
Association and, after the Vice-Chancellor had replied for 
the University, he said that he thought the Senate was moving 
in the right direction and that details could stand over. Three 
months later many of the details were filled in, and at its last 
meeting the Special Committee approved a letter to the Com- 
mission which Huxley had drafted. That the University and 
the Association were substantially at one is not surprising: 
they were both substantially at one with him. 

It must have been with a gratifying sense of accumulated 
authority that Huxley appeared to give evidence to the Gres- 
ham Commissioners. He was President of the Association, 
Senator of the University of London, Governor of Univer- 
sity College; he had long been regarded by the royal medical 
colleges as an unofficial adviser; many of the other key wit- 
nesses were former students or men whose careers he had for- 
warded and, to round things off nicely, before the Com- 
mission was formed he had been invited to suggest names of 
suitable members. He urged that a university adapted to 
modern society must abandon the narrow view of culture 
introduced in the latter half of the medieval period and revert 
to the ancient idea of general learning which, since the 
modern student has already studied the elements of the 
Trivium at school, implied that the university must provide 
an expanded analogue of the Quadrivium, including the 
natural sciences, historical and literary studies, and the crea- 
tive arts and crafts. Amidst the existing chaos of conflicting 
opinions and interests, unusual even in English affairs, he did 


not venture to ask for the university of his ideal, but he was 
sanguine enough to hope for some compromise sufficiently 
flexible to go with the tendencies of the time. The new uni- 
versity should, he declared, unify the existing institutions 
without fettering them; the professional schools of medicine 
and law and theology, and where expedient other branches of 
learning, should be permitted to examine their own students 
and present them for degrees adeundem\ the professors and 
other teachers should have a large but not preponderant place 
in the university's government, should have an important 
voice in the appointment of colleagues, and should be re- 
munerated according to the nature of their work and irre- 
spective of the numbers of their students. There must, he be- 
lieved, be a central University Chest to receive all fees and 
State subventions and future endowments, and special pro- 
vision should be made for instruction in research methods of 
all kinds. As for the admission of students, he believed that 
matriculation examinations simply saved the schools the 
trouble of setting up their own leaving examination, and he 
did not want any fixed test for entrance to the university. 
After all, he pointed out, most of the candidates would as a 
matter of expediency have reached the required standard, and 
"I say that very possibly the odd tenth may contain persons 
of defective education, but of a native vigour which makes 
them more worth having than all the other nine-tenths, and I 
would not lose them for any consideration". 

When the Commissioners reported early in 1894, in the 
main along the lines for which Huxley had been fighting, he 
was not unnaturally gratified: "under the circumstances . . . 
a very considerable achievement", he noted. Ailing badly, he 
was able to attend only two meetings of the Special Com- 
mittee on the Report of the Gresham University Commission, 
appointed by the Senate in February, but in July he went to a 
fuU Senate meeting to support a resolution asking the govern- 
ment to appoint Statutory Commissioners to implement the 
Gresham Commission's proposals. His diary records an 


engagement with Lord Rosebery * soon after he became Prime 
Minister, but when December arrived, and there was still no 
sign of government action, he decided to provoke it. "It is 
rumoured that there are lions in the path", he wrote to Rose- 
bery. "But even lions are occasionally induced to retreat by 
the sight of a large body of beaters. And some of us think 
that such a deputation as would willingly wait on you, might 
hasten the desired movement." The Prime Minister imme- 
diately agreed to receive a deputation, the various groups in- 
volved quickly appointed their deputies, everyone else seems 
to have agreed with the University and the Association and 
University College that Huxley should speak on all their be- 
halves, and in the January of 1895 he fulfilled his last public 
engagement. It is one of the most striking things in the career 
of this most striking man that, coming out of retirement for 
a final fight in the very evening of his days, he was able so to 
unify the discordant desires of the capital's many institutions 
of higher learning as to allow the Senate of a great new 
federal University of London to meet before the end of the 

* Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl Rosebery (1847-1929), who had 
succeeded Gladstone in March when the latter resigned in opposition to the 
Navy Estimate. Although in his later years something of an imperialist, he was 
liberal in most home affairs and argued against hereditary political privilege 
and denominationalism in education. In 1889 he had been elected first Chair- 
man of the newly constituted London County Council. 


To the New World 

The question of questions for mankind the problem which 
underlies all others, and is more deeply interesting than any 
other is the ascertainment of the place which Man occupies 
in nature and of bis relation to the universe of things. Whence 
our race has come; what are the limits of our power over 
nature and of nature's power over us; to what goal we are tend- 
ing; are the problems which present themselves anew and 
with undiminished interest to every man born into the world 
. . . thoughtful men, once escaped from the blinding influences 
of traditional prejudice, will find in the lowly stock whence 
Man has sprung, the best evidence of the splendour of his 
capacities; and will discern in his long progress through the 
Past, a reasonable ground of faith in his attainment of a 
nobler Future. 

'Moris Place in Nature 9 , 1863 

LOOKED AT FROM the distance of today, the most striking 
thing about Thomas Henry Huxley is his sheer effectiveness. 
Whether it was a matter of public controversy or of private 
lobbying, of reorientating an existing institution or of setting 
the direction for a new one, of putting the right men into key 
posts or of selecting the manner in which the nation might be 
allowed to honour him, he generally seemed to get his way. 
Of course, this could not have happened had he not wanted 
what the society of his day needed, but he seems also to have 
had precisely the character needed to get what he wanted. 
Compounding a clear view of objectives with immense 



determination and enormous energy, an unyielding devotion 
to principle with great flexibility of application, and a capacity 
for occasional ruthlessness with an habitual captivating 
charm, he was indeed a formidable figure. 

He seems, moreover, to have been formidable from the 
start. When the young medical apprentice entered a public 
competition announced by Apothecaries Hall in 1842, his 
university-taught competitors were apparently unconcerned. 
At least, no objection was raised to a request that candidates 
be allowed to complete their answers instead of stopping at 
four o'clock but presumably no one imagined that Huxley 
would still be writing four hours later, and to such effect as 
to cairy off the silver medal. From the start, moreover, 
Huxley had that immensely valuable quality of being noticed. 
No doubt he was helped by his innocent audacity towards the 
hierarchy of scientific society, which allowed him as a lad to 
buttonhole Michael Faraday by the Royal Institution and re- 
ceive an exposition of the laws of motion from the first 
physicist in the land. Perhaps his cavernous eyes of jet and 
striking lean physique had something to do with it, perhaps 
the peculiar melancholy which was never quite obscured by 
the bubbles of his effervescent fun. At any rate, from the time 
he returned to England the newspapers never left him alone, 
and in 1858 he was elected to the Athenaeum under the 'dis- 
tinguished persons* Rule at the head of the poll. 

It was an adventurous, exciting age, when English society 
was giving itself a shaking up such as it has rarely known. 
There was a tumultuous energy about, and a splendid resolu- 
tion, and the ruling circles had sufficient self-confidence to be 
unafraid of an upstart young man of evident ability. Huxley 
had a great gift for seeing that he was in the right, and great 
skill in using official channels and enlisting the 'best' people 
in good causes, and as a result he soon acquired a sort of 
public indispensability. Early in life he had learned that some 
men of high repute had but commonplace ability, and this 
gave to his actions a decisiveness and direction which would 


have been impossible to one who stood in any awe of reputa- 
tions. He had, moreover, "an organ of *grin-and-bear-it-ive- 
ness' which is large in me by nature & has been developed by 
all the appliances of art", and he was quite ready to suffer 
abuse for a few years in the conviction that his cause was 
righteous and ultimate victory certain. 

Huxley's somewhat Quakerish devotion to *y ea > yea' and 
*nay, nay' in all his discourse earned him enemies, but not 
so many as would have been the case in our more mealy- 
mouthed society of a century later. Occasionally he went too 
far, and one can sympathise with the badly bruised Duke of 
Argyll, who complained "He writes as if every believer in 
Christianity were no better than a blackbeetle beneath his 
feet", but the Duke was generalising unjustly from his own 
personal experience. Usually, Huxley's vigour was moderated 
by an appreciation of opposing sincerity, and in the close- 
knit society of those days his public intransigeance was largely 
forgiven for his private charm. "I never came away from 
your house", Leslie Stephen told Mrs Huxley, "without 
thinking how good he is; what a tender and affectionate 
nature the man has! It did me good simply to see him." The" 
Victorians valued goodness, and especially goodness within 
the family circle, and others besides Lady Monkswell must 
have remarked after a visit "What I like about the family is 
the way they all seem to care so much for each other". 
Huxley's friends were always impressed by his kindliness, 
and Darwin commented, with reference to the scandalous 
Belfast address on animal automatism, "I wish to God there 
were more automata in the world like you". No doubt 
Alexander Macmillan was foolishly extravagant when he de- 
clared "I tell you, there is so much real Christianity in Hux- 
ley that if it were parcelled out among the men, women and 
children in the British Isles, there would be enough to save 
the soul of every one of them, and plenty to spare", but it is 
significant that a hard-headed man could make such a state- 
ment at all. It is one of the marks of a master that his 


disciples relate great wonders and fabricate a marvellous 
mythology, and the Huxley myth acquired in his own life- 
time a great and almost autonomous power. 

The myth, moreover, was not a narrowly national one. 
Scientific societies from Dresden to Philadelphia, from Alex- 
andria to Gottingen, from Rome to St Petersburg, all felt it 
necessary to have Huxley as a foreign member. The Geo- 
logical Society of Australasia, the Royal Natural History 
Society of the Netherlands Indies, the Lisbon Royal Academy 
of Sciences, the Moscow Imperial Natural History Society, 
the Imperial Geological Society of Vienna one after another 
they sent him honorary diplomas. And when, in 1876, he at 
last found time to cross the Atlantic, the excitement was im- 
mense. "The whole nation is electrified by the announce- 
ment that Professor Huxley is to visit us next fall", one 
American correspondent declared. "We will make infinitely 
more of him than we did of the Prince of Wales and his re- 
tinue of lords and dukes." For Huxley the occasion had also 
a peculiar personal poignancy: he would meet again, after an 
interval of thirty years, the one member of his father's family 
for whom his affection had never wavered. "It will be some- 
thing strange to see any one of my own blood who has any 
love for me", he wrote to Lizzie before sailing and imme- 
diately corrected himself: "I have written a horrible blas- 
phemy for my children are of my own blood and they love 
me well." 

Huxley once told Lowell * that he had "a sort of dream 
of bringing the English speaking men of science together", 
and his American friends included Asa Gray the botanist, 
Othniel Marsh the palaeontologist, Alexander Agassiz the 
geologist and Edward Youmans the chemist and educator. 
Another friend was Oilman, f the university administrator, 

* James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), the poet, essayist and diplomat. 
After a tenure of Longfellow's Chair at Harvard, he became US Minister 
first to Spain and then to the Court of St James. 

t Daniel Coit Oilman (1831-1908), who vacated the Chair of Geography at 
Yale in 1872 to become President of the University of California, and then in 
1875 became first President of Johns Hopkins University. 


'The savage of civilisation is a more dangerous animal than any other wild beast' (p. 134) 


'It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions 1 (p, 90) 


who was faced with the exciting challenge of organising the 
great new foundation of Johns Hopkins. To start off the uni- 
versity's biological studies in a proper manner that is, his 
manner Huxley sent over his former demonstrator Mar- 
tin* ("young, energetic, very pleasant in manner and a 
thorough gentleman in all his ways"), and suggested that he 
should revise the South Kensington scheme of biological 
teaching "in usum studiosum Yankietatis". But Oilman 
wanted Huxley in person, and it was arranged that he should 
pay a visit to Baltimore and deliver the official opening 

Huxley and his wife set off for America in July in great 
spirits, leaving their children behind in the care of friends and 
looking forward to a 'second honeymoon'. As soon as Ger- 
manic berthed in New York they were whisked away by 
W. H. Appleton the publisher for a few days' rest at his 
country house at Riverdale, and then Huxley went to Yale to 
examine Marsh's collection of fossils. Comfortably housed in 
a residence placed at his disposal by the millionaire Peabody, 
and courted by distinguished callers including the Governor 
of Connecticut, he found time for sufficient palaeontological 
study to become convinced that the horse had originated not 
in the Old World but the New. Then came a brief visit to 
Boston, then a short stay at Fiske's summer-house in the 
White Mountains, and then to Buffalo for the meetings of 
the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 
Huxley's lecture on 'Impressions of America' seems to have 
been enthusiastically received, despite his somewhat ambigu- 
ous compliment, "You have among you the virtue which is 
most notable among savages, that of hospitality", and it was 
followed by a week's relaxation at Niagara. Then there came 
the long-awaited meeting with Lizzie at Nashville, Tennes- 
see, where Mrs Huxley was able to pick out on the railway 
platform the sister-in-law she had never seen, by reason of her 

* Henry Newell Martin (1848-1896), who had collaborated with Huxley in 
producing A Course of Practical Instruction in Elementary Biology. 


piercing black eyes. The good townsfolk were not content 
until Huxley had given them a lecture, "The Testimony of the 
Rocks', which with typical thoroughness he based on the local 
geology of Tennessee; and then, after a visit to Vanderbilt 
University, he and his wife went north to Baltimore. 

The new Johns Hopkins University had from the start set 
its face against anything in the way of religious compulsion, 
and Oilman came in for a good deal of criticism for his ar- 
rangement of the opening ceremony. "I am very sorry Oilman 
began with Huxley", wrote one Presbyterian minister to 
another. "But", he added consolingly, "it is possible yet to 
redeem the University from the stain of such a beginning." 
"Huxley was bad enough", it was wryly remarked; "Huxley 
without a prayer was intolerable." And, perhaps the best 
comment of all, "It was bad enough to invite Huxley. It were 
better to have asked God to be present. It would have been ab- 
surd to ask them both". 

Fortunately the Johns Hopkins Trustees were more appre- 
ciative, as were others for whom Huxley lectured during his 
seven weeks in America, and he was able to note in his diary 
"Say 600 profit on the whole transaction". It must have re- 
quired some fortitude to turn down the offer of $1000 for a 
single lecture in St Louis, and Appleton said that if Huxley 
would stay in America for the winter he could go home with 
10,000, but he had to get back to England. Before leaving 
New York he gave his promised lectures on evolution, filling 
the Chickering Hall to capacity for three evenings and the 
front pages of the newspapers on the three following morn- 
ings, and on 23 September he set sail to the pleasing tribute 
of a special commemorative issue of The New-York Tribune. 
It must have been gratifying to hear, shortly after reaching 
London, that the State University of Minnesota had adopted 
in its courses "just those elements of the sciences proposed 
by Professor Huxley", and before long his South Kensington 
methods were being copied by Princeton and Yale. Harvard, 
of course, tried to do things in a really grand manner "Now 


is it any use to make any kind of proposition to you. . .?" 
Agassiz wanted to know, "we could offer you say $10000 a 
year for the benefit of your presence and influence." 

Huxley was not to be tempted to settle in the United States 
permanently, but this was not due to any lack of apprecia- 
tion of the cultural potentialities of that still rough and un- 
developed land. His only criticism of America was that it was 
inferior to England in freedom of thought, and he never made 
the mistake of assuming that educational aims and forms 
were settled for all time by European experience and tradi- 
tion. At Baltimore he urged that the school curriculum should 
provide "an education fitted for free men; for men to whom 
every career is open", and this meant that it must include the 
study of written and spoken language, the elements of music 
and drawing, some history and social studies, and elementary 
mathematics and natural science and psychology. He would 
have no rigid test for university entrance, but would admit 
any one who could be reasonably expected to profit by the 
instruction offered, and he would radically alter the usual 
university system of instruction and examination. The neces- 
sity to follow many courses concurrently, he argued, led to 
the fragmentation of the students' attention, and the need to 
remember everything for a final examination led to unin- 
telligent cramming. "It is important", he said, "not so much 
to know a thing, as to have known it, and known it thorough- 
ly", and he therefore advocated the system practised at South 
Kensington, which examined the student at the conclusion of 
each course and then allowed him to concentrate his atten- 
tion on the next course. The widespread adoption of these 
principles in American universities might have produced 
better results if they had been accompanied by two others: 
that "there should not be too many subjects in the curri- 
culum, and ... the aim should be the attainment of a 
thorough and sound knowledge of each", and that the uni- 
versity should eject all students who shewed themselves "de- 
ficient in industry or capacity". 


One tiling which particularly pleased Huxley was that the 
capital of the Johns Hopkins endowment was not to be spent 
on magnificent buildings. "A great warrior is said to have 
made a desert and called it peace", he remarked. "Adminis- 
trators of educational funds have sometimes madeapalace and 
called it a university." He welcomed the intention to promote 
research, for "the future of the world lies in the hands of those 
who are able to carry the interpretation of nature a step 
further than their predecessors", but he warned that it was 
very difficult to find a way of encouraging and supporting the 
original investigator without opening the door to nepotism 
and jobbery. He had doubts, too, about the wisdom of the 
constitutional provision for the filling of vacancies among the 
trustees exclusively by co-option, and he suggested that the 
governing body should include representatives both of the 
academic staff and of independent learned societies. Huxley 
had a peculiar sensitivity to the winds of social change and, 
although at Baltimore he said relatively little about uni- 
versity organisation, it is remarkable how closely his later 
plan for reshaping the University of London (with a General 
Studies College, a series of Professional Colleges, and a Re- 
search College) resembles what has since become a popular 
pattern among the great State universities of America. 

To those at the Johns Hopkins ceremony who were 
charmed by the medieval battlements and ancient towns of 
England, Huxley pointed out that anticipation has no less 
charm than retrospect and that there was something almost 
sublime in the vista of their vigorous young land's future. 
"Do not suppose that I am pandering to what is commonly 
understood by national pride", he warned. "I cannot say that 
I am in the slightest degree impressed by your bigness, or 
your material resources, as such. Size is not grandeur, and 
territory does-not make a nation." The* great issue, he went 
on, was what they would make of their resources, and "the 
one condition of success, your sole safeguard, is the moral 
worth and intellectual clearness of the individual citizen". 


The number of these citizens, he suggested in what may turn 
out to have been a remarkably accurate extrapolation, would 
reach two hundred millions by the second centenary of 
American independence, and he forecast some of the pro- 
blems which would have to be faced "whether state rights 
will hold out against centralisation, without separation; 
whether centralisation will get the better, without actual or 
disguised monarchy; whether shifting corruption is better 
than a permanent bureaucracy". Perhaps he was wrong in his 
further belief, that "as population thickens in your great cities, 
and the pressure of want is felt . . . communism and socialism 
will claim to be heard", or perhaps we should wait until 1976 
before faulting him on this forecast. 

Huxley was deeply convinced of the seriousness of the 
problems which would be posed by mounting population 
pressure, and he remarked that it would be just as reasonable 
to revile Mr Cocker's arithmetic as Mr Malthus's essay on 
population. Strangely enough, he admitted to Michael Foster 
that he had never been able to get hold of a copy of Fruits of 
Philosophy (that 'indecent, lewd, filthy, bawdy and obscene 
book* for republishing which Charles Bradlaugh and Annie 
Besant were brought to trial), and this may argue, in a man 
normally so pertinacious, a certain lack of enthusiasm for the 
popular dissemination of contraceptive knowledge. But when 
Mrs Besant and Miss Alice Bradlaugh were excluded from 
classes at University College in 1883, he signed a memorial 
and attended a meeting in their favour, and he was one of 
those who met a few years later to discuss the formation of a 
'Population Question Association'. He believed that, by con- 
centrating on the greed and ambition of rulers and the tur- 
bulence of the ruled, on the decadence of great wealth and the 
deva$tation of great wars, historians had missed the real 
causes of change. "If historical writers could be persuaded 
that the people at the bottom are of considerably more im- 
portance than the people at the top . . .", he noted in 1887, 
"the importance of the population question as a great factor 


in history would be more familiar to us We should know 
what it had to do with Phoenician colonization with Greek 
colonization with the everlasting agrarian & proletarian 
question of ancient Rome; with the barbarian invasions 
with the social & political difficulties of every state in modern 
times. It is the true riddle of the Sphinx of History." 

England's apparent immunity from the predicated ills of 
population density Huxley considered due to a fortunate but 
temporary concatenation of circumstances, and he had no 
doubt that her need to import food would increasingly neces- 
sitate whatever reduction in the prices of her exports was re- 
quired to meet mounting competition. Many who shared his 
fears concluded that the way out was to reduce the wages of 
the workers, but such a solution was unacceptable to one 
who commented, in the year before his death, "It is hard to 
say whether the increase of the unemployed poor, or that of 
the unemployed rich, is the greater social evil". If, indeed, the 
only choice for England lay between decent remuneration for 
the workers, resulting in goods too dear for the export 
market, and cheap exports produced by means of cut wages, 
he declared that we should choose the former "and, if need 
be, starve like men". But he believed that there was a third 
alternative, to increase scientific and technological efficiency, 
and that was why in the latter part of his life he made the 
promotion of technical education into something like a 

His own contributions to science, of course, depended not 
at all on any social altruism, but were simply the outcome of 
a lifelong passion for inquiry. He could never afford the 
luxury of the gentleman-amateur, selecting research problems 
by personal preference, or he might have done more in 
physiology. One of the first of the new breed of scientific pro- 
fessionals, he worked in whatever field^ were appropriate to 
whatever job he held. As assistant-surgeon in Rattlesnake, 
with few facilities for preserving specimens and none for ex- 
periment, the only possibility was to examine the delicate 


creatures of the surface seas, dredging and dissecting and 
drawing as opportunity offered. He was not by temperament 
a collecting naturalist, but he had skilful hands and sharp 
eyes and, above all, a mind of philosophic bent capable of 
seizing the significance of things. 

Paid off in England in 1850, Huxley hastened to give an 
account of his doings to Sir John Richardson, his old official 
chief at Haslar Naval Hospital. "I paid comparatively little 
attention to the collection of new species," he explained, 
"caring rather to come to some clear and definite idea as to 
the structure of those which had indeed been long known, 
but very little understood. Unfortunately for science, but 
fortunately for me, this method appears to have been some- 
what novel with observers of these animals, and consequently 
new and remarkable facts were to be had for the picking up.*' 
Among the new and remarkable facts which he thus 'picked 
up* was the common existence of a two-layered cellular plan 
among the jelly-fish and sea-anemones and corals, thitherto 
discarded in that old zoological lumber-room, the Radiata, 
but thereby separated out to form an important new group- 
ing, the Ccelenterata. Moreover, the homology which he 
suggested, between the two layers of the ccelenterates and 
the two germinal layers of higher animals, was to prove basic 
to later embryology. The same imaginative gift for penetrat- 
ing superficial differences and discerning fundamental simi- 
larities informed Huxley's work on the Ascidians (the sea- 
squirts and their relatives) and on the Cephalous Mollusca 
(the squids and their near neighbours, the snails and slugs, 
and the head-bearing shellfish). It was this remarkable 
achievement, the fundamental reassessment of three widely 
different groups of animals, which unambiguously established 
Huxley as a comparative anatomist of the highest distinc- 
tion while still on the lowest rung of his intended naval 

More important than the many new facts which Huxley 
discovered was the method of morphological analysis to 


which he subjected them. The accepted view of plant and 
animal types at that time was essentially platonic, each 'type* 
being taken to correspond with some pre-existent idea in the 
mind of a creator, and the work of the anatomist was con- 
ceived as being simply the description and comparison of the 
varied representatives of the ideal type. One of the first 
British biologists to read systematically scientific publications 
in German (he also read in French, Italian, Norwegian and 
Danish), and much influenced by the work of von Baer and 
Johannes Miiller, Huxley set about the study of living things 
in the manner of a physicist investigating inanimate matter, 
without recourse to the pseudo-explanations of a transcen- 
dental philosophy. In his earliest papers the terminology was 
still at times capable of a platonic interpretation, but funda- 
mentally he regarded a morphological 'type* as simply a 
summary statement of the structural plan common to a 
group of organisms. The brilliant success which attended his 
application of this simple inductive method was largely re- 
sponsible for freeing taxonomy from idealist preconceptions, 
and one must take with a grain of salt his later declaration, 
"I have been oppressed by the humbug of 'Baconian Induc- 
tion' all my life'*. What he meant, no doubt, was that the in- 
ductive method does not get very far without imaginative 
insight but that his own work rarely lacked. 

After his appointment in 1854 to Jermyn Street, Huxley 
concentrated to a considerable extent on the initially uncon- 
genial study of palaeontology, and the unpleasant necessity 
proved to be a blessing. Naturally, he made many new dis- 
coveries of fossils of varied kinds, but the really important 
thing was that he was thus enabled to take a comprehensive 
view of the whole range of organic nature, both surviving and 
extinct. Slogging steadily through the structures of vast num- 
bers of organisms, but never becoming submerged by the 
accumulating data, he regrouped the vertebrates into three 
great divisions the Ichthyopsida (fish, amphibia, etc.), the 
Sauropsida (reptiles, birds, etc.) and the Mammalia. He 


made the basic tripartite division of the mammals into the 
egg-laying Prototheria, the marsupial Metatheria and the 
fully placental Eutheria. He sorted out the birds on a skeletal 
basis into the reptile-like Saururse (represented by the fossil 
Archaeopteryx), the Ratites (the ostrich, cassowary, etc.) and 
the Caiinates (the vast majority of living species), and he laid 
down the foundations of all modern ornithological and 
mammalian classifications. All this fundamental taxonomy 
has been so extended and elaborated by later workers as to be 
almost entirely obscured, but it is given to few men to lay such 
enduring foundations. 

It was in 1865 that Huxley assured Haeckel "It is the or- 
ganisation of knowledge rather than its increase which is 
wanted just now", and perhaps he recognised that this was 
his peculiar power. In his very first lecture, on the subject of 
animal individuality, he had made a most subtle analysis of 
the developmental stages and life cycles of colonial organ- 
isms; and, despite what the modern zoologist might consider 
an excessively philosophical endeavour to trace a unity in 
diversity, this analysis clearly displayed the capacity for 
illuminating generalisation. A second Royal Institution lec- 
ture, in which Huxley emphasised the then still novel view 
that the important thing about plant cells is not their easily 
visible walls but their transparent contents, considered the 
relationship between the properties of an individual cell and 
those of the organism as a whole. Huxley denied that the cell 
was the unit of function as it was of structure, that the powers 
of a living organism were the mere sum of the powers of its 
component cells. On the contrary, he argued, the cells are not 
so much the cause of organisation as the result of it, just as 
the drift line on the sea-shore is the result and not the cause 
of tidal regularities. At the time there were not many who 
took his view, later expressed in the apophthegm "the facts 
concerning form are questions of force, every form is force 
visible", but now it is commonplace. Precisely because his 
general attitude to biology was so similar to that of today, 


most of Huxley's work has become indistinguishably assimi- 
lated to the central corpus of fact and theory, and it is only 
by comparing his research papers with the standard texts of 
the time that the modern student can form any conception of 
the originality of his thought. Others have found, as Chalmers 
Mitchell did, that Huxley's papers read rather like Hamlet, 
"so full of quotations". During his final illness, a group of 
younger biologists drifted together at a soiree of the Royal 
Society: "Remember", one remarked to the others, "that it 
was Huxley who made all of us possible." 

Huxley's decisive role in securing a hearing for, and even- 
tually the general acceptance of, the theory of evolution is 
well recognised, but his shrewdness towards that theory itself 
is not so commonly appreciated. Several years before The 
Origin of Species, his own paper on the cephalous mollusca 
had clearly implied actually using the word 'evolution' 
that the varieties of structure within the group had come 
about by modification of an original type, but as yet he had 
no conception of evolution as a widely embracing principle. 
Darwin's idea of natural selection, however, provided a con- 
ceivable mechanism for such evolution, and Huxley accepted 
it "subject to the production of proof that physiological 
species may be produced by selective breeding". When 
Darwin received Huxley's approval he was extremely re- 
lieved and wrote "Like a good Catholic, who has received 
extreme unction, I can now sing *Nunc dimittis'", but the 
approval was in fact considerably qualified. Huxley was con- 
vinced that Darwin's theory was "as near an approximation 
to the truth as, for example, the Copemican hypothesis was 
to the true theory of the planetary motions", but he recog- 
nised from the start that selection could stabilise as well as 
transform, and his were the earliest papers on persistent 
types. He saw, too, that a weakness in Darwin's work was 
the absence of any understanding of the laws of heredity such 
as Mendel was later to provide, and as early as 1861 he was 
writing "Because no law has yet been made out, Darwin is 


obliged to speak of variation as if it were spontaneous or a 
matter of chance. . . . Why does not somebody go to work 
experimentally, and get at the law of variation for some one 
species of plant?" As soon as The Origin appeared, Huxley 
told Darwin "you have loaded yourself with an unnecessary 
difficulty, in adopting Natura nan facit saltum so unre- 
servedly", and in an even earlier letter to Lyell he had made a 
remarkably acute anticipation of the idea of unit characters 
and mutations. "Suppose that external conditions acting on 
a Species A, give rise to a new species B . . .", he wrote, "I 
know of no evidence to shew that the interval between the 
two species must necessarily be bridged over by a series of 
forms, each of which shall occupy, as it were, a fraction of 
the distance between A & B. ... In an organic compound 
having a precise & definite composition you may effect all 
sorts of transmutations by substituting an atom of one ele- 
ment for an atom of another element You may in this way 
produce a vast series of modifications but each modifica- 
tion is definite in its composition & there are no transitional 
or intermediate stages between one definite compound & 
another. I have a sort of notion that similar laws of definite 
combination rule over the modifications of organic bodies." 
As the fossil record accumulated, Huxley's last doubts about 
the fact of evolution were dissipated, but he never lost sight 
of the lacunae in the evidence or underestimated the com- 
plexity of the problem, and his speech of acceptance of the 
Darwin medal was one of striking moderation: "I am sin- 
cerely of the opinion that the views which were propounded 
by Mr. Darwin 34 years ago may be understood hereafter as 
constituting an epoch in the intellectual history of the human 
race. They will modify the whole system of our thought and 
opinion, our most intimate convictions. But I do not know, 
I do not think anybody knows, whether the particular views 
which he held will be hereafter fortified by the experience of 
the ages which come after us." 
Huxley's was the last generation in which it was still 


possible for an exceptional man to master several sciences, 
and it would be wrong to think of him as a biologist alone. 
For several years he was Secretary and for several years 
President of the Geological Society, and in 1876 he was 
awarded the Wollaston Medal for his services to geology. He 
was President of the Ethnological Society and effectively 
founded the Anthropological Institute, and he produced a 
plan for collating the anthropometry of all the ethnic groups 
of the British Empire and actually collected several hundred 
standard-pose photographs. In these other sciences, as in 
biology, Huxley was at his best in exploding logical fallacies 
and expounding methodological principles. His 1862 address 
to the Geological Society laid down clearly what is now a 
first principle of stratigraphy, that beds occurring in the same 
order or bearing the same fossils are not necessarily con- 
temporaneous, and much subsequent confusion might have 
been avoided if geologists and palaeontologists generally had 
adopted his term 'homotaxis* to indicate correspondence of 
stratigraphic order. His 1865 paper on the methods and re- 
sults of ethnology warned against preconceived notions of 
human races, pointed out the fallacy of basing schemes of 
biological descent upon philological similarities, and came 
down in favour of the diffusion of culture as against its inde- 
pendent parallel development in different areas all prin- 
ciples now recognised to be of prime importance, but all much 
neglected for many decades after he had propounded them. 
Sir Arthur Keith has remarked upon the modernity of tone of 
this ethnological work, which "brushed the cobwebs of racial 
tradition from the map of Europe". Huxley was aware that 
the effective populariser of science is liable to be under- 
estimated as a scientist, and this has been his own fate. But 
the mere titles of his original papers fill a good ten pages of 
print, and their contents establish him as a research worker 
of exceptional imagination and ability and as one of the very 
great methodologists of science. 
Huxley had no doubt that with each generation the 


methods of science would find ever wider application, so that 
the time would come when "the frontiers of the new world, 
within which science is supreme, will receive such a remark- 
able extension as to leave little but cloudland for its rival". 
His confidence in the power of science was amusingly ex- 
pressed after a formal dinner one evening, when he was called 
on to respond to the toast of 'Science'. He had recently had 
a dream, he claimed, in which he woke up after death to find 
himself sitting in a vast and luxurious subterranean hall 
attended by waiters whose braided coats did not hide their 
forked tails. He gave a smart tug to the nearest tail, where- 
upon the waiter turned round and asked politely, "Yes, sir, 
what can I do for you?" Huxley ordered a drink and, since 
the room seemed somewhat warm, suggested that perhaps 
the drink might be iced. "Certainly", said the waiter, and 
shortly returned with the order. Sipping his drink luxuriously, 
Huxley made a query of the waiter: "I suppose I am not 
wrong about where I have come to?" "No, Professor, this is 
hell", he was answered. "But surely there has been a good 
deal of change?" he asked. "This doesn't at all agree with 
what we used to be told of the place." "Why, no, sir," the 
waiter replied, "Hell isn't what it used to be. A great many of 
you scientific gents have been coming here recently, and they 
have turned the whole place upside down." 

This sudden influx of 'scientific gents' into the infernal 
regions was the consequence of a quite new telluric tendency. 
It is difficult to realise that the word 'scientist* was only 
coined in 1840, and the professional scientist became an im- 
portant social phenomenon only during Huxley's adult years. 
One aspect of this emerging professionalism was the estab- 
lishment of many full-time scientific professorships in uni- 
versities old and new, and Huxley seems to have lost few 
opportunities to plant his proteges in key positions. Men 
like Michael Foster and Frank Balfour and Sydney Vines at 
Cambridge, Ray Lankester and Edward Poulton at Oxford, 
Morrison Watson and H. M. Ward at Manchester, John 


Cleland at Galway and Patrick Geddes at Edinburgh and 
Wyville Thomson at Dublin and Edinburgh, H. N. Martin 
at Baltimore and H. F. Osborn at Princeton and Columbia, 
T. J. Parker at Otago and Enrico Giglioli at Casale and 
Charles Gould at Singapore the list of those who owed 
their jobs to Huxley, or who had been his assistants or stu- 
dents and carried his methods across the world, is indeed a 
remarkable one. Huxley once boasted, "If I know anything 
in the world, I know a man when I see him", and it would be 
difficult to estimate how much the development of university 
science owed to this talent for selection. 

The growth of scientific professionalism was, naturally, 
accompanied by a change in the nature and number of scien- 
tific societies. It was Huxley's generation which restored the 
initials *FRS' to their significance of scientific distinction 
rather than well-connected dilettantism, and it was his high 
ideal of what the Royal Society might become which made 
Huxley serve as Secretary for a decade before stepping into 
the less onerous position of President. As the venerable 
societies like the Royal and the Linnean climbed back to their 
former scientific eminence, they found themselves accom- 
panied by newcomers catering for newly developing special- 
isms. And, cutting right across the formal boundaries of the 
scientific societies, there were the personal friendships and 
connexions of individual scientists. 

For more than twenty years, "the most powerful and in- 
fluential scientific coterie in England" was the now almost 
forgotten 'x Club'. Founded on Huxley's suggestion in 1864, 
and originally intended to be no more than a means of pro- 
viding regular social intercourse for a few friends, the emin- 
ence of its members made it inevitably into a sort of scientific 
caucus. The few friends, apart from Huxley himself, were 
William Spottiswoode the mathematician and royal printer, 
George Busk the zoologist, Edward Frankland the chemist, 
T. A. Hirst the mathematical physicist, Lubbock, Hooker, 
Tyndall and Herbert Spencer all except the last being Fel- 


lows of the Royal Society. Between the nine of them they 
could muster a Secretary, a Foreign Secretary, a Treasurer 
and three successive Presidents of that body to say nothing 
of six Presidents of the British Association, a Secretary of the 
Linnean Society, various officers of the Geological and 
Ethnological and other scientific societies, one Rumford and 
one Wollaston medallist, three Copley medallists, and five 
Royal medallists. During the twenty-nine years and 240 
meetings of the x Club's existence, no tenth member was ever 
elected all suggestions being negatived by an agreement 
that any new name proposed must contain all the consonants 
not in the original nine. The x stood in triple symbolism for 
the undecided name of the club, for the originally envisaged 
ten members, and for the undetermined tenth who was never 
chosen and the meetings were called by cards bearing the 
cryptic formula 'x = 21' (or whatever was the appointed 
date of the month), with the slightly more cryptic 'xs + yvs 
= 21' for the annual^summer outings of members and wives. 
But lightheartedness of this sort did not disguise the fact that 
the x Club dined regularly prior to Royal* Society meetings, 
and one can understand the suspicion that the Society was 
largely run by the Club. Huxley must have chuckled to him- 
self when one day at the Athenaeum he overheard a conversa- 
tion between two other distinguished scientists: "I say, A., do 
you know anything about the x Club?" "Oh yes, B., I have 
heard of it. What do they do?" "Well, they govern scientific 
affairs, and really, on the whole, they don't do it badly." 

Despite his conviction that the new world would be one in 
which scientific method was supreme, Huxley had no naive 
notion that its attainment would be either simple or without 
danger. To begin with, he recognised the inadequacy of the 
mechanical materialism which satisfied many nineteenth- 
century scientists, and in a letter to Herbert Spencer he had 
great fun at the expense of their common friend John Tyn- 
dall: "In fact, a favourite problem of his is Given the 
molecular forces in a mutton chop, deduce Hamlet or Faust 


therefrom. He is confident that the Physics of the Future will 
solve this easily." Perhaps he was a little unfair to Tyndall, 
but his criticism of Spencer on the other flank was fully justi- 
fied: when the unknowable was given a capital letter, the 
'Unknowable' became "merely the Absolute redivivus, a sort 
of ghost of an extinct philosophy, the name of a negation 
hocus-pocussed into a sham thing. If I am to talk about that 
of which I have no knowledge at all, I prefer the good old 
word God, about which there is no scientific pretence*'. 

Huxley's appreciation of the power of Berkeleian philo- 
sophy made him declare that, if forced to decide between 
absolute materialism and absolute idealism, he would choose 
the latter, but it is difficult to take this declaration very seri- 
ously. He was never in any real doubt about the primacy of 
the material universe, and he took sensation to be "the direct 
effect of the mode of motion of the sensorium". But when 
Lenin remarked that Huxley's agnosticism was a fig-leaf for 
materialism, he failed to notice how very dialectical his think- 
ing was. There is no indication that Huxley ever seriously 
considered, or had even heard of, dialectical materialism, as 
a coherent philosophy alternative to the simple materialism 
and simple idealism whose inadequacies he recognised, but it 
would be an interesting inquiry whether he did not come a 
good deal nearer to that position than has ever been sug- 

One striking example of Huxley's awareness that novelty 
may emerge at critical levels of organisation was his sugges- 
tion that matter and mind might be "only two out of infinite 
varieties of existence ... of kinds which we are not com- 
petent so much as to conceive". He would have had no ob- 
jection in principle to the serious study of what are now called 
para-normal phenomena, although no doubt he would have 
required convincing proofs. The latter half of the nineteenth 
century was a time when many were seeking some way out of 
the impasse of mechanical materialism, and wonderful were 
some of the ways chosen. There were those who reacted 


against advancing science by increasing sacerdotalism within 
established religion, while others sought a compromise in 
quasi-mystical systems such as the positivist Religion of 
Humanity and the neo-Hindu Theosophy and the strangely 
eclectic Christian Science. Others again, like Mr Sludge, 
combined plain trickery with a confused belief in the reality 
of spirit-communication, so that in a materialist age even 
spiritual phenomena became material, and table-rappings 
tended to replace' beatific visions. Huxley himself attended 
seances and detected gross deception, which contributed to 
his refusal to join the Dialectical Society's committee of in- 
vestigation into psychic phenomena. Moreover, he explained, 
"if the folk in the spiritual world do not talk more wisely and 
sensibly than their friends report them to do ... the only 
good that I can see in the demonstration of the truth of 
'Spiritualism' is to furnish an additional argument against 

The question of whether there is any necessary conflict be- 
tween science and religion is largely one of definition, and 
Huxley's definition of religion was a good deal richer 
than Arnold's 'morality touched by emotion*. He once said 
"Teach a child what is wise, that is morality. Teach him what 
is wise and beautiful, that is religion", but this also over- 
simplifies his view. Other elements in religion were "the awe 
and reverence, which have no kinship with base fear, but 
arise whenever one tries to pierce below the surface of 
things"; the recognition that "in relation to the human mind 
Nature is boundless; and, though nowhere inaccessible, she 
is everywhere unfathomable"; the sensitivity to that strange 
sadness which comes from an awareness of "the imperfec- 
tions that cannot be remedied, the aspirations that cannot be 
realised, of man's own nature . . . this consciousness of the 
limitation of man, this sense of an open secret which he can- 
not penetrate". Between science and religion as spiritual 
aspiration, or religion as humility, or religion as morality, he 

saw no conflict, and increasingly he found himself attracted 


to prophetic Judaism. But between science and religion as 
unhistorical assertion, or religion as hieratic authority, or re- 
ligion as dsemonology, he could see no possibility of armistice, 
and his opposition to institutional Christianity never wavered. 

It was still possible in Huxley's younger days for a great 
scholar like Newman to adduce, as an example of the value 
of revelation, the fact that history unaided would never have 
been able to discover that man had been preserved in Noah's 
ark. There was still in Huxley's generation a widespread be- 
lief in spirits benign and malign, and he rejoiced that "science, 
in the course of the last fifty years, has brought to the front 
an inexhaustible supply of heavy artillery of a new pattern, 
warranted to drive solid bolts of fact through the thickest 
skulls". There were some who smiled in a superior manner 
at Huxley's energetic devotion to the demolition of positions 
which they thought bound to disappear under a general spread 
of reason, but perhaps he had a truer appreciation of their stub- 
born powers of survival. He believed that at the end of the 
nineteenth century men were at the parting of the ways, and 
that, unless they accustomed themselves to demand evidence 
for all assertions, there would be a recrudescence of super- 
stition. The abandonment of the more ludicrous excrescences 
of belief was not enough: "One does not free a prisoner by 
merely scraping away the rust from his shackles." 

Unlike his friend Matthew Arnold, Huxley was incapable 
of jettisoning the so-called Aberglauben of Christianity and 
yet continuing to support what unambiguously claims to be 
an historical religion. "The present and the near future", he 
remarked scathingly in 1890, "seem given over to those 
happily, if curiously constituted people who see as little diffi- 
culty in throwing aside any amount of post-Abrahamic 
Scriptural narrative, as the authors of 'Lux Mundi' see in 
sacrificing the pre-Abrahamic stories; and, having distilled 
away every inconvenient matter of fact in Christian history, 
continue to pay divine honours to the residue." Let the pro- 
cess of distillation but continue for another generation, he 


sardonically suggested, and a future Bampton lecturer would 
be able to declare that, "No longer in contact with fact of any 
kind, Faith stands now and for ever proudly inaccessible to 
the attacks of the infidel". 

Huxley saw no reason why the unavoidable battle between 
science and superstition should be fought with gratuitous 
injury to personal feelings (Gladstone and Argyll excepted), 
and he remarked that "Old Noll knew what he was about 
when he said that it was of no use to try to fight the gentlemen 
of England with tapsters and serving-men. It is quite as hope- 
less to fight Christianity with scurrility. We want a regiment 
of Ironsides". That was why he was so reluctant to get mixed 
up in the Foote case in 1883, when the editor of The Free- 
thinker was tried for blasphemy, and that explains his annoy- 
ance when Charles Watts published a private communication 
without permission "among as queer a crew as Jack Fal- 
stafPs". But although he argued that "rightful freedom is 
[not] attacked, when a man is prevented from coarsely and 
brutally insulting his neighbours' honest beliefs", he never- 
theless signed a petition on Foote's behalf. Huxley stood con- 
sistently for the right of the individual to thinV for himself 
and give expression to his thoughts, and we may be sure that 
he would be no party to that modern truce between science 
and religion which so largely depends on a tacit agreement to 
use words with double meanings. 

Huxley did not consider that the rejection of religious faith 
need imperil ethical conduct, which he believed to be deter- 
mined by the social formation of the individual conscience. 
"Every day and all day long, from childhood upwards . . .," 
he wrote, "associations . . . are formed between certain acts 

and the feelings of approbation or disapprobation We 

come to think in the acquired dialect of morals. An artificial 
personality ... is built up beside the natural personality. 
He is the watchman of society, charged to restrain the anti- 
social tendencies of the natural man within the limits re- 
quired by social welfare." And, since history shewed that the 


great ethical principles had been accepted by societies of 
many faiths and philosophies, he inquired "if morality has 
survived the stripping off of several sets of clothes which have 
been found to fit badly, why should it not be able to get along 
very well in the light and handy garments which Science is 
ready to provide?" 

In places Mallock's New Republic is as wickedly unfair to 
Huxley as to other members of the apocryphal house-party, 
but exact justice was done when 'Mr Storks' was made to say 
that there must be "a universal, intrepid, dogged resolve to 
find out and face the complete truth of things, and to allow 
no prejudice, however dear to us, to obscure our vision. This 
is the only real morality". Huxley had Milton's low regard 
for a fugitive and cloistered virtue which never sallied out to 
seek her adversary, and the truth which he found within his 
laboratory had to be proclaimed without. His great faith in 
the common man encouraged him (as also, no doubt, did the 
royalties) to write popular and semi-popular scientific texts 
which immensely influenced readers in half a dozen tongues, 
and it was this same faith which set him against all efforts to 
prejudge the capacities of different social classes. He dis- 
covered early "what a heart-breaking business teaching is 
how much the can't-learns and won't-learns and don't-learns 
predominate over the do-learns", but he was sceptical of those 
who thought it possible to discover in childhood which in- 
dividuals were capable of much culture and which had best 
be abandoned as hopeless. "The 'points' of a good citizen are 
really far harder to discern than those of a puppy or a short- 
horn calf", he remarked, and it is not difficult to guess what 
he would say of an educational policy which virtually deter- 
mined a child's future by the age of eleven. 

Consistently advocating equality of educational oppor- 
tunity, Huxley wanted Oxford and Cambridge opened not 
only to the lower middle-classes, but also to "the sons of the 
masses of the people whose daily labour just suffices to meet 
their daily wants". The newer provincial university colleges 


seemed to Trim essential to the development of any truly 
national system of education, and he worked closely with 
Kay-Shuttleworth on the governing body of Owens College 
after its reorganisation in 1870. Looking to the future, when 
it would become the nucleus of a great university for Lan- 
cashire, he urged the college to take a high view of its func- 
tions: "Any .corporation of men associated together for the 
purpose of teaching all forms of precise and accurate know- 
ledge, the object of which was to give the highest intellectual 
culture that could be given, and to encourage the pursuit of 
knowledge in perfect freedom and without let or hindrance 
from any subsidiary consideration, was performing the func- 
tions of a university, and was one whatever be its name." 

Opening the new medical school of Owens College in 1874, 
Huxley expressed the hope that the position of the arts faculty 
in that institution would never by a hairbreadth or shadow 
be diminished, and he emphasised the importance of placing 
the different departments close together and thus discourag- 
ing any tendency to cultural fragmentation. "Unless we are 
led to see that we are citizens and men before anything else," 
he continued, "I say it will go very badly indeed with men of 
science in future generations, and they will run the risk of 
becoming scientific pedants when they should be men, philo- 
sophers, and good citizens." "We are in the case of Tarpeia," 
he declared on another occasion, "who opened the gates of 
the Roman citadel to the Sabines and was crushed by the 
weight of the reward bestowed upon her. It has become im- 
possible for any man to keep pace with the progress of the 
whole of any important branch of science. It looks as if the 
scientific, like other revolutions, meant to devour its own 
children; as if the growth of science tended to overwhelm its 
votaries; as if the man of science of the future were con- 
demned to diminish into a narrow specialist as time goes on." 
And the only way to avoid Tarpeia's fate, he believed, was by 
a generous sharing of the rewards, by the organisation and ex- 
tension of scientific education in such a manner as to secure 


breadth of culture without superficiality, and, on the other 
hand, depth and precision of knowledge without narrowness. 
As well as learning some natural science, he always urged, 
children must master the elements of the social sciences and 
the theory of morals. It is a remarkable fact that Huxley gave 
Patrick Geddes the inspiration for his 'regional survey' 
method; and perhaps even more remarkable that Beveridge's 
address 'Economics as a Liberal Education', delivered to the 
London School of Economics in 1920, was avowedly based 
on a lecture given by Huxley nearly seventy years before. But 
it was impossible for natural science or social studies or any- 
thing else to become an effective instrument of education ex- 
cept through the use of words, and Huxley believed that 
every child should devote a very large part of its schooling to 
the careful study of English literature, "and, what is still 
more important and still more neglected, the habit of using 
that language with precision, with force, and with art'*. 

This problem of how to avoid an ultimately fatal cultural 
dichotomy has faced educators for the past century, and per- 
haps ours is the last generation which will have the chance to 
solve it. The much older, the perennial, problem is that of 
steering a path between Plato's Republic and Rousseau's 
Emile, of devising an education which will produce neither 
the man meticulously machined to social conformity nor the 
man so autonomous as to be socially intolerable. "If in- 
dividuality has no play, society does not advance", Huxley 
remarked; "if individuality breaks out of all bounds, society 
perishes." The great question, therefore, was whether the 
educational flavour of the new world should be authori- 
tarian, anarchic or agnostic whether its citizens should 
grow up believing and behaving uniformly as infallible 
authority dictates, or believing and behaving indiscriminately 
as personal preference directs, or recognising that our know- 
ledge is incomplete and that both beliefs and behaviour are 
best based on the ancient precept, Trove all things; hold fast 
that which is good*. 


The great enemy was the closed mind, whether in religion 
or politics or learning, and Huxley did not delude himself that 
victory would come automatically with the defeat of either 
secular or sacerdotal autocracy. After all, he pointed out, 
"the first-recorded judicial murder of a scientific thinker was 
composed and effected, not by a despot, not by priests, but 
was brought about by eloquent demagogues'*. Socrates he 
called "The first agnostic, the man who, so far as the records 
of history go, was the first to see that clear knowledge of what 
one does not know is just as important as knowing what one 
does know", and he was "inclined to think that not far from 
the invention of fire we must rank the invention of doubt. . . . 
For it is out of doubt of the old that the new springs; and it 
is doubt of the new that keeps invention within bounds". Not 
that he wished people to wriggle about for ever in an agony 
of indecision on the contrary, he usually set an excellent 
example of decisive action on the basis of the best available 
assessment of a situation but he was repelled by that terrible 
sclerosis of the human spirit which comes from complete 
certitude of rightness. At times, it must be admitted, Huxley's 
rejection of external authority took a form scarcely compati- 
ble with a proper agnostic humility about his own opinions, 
and occasionally his controversial campaigns displayed a 
certain personal arrogance, but his central thesis was surely 
valid: "no personal habit more surely degrades the con- 
science and the intellect than blind and unhesitating obedience 
to unlimited authority. Undoubtedly, harlotry and intem- 
perance are sore evils, and starvation is hard to bear, or even 
to know of; but the prostitution of the mind, the soddening 
of the conscience, the dwarfing of manhood are worse 

It is a strange irony that, as a young man still in his twen- 
ties, Huxley told Tyndall that the way to die was in the middle 
of an unfinished article, "better a thousand times than 
drivelling off into eternity betwixt awake and asleep in a 
fatuous old age". The article which he himself left unfinished, 


*Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnosticism', leaves no doubt that 
he retained to the end his sceptical attitude towards Chris- 
tian belief. The idea of final extinction was not a comforting 
one (he once told John Morley "It flashes across me at all 
sorts of times with a sort of horror that in 1900 I shall pro- 
bably know no more of what is going on that I did in 1800. 
I had sooner be in hell a good deal at any rate in one of the 
upper circles, where the climate and company are not too 
trying"), but for him it would have been a dwarfing of man- 
hood to pretend that he believed in an after-life. Stout old 
Ironside that he was, he could only say "one should be al- 
ways ready to stand at attention when the order to march 
comes". For seventy years he had lived his life to the limit, 
seeking and finding outlets for his many-sided energy, loving 
and being loved, occasionally hating and being hated, always 
balanced uneasily between a rational optimism and a tem- 
peramental pessimism, making a life of remarkable unity and 
effectiveness out of a vast range of activities which could so 
easily have spelled ineffective fragmentation. Had he chosen 
an epitaph from his favourite Goethe, it might well have 

Was Man in der Jugend wiinsche 

Hat Man im Alter die Fiille.* 

It is always tempting to indulge in speculations of 'if only' 
and 'what might have been*, and more so with Huxley than 
most men. If only his childhood love of preaching had led 
him into the Church, what might have happened to nine- 
teenth-century theology? If his father had been able to afford 
him an orthodox university education, would he have become 
a greater Jowett or merely another Romanes? If he had 
achieved his early ambition of becoming an engineer, and 
studied physical rather than biological science, what might 
have been the outcome of his subtle views of the nature of 
matter? Or if he had remained in the Navy, or gone into 

* What in youth a man doth will, 
That in age he hath his fill. 


medical practice in London, or migrated to Australia, would 
he still have become one of the leading spirits of the age? Or 
suppose that he had accepted the offer of an admirer to pay 
for a legal training, would he have become a great legal 
theoretician, or the greatest of prosecuting counsel? Or had 
he submitted to the pressure more than once exerted to enter 
politics, what heroic parliamentary clashes might there not 
have been with Gladstone! 

Yet, somehow, it is difficult to imagine Huxley in any of 
these r61es, for they are all too limited- There are some men 
whose developing qualities express themselves in a sequence 
of parts played at successive stages of their lives, as the 
adored young tutor became the powerful Master of Balliol or 
the silver-tongued preacher at St Mary's became the saintly 
Cardinal in his Oratory, but the great Professor Huxley was 
simply young Tom writ large. Almost everything was there 
from early days the luminous intelligence, the restless in- 
quiry, the indefatigable industry, the courage and pertinacity, 
the wide interests, the toughness and the tenderness and he 
had to play all his parts at once. He is almost the type- 
specimen of Plekhanov's 'great man' he whose personal 
idiosyncrasies give individual features to historical events, 
but who above all is great because he possesses qualities 
which express almost perfectly the social needs of his time and 
enable him to serve his fellows best by being quintessentially 
himself. He needed the knowledge that he was both discover- 
ing the path to the new world and leading people along it, 
and it was impossible for him to contract out of the many and 
varied demands of his age. "Posthumous fame is not par- 
ticularly attractive to me," he told the old Chartist George 
Howell, "but, if I am to be remembered at all, I would rather 
it should be as 'a man who did his best to help the people' 
than by any other title." 


THIS LIST INCLUDES only items referred to or relied on in the text. 
The dates and sources given are those of original publication, except 
that certain lectures whose publication was delayed are listed under 
their dates of delivery. In the case of items reprinted (sometimes under 
a slightly different title or expanded or modified) in the Collected Essays 
or the Scientific Memoirs, the volume number is given as an additional 

The following abbreviations are used: 

AMNH Annals and Magazine of Natural History. 

BAAR British Association Annual Report. 

CE Collected Essays. 

CR Contemporary Review. 

FR Fortnightly Review. 

JESL Journal of the Ethnological Society of London. 

JLS(B) Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany). 

JLS(Z) Journal of the JJnnean Society (Zoology). 

MM Macmillarfs Magazine. 

NC Nineteenth Century. 

NHR Natural History Review. 

PRI Proceedings of the Royal Institution. 

PRS Proceedings of the Royal Society. 

PTRS Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 

PZS Proceedings of the Zoological Society. 

QJGS Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 

QJMS Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science. 

SM Scientific Memoirs. 

Fuller (but in neither case complete) lists of Huxley's publications are 
given in Leonard Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley 
(1900) and in J. R. Ainsworth Davies, Thomas H. Huxley (1907). 

1845 *On a Hitherto Undescribed Structure in the Human Hair 
Sheath', London Medical Gazette, I, 1340 (SM, I). 

1849 'On the Anatomy and the Affinities of the family of the 
Medusae', PTRS, CXXXDC, pt. ii, 413 (SM, I). 


1851 'Zoological Notes and Observations made on Board HMS 

Rattlesnake during the years 1846-1850' AMNH 9 sen ii, 
VII, 304, 370 and VIII, 433 (SM, I). 

'Observations upon the Anatomy and Physiology of Salpa 
and Pyrosoma*, PTRS, CXLI, pt. ii, 567 (SM, I). 

1852 'Upon Animal Individuality*, PHI, I, 184 (SM, I). 
'Researches into the Structure of the Ascidians', BAAR, pt. ii, 

76 (SM, I). 

1853 'On the Morphology of the Cephalous Mollusca . . .' PTRS, 

CXLHI, pt. i, 29 (SM, I). 

'On the Identity of Structure of Plants and Animals', PRI, I, 
298 (SM 9 1). 

1854 On the Educational Value of the Natural History Sciences (CE, 

'On the Common Plan of Animal Forms', PRI, I, 444 (SM, I). 

1855 'On certain Zoological Arguments commonly adduced in favour 

of the Hypothesis of the Progressive Development of Annual 
Life in Time', PRI, II, 82 (SM, I). 

1856 'On the Method of Palaeontology', AMNH, ser. ii, XVIH, 43 

(SM, I). 

'On Natural History, as Knowledge Discipline, and Power', 
PRI, II, 187 (SM, I). 

1857 'On the Structure and Motion of Glaciers* (with John Tyndall), 

PTRS, CXLVII, pt ii, 327 (SM, II). 

'On the Present State of Knowledge as to the Structure and 
Functions of Nerves', PRI, H, 432 (SM, I). 

1858 'Objects of Interest in the Collection of Fossils', Builder, 15 

January 1859. 

'On the Theory of the Vertebrate Skull', PRS, IX, 381 (SM, I). 
'On Some Points in the Anatomy of Nautilus Pompilius', JLS 

(2), HI, 36 (SM, II). 

1859 'On the Persistent Types of Animal Life', PRI, HL, 151 (SM, 


'The Darwinian Hypothesis', Times, 26 December. 
'Time and Life: Mr. Darwin's "Origin of Species",' MM, I, 

142, December. 

1860 'On Species and Races, and their Origin', PRI, HI, 195 (SM, II). 

1861 'A Lobster; or, the Study, of Zoology (CE, VHI). 

'On the Zoological Relations of Man with the Lower Animals', 

NHR, I, 67 (SM, II). 
'On the Nature of the Earliest Stages of the Development of 

Animals', PRI, in, 315 (SM, II). 


1862 'Geological Contemporaneity and Persistent Types of Life', 

QJGS, XVHI, xl (SM, II; CE, Vm). 
'On Fossil Remains of Man', PRI 9 HI, 420 (SM, n). 
'On the New Labyrinthodonts from the Edinburgh Coalfield*, 

QJGS, XVIH, 291 (SM, H). 

1863 Six Lectures to Working Men on our Knowledge of the Causes 

of the Phenomena of Organic Nature (CE, H). 
Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature (CE, VII). 

1864 Lectures on the Elements of Comparative Anatomy. 
Elementary Atlas of Comparative Osteology. 

'Further Remarks upon the Human Remains from the Neander- 
thal', NHR, IV, 429 (SM, n). 
'Criticisms on "The Origin of Species",' NHR (CE, n). 

1865 'EmancipationBlack and White', Reader, 20 May (CE, HI). 
'On the Methods and Results of Ethnology', PRI, IV, 461 and 

FR 9 I, 257, May (CE, Vn and SM, m). 

1 866 Lessons in Elementary Physiology. 

'On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge', FR, 
m, 626, January (CE, I). 

1867 'On the Classification of Birds . . .', PZS (1867), 415 (SM, 


'On some Remains of Large Dinosaurian Reptiles from . . 
Africa', QJGS, XXHI, I (SM, HI). 

1868 'A Liberal Education and Where to Find It', MM, XVH, 367, 

March (CE, ID). 
'On the Form of the Cranium among the Patagonians and 

Fuegians, with some Remarks upon American Crania in 

General', /. Anal. & PhysioL, II, 253 (SM 9 HI). 
'On a Piece of Chalk', MM, XVOI, 396, September (CE, VIII). 
'On the Animals which are most nearly intermediate between 

Birds and Reptiles', PRI, V, 278 and AMNH, ser. iv, H, 

66 (SM, HI). 

1869 An Introduction to the Classification of Animals. 

'On the Physical Basis of Life', FR, V, n.s., 129, February 

(CE, I). 
'Scientific Education: Notes of an After-Dinner Speech', 

MM, XX, 177, June (CE, HI). 

'The Scientific Aspects of Positivism', FR, V, n.s., 653, June. 
'Geological Reform', QJGS, XXV, xxxviii (CE, VHI and SM, 


'On the Ethnology and Archaeology of India', JESL, I, 89 
(SM, HI). 


1869 'On the Ethnology and Archaeology of North America', JESL, 

I, 218 (SM, III). 

'Principles and Methods of Palaeontology', Smithsonian Inst. 
Am. Rep. (1869), 363. 

1870 Lay Sermons, Addresses and Reviews. 

'On Descartes' "Discourse touching the Method of using One's 
Reason Rightly, and of seeking Scientific Truth"/ MM, 
XXII, 69, May (CE, 1). 

'On Medical Education*, Critiques and Addresses (CE, ffl). 

"The School Boards: What They Can Do, and What They May 
Do', CR, XVI, I, December (CE, DO). 

'Biogenesis and Abiogenesis', BAAR, Ixxiii (CE, Vm and SM, 


'On the Ethnology of Britain', JESL, H, 382 (SM, HI). 

'On the Geographical Distribution of the Chief Modifications 

of Mankind', JESL, II, 404 (SM, IE). 
'On Some Fixed Points in British Ethnology', CR, XIV, 513, 

July (CE, YE). 
'Extinct Animals Intermediate between Birds and Reptiles', 

Birm. & Mid. Inst. Ann. Rep. 
'Palaeontology and the Doctrine of Evolution', QJGS, XXVI, 

xlii (CE, VIE and SM, IE). 

1871 Manual of the Anatomy of Vertebrated Animals. 
On Coral and Coral Reefs. 

'Administrative Nihilism', FR, X, n.s. 525, November (CE, I). 
'Mr. Darwin's Critics', CR, XVHI, 443, November (CE, n). 
'Yeast', CR, XIX, 23, December (CE, VDI and SM, HE). 
'Bishop Berkeley on the Metaphysics of Sensation', PRI, VI, 
341 and MM, XXIV, 147, June (CE 9 VI). 

1 873 Critiques and Addresses. 

1874 'On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata, and its History', 

Nature, X, 362, 3 September 1874 (CE, I). 
'On the Classification of the Animal Kingdom', JLS(Z), XII, 

199 and Nature, XI, 101, 10 December (SM, IV). 
'Universities: Actual and Ideal', CR, XXIH, 657, March (CE, 


'Joseph Priestley*, Science and Culture (CE, HI). 

1875 A Course of Practical Instruction in Elementary Biology (with 

H. N. Martin). 

1876 "The Border Territory between the Animal and the Vegetable 

Kingdoms', PRI, VHI, 28 and MM, XXXDI, 373 (CE, VHI 
and SM, IV). 


1876 'Contributions to Morphology. Ichthyopsida . . . Classifica- 

tion of Fishes', PZS (1876), 24, (SM, IX). 

'On the Study of Biology', Nature, XV, 219 and American Ad- 
dresses (CE, III and SM, IV). 

'Address on University Education', American Addresses (CE, 


'Three Lectures on Evolution', American Addresses (CE, IV). 

1877 American Addresses. 

Anatomy of Invertebrated Animals. 

'On Elementary Instruction in Physiology', Science and Culture 

(CE, IE). 

'Technical Education*, Science and Culture (CE, HI). 
'The History of Birds', PRI, VIE, 347. 

1878 Hume. 

'William Harvey', PRI, VIE, 485, and FR, XXffl, n.s., 167, 

February (SM, IV). 
'On the Classification and Distribution of the Crayfishes', 

PZS (1878), 752 (SM 9 IV). 

1879 The Crayfish: an Introduction to the Study of Zoology. 

*On the Characters of the Pelvis in the Mammalia . . .', PRS, 

XXVHI, 395 (SM, IV). 
Preface to English edn. of Haeckel's Freedom in Science and 

"On Sensation and the Unity of Structure of Sensiferous Organs', 

PRI, DC, 115 and NC 9 V, 597, April (CE 9 VI and SM, IV). 
'On Certain Errors respecting the Structure of the Heart, 

attributed to Aristotle', Nature, XXI, 1 (SM, IV). 

1880 Introductory Science Primer. 

'Science and Culture', Science and Culture (CE, III). 

*On the Method of Zadig', NC, VII, 929, June (CE, IV). 

"The Coming of Age of "The Origin of Species'*,' Nature, XXII, 
1 and PRI, IX, 361 (CE, H and SM, IV). 

'On the Cranial and Dental Characters of the Canidae*, PZS 
(1880), 238 GSM, IV). 

'On the Application of the Laws of Evolution to the Arrange- 
ment of the Vertebrata, and more particularly of the Mam- 
malia', PZS (1880), 649 (SM, IV). 

1881 Science and Culture, and Other Essays. 

"The Connection of the Biological Sciences and Medicine', 

Nature, XXIV, 342 (CE, IH and SM, IV). 
'The Herring', Nature, XXHI, 607 (SM, IV). 


1882 'On Saprolegnia in Relation to the Salmon Disease', QJMS, 


1883 'On Science and Art in Relation to Education', CE, HL 
'Oysters and the Oyster Question', PRI, X, 336 (SM, W). 
'The Pearly Nautilus' (Rede Lecture), Nature, XXVin, 187 

(SM, V). 

1884 "The State and the Medical Profession', CE, ILL. 

1885 "The Interpreters of Genesis and the Interpreters of Nature*, 

M7, XVm, 849, December (CE, IV). 

1886 'Mr. Gladstone and Genesis', NC, XDC, 191, February (CE, IV). 
"The Evolution of Theology: an Anthropological Study', NC, 

XIX, 346 & 485, March & April (CE, IV). 
'Science and Morals', FR, XL, n.s., 788, December (CE, DC). 

1887 'The Progress of Science: 1837-1887', in T. H. Ward's Reign of 

Queen Victoria (CE, I). 
'Address on Behalf of the National Association for the Pro- 

motion of Technical Education', CE, ILL. 
'Scientific and Pseudo-scientific Realism', NC, XXI, 191, 

February (CE, V). 

'Science and Pseudo-Science', NC, XXL, 481, April (CE, V). 
'Science and the Bishops', NC, XXH, 625, November (CE, V, 

as 'An Episcopal Trilogy'). 
'The Gentians: Notes and Queries', JLS(B), XXIV, 101 (SM, 


1888 'The Struggle for Existence: a Programme', NC, XXm, 161, 

February (CE, DC, as 'The Struggle for Existence in Human 

1889 'Agnosticism', NC, XXV, 169, February (CE, V). 

'The Value of Witness to the Miraculous', NC, XXV, 438, 

March (CE, V). 

'Agnosticism: A Rejoinder', NC, XXV, 481, April (CE, V). 
'Agnosticism and Christianity', NC, XXV, 937, June (CE, V). 

1890 'On the Natural Inequality of Men', NC, XXVH, 1, January 

'Natural Rights and Political Rights', NC, XXVH, 173, 

February (CE, I). 
'Capital the Mother of Labour', NC, XXVH, 513, March 

(CE, DC). 
'Government: Anarchy or Regimentation', NC, XXVn, 843, 

May (CE, I). 
'The Lights' of the Church and the Light of Science', NC, 

XXVIH, 5, July (CE, IV). 


1890 'The Aryan Question and Prehistoric Man', NC, XXVIH, 750, 

November (CE, VII, as 'The Aryan Question'). 
'The Keepers of fhe Herd of Swine', NC t XXVffl, 967, De- 
cember (CE, V). 

1891 Social Diseases and Worse Remedies (CE, IX). 
'Illustrations of Mr. Gladstone's Controversial Methods', JVC, 

XXK, 455, March (CE, V). 

'Hasidadra's Adventure', JVC, XXIX, 904, June (CE, IV). 
Preface to English edn. of Rocquain's The Revolutionary Spirit 

preceding the French Revolution. 

1892 Essays on Some Controverted Questions. 

'Possibilities and Impossibilities', Agnostic Annual (CE, V). 
'An Apologetic Irenicon', FR, LII, n.s., 557, November. 
'Gib Diesen Todten' (verse), JVC, XXXII, 831, November. 

1893 Evolution and Ethics (Romanes Lecture), (CE, DC). 

1893-4 Collected Essays, 9 vols. (L Method and Results; EL Dar- 
winiana; HL. Science and Education; IV. Science and Hebrew 
Tradition; V. Science and Christian Tradition; VI. Hume, 
with Helps to the Study of Berkeley; VH. Man's Place in 
Nature, and Other Anthropological Essays; VIII, Discourses, 
Biological and Geological; IX. Evolution and Ethics and 
Other Essays). 

1895 'Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnosticism' (1st part), NC, XXXVn, 
527, March. 


1898-1903 Scientific Memoirs, edited by M, Foster and E. R. 

Lankester, 5 vols. 
1907 Aphorisms and Reflections from the Works of T. H. Huxley, 

selected by Henrietta A. Huxley. 
1913 Poems of Henrietta A. Huxley vtith Three of Thomas Henry 

1932 Draft of 2nd part of 'Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnosticism', in 

H. Peterson's Huxley: Prophet of Science. 
1935 T. H. Huxley's Diary of the Voyage ofHMS Rattlesnake, edited 

by Julian Huxley. 



























Duke of 

1810. George in replaced 
by Regent 
1812. Ld. Liverpool's gov- 
1815. End of Napoleonic 
Wars. Cora Law 
1819. Peterloo 'massacre' 
1820. Regent crowned 
George IV 

Births. 1809, Darwin, 
Gladstone, Tennyson. 
1811, Thackeray. 1812, 
Dickens. 1815, Trollope. 
1817, Jowett, Hooker. 
1818, Marx. 1819, Kings- 
ley, Ruskin. 1820, H. 
Spencer, Tyndall, F. 
Nightingale. 1822, M. 
Arnold, Pasteur. 1824, 
Thomson (Kelvin) 

1822. Classical Tripos est. 
at Camb; Rebellion at 

1823 Lond. Mechanics 
Institute founded 


Electorate only i million 
Combination Laws re- 
Australia still largely con- 
vict settlement 

b. MundeUa 


Police forces being estab- 

b. Riemann 
Vivian Grey (Disraeli) 

'Lond. Univ.* (Univ. CoIL) 
founded. Opened 1828 
Soc. for Diffusion of Use- 
ful Knowledge founded 
Butler left Shrewsbury 



People stiH transported for 

d. Canning; b. Lister, W. 
Holman Hunt, Miss 
P.M. Buss 
Evening Standard started 

Arnold appointed to 

Emancipation of Noncon- 

b. Meredith, Rossetti 
Spectator started 

Univ. Coll. School found- 
ed. Opened 1830 

Catholics n Oman 
Peel's Police Reform Act 

fc.W. Booth, J.E.Mfflais 
Philosophy of Uncondi- 
tioned (Hamilton) 

King's Coll. Lond. found- 
ed. Opened 1831 


Economic crisis, low d. Haditt; b, Emily Davies Heavy attack on public 

wages, unemployment Principles of Geology schools and universities 

Trade unions forming O^y 6 ^* Lyricol Poems 

Riots in S & E England (Tennyson) 

Bristol burned d. Hegel; b J. C. Maxwell, Board of Education for 

Faraday produced electro- F. W. Farrar, Miss D. Ireland established 


Brit. Assoc. for Advance- 
ment of Science founded 

First Reform Act trebled d. Goethe, Bentham; b. Univ. of Durham founded. 
electorate to i million Tylor, L. Stephen, L. Charter 1837 
WHIG Carroll Rebellion at Eton 

Lord Penny Magazine started 

Grey - - - 

Keble's Oxford Assize d. W. Wilber force; b. 20,000 grant for schools 
Sermon Bradkugh 

Factory Act Sartor Resartus (Cariyle) 

Slavery abolished hi Brit- Tracts for the Times and 
ish Empire Penny Cyclopaedia 


Tolpuddlc Martyrs; riots d. Coleridge, Malthus; b. Liverpool Mechanics In- 

and arson Lubbock, W. Morris stitute (and High School) 

Poor Law Amendment Act Last Days of Pompeii (Lyt- founded 

Fox Talbot produced ton) West Riding Proprietary 

photographs School founded 





George and Rachel 
(Withers) Huxley mar- 
ried, 1810 

Bom at Baling, 4 May 

To Baling School 













Prisons Act (Inspectors 
Municipal Reform Act 
(Borough Councils) 

<L Cobbett, Mrs Hemans; 
b. S. Butler, 'Mark 

sign est. 

it School of De. 

Ld. Mel- 


Chartist Movement - 

(-> 1848) son) 

Exeter Hall (Evangelical) Pickwick Papers (Dickens) 

opened Lyra Apostohca 

Industrial depression de- d. Constable, William IV; 

veloping 6. Swinburne 

Pillory still used as punish- French Revolution (Car- 

meat lyle), Oliver Twist 


Charter presented to Par- b. H. Sidgwick, J. Cham- 

liament berlain, J. Morley, Lecky 

Registrar-General's first Elements of Geology (Ly- 

Report ell), Proverbial Philosophy 

_ CTupper) _ _ ^^ 

Anti-Corn Law League b. Pater, Henry George 30,000 grant for schools 

founded Chartism (Carlyle), Re- Committee of Council on 

Roy. Comm. on Police searches m Electricity Education est. (Kay as 
'Opium War" with China (Faraday.-^lSSS),^^^ Secretary). Schools In- 
(-> 1841) of 'Beagle' (Darwin) spectorate est. 

Rowland Hill's Tenny b. Thomas Hardy, Zola Battersea Training CoD. 

Post' Philosophy of Inductive (St John's) founded 

New Zealand annexed Sciences (Whewell) Grammar Schools Act 

Morse invented telegraph 




Into Hungry Forties' d. Birkbeck St Mark's Training ColL 
Steamship companies de- Tract No. XC (Newman), (Chelsea) founded 

veloping Old Red Sandstone (Mil- Over 200 Mechanics Insti- 

ler), Heroes (Carlyle) tutes 

Punch started 

Income Tax 7d in d. T. Arnold; b. W. James Holborn "National Hall' 

Chartist riots Collected Poems (Tenny- founded 

son), Lays of Ancient Sheffield "People's ColL 
Rome (Macaulay) founded 

nius. Lond. News started 

Trade revival (-> 1846) 
Smoke Abatement Com- 

d. Southey; b. H. James 
Past and Present (Carlyle), 

System of Logic (J. S. 

Mill), Modern Painters 

(Ruskin, -* 1860) 
Ethnological Soc. founded 

Prince Albert Pres, of Roy. 
Soc. of Arts 

Rochdale Pioneers' Co- *. S. A. Barnett,R. Bridges 

operative Eothen (Kinglake), Vesti- 

Roy. Comm. on Health of ges of Natural History of 

Towns Creation (Chambers) 

Bank Charter Act North Bnt. Rev. started 

Newman converted to d. Sydney Smith Secular Queen's ColL in 

Rome Essay on Development Belfast founded 

Irish famine (-> 1830) (Newman), Sybil, or the 22 Training Colleges in 

Railways booming Two Nations (Disraeli), England and Wales 
Cromwell (Carlyle) 

Whigs becoming dominant Leben Jesu (Strauss, Eng- Coll. of Preceptors found- 
Corn Laws repealed lish translation), Book of ed 
Workhouse scandals Nonsense (Lear), British Pupil-teacher system est, 
Fossils (Owen, - 1884) with training grants and 
Daily News started pensions for teachers 







Family moved to Coventry 
End of schooling 

Reading Mutton's Geology, 
Hamilton's Logic. Car- 
lyle's French Revolution 

Learning German 

Sisters Eliza and Ellen 

Began Thoughts and Do* 

Learning French and 

Latin, reading science and 


Started medical appren- 
ticeship in Rotherhithe 
Reading for matriculation 

Free scholarship to Char- 
ing Cross Hospital 

Silver medal for Botany 
(Apothecaries Hall) 

Prizes in Chemistry, An- 
atomy and Physiology 
(Charing Cross) 

Reading Carlyle's Peat and 

First MB of Lond. Univ., 'Structure in human hair- 
with Gold Medal for An- sheath' 
atomy and Physiology 

First research paper pub- 

Entered Roy. Naval Medi- 
cal Service as Assistant- 

Sailed in Rattlesnake, 3 

Member Brit. Assoc. 











Ten Hours' Act 
Poor Law Board est. 
5,000 miles of railways in 
United Kingdom 
Chloroform used for anaes- 

d. Franklin; b. Annie 
Besant, Edison 
Wuthenng Heights (E. 
Bronte), Jane Eyre (C. 
Bronte), Mathematical 
Logic (Boole) 

100,000 grant for schools 
North Lond. Collegiate 
School (girls) founded 

End of Chartism (fiasco 
on Kenmngton Com- 
General Health Act 
Bread riots in Britain 
Revolutions in Europe 

d. E. Bronte, G. Stephen- 
son; b. A. J. Balfour, 
W. G. Grace 
Communist Manifesto 
(Marx and Engels), Politi- 
cal Economy (J. S. Mill) 

Queen's Coll. (women) 
founded in Lond. 
First Teachers' Certificate 

Navigation Laws repealed 
wing Christian Socialist Move- 
T . T ment developing 
Sc i?i Gold in California and 
RusseU Australia 

d. A. Brdnte, M. Edge- 
worth, Brunei; b. Pavlov 
Pendennis (Thackeray), 
History of England 

Over 700 Mechanics Insti- 

Immense industrial expan- 
sion (- 1860) 
Free Libraries Act 
'Papal aggression* 
Telegraph cable under 

d. Peel and Wordsworth; 
b. R. L. Stevenson 
In Memoriam (Tennyson); 
Alton Locke (Kingsley), 
Political Economy 

Roy. Commissions on Ox- 
ford and Camb. ap- 
pointed (-. 1852) 
School of Mines founded 
Natural Science Honours 
School est. at Oxford 

Great Exhibition and 
Crystal Palace 
Population of United 
4 Kingdom, 21 million 
Period of prosperity and 
1-1 social stability starting 

6. Oliver Lodge 
Yeast (Kingsley), Social 
Statics (Spencer), Cran- 
ford (Mrs Gaskell), 
Poems (Meredith), Moby 
Dick (Melville) 

Owens Coll. opened in 
Cheltenham Ladies' ColL 
Natural Sciences Tripos at 

> 4 ^^^ MMI: HrtiTBM rtf PnrliflmMit H "H nf Wrflinff+nn Pnrin Sriftiwi nnd Art TVnt r^f 

opened University Education (New- under Board of Trade 

~ ' " man) Empedocles on Etna 

(M. Arnold), Uncle Tom's 

Cabin (Stowe) 

CONS. Eurca Stockade* revolt 
Ld. Derby in Australia 

Death duties introduced 
Charity Coram. est. 
Civil Service Reform pro- 

6. C. Rhodes 260 000 grant for schools 

Theological Essays (Mau- Working Men's ColL 
rice), Hypatia (Kingsley) founded 


Ld. Aber- 

Income Tax Is 2d in 

Crimean War (- 1856) 
Bessemer invented steel 

b. 'Marie Corelli' Oxford Univ. Act 

Hard Times (Dickens), Newman Rector of Dublin 

Latin Christianity (Mil- Catholic Univ. 

man), Light Brigade 

(Tennyson), Laws of 

Thought (Boole) 

Limited Liability Act 
Adulteration of Food 

d. C. Brdnte 

Principles of Psychology 
(Spencer), The Warden 
(Trollope), MourfCTenny- 
son), Leaves of Grass 

Daily Telegraph and Satur- 
day Review started 

Regius Chair of Tech- 

nology founded at Edin- 

Society of Arts examina- 

tions started 
Civil Service Commis- 

sioners apptd. 

WHIG --- 

Ld. Life Peerages suggested d. W. Hamilton; b. G. B. 451,000 grant for schools 

Palmerston Responsible government in Shaw, 0. Wilde, F. Har- Dept, of Science and Art 

Australia ris, J. J. Thomson transferred to Privy 

War with China History of England (J. A, Council and co-ordinated 

Perkins synthesised mauve Froude, -+ 1870) with Education Dept. 

Camb. Univ. Act 







Met Henrietta Anne *Blood corpuscles of Am- 

Heathonx in Sydney phioxus* 

Working on medusae and 

other marine organisms 

(-> 1859) 

Nine-month cruise inshore 
Great Barrier Reef and 
New Guinea 

Packeting research papers 
to England 

Continuing researches 
Learning Italian 

'Anatomy and affinities of 

Rattlesnake returned to 
England, 23 October 

Granted 'special duty* 
leave for research 

Living in lodgings (several 

Elected Fellow of Roy. 

String-pulling at Brit As- 

soc., etc. 
Joined *Red Lions' 

Fellow, Roy. Soc. 

Mother died 

Gold Medal of Roy. Soc. 

'Animal individuality' 
'Structure of Ascidiana' 

Roy. Inst. 

Admiralty research leave 'Morphology of Cephalous Roy. Inst 

terminated Mollusca' 

Working on human, espe- Identity of structure of 

cially nervous, cytology plants and animals* 

etc. (-* 1857) 

Struck off Navy List 
Appointed at Jermyn 
Street at 200 per annum 
Began work on fossil an- 
atomy and classification 
(- 1887) 

'Common plan of animal Roy. Inst. 
forms' Dept. of Science and Art 

'Educational value of na- Soc. of Arts Educational 
tural history sciences' Exhibition 

School of Mines (general 
public, 10) 

Father died 

Mamed Miss Heathorn; 

moved to Waverley Place, 

Salary raised to 600 per 

annum; Lectureship at 

St Thomas's 
Fulknan Professor to 

Rov. Inst. (-+ 1858, and 


'Progressive development Roy. Inst. 
of animal life in tune* Dept. of Science and Art 
Loud. Working Men (6) 

Son Noel bora 'Method of palaeontology' Roy. Inst. (12) Fellow, Zoological Soc.; 

Examiner to Univ. of 'Natural history as know- Dept. of Science and Art Geological Soc, 

Lend. (-> 1870) ledge, discipline and Lond. Working Men (6) 

To Switzerland with Tyn- power* Edinburgh Philosophical 

dall Inst.C2) 









Bank crisis 

WHIG Matrimonial Causes Act; Missionary Travels (Liv- 
Ld. Divorce Court est. ingstone), Tom Brown's 

Palmerston Indian Mutiny (-* 1858) Schooldays (Hughes), 
History of Civilisation in 
England (Buckle) 

d. Comte; b. Karl Pearson National School of Design 
*,. T. 7. rr^ -^National Art Training 

Ld. Derby 

Emancipation of Jews d. Robert Owen; b. B. 
MPs* Property qualifica- Webb, E. Pankhurst 
tion abolished Darwin and Wallace paper 

General Medical Council to Linnean Soc. 
est Limits of Religious Thought 


Englishwoman's Journal 

Oxford and Camb. Local 


War with Napoleon 

d. Macaulay; b. S. Webb, 
Havelock Ellis 
Origin of Species (Darwin), 
Self-Help (Smiles), On 
liberty (J. S. Mill), 
Richard Feverel (Mere- 
dith), Adam Bede (Eliot) 
Macrmllan*s Magazine 

840,000 education grant 
Newcastle Comm. on Ele- 
mentary Education 
(-> Io61) 
R, Lowe Vioe-Pres. of 
Committee of Council on 
Science and Art Dept 
grants for 1 science teach- 

Income Tax lOd in b. Ben Tillett Science degrees at Univ. of 

Colonies covered 2J mil- Essays and Reviews, Lond. 
lion square miles Glaciers CTyndall) 

Ironclad warship launched Cornhill Mag. started 

1 ~ 

Death of Prince Consort d. Mrs Browning 
American Civil War Popular Education of 
(-M865) France (Arnold), Educa- 

Lagos annexed tion (Spencer), Ancient 

Law (Maine) 

Natural History Review 

Clarendon Comm. on 
Public Schools (-> 1864) 
Lowe's 'Revised Code' 
First May examination of 
Science and Art Dept 



> Ld. 


Cotton famine in Lanca- d. Buckle George 
shire Modern Love (Meredith), 

Pentateuch (Colenso), 
Four Periods of Public 
Education (Kay-Shuttle- 
worth), Unto this Last 

'Payment by Results' In- 

Hartley Inst opened at 

Camb. Local Examina- 

tions opened to girls 

Income Tax 7d in 
Taiping rebellion 

d. Thackeray, \ 
Water Babies 

'New Code' introduced 

s started 

Co-operative Wholesale 
Soc. founded 
Rural Housing Report 
Geneva Convention 

d. Lander, George Boole 
French Eton \ 

Income Tax 4d in 
Limited Liability Com- 
panies formed 
St Pancras station built 
Antiseptic surgery 

Ld. Russell 

d. Cobden, Palmerston, 
Mrs Gaskell; b. Kipling 

Ecce Homo (Seeley), Alice 
in Wonderland (Carroll), 
Early History of M 
(Tyler), Primitive 
riage (McLennan) 

Fortnightly Review and 
Pall Mall Gazette started 

Taunton Comm. on En- 
dowed Schools (-> 1867) 

Argyll Comm. on Scottish 
Schools (-> 1867) 

Bedford Coll. (women) in- 

Resignation of Lowe, over 
Inspectors' reports 

Education grant down to 








Bad headaches and tooth* 'Structure and functions of Roy. Inst. (2) Honorary, Breslau Im- 

aches; hypochondria be- nerves' Lond. Working Men (7); perial Acad. of Natural 

coming frequent 

Structure and motion of Working Men's ColL 

History; Dresden Im- 
perial Acad. of Natural 
History; Giessen Micro- 
scopical Soc. 

Daughter Jessie born 
Crooman Lecturer 
Elected to Athenaeum 

Theory of vertebrate skull' Roy, lost. 

Fellow, Linneaa Soc. 
Honorary, Imperial Liter- 
ary and Scientific Acad. 
of Germany 

Daughter Marian bora 'Anatomy of Nautilus* Roy. Inst. ; Lond. Inst. (6) Secretary, Geological Soc, 

Secretary of Geological 'Persistent types of animal Lond. Working Men (6) (-M862) 

Soc. life' Warwickshire Natural His- Honorary, Dublin Univ. 

"Darwin's Bulldog' Times' review of "Origin tory & Archaeological Zoological and Botani- 

of Species" Soc. cal Soc.; Philadelphia 

Acad. of Sciences 

Son Noel died. Son Leon- 'Species and races, and Roy. lost. Honorary, Imperial Geo- 

ardborn their origin* Lond. Working Men (6) logical Soc. of Vienna 

Brit. Assoc. 'duel' with Literary Fund Dinner 
Bishop of Oxford 

Moved to Abbey Place 'Early stages of animal de- Roy Inst. 
(Abercorn Place), Maryle- velopment' Lond. Working Men (6) 

bone 'Fishes of Devonian epoch' Teachers' Course (South 

Honorary MA and PhD 'Zoological relations of Kensington) 
(Breslau) man with lower animals' 

'A Lobster: or the study of 

Honorary, Institute Egyp- 
tien of Alexandria 

contempor- Roy. Inst. Member, Roy. ColL of 

Lond. Working Men (6) 

Daughter Rachel born 'Geological 

Hunterian Professor at aneity* . _,, 

Roy. Coll. of Surgeons 'Labyrinthodonts from Edinburgh Philosophical Honorary, Odontological 
(-J-1869) Edinburgh coalfield* Inst. (2); Dublin Soc.; Imperial Scientific 

Roy. Comm. on Scottish Soc, of Gdttingen 

Herring Trawling Acts 

Formed Thorough' Club 

Brother George died. Man's Place in Nature 
Daughter Nettie bom 
Working on human fossils 

School of Mines (general Fellow, Ethnological Soc. 
public, 10) Honorary, Roy. Literary 

Hull Roy. Inst (3) and Scientific Acad. of 


Income 950 plus royalties Elements of Comparative Lond. Working Men (6) 
Roy. Comm. on Sea Anatomy 
Fisheries of United King- Atlas of Comparative Os- 
dom (- 1865) teology 

Formed V Club 'Human remains from 


'Criticisms on "The Origin 
of Species" ' 

Son Henry born 'Methods and results of 

Governor of International ethnology' 
ColL 'Emancipation black and 


Honorary, Imperial Acad. 
of Sciences of St Peters- 

Honorary, _ 

Cal SOC. Of I LLuaubt^uua.. 

Imperial Zoological and 
Botanical Soc. of Vienna: 
Roy. Scientific Acad. of 








1866 WHIG- Habeas Corpus suspended 

LIBERAL in Ireland 
Ld, Russell Report on'Jamaica insur- 

Telegraph cable under At- 
lantic ('Great Eastern*) 

d. Keble, Whewell, Rie- 
mann; b. H. G. Wells 

Jewish Church (Stanley), 

Hereward the Wake (King- 

Contemporary Review 

Brit. Assoc. Committee on 

Science Teaching 
Lond. Mechanics Institute 

- Birkbeck Literary & 

Scientific Institute 
International Coll. found- 


Second Reform Act d. Faraday; b. Galsworthy, Payment made for extra 

CONS. First Lambeth Conference A. Bennett subjects 

Ld. Derby Paris International Ex- Kapital (Marx), Essays on Halifax Working Men's 

hibition Liberal Education* Eng- Coll, est. technical classes 
End of transportation to lish Constitution (Bage- 
Australia hot), Sound (Tyndall) 
Canadian Federation 

End of public executions d. Brougham, Milman; b. Public Schools Act 

UK foreign trade four Gertrude Bell Select Committee on 

times that of USA Academical Organisation Scientific Instruction 

(M. Pattison), Ring and Degrees in Science and 

CONS. Book (Browning), Moon- Technology at Edinburgh 

Disraeli stone (W. Collins), Univ. 

Scnools on Continent (M. South Lond. Working 

Arnold) Men's Coll founded 


New Parliament under Mendel6ev produced Peri- 
'Household Suffrage' odic Table; Mendel's 

Trades Union Congress work published 
founded Subjection of Women 

Irish Church disestablished (Mill), Culture and An- 
Suez Canal opened archy (Arnold), Heredi- 

tay Genius (Gallon) 
Nature, Graphic and 
Academy started 

Endowed Schools Acts 

(-* 1874) 
National Education 

League (Secular) and 

Union (Denominational) 

Girton Coll. (women) 

founded at Hitchin 
Headmasters' Conference 

Patronage in Civil Service d. Dickens; b. H. Belloc Forster's Education Act, 
abolished Grammar of Assent (New- est. School Boards 

Married Women's Pro- man), St. Paul and Pro- Devonshire Comm. on 
pertyAct testantism (M. Arnold) Scientific Instruction 

Franco-Prussian War Anthropological Institute (- 1875) 

Vatican Council founded Owens Coll., Manchester, 


National Union of Teach- 
ers founded 


Local Government Board d. Grote, ManseD 
est. Descent of Man (Darwin), 

Bank Holidays Act Primitive Culture (Tylor), 

Tichborne Claimant Case Plato's Dialogues (Jow- 
(-* 1874) ett), Middlemarch JG. 

~ " Eliot), Theory 

Songs (Lear) 
Historical Soc. founded 


' Heat 

Religious tests at Oxford 

and Camb. removed by 

Univ. Tests Act 
Newnham Coll, (women) 

International Education 


Secret Ballot introduced 
Albert Memorial 
Disraeli becoming un- 

<f.F.D.,Maurice,Mazzim; Qevcland Comm. on Ox- 

b. B. Russell, M. Beer- ford and Camb. (-> 1874) 

bohm Girls' Public Day School 

Erewhon (Butler), Green- Company formed 

wood Tree (Hardy), Vol- Chair of Education est. at 

talre (Morley) Coll. of Preceptors 

Daily Chronicle started 







Daughter Ethel born Elementary Physiology Roy. Last, (ethnology President, Section D of 

Member of Governor 'Adviseableness of im- course) Brit. Assoc. 

Eyre' Jamaica Committee proving natural know- St Martin's Hall ('Sunday Honorary, Swedish Medi- 

Comm. on Roy. ColL of ledge' lecture') calSoc, 

Science for Ireland Nottingham Working Men 

Honorary LLD (Edin- 

Learned to smoke cigar- 

Working on ethnology and 
anthropology (-> 1871) 

To Bnttany with Hooker 
and Lubbock 

Attending Graphic Soc. 

Dinosaur remains from Roy. Inst. (ethnology Honorary, Imperial Soc. of 

South Africa' course) Natural Sciences of Cher- 

Classification of birds' Working Men's Con, bourg; International 

Sion ColL (clergy) Congress of Anthrop. 

Birmingham and Midland and Prehistoric Archato- 

Institute (2) logy 

Principal of South Lond. 

Working Men's Coll. 

(-* 1880) 
Pres. of Ethnological Soc. 

(-> 1871) 
Comm. on Science and 

Art Instr. in Ireland 

'Crania of Patagonians Roy. Inst. 

and other Americans' South Lond. 
'A piece of chalk' 
A liberal education and 

where to find it' 


Men's Coll.; Norwich 
Working Men 

Soc. of Arts Conference 

Univ. Coll. Lond. 

Birmingham and Midland 
Institute (2); Newcastle; 
Edinburgh ('Lay Ser- 

President, Ethnological 

Soc. (-- 1871) 
Honorary, Roy. Medico- 

Chirurgical Soc.; Jena 

Medical Natural History 


Pres. of Geological Soc. 
Member of Metaphysical 


Coined word 'agnostic' 
Began frequent attendance 

at Roy. Acad. dinners, 


Classification of Animals 
'Physical basis of life' 
"Principles and methods of 

'Ethnology of India' and 
'of North America' 

'Scientific aspects of Posi- 

'Scientific education' 

Lond. schoolchildren (12) President, Geological Soc. 

Lond. women (12) (-+ 1871) 

Liverpool Philomathic Honorary^ American Phil- 

Soc ; Bradford Philoso- osophical Soc.; Berlin 

phicalSoc.; Leeds Philo- Geological Soc.; Institut 

sophical and Literary Soc. do France 

Elected to Lond. School 


Roy. Comm. on Contagi- 
ous Diseases Acts 

(- 1871); Roy. Comm. 

on Scientific Instruction 

(-* 1875) 
Governor of Owens ColL 

(-* 1875), Pres. of Bnt 

Resigned Univ. of Lond. 

Examiner-ship and Roy. 

Coll. Surgeons Professor- 


Lay Sermons, Addresses 
and Reviews 

and Abio- 

of Britain' 

'Distribution of chief 
modifications of man- 

'Descartes' Discourse' 
'On medical education* 
'School Boards' 

Roy. Inst 

Univ. ColL Lond. Medical 

Manchester Working Men 
Bnt. Assoc. (Liverpool) 
Leicester Literary and 
Philosophical Soc.; Birm- 
ingham and Midland In- 
stitute (2); Leeds Liter- 
ary and Philosophical 
Soc.; Bradford Philoso- 
phical Soc.; Camb. 

President, Brit. Assoc. 
Fellow, Anthrop. Institute 
Honorary, Liverpool Liter- 
ary and Philosophical 
Soc.; Moscow Imperial 
Natural History Soc.; 
German Fisheries Fellow- 

Income 2,100 Anatomy of Vertebrated Roy. Inst. (2); Lond. Inst. 

Secretary of Roy. Soc. Animals (2 courses) 

Asked to stand for Parlia- 'Mr Darwin's Critics' Lond. Working Men (6); 

ment 'Yeast' -- . . -. - 
'Bishop Berkeley on the 

** ** 


metaphysics of sensation' Teachers' Course (South 
'Administrative nihilism' Kensington, 36) 

Honorary^ Camb. Philoso- 
Working phical Soc.; Berlin Soc. 
of Anthrop., Ethnology 
and Pre-history 

Birmingham and Midland 
Institute; Liverpool 
(Trades Council) 

Health breakdown; re- 
signed from School 
Board; convalescence in 
Egypt and Italy 

Moved to Marlborough 
Place, Marylebone 

Elected Rector of Aber- 
deen Univ. (-> 1874) 

Teachers 1 Course (South 

Honorary, Manchester 
Literary and Philo- 
sophical Soc.; Italian 
Soc. of Anthrop. and 
Ethnology; New Zealand 








1873 LIBERAL Strong republican move- d. J. S. Mill, S. Wilber- Camb. Univ. Extension 

Gladstone ment in United Kingdom force, Landseer Lectures started 

Population 26 million Autobiography (Mill), Oxf. and Camb. Joint 

(France, 36 million) Rousseau (Morley) Schools Exanin. Board 

Remington produced type- Palasographical Soc. est. 

writer founded 

4 Trade depression (-* 1879 d. Livingstone; 6. G. K. Yorkshire Coll. founded at 

-> 1896) Chesterton, S. Maugham, Leeds 

Fear of German trade G. Stem 

rivalry Greville Memoirs (-* 1 887), 

Famine in India Life of Christ (Farrar), 
City of Dreadful Night 

British economic prepon- d. Kingsley, Lyell, Thirl- Lond. Medical School for 
derance ending wall Women founded 

Disraeli bought Suez Canal Renaissance in Italy (Sy- 
shares monds -> 1886) 

Encyc. Brit. (9th edn.) 

Trade Union Amendment d. Harriet Maxtincau; b. 
Act G. M. Trevelyan 

Queen Victoria Empress of Principles of Sociology 


Atrocities in Bulgaria 
Bell invented telephone 

(Spencer, -* 1896), Daniel 
Deronda (G. Eliot), 
Roderick Hudson (H. 

Physiological Soc. founded 

Mind started 

Compulsory school at- 
tendance, with 'half- 
timers 5 

Roy. Comm. on Univs. of 
Scotland (-> 1878) 

Peripatetic science teachers 
in Liverpool schools 




Politics increasingly domi- d. Kay-Shuttleworth, Commissioners appointed 

nated by 'Irish Question' 
Transvaal annexed 
Russo-Turlosh War 

New Republic (Mallock), 
Life and Habit (S. Butler), 
Physical Basis of Mind 

Nineteenth Century started 

under Univs. of Oxford & 
Camb. Act 

Berlin Congress 
Afghan War 
Microphone invented 

d Cniikshank, G. H. Univ. of Lond. degrees 
Lewes, Mrs Grote; b. opened to women 

Masefield Maria Grey Training 

History of Eighteenth Cen- Coll. (women) founded 

tury (Lecky, ->- 1890), aty & Guilds of Lond. 
Dictionary of Music Institute founded 
(Groves, -> 1889) 

'Great Depression' 

Popular interest shifting 

from religion to politics 
Zulu War 

d. Maxwell, W. K. Clif- 
ford, Rowland Hill; b. 
E. M. Forster 

Principles of Ethics (Spen- 
cer, -* 1893), Evolution, 
Old and New (Butler), 
Egoist (Meredith) 

Boys' Own Paper started 

Firth Coll, founded at 

Somerville and Lady Mar- 
garet Colls, (women 
founded at Oxford 

Camb. Teachers' Training 
Syndicate apptd. 

1880 Mundella (Child Labour) 

LIBERAL Employers' Liability Act 
Gladstone Salvation Army founded 
Bradlaugh seeks to affirm 

d. G.Eliot Mason ColL founded at 

Progress and Poverty (H. Birmingham 

George), Spinoza (Pol- Owens Coll. - Victoria 

lock) Univ. of Manchester 







Changed from cigarettes 

to cigars 
Order of Pole Star 


Critiques and Addresses Teachers' Course (South Honorary, Medical Soc.; 
Kensington) Buffalo Soc, of Natural 


Attended (and exposed) 'Hypothesis that animals Loud. Working Men (6) Honorary, Roy. Irish 

seance are automata' Brit. Assoc. (Belfast) Acad.; Roy. Swedish 

'Classification of animal Aberdeen (Rectorial Ad- Acad. of Sciences; Roy. 

Iririodrim 1 J~a*,\. **../i,'hu* M ' - - - 

'Joseph Priestley' 
'Universities: actual and 


dress); Manchester 
(Owens Coll. Medical 
School); Birmingham 
(Priestley Commemora- 

Acad. of Sciences of 
Lisbon; Roy. Belgian 
Acad. of Sciences, Letters 
and Fine Arts 

Changed from cigars to Practical Elementary Bio- Roy. Inst 
pipe logy (with H. N.Martin) 

Professor locum tenons at Encyclopaedia Britannica 
Edinburgh (and 1876) articles 

Vivisection controversy 

Honorary, Historical Soc. 
of Lancashire and 

Income 3.000 

Visited USA, opening 
Johns Hopkins Univ. and 
meeting sister Lizzie 

Roy. Comm. on Vivisec- 
tion; Roy. Comm. on 
Universities of Scotland 
(- 1878) 

Vice-Pres. of Working 
Men's Club and Institute 

Wollaston Medal of Geo- 
logical Soc. 

'Classification of fishes' 
'Border territory between 
plants and fln 'flo fl V 
Three lectures on evolu- 

]0n the study of biology/ 
Address on university 

Roy. Inst.; Lond. Inst 
Lond. Working Men (6) 
Teachers' Course (South 
Glasgow Science Assoc. 
USA (Baltimore, Buffalo, 
New York (3), Tennes- 

Member, Physiological 

Honorary, Literary and 
Antiquarian Soc. of 
Perth; Roy. Soc. of 
Edinburgh; Glasgow 
Philosophical Soc.: Roy. 
Soc. of Copenhagen: 
New York Acad. of 

Advised City Companies Anatomy of Invertebrated Roy. Inst.; Lond. Inst.; Honorary, Boston Soo. of 

on technical education Animals Zoological Gardens Natural History; Dutch 

Physiography Working Men's Club and Acad. of Sciences; Geo- 

Amencan Addresses Institute Union logical Soc. of Belgium 

'Elementary instruction in Teachers' Course (South 

deal education* 

Birmingham (Domestic 

Economy Congress) 

Daughter Jessie married 
Son Leonard to St An- 
drews Univ. 

Younger children seriously 
ill with diphtheria 
Studying Greek texts 
Honorary LLD (Dublin) 

Hume Roy. Inst.; Lond. Inst.; 

'Classification and dis- Zoological Gardens 

tribution of crayfishes' (Course) 
William HarveV South Lond. Working 

Men's Coll.; Lond. 
Working Men (6) 
Roy. Coll. Physicians 
(Harvey Commemora- 

Whitechapel (re university 

President, Queckett Micro- 
scopical dub (& 1879) 

Honorary, Acadcmia de* 
Lincei of Rome; Brussels 
Roy. Medical and Scien- 
tific Soc. 

Daughter Marian married 
Leonard to Balliol, Oxford 
Working On matnnQalian 

anatomy (-+ 1881) 
Governor of Eton 

(-> 1888) 
Honorary LLD (Camb.) 


Preface to Haeckel's "Free- 
dom in Science and 

'Characters^ of pelvis in 


Roy. Inst: Lond. Inst.; Honorary, Acad. of Let- 
Zoological Gardens ters of Pemambuco ; Roy. 
Soc. of New South Wales; 
Natural Science Soc. of 
Halle; Roy. Belgium 
Acad. of Medicine; In- 
stitut de France 

Clarke Medal of Roy. Soc. Introductory SciencePrimer Roy. Inst (3); Zoological Honorary, Roy. Natural 

of New South Wales 'Cranial and dental char- Gardens (3) History Soc. of Ncther- 

actersofCanidae' Working Men's Coll.; lands Indies 

'Coming of age of "The Lond. Working Men (6) 

Origin of Species" ' Binmngham (Mason Coll.) 
'Science and culture* 











control) tnal 
Traffic in girls exposed by 

Irish Land Act 

(birth d. Carlyle, Disraeli, A. P. 
Stanley; b. P. G. Wode- 

Virgtnibus Puerisaue 
(Stevenson), Anthrop- 
ology (Tylor), Ballads and 
Sonnets (RossetU), Lec- 
tures on Teaching (Fitch) 
Evening News started 

Samuelson Comm. on 
Technical Education 
H- 1884) 

Univ. Coll. founded at 

Roy. School of Mines -* 
Normal School of Science 

Camb. Tripos examina- 
tions opened to women 

Second Married Women's d. Darwin, Pusey, G C. Finances of Oxford and 

Property Act Rossetfc, Trollope, Gari- Camb. colleges examined 

" "* ' -' in baldi; b. James Joyce Regent Street Polytechnic 

All Sorts and Conditions of opened 
Men (W.Besant), Natural 
Religion (Seeley) 

British control est. 

Foote (blasphemy) tnal d. Marx, Colenso Fmsbury Technical ColL 

Maxim invented automatic Principles of Logic (Brad- opened in City of Lond. 
gun ley), Political Economy Teachers' Guild founded 

(Sidgwick), Expansion of London Univ. Diploma 
England (Seeley), Theory examn. in Education 
^ Practice of Teaching 
(Thring), Towards De- 
mocracy (Carpenter), 
Story of African Farm 

Soc. for Psychical Research 
Oxford Magazine started 

Third Reform Act 

Social Democratic Federa- 
tion founded 

Fabian Soc. founded 

Toynbee Hall opened 
South-east London 

d. M, Pattison, Fawcett, City and Guilds CoD. 

b. H. Walpole 
Industrial Revolution 

(Toynbee), Huckleberry 

nnn ('M. Twain') 
Agnostic Annual started 
Oxford English Dictionary 

(first part) 

opened in South Kensing- 

Gordon relieved in Khar- d. Shaftesbury, V. Hugo, 
toum Gordon; b. D. H. 


Arabian Nights (Burton), 
Praetenta (Raskin, 
-+im), King Solomon's 
Mines (Haggard) 
Dictionary of National 
Biography (first volume) 

Education grants total 


Ld. Salis- 

First Home Rule Bill re- d. W. E. Forster; 6. S. 

jected Sassoon 

Bradlaugh seated in Com- Bostomans (H, James), 

raons Victor Hugo (Swinburne) 

Burma occupied Eng.Historical Rev. started 

Queen Victoria's Golden d. Thring, Jenny Lind; b. Cross Comm. on 1 

Jubilee Julian Huxley, E. Sitwell tary Education (-> 1888) 

Peoples' Palace opened in Study in Scarlet (Conan Roy. Holloway ColL (wo- 
East End Doyle) men) founded 

Eiffel Tower erected in Marine Biological Aasoc. 
Pans founded 

First Colonial Conference 

Local Government Act d. M. Arnold, Lear, 

(County Councils) Maine; b. T. S. Eliot, 

Select Committee on Dream of John Ball (Mor- 

Sweatmg ris), Robert Elsmere (Mn 

Hertz produced radio Ward) 

waves Star started 







Dean of Normal School of Science and Culture 

Science (-* 1895) 'Hemng' 

Inspector of Salmon Fish- ^Biological sciences 

cries (-> 1885) medicine' 

Roy. Conun. on Medical 

Acts (- 1882) 
Refused Professorship and 

Mastership at Oxford 

International Medical President, Sanitary Protec- 
Congress tion Assoc. 

and Brit. Assoc. (York) 

Norwich Fisheries Exhibi- 

Offered *10,000 per an- 
num to go to Harvard 

Working on salmon, oy. 
ster, etc. (-* 1884) 

Honorary MD (Wurtz- 

'Saprolegnia in relation to Lond. Women's Medical Honorary, Physiological 
salmon disease* School Soc.; Clarendon Histori- 

cal Soc. of Edinburgh 

Pres, of Roy. Soc. 

Ex officio Trustee of Brit 

Museum (-> 1886) 
Senator of Lond. Univ. 

(- 1895) 
Rede Lecturer at Camb. 

Science and art in relation Roy. Inst. 
to education' Lond. Working Men (6) 

'Oysters' Clothworkers Hall (re 

Pearly Nautilus* technical education); 

Mansion House (re 

Peoples' Palace), Lond. 

Fisheries Exhibition 
Camb. (Rede) 
Liverpool (Institute 


President, Roy. Soc. 
<-> 1886) 

Fellow, Roy. ColL of Sur- 

Honorary, Hertfordshire 
Natural History Soc.; 
National Acad. of 
Sciences of USA; Ameri- 
can Acad. of Arts and 
Sciences; Anthrop. Soc. 
of Washington; Acade- 
mia Valdamense of 

El health becoming 'State and the medical pro- Lond. Hospital Medical Vict-Pres. Society of 
chronic; to Italy for con- fession' School Authors 

valescence Honorary, Brussels An- 

Daughter Rachel married throp. Soc. 

Roy. Comm. on Trawl, 
Net and Beam Trawl 

Resigned Presidency of 
National Assoc. of 
Science Teachers 

Son Leonard married 
Resigned Professorship at 

Normal School of Science 
Began great controversy 

with Gladstone 
Frequent attendance at 

Literary Soc. 
Honorary DCL (Oxford) 

Interpreters of Genesis Marine Biological Assoc. Honorary, Geological Soc. 

and interpreters of Na- 

of Australasia; Roy. In- 
stitute of Higher Study 
of Medical and Natural 
Science of Florence 

To Switzerland for con- 'Mr Gladstone and Gene- Darwin Memorial Statue Honorary, Roy. ColL of 

valescence sis' Surgeons of Ireland ;Mo- 

Strongly opposed to Home -'Science and morals* dena Natural History 

Rule 'Evolution of theology* Soc. 

Renewed ill health; to 

Switzerland, etc. 
Daughter Marian died 
Working on hybridism of 

Gave up most examining 

for Science & Art Dept 

'Gentians' Mansion House (re Im- 

*Scientific and pseudo- perial Institute) 

scientific realism' St Marylebone (re free 

'Science and pseudo- "" 


'Science and the bishops' 
'Address ,oa technical 


Manchester (re technical 

Very bad health in spring; 'Struggle for existence in 
to Switzerland, etc. human society 1 

Trustee of Brit, Museum 

Copley Medal of Roy. Soc. 
Honorary MD (Bologna) 


President, International 
Geological Congress 









Great Dock Strike 
Atrocities in Armenia 

d. Bright, 

Lux Mundi, Fabian 

Ufe and Labour in 

(Booth, -> 1897) 
Inst. of Electrical En- 

gineers founded 

Universities (Scotland) Act 
Technical Instruction Act 

Local Taxation (Customs 

and Excise) Act 
Pamell-O'Shea divorce 


Ld. Salis- 

d. Newman, Chadwick, Univ. Day 1_, 

Liddon founded in 1 ____ 

Darkest Africa (Stanley), Chester, Cardiff, iraung- 

Darkest England (Booth), ham, Newcastle, Notting- 

Golden Bough (Frazer), ham 

Principles of Psychology Normal School of Science 

(W. James), News from -*Roy. ColL of Science 

Nowhere (Morris) Woolwich Polytechnic 

Review of Reviews started opened 

d. Bradlaugh, Parnell, Univ. Day Training Depts. 

W. H. Smith founded in Oxford and 

Quintessence of Ibsenism Camb. 

(Shaw). Dorian Gray (0. Goldsmiths Coll. opened 

Wflde), Sherlock Holmes 

(Conan Doyle) 



Keir Hardie elected to d. Tennyson, R. Lowe, Borough Polytechnic 
Commons Manning, Richard Owen opened 

Independent Labour Party Widower/ Houses (Shaw) 
founded produced, Children of the 

Ghetto (Zangwill), Bar- 
rack Room Ballads (Kip- 
_ ling) __ 

Second Home Rule Bill d. Jowett, Tyndall, Fanny School-leaving age raised 

rejected Kemble to eleven years 

Third Married Women's Agnostic's Apology (Ste- Univ. of Wales founded 

Property Act phen), Salomi (Wilde), Blind and Deaf Children 

Appearance and Reality Education Act 

Dreyfus trial 


Ld. Rose- 


d. J. A. Froude, R. L. Bryce Comm. on Second- 
Stevenson, Pater, Helm- ary Education (- 1895) 
holtz, Miss Buss; b. Chelsea and Battersea 
Aldous Huxley Polytechnics opened 

Man and Woman (Have- 
lock Ellis), History of 
Trade Unionism (Webbs) 

Yellow Book started 

US A equals UK industrial d. Pasteur, Seeley 

output Time Machine (Wells), 

Jameson Raid Jude the Obscure (Hardy), 

Westminster (Roman Red Badge of Courage 

Catholic) Cathedral (Crane) 

Rontgen produced X-rays 


Ld. Salis- 

1899. Boer War 

1900. Labour Party found- 
ed (Labour Representa- 
tion Committee) 

1896. d. W. Morris 

1897. d Henry George 

1898. d. Gladstone 

1900. d. Ruskrn 

1901. d. Queen Victoria 

1898. Univ.ofLond.Act 

1899. Board of Education 







Health improved slightly 'Value of witness to the 

Daughters Ethel and Net- miraculous* 

tie married 'Agnosticism 1 

Began great agnosticism 'Agnosticism: a rejoinder* 

controversy 'Agnosticism and Chris- 
Moved to Eastbourne tianity* 

Trip to Canaries 
Son Harry married 
Sociological controversy 
r.innaan Medal of Linnean 

Lights of the Church and 
light of science' 
Keepers of the herd of 
'Aryan Question* 
'Government: anarchy or 
"Natural inequality of 
'Natural rights and politi- 
cal rights' 
'Capital, the mother of 

President, Palaeontograph- 
ical Soc. (-* 1895 

Social Diseases and Worse 
'Mr Gladstone's contro- 
versial methods' 

Privy Councillor 
Busy with Lond. Univ. re- 
form (->- 1895) 
End of V Club 

Essays on Some Con- 
troverted Questions 
'Apologetic irenicon* 
^Possibilities and impossi- 

Honorary, Frankfurt Na- 
tural History Soc.; Roy. 
Acad. of Sciences of 
Amsterdam; Italian Soc. 
of Sciences in Naples 

Total assets 14,000 
Romanes Lecture at Ox- 

Collected Essays, vols I- Oxford (Romanes) 
W Camb. (Harvey Celebra- 

M3../.1. .*:._ __j ^fu;.-> *.^_\ 

Honorary, Acad. of 
Sciences of Bologna 

Honorary MD (Erlangen) 
Hayden Medal Phila- 


Brit Assoc. Meeting at Collected Essays, vols V- Lond. (Salters Company) 

Oxford DC 

Darwin Medal of Roy 


Influenza, bronchitis, renal 'Mr Balfour's attack on 

failure agnosticism' (unfinished) 

Died at Eastbourne, 29 

Buried, without official 

ceremony, at Finchley, 4 


1898-1903. Scientific 

Memoirs (5 vols) 
1935 Diary of Voyage of 




No SPECIFIC REFERENCES are given here for general statements or 
particular incidents which may readily be verified from standard his- 
torical or biographical sources, or which are of minor importance. 
More important or less easily checked points, and nearly all quotations 
except a few from very well known books, are referred to their sources 
by means of key words or phrases, printed below in heavy type and 
preceded by numbers indicating the pages of the text on which they 
occur. In the case of Huxley's own writings included in the Collected 
Essays or the Scientific Memoirs, reference is usually to the volume and 
page number, the original sources being traceable in the list of his works 
given above. 

Major sources relied on throughout the book are referred to by 
abbreviations, as follows: 

HP Huxley Papers, in the muniments of the Imperial College of 

Science and Technology. 

CE Collected Essays, by T. H. Huxley, 9 vols., 1893-1894. 
LL Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, by Leonard Huxley, 

2 vols., 1900. 
SM Scientific Memoirs of Thomas Henry Huxley, ed. by M. Foster 

and E. R. Lankester, 5 vols., 1898-1903. 

Otherwise, the titles of books are given in full, or nearly so, with date 
of edition and with place of publication if outside the United Kingdom. 
References to journals give the volume and page numbers or the date 
of issue. 

Fuller documentation may be found in the author's typescript, 
T. H. Huxley: his Place in Education, deposited in the library of 
the University of London 


P, ii 'Those who elect': H. to Herbert Spencer, 27 December 1880, 

HP, 7.247. 
P. xv 'Any candid observer' : CE, HI, 404. 

human! nihil: Nature, XX, 185, 19 June 1879. 

P. xxii 'Strong natural talent': Karl Pearson, Life and Labours of 
Francis Gallon (1914-1930), H, 178. 




Pages 1-21 
Important sources for this chapter are: 


J. A. Brown, Chronicles of Greenford Parva; or Perivale Past 

and Present (1890). 

D. F. E, Sykes, Baling and its Vicinity (1891). 
Edith Jackson, Annals of Baling from the Twelfth Century to 

the Present Time (1 898). 
C Jones, Baling, from Corporate Village to Corporate Town, 

(n.d., c. 1903). 

C. M. Neaves, A History of Greater Baling (1931). 
Kelly's Directory & Cordingley Directory (various dates). 
Trans. Lond. & Middx. Archeeol. Soc. (N.S., XI, 105). 


HP. 19.79; 31.15-31.65; 31.78-31.85; 31.105; 62.1-62.5. 


HP, 30.19-30.27. 

See also: Cyril Bibby, T. H. Huxley and Medical Education', 
Charing Cross Hospital Gazette, LIV, 191, October 1956. 

Particular references are as follows: 
P. 1 If there is anything': H. to Sir J. Simon, 11 March 1891, 

HP, 26.82. 
P. 2 autobiography: CE, 1, 1. 

1 am a plebeian 9 : G. W. Smalley, Anglo-American Memories 

(2nd Series, 1912), p. 19. 
P. 3 1 had two years': H. to Herbert Spencer, 25 November 1886, 

LL, D, 145. 
P. 4 'a bloated mass*: H. to Lizzie (sister, Mrs Scott), 27 March 

1858, HP, 31.24, 
'at death's door': loc. cit. 

'as near mad': H. to Lizzie, 8 June 1876, HP, 31.44. 
P. 5 *of the surprising six people' : loc. cit. 

'nearly lost to': H. to Lizzie, 17 April 1852, HP, 31.17. 
'sunk in worse': H. to Lizzie, 22 April 1853, HP, 31.21. 
Itadey, when not working 9 : Beatrice Webb, My Apprentice- 
ship (1926), p. 25. 


P. 6 'Thoughts and Doings 9 : The original MS is now (1959) in the 

possession of Mrs L. Huxley. 
Carlyle looked up: LL, I, 275. 
P. 7 'used to wonder sometimes': LL, 1, 16. 

First Medical Examination: H. never, as is commonly stated, 
graduated as MB. However, he was admitted MRCS in 
1862 and elected FRCS in 1883. 

P. 8 'I have taken' : H. to Lizzie, 21 November 1850, LL, I, 60. 
P. 9 1 will "roar you" : LL, 1, 103-4. 

1 have been too long 9 : loc. tit. 

P. 10 To attempt to live' : H. to Henrietta Ann Heathorn (fiancee). 
P. 1 1 1 will leave my mark' : H. to Lizzie, 21 November 1850, LL, I, 


'Anyone who conceives': H. to fiancee, 12 July 1851, LL, I, 88. 
*When I last wrote': H. to W. S. MacLeay, 9 November 1851, 

HP, 30.3. 

P. 12 *My course in life': H. to fiancee, 6 July 1853, LL, I, 84. 
1 terminate': H. to Hooker, 6 July 1855, HP, 2.14. 
'bullying was the least': CE, I, 6. 
few men have drunk': H. to Kingsley, 23 September 1860, 

LL, I, 217. 
P. 13 'a complete paradise': H. to Rachel Huxley (mother), 15 May 

1847, LL, I, 34. 

'O thought I': Mrs H.'s reminiscences, HP, 62, 4. 
'God help me!': H. to Hooker [May 1855], LL, 1, 128. 
P. 14 'a fair-haired' : H. to Lizzie, 27 March 1858, LL, 1, 157. 
'I like that chap' : LL, H, 435. 
*a Republic': E. Clodd, 'Evolution and Man', Nature, CXV, 

725, 9 May 1925. 
Certainly, his daughters: Leonard H., 'Home Memories 9 , ibid., 

p. 700. 
P. 15 *Men, my dear': H. to Lucy Clifford, 10 February 1895, LL, 

H, 428. 
1 am prepared to be': H. to son Harry, 30 January 1890, LL, 

II, 252. 
P. 16 'much more a literary': G. K. Chesterton, The Victorian Age 

in Literature (1913), p. 39. 
happy clarity of Stevenson: E. C. Batho and Bonamy Dobree, 

The Victorians and After (1938), p. 40. 
P. 17 'perhaps the greatest': JL L. Mencken, Unity (Chicago), 25 

May 1925. 
1 venture to doubt' : H*, Pall Mall Gazette, 22 October 1886. 


P. 17 'Glassian precept': presumably refers to the little-known 
German philosopher, R. Glass, whose 'Kritisches und 
Experimentelles fiber den Zeitsinn' appeared in Philos. 
Stud., IV, 423 (1887). 

literary analysis: Aldous Huxley, T. H. Huxley as a Man of 
Letters (1932). 

In his case*: E. R. Lankester, Nature, XLIX, 311, 1 February 


P. 18 the ruling characteristic': J. Fiske, Life and Letters of E. L. 
Youmans (New York, 1894), H, 215. 

Huxley had prohably': J. Skelton, Table Talk of Shirley (1895), 
p. 294. 

1 hare a woman's element': H. to Lizzie, 21 November 1850, 
LL, I, 60. 

If it should be necessary': loc. cit. 

'Authorities', 'disciples': H. to W. F. R. Welldon, 9 February 

1893, LL, H, 315. 
P. 19 'come out in ihe new': H. to Darwin [1871], LL, I, 364. 

'O testimonium': Quarterly Review, January 1895. 

'one of those spotted dogs': M. . Grant Duff, Notes from a 
Diary, 1892-1895 (1904), II, 112. 

'As a political operative': W. Irving, Apes, Angels and Vic- 
torians (1955), p. 274. 

P. 20 The truth is' : Lord Avebury, Nature, LXm, 92, 22 November 

'Huxley had more talents': W. Irving, op. cit., p. 71. 



Pages 22-44 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
Report of the Royal Commission on . . . Certain Schools and 

Colleges (Clarendon Commission, 1864). 

Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Edu- 
cation, Science and Art . . . (1884). 
Reports of the Annual Meetings of the British Association for the 

Advancement of Science (various dates). 

See also: Cyril Bibby, 'The South London Working Men's 
College: a Forgotten Venture', Adult Education, XVIH, 211, 
Winter 1955; "Thomas Henry Huxley and University Develop- 
ment*, Victorian Studies, n, 97, December 1958. 


Particular references are as follows: 
P. 22 'The modern world': CE, VHI, 227. 

'the main, almost sole 9 : Nassau Senior, Suggestions on Popular 

Education (1861), p. 6. 
P. 23 It is in the fermenting 9 : Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy 

(1869), p. 211. 

P. 24 'If I were not a man 9 : IX, I, 461. 
'Ah, that is interesting 9 : loc. cit. 

little Tennessee town: New-York Tribune, 23 September 1876. 
'Depend upon it 9 : H. to Hooker, 5 September 1858, HP, 2.35. 
P. 25 Rio de Janeiro: H. to mother, 25 March 1847, IX I, 32. 
disfigured hy such phrases: CE, IE, 66 et seq. 
'English law 9 : Pall Mall Gazette, 31 October 1866. 
the hero-worshippers 9 : H. to Kingsley, 8 November 1866, 

IX, I, 281. 
P. 26 no reliable evidence: Birmingham Daily Post, 7 and 8 and 12 

October 1867. 

'a little Jew 9 : H. to Hooker, 30 January 1858, HP, 2.29. 
If I were a Jew 9 : IX, H, 427. 
the only religion 9 : H. to Romanes, 3 November 1892, IX, 

II, 339. 

Sylvester: Sylvester to H., 20 December 1883, HP, 27.152. 
'a pack of': H. to Hooker, 8 October 1868, HP, 2.144. 
ingrained liars: H. to Hooker, 2 December 1890, HP, 2.373. 
Parnell: XX, 11,125. 
P. 27 'a pack of disorderly 9 : H. to Jessie (daughter, Mrs F. W. 

Waller), 7 December 1878, IX, 1, 488. 
^merely reasoned savagery 9 : Quarterly Review, October 1894. 
would be ashamed: CE, IX, 231. 
P. 28 speak in Liverpool: Liverpool Mercury, 15 and 22 Sqptember 


'The State lives 9 : CE, 1, 259. 
If continental bureaucracy 9 : CE, 1, 260. 
he testified: Select Committee on Education, Science and Art, 

Report (1884), AA. 1737, 1781, 1748, 1737 (sic). 
P. 29 'The great mass of mankind 9 : CE, HI, 421. 

'he did not believe 9 : Daily Chronicle, 8 June 1887. 
'One hears this argument 9 : CE, I, 252. 
P. 30 *We have all known 9 : CE, I, 255. 
1 have not forgotten 9 : IX, 1, 15. 
*a fashionable 9 : Liverpool Mercury, 15 September 1870. 
P. 31 He declared 9 : ibid., 19 September 1870. 


P. 31 Hope Hall: ibid, 27 March 1871. 
'What gives force*: CE, I, 256. 
'any social condition 9 : CE, III, 448. 
*Newton and Cuvier': CE, I, 287. 
P. 32 'It was known': H. to Lucy Clifford, 22 August 1892, LL, II, 


Lord Salisbury: LL, II, 164. 

'The Archbishopric': H. to Hooker, 20 August 1892, HP, 2.419. 
'Compare your average artisan': Quarterly Journal of Educa- 
tion, February 1868. 
inborn plebeian blindness: CE, I, 257. 
P. 33 'I believe in toe fustian': H. to Dyster, 6 May 1855, HP, 15.62. 

Southampton docker: HP, 4.337; 24.179-190; 26.174-177. 
P. 34 Lady Amberley noted: B. & P- Russell, The Amberley Papers 

(1937), H, 35. 
P. 35 'Granting the alleged defects': CE, IE, 71-72. 

They at any rate': H. to LyeU, 17 March 1860, HP, 30.34. 
Elizabeth Garrett: L. G. Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, 
1836-1917 (1939), p. 89; Barbara Stephen, Emily Davies and 
Girton College (1927), p. 78. 
Sophia Jex-Blake: Times, 8 July 1874. 
P. 36 demonstrate: Bernard H. Becker, Scientific London (1874), 

p. 192. 

Aberdeen University: Aberdeen Free Press, 10 May 1875. 
*We reply, emancipate girls': CE, HI, 72. 
no witness is so dishonest': G. G. Coulton, Four Score Years: 

an Autobiography (1943), p. 276. 

So we fold him supporting: Hester Burton, Barbara Bodichon, 
1827-1891 (1949), p. 168; Barbara Stephen, op. cit. p. 159; 
Maria Grey to H., 1871, HP, 17.144-148; Laurie Magnus, 
Jubilee Book of the Girls' Public Day School Trust, 1873- 
1923 (1924); Princess Helena College, Education Committee 
Minutes, 1882-1887; Cambridge University Reporter, 11 
May 1880. 
P. 37 Srork to pass': CE, HI, 228. 

The educational abomination': CE, HI, 410. 
'precocious mental debauchery': be. cit. 

P. 38 In the language of common life' : H., Hume, (1878), p. 61 . 
Moberley: Clarendon Commission, Report (1864), A. 494. 
those who refuse': CE, I, 62. 
the conviction': CE, I, 16. 
P. 39 'Wfflst du dir': LL, 1, 151. 


P. 39 'Why I was christened' : CE, I, 3. 

*sin of faith*: St G. Mivart, 'Some Reminiscences of Thomas 
Henry Huxley', Nineteenth Century, XLII, 985, December 
P. 40 In the world of letters' : CE, VII, 218. 

'a firm foundation': H.'s preface to English edition of HaeckeFs 

Freedom in Science and Teaching (1879), p. xvii. 
Liverpool Institute School: CE, III, 168-174. 
P. 41 a Manchester audience: Manchester Guardian, 4 November 


"The value of the cargo': CE 9 HI, 154. 
'I do not disguise': Select Committee on Education, Science 

and Art, Report (1884), A. 1708. 
right in believing: ibid., A. 1716. 
P. 42 'The recent progress' : Pall Mall Gazette, I June 1876. 

1 cannot but think' : CE, III, 62. 
P. 43 The Political Economists': H. to Farrar, 19 December 1894, 

LL, H, 384. 

'Settle the question': loc. cit. 
'That which I mean by "Science" ': H. to Kingsley, 4 October 

1860, HP, 19.198. 
P. 44 That man, I think' :CE, III, 86. 



Pages 44-66 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
(a) H.'s FINANCES 

The figures given are computed from various entries in H.'s 


Alan Willard Brown, The Metaphysical Society (New York, 

(c) H.'s WRITINGS 

Especially in Fortnightly Review, Macmillan's Magazine, 
Contemporary Review and Nineteenth Century. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 45 1 wish not' : H. to Hooker, 6 January 1861, HP, 2.85. 
That is the earliest': CE, 1, 5. 


P. 45 the John Knox': J. Skelton, Table-Talk of Shirley (1895), 

p. 294. 

'Pope Huxley': Spectator, 29 January 1870. 
right reverend father': H. to Dyster, 9 April 1855, HP, 

'The longer I live': H. to Kingsley, 23 September 1860, LL, 

I, 217. 
P. 46 'It was worth': E. Clodd, Memories (1916), p. 45. 

'Gott hitfe mir!': Julian Huxley (Ed.), T. H. Huxley's Diary of 

the Voyage of HMS Rattlesnake (1935), p. 38. 
verses on the death of Tennyson: 'Gib diesen Todten', Nine- 
teenth Century, November 1892. 
*if some great Power': CE, 1, 192. 
P. 47 'After all': H. to Dyster, 30 January 1859, HP, 15.106. 

The proof of his daim' : 'On the Zoological Relations of Man 

with the Lower Animals', Natural History Review, I, 67, 

January 1861. 

that you should have been': J. H. Titcombe to H., 22 No- 
vember 1867, HP 9 28.25. 
P. 48 1 remember the meeting': Farrar to Leonard H., 25 May 

1898, HP, 16.27. 
delightful conversations: F. W. Farrar, Men I Have Known 

(New York, 1897), p. 151. 
Why, then': J. Fiske, Life and Letters of Edward Livingston 

Youmans (New York, 1894), p. 546. 
'Religions rise': notebook of aphorisms, HP, 51. 
'It is clear to me': H. to Kingsley, 23 September 1860, LL, 

I, 217. 
P. 49 'So far from' : CE, H, 90. 

'Great is humbug': H. to Knowles, 13 December 1887, LL, 

H, 187. 
P. 50 the course shaped': CE, IX, 195. 

'There is no allusion': H. to G. J. Romanes, 22 April 1893, 

LL 9 H, 353. 

'We can only express': Oxford Magazine, 24 May 1893. 
P. 51 the fanatical individualism' : CE, IX, 46. 

Don't you know': H. to Lord Fairer, 5 June 1893, LL, II, 


neither a monarchy': CE, I, 259. 
men have become': CE, I, 268. 
P. 52 'Even the blood-corpuscles': CE, I, 271. 
abolition of private ownership: CE, I, 283. 


P. 53 infantile in intellect: F. Darwin, Life and Letters of Charles 

Darwin (1887), IK, 148. 
awe and inferiority: A. R. Wallace, My Life: a Record of 

Events and Opinions (1905), II, 39. 
T>o take the counsel': Hooker to H., n.d., LL, I, 229. 
'I wake up': H. to Darwin, 2 July 1863, LL 9 1, 245. 
P. 54 'on *nd on 5 : Hooker to Darwin, 20 March 1871, L. Huxley, 
Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (1918), H, 125. 
1 have been pounding': H. to Foster, 27 October 1871, HP, 


delightful story: B. Russell, in Ideas and Beliefs of the Vic- 
torians (BBC, 1949), p. 22. 
P. 55 'the most notorious 9 : A. W. Brown, op. cit., p. 329. 

the arch-miracle': Morley to H., 9 January 1876, HP, 23.24. 
'Perhaps it is a ruse' : W. P. Ward, Life of John Henry Cardinal 

Newman . . . (1912), II, 333. 
P. 56 *On all sides': J. T. Knowles to Leonard H., 23 February 

1899, HP, 20.200. 
P. 57 'man, looking from the heights': Proc. Roy. Inst. 9 n, 189. 

'In science, faith': Builder, 15 January 1859. 
P. 58 'regarding the author' : Mrs Lyell, Life, Letters and Journals of 

Sir Charles Lyell (1881), D, 321. 
*My convictions' and following passages: H. to Kingsley, 

23 September 1860, LL, 1, 217. 
P. 60 'The world regards' : CE, IX, 1 34. 

1 know nothing of Necessity': H. to Kingsley, 22 May 1863, 

LL, I, 242. 
condemned as a heretic: H. to Charles Watts, 10 September 

1883, HP, 28.196. 

P. 61 *My creed may be': CE, IX, 118. 
'Cinderella': CE, IX, 146. 

Have you read': H. to wife, 2 December 1886, LL, H, 146. 
'Science seems to me': H. to Kingsley, 5 May 1863, LL, 1, 240. 
P. 62 If you are of a different opinion': H. to Kingsley, 22 May 

1863, LL, I, 242. 
P, 63 IJiixley's philosophy': V. I. Lenin, Materialism and Empirio- 

criticism (English edn., 1939), p. 267. 
* Archbishop Huxley': Connop Thirlwall, Letters to a Friend 

(1881), p. 317. 

'What a Paley': Quarterly Review, January 1895. 
P. 64 *When a logical blunder' : CE, V, 67. 

Nothing has done more harm': CE, V, 93. 


P. 64 'one gasp': Knowles to H., 18 March 1887, HP, 20.70. 

P. 65 'The Ignorance': Holyoake to H., 20 April 1887, HP, 18.216. 

'effete and idolatrous': CE, V, 267. 

'incongruous mixture': CE, V, 255. 

'Catholicism minus Christianity': CE, 1, 156. 
P. 66 1 want you to enjoy': H. to Hooker, 30 May 1889, HP, 2.344. 

'There is a prevalent idea': CE, I, 425. 



Pages 67-88 

Important sources for this chapter are: 

F. Darwin, Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (1887). 

L. Huxley, Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker 

Mrs Lyell, Life 9 Letters and Journals of Sir Charles Lyell 


D. Duncan, Life and Letters of Herbert Spencer (1911). 
F. E. Kingsley, Charles Kingsley: His Letters and Memories 

of His Life (1877). 
J. McCarthy, Reminiscences (1899). 

A. S. Eve and C. H. Creasey, Life and Work of John Tyndall 


Especially those in Select List above. 

See also: Cyril Bibby, 'The Prince of Controversialists', Twentieth 
Century, CLXI, 268, March 1957. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 67 It is assuredly': H. to Hooker, 19 December 1860, HP, 2.79. 
*in part from force': H. to W. Boyd Carpenter, 16 June 1887, 

HP, 12.118. 
'caused such a flow': H. to Skelton, 21 January 1886, J. 

Skelton, Table-Talk of Shirley (1895), p. 298. 
'Where there was strife': J. McCarthy, Reminiscences (1899), 

II, 314. 
*What an unfortunate man': W. E. H. Lecky to H., 20 January 

1891, HP, 21.191. 


P. 67 'battles, like hypotheses': H. to Lankester, 6 December 1888, 

IX, II, 213. 
P. 68 1 am sharpening 5 : H. to Darwin, 23 November 1859, IX, I, 

P. 69 'Samuel thought it': H. to Dyster,' 9 September 1860, HP, 


P. 70 'how durst you' : Darwin to H,, 5 July 1 860, HP, 5. 123. 
'reversing': F. Darwin, op. cit., II, 196. 
'I by no means': H. to Lyell, 26 June 1859, American Philo- 
sophical Society MSS. 
P. 71 'The only rational course' : F. Darwin, op. cit., TL, 187. 

'Farewell': Darwin to H., 16 December 1859, HP, 5.87. 

'1856-7-8 must still be': IX, I, 151. 

take care of yourself': H. to Hooker, August 1860, IX* I, 

P. 72 knocking him down: H. to E. Forbes, 27 November 1852, 

HP, 16.172. 
'On my own subjects': H. to fiancee, 5 March 1852, IX, I, 

P. 73 'Professor Huxley presents': H. to S. Wilberforce, 3 January 

1861, draft letter among Huxley Papers. 
'The fact is': H. to Hooker, 27 April 1861, HP, 2.98. 
The Gorilla's Dilemma: Punch, XLIII, 164, 18 October 1862. 
Monkeyana: ibid., XL, 206, 18 May 1861. 

P. 74 'Policeman X': Report of a sad case recently tried before the 
Lord Mayor, Owen versus Huxley (1863), no author or 
publisher given. 
P. 77 *We are in the midst' : H. to wife, 8 August 1873, IX, I, 397. 

'The Four Stages': notebook of aphorisms, HP, 57* 
P. 78 'I am going to criticise': H. to Hooker, 19 February 1862, 

IX, I, 204. 

'because it was useful': Mrs. Lyell, op. cit, II, 356. 
If I were in your shoes': Darwin to H., F. Darwin, op. cit^ 

H, 294. 

1 wonder if': H. to Kingsley, 12 April 1866, IX, 1, 276. 
P. 79 the educated mob': H. to Hooker, 31 December 1859, HP, 


'You ought to be': H. to Darwin, 1874, IX, 1, 426. 
'If I do not': Darwin to H., October 1864, F. Darwin, op. cit., 

HI, 28. 

Wang the two scalps': H. to Darwin, 5 October 1864, IX, I, 


P. 79 'Sabine': H. to Darwin, 3 December 1864, LL, I, 255. 
P. 80 'Mr Darwin's work*: H.'s notes for speech, HP, 41.151. 

'There was only': H. to Darwin, 21 November 1877, LL, I, 


'Controversy': H. to Morley, 7 February 1878, LL, I, 488. 
one woman was overheard: LL, II, 63. 
P. 81 'Some of these days': H. to Hooker, 11 September 1871, HP, 

P. 82 'blaspheming': H. to Lord Farrer, 6 December 1885, LL, H, 

'Do read my polishing off 5 : H. to Spencer, 4 December 1885, 

LL, H, 115. 
the extreme shiftiness': H. to Lord Farrer, 13 January 1886, 

LL, H, 116. 

*may I take': Knowles to H., 14 January 1886, HP, 20.58. " 
'He is now castrated': H. to Knowles, 15 January 1886, LL, 

1, 116. 
P. 83 arts of advocacy: 'Mr Gladstone and Genesis' is reprinted in 

. CE, IV, 164-200. 
P. 84 Tlenevolent maunderers': notebook of aphorisms, HP, 57. 

'Yes Mr. Gladstone': H. to W. Platt Ball, 27 October 1890, 

LL, II, 267. * 

P. 85 1 had fondly hoped': CE, V, 366. 
P. 86 Whether the men of the nineteenth century' : CE, V, 415. 

'My object has been': H. to Henri de Varigny, 25 November 

1891, LL,H, 291. 

'Why the fools go on': H. to Hooker, 4 January 1891, HP, 2.375. 
'As to Gladstone': LL, H, 425. 
the contest was like' : Grant Duff to Leonard H., 4 November 

1898, HP, 30.178. 
editor on his side: Knowles to and from H., e.g. 1885-1889, 

HP, 20.51, 52, 68, 90, 101, 106, 108. 
P. 87 1 envy your vigour': H. to Tennyson, 26 December 1889, 

LL, H, 242. 
'Since you have forsaken': Knowles to H., 9 February 1895, 

HP, 2.375, 

'Mr Balfour has acted': LL, II, 395. 
P. 88 1 flunk the cavalry charge': H. to daughter, LL, H, 398. 




Pages 89-107 
Important sources for this chapter are: 


Proceedings of Royal Institution, I, 184; E, 82; n, 189; JH, 
151 ; IE, 195; DC, 361; etc. 



Times, 6 December 1876, 2 June 1877, 19 December 1877, 
3 December 1878, 2 December 1879, 25 December 1880, 


Birmingham and Midland Institute, Annual Report, 1870- 

Birmingham Daily Post, 1 and 8 and 12 October 1867, 14 
and 21 October 1868, 10 October 1871, 3 August 1874; 
Hull and Eastern Counties Record, 9 and 16 April 1863; 
Liverpool Mercury, 8 April 1869; Yorkshire Post, 20 
October 1869; Bradford Observer, 29 December 1869, 30 
December 1870; Leicester Chronicle, 8 October 1870; 
Transactions of Leicester Literary and Philosophical 
Society, 1879; Leeds Mercury, 31 December 1870. 


Norwich Argus, 5 September, 4868; Liverpool Mercury, 15 
November 1870; Belfast Newsletter, 25 and 26 and 27 
August 1874; Ulster Echo, 25 August 1874; Banner of 
Ulster, 7 September 1874; Nottingham Review, 31 August 
1866; Norwich Argus, 29 August 1868. 


Prospectuses of School of Mines; H.'s diaries, 27 February 
1871, 16 March 1874, 28 February 1876, 29 April 1878, 
16 February 1880, 8 January 1883. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 89 1 have said' : Proceedings of Royal Institution, D3, 195, 1860. 
P. 90 "History warns us' : CE, H, 229. 

P. 91 'did not care to address' : H. to Leamington Courier, November 
1871, HP, 30.172. 


P. 91 Tancy unco guid': H. to wife, 10 April 1861, LL, 1, 192. 

told them in so many words': H. to Hooker, 16 January 1862, 

HP, 2.112. 
P. 92 'blasphemous contradiction': Witness (Edinburgh), 11 January 


*I hope you send none': Lyell to H., October 1862, HP, 6.70. 
'No article': John Morley, Recollections (1917), I, 90. 
P. 93 'They would perceive* et seq.i Birmingham Daily Post, 1 and 8 

and 12 October 1867. 
P. 95 *if it were given to me' : CE, VIII, 256. 

Red Lion Club: Newspaper scrapbook in Belfast Reference 

Library; Witness (Belfast), 28 August 1874. 
P. 96 ^Notwithstanding the moisture': Norwich Argus, 29 August 

P. 97 *Here in my teaching lectures' : LL, II, 405. 

"The English nation': H. to Hooker, 6 October 1864, HP, 

The respectability*: School of Mines, Council Minutes, 27 

April 1851. 
Karl Marx: Dona Torr (Ed.), Correspondence of Marx and 

Engels (1934), p. 141. 

1 am sick': H. to Dyster, 27 February 1855, HP, 15.54. 
P. 98 'are as attentive': H. to Dyster [December 1856], HP, 15.80. 
'Feeling anxious to hear': B. H. Becker, Scientific London 

(1874), p. 185. 
The intimate alliance': F. Harrison, Autobiographic Memoirs 

<My working men': H. to wife, 22 March 1861, LL, I, 190. 
P. 99 the most perfect' : J. Fiske, Life and Letters of Edward Living- 

ston Youmans (New York, 1894), p. 149. 
'What is ihe good': F. Darwin and A. C. Seward, More Letters 

of Charles Darwin (1903), I, 230. 
1 am, and have been*: CE, III, 406. 

P. 100 It wifl be something' : Pall Mall Gazette, 21 September 1892. 
P. 101 'In England': Illustrated London News, 30 June 1894. 

'one most base': H. to J. Chapman, 23 October 1853, HP, 


'if I chose to join': H. to Hooker, 17 July 1860, HP, 2.67. 
'The tone of the Review': he. cit. 
It is no use': IX, I, 210. 

P. 102 to place before': Nature, advertisement to first number, 
November 1869. 


P. 104 'Anything from you': Morley to H., 12 November 1874, HP, 

*I am becoming': H. to Morley, 15 November 1874, LL 9 I, 


'Knowles and I*: Morley to H., 27 November 1877, HP, 23.33. 
'The plainest 9 : George Gissing, Autobiographical Notes with 

Comments upon Tennyson and Huxley in Three Letters to 

Edward Clodd (privately published, 1930). 

P. 105 conspectus of the locality: Warwick and Warwickshire Ad- 
vertiser, 30 April 1859. 
'the ordinary lumber-room 9 : H. to A. Walker, 8 December 

1872, LL, I, 136. 
P. 106 *The public exhibition 9 : H. to Commissioners of the Manchester 

Natural History Society, 25 January 1868, LL, I, 135. 
'On the present plan': H. to M. Foster, 3 May 1886, LL, II, 


people stroll through 9 : LL, I, 134. 
'stick to the mummies': Darwin to H., 23 October 1858, HP, 

P. 107 Then in 1870: H. Cole to H., 11 and 13 June 1870, HP, 12.267 

and 12.268. 
'about the last man 9 : H. Spencer, Autobiography (1904), 1, 404. 



Pages 108-122 

Important sources for this chapter are: 

Council Minutes of School of Mines (under its successive titles). 
Prospectuses of School of Mines (under its successive titles). 
M. Reeks, Register of Associates . . . and History of the Royal 

School of Mines (1920). 
J. S. Flett, The First Hundred Years of the Geological Survey of 

Great Britain (1937). 
Mining Journal. 
Royal College of Science Magazine. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 108 To speak nautically': H. to Dyster, 18 August 1858, HP, 


P. 108 of aU decades: G. M, Young, Victorian England: Portrait of an 

Age (1936), p. 77. 
P. 109 Til tell you': H. to Lizzie, 26 November 1854, LL, I, 119. 

taking two irons: Herbert Spencer, Autobiography (1904), I, 

P. 110 'As a class lecturer': G. B. Howes, Royal Coll ScL Mag., 

VIE, 3, October 1885. 
that rich fond': St G. Mivart, Nineteenth Century, XLH, 990, 

December 1897. 
'As one listened': T. J. Parker, Natural Science, Vm, 161, 

March 1896. 
'sat in face of : H. E. Armstrong, Our Need to Honour Huxley* s 

mil (1933), p. 6. 
'Dear me!': T. J. Parker, loc. cit. 
P. Ill *namely, as full': H., Practical Instruction in Elementary 

Biology (1875), Preface. 
'Capital!': P. Geddes, 'Huxley as Teacher', Nature, CXV, 742, 

9 May 1925. 
It was a real stroke 9 : Darwin to H., 12 November 1875, 

HP, 5.324. 

In Huxley's hands: T. J. Parker, loc. cit. 
P. 112 *How we are to get': Murchison to H., 18 October 1855, 

HP, 23.147. 

'a very trying': H. to Hooker, 15 July 1865, HP, 2.134. 
lie did not find it': Council Minutes, 9 April 1856. 
P. 113 'You want to know': H. to Lizzie, 27 March 1858, LL, I, 

P. 114 Huxley had already sent: H. to Granville, 13 June 1861, HP, 

1 must take leave': Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, 

Report (1868), A. 7958. 

P. 115 a complaint: Hansard, 19 July 1869, CXCVHI, 160. 
P. 1 16 'Of course, I do not want' : H. to J. N. Lockyer, 20 April 1871, 

HP, 21.270. 

*A Royal Commission 9 : Times, 6 April 1871. 
Huxley wrote a letter: ibid., 11 April 1871. 
My Lords direct': Council Minutes, 13 April 1872. 
P. 117 'got up a littie': H., Nature, XXVI, 233, 6 July 1882 (sic). 
P. 118 *very nice and all that': Donnelly to H., 14 August 1873, HP, 


greatly fortifying to know: Hooker to and from H., 5 and 14 
October 1873, HP, 3.16 and 3.212. 


P. 118 an official memorandum and following passages '.Correspondence 

between Science and Art Department and Treasury (1881). 
P. 119 the official invitation: Lord Spencer to H., 18 August 1881, 

HP, 26.192. 
1 am astonished': H. to Donnelly, 18 August 1881, LL, 

II, 36. 
P. 120 it had its advantages : H. G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography 

(1934), p. 175. 
'Surely I may sing': H. to Donnelly, 3 September 1884, Z, 

*Very, very, sorry*: Donnelly to H., 4 September 1884, HP, 

P. 121 *I am sure': Mundella to Donnelly, 10 October 1884, HP, 

'We decided': Donnelly to H., 27 December 1884, HP, 

Letter about pension: Mundella to H., 19 June 1885, HP, 

An official memorandum: Donnelly to Lord Carlingford, May 

1885, HP, 30.138. 
P. 122 'the respective functions*: Donnelly to H., 25 April 1892, 

HP, 14.130. 

We are now part': Royal Coll Sci. Mag., IV, 104, January 



Pages 123-143 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
Minutes of Committees of the Royal Society of Arts. 
Seventh Report of the Commissioners for the Exhibition of 1851. 
Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on 

Scientific Instruction (1868). 
Report of the Royal Commission on Technical Instruction (Samuel* 

son Commission, 1881-4). 
Journal of the Royal Society of Arts. 
City Press. 
D. Hudson and K. W. Luckhurst, The Royal Society of Arts, 1754- 

1954 (1954). 


See also: Cyril Bibby, T. H. Huxley and Technical Education', 
/. R. Soc. Arts, CIV, 810, 14 September 1956; 'T. H. Huxley 
and Medical Education*, Charing Cross Hospital Gazette, LIV, 
191, October 1956; T. H. Huxley and the Training of Teachers', 
Educational Review, VII, 137, February 1956. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 123 'There is a well-worn': CE, HI, 428. 
P. 124 *It is commonly supposed': CE, III, 229. 
P. 125 You did quite right': H. to Foster, 17 May 1870, HP, 4.22. 
complaints about the numbers: H. to Donnelly, 17 May 1889, 

LL, II, 235. 

P. 126 heirs and representatives: CE, HI, 425. 

P. 127 The outcome of this advice -.Guildhall Library, Folio Pamphlet 29. 
*really the engineer': LL, I, 474. 
'possessed enormous wealth': Nature, XXI, 139, 11 December 


"The inmost financial secrets': Times, 15 December 1879. 
P. 128 *I suppose I have': H. to George Howell, 2 January 1880, LL 9 

I, 476. 
It is not a grand place': Harcourt to H., 23 December 1880, 

HP, 18.5. 
1 think you must admit': F. Le Gros Clark to H., 17 August 

1883, HP, 12.207. 
P. 129 his Presidential Address: Nature, XXXIII, 115, 3 December 


'That building is simply': LL, 1, 475. 

*pet institution': Donnelly to H., 13 February 1885, HP, 14.48. 
'munificence without method': Times, 21 March 1887. 
P. 130 'public and ceremonial marriage' : Pall Mall Gazette, 13 January 


'With the exception': loc. cit. 
'the Institute might be made': H. to Herbert Spencer, 18 

January 1887, LL, I, 151. 
* *a port of call*: Times, 20 January 1887. 
P. 131 as much chance of serving: ibid., 19 February 1887. 

'The thing is already': H. to Foster, 22 February 1887, LL, 

H, 154. 

*I may go on crying': H. to Roscoe, 1 May 1887, LL, II, 155. 
P. 132 'I am not proud': H. to Foster, [November 1887], LL, II, 180. 
1 was rather used up': H. to Hooker, 4 December 1887, HP, 


P. 133 to train persons 5 : P. Magnus, Industrial Education (1888), 

p. 20. 
'Education is technical': S. Thompson, Report of Int. Congr. 

Tech. Educ. (1897). 

'Although it was': Nature, XXI, 139, 11 December 1879. 
There are some general': Yorkshire Herald, 11 April 1891. 
P. 134 'the history of a bean': loc. cit. 

'Many persons thought': School Board Chronicle, n, 263, 1871. 
MS notes for Charity Commissioners: HP, 42.52. 
P. 135 'Our sole chance': CE, HI, 447. 

Royal Mining College: H. to Lord Granville, 13 June 1861, 

HP, 30.56. 

P. 136 1 cannot understand': CE, m, 320. 
turned loose upon*: CE, in, 329. 
The Public would have*: Lord Spencer to H., 30 March 1881, 

HP, 26.190. 
P. 137 *Ever since I was': H. to Roscoe, 29 June 1887, LL, E, 156. 

'I remember somewhere': CE, in, 443. 

P. 138 Teaching in England 9 : Select Committee on Scientific In- 
struction, Report (1868), A. 8000. 
P. 139 demonstration lessons: H. to William Rogers, 5 February 

1869, LL, I, 309. 

*an omnium gatherum': H., Physiography (1877), p. vi. 
*what you teach': CE, VHI, 227. 
'afraid to wander': CE, HI, 129. 
There are a great many': CE, III, 170. 
P. 140 *a course of instruction': H. to Dohrn, 7 July 1871, HP, 13.202. 

'Many thanks': H. to TyndaJl, 3 June 1872, HP, 8.120. 
P. 141 That year I spent' : H. to Wells, Experiment in Autobiography 

(1934), p. 201. 

MS plan for Institute of Education: HP, 42.194. 
P. 142 MS plan for University of London: HP, 42.110. 



Pages 144-163 

Important sources for this chapter are: 

Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Elementary Instruc- 
tion (Newcastle Commission, 1861). 

F. Smith, A History of English Elementary Education, 1760-1902 


London School Board Minutes. 

First Report of the Scheme of Education Committee (1871). 

The Work of the First Three Years of the London School Board 

(c. 1874). 

final Report of the School Board for London, 1870-1904 (c. 1905). 
School Board Chronicle. 

See also: Cyril Bibby, The First Year of the London School 
Board: The Dominant R61e of T. H. Huxley', Durham Research 
Review, II, 151, September 1957. 

Particular references are as follows: 
P. 144 'the politicians teU us': CE, HI, 77. 
P. 145 *HI could only': LL,II, 9. 

The great secret': Natural Science, YE, 297, October 1895. 
Instead of the School Boards' : J. Morley, Life of William Ewart 

Gladstone (1903), II, 303. 

P. 146 'the one home subject': Times, 16 December 1870. 
'Address of English': Beehive, 5 December 1863. 
joint election broadsheet: in archives of Imperial College. , 
*no breeder': Times, 22 November 1870. 

P. 147 Two most disreputable' : L. T. Hobhouse and J. L. Hammond, 
Lord Hobhouse, a Memoir (1905), p. 54. The committee is 
not specified as that for the School Board Election, but 
probably was so. 

unlike nine out often: Times, 22 November 1870. 
P. 148 *none are too old': Newcastle Commission, First Report, p. 90. 
Article on 'The School Boards': Contemporary Review, De- 
cember 1870 and CE, IE, 374. 
P. 149 *He desired simply': Times, 22 November 1870. 

'A teacher brought up': SB Chronicle, I, 40. 
P. 150 <were the children': ibid., I, 71. 

That in the schools': LSB Minutes, 8 March 1871. 

1 go into society': H. to Kingsley, 30 April 1863, J5EP, 

P. 151 Kate, Lady Amber ley: B. and P. Russell, The Amberley Papers 

(1937), II, 27. 
'Children should be': St G. Mivart, Nineteenth Century, XLH, 

993, December 1897. 
'You may judge' : H. to Lubbock (Lord Avebury), 4 May 1864, 

Lubbock MSS. 

If ... they had to': SB Chronicle, I, 44. 
Take the Bible': CE, El, 397. 


P. 152 though, for the last': E. dodd, Thomas Henry Huxley (1905), 

p. 41. 

was a mistake: J. A. Picton, The Bible in School (1901), p. 12. 
'Twenty years': H. to Lord Farrer, 6 November 1894, LL, 

II, 283. 
The persons who agreed': H. to Peter Bayne, 18 October 1894, 

HP, 10.251. 
P. 153 they could not amend' : SB Chronicle, 1, 135. 

That in all elementary' : LSB Minutes, 29 March 1871. 
'On the contrary': SB Chronicle, I, 200. 
'Unless [my] ears': ibid., I, 237. 
P. 1 54 *if any motion' : be. cit. 
P. 155 <he would never be' : ibid., H, 326. 
'carefully calculated': ibid., H, 360. 
'There were some': he. cit. 
*Do not fail*: Shane Leslie, Henry Edward Manning, his Life 

and Labour (1921), p. 175. 
P. 1 56 Tirst, the general nature' : LL, I, 341. 

'obtain some order' : LL, I, 347. 
P. 157 'preparatory, I mean infant': SB Chronicle, 1, 7. 
'no educational system': be. cit. 
that which was originally': ibid., I, 393-395. 
P. 158 'When some great': be. cit. 

if Alderman Cotton': ibid., II, 38. 
those children who show': ibid., I, 395. 
'This Board, like all': ibid., I, 8. 
P. 1 59 'one of the most civilising' : be. cit. 

'otherwise they might': ibid., H, 165-168. 
they did not intend': be. cit. 
P. 160 'This committee': T. A. Spalding, The Work of the London 

School Board (1900), p. 92. 
1 . . . bore the brunt': H. to Foster, 11 January 1874, HP, 


It was very well to say': SB Chronicle, H, 231. 
P. 161 Myrtle Street Gymnasium: Liverpool Mercury, 20 November 

1 am somewhat "erkrankt"': H. to Dohrn, 3 January 1872, 

HP, 13.213. 

P. 162 1 am told': H. to Lord Lawrence, 6 January 1872, HP, 21.176. 
The expressions of regret: SB Chronicle, IV, 387 et seq. and 

LL, I, 350-352. 
P. 163 1 am glad to think': CE, m, 431. 



Pages 164-176 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Endowed Schools 

(Schools Inquiry, Taunton Commission, 1867). 
Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Certain Colleges and 

Schools (Clarendon Commission, 1864). 
Report of the Select Committee of the House of Lords on the Public 

Schools Bill (1865). 
British Association Report (1867). 
Reports of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction and the 

Advancement of Science (Devonshire Commission, 1871-75). 
Minutes of Provost and Fellows of Eton College. 
L. S. R. Byrne and E. L. Churchill, Changing Eton: a Survey . . . 

since the Royal Commission of 1862-64 (1937). 
L. Wiese, German Letters on English Education, Written During 

an Educational Tour in 1876 (tr. L. Schmitz, 1877). 

See also: Cyril Bibby, *A Victorian Experiment in International 
Education: the College at Spring Grove', B. J. Educational 
Studies, V, 25, November 1956. 

Particular references are as follows: 
P. 164 'Scientific knowledge is spreading': CE, HI, 421. 
P. 165 Tennyson was act joking: F. Harrison, Autobiographic 

Memoirs (I9ll) 9 E, 86. 

the fly keeps': School Board Chronicle, II, 57, 1871. 
Liverpool Mechanics Institution: G Foster, The Influence of 
Science Teaching on the Development of Secondary Educa- 
tion (PhD thesis, University of London, 1940). 
Grant Duff: Hansard, 3rd series, CLXII, 983, 23 April 1861. 
three questions: Wrottesley to H., 23 May 1865, HP, 29.250 

and 29.251. 
P. 166 H.'s evidence to Select Committee on Public Schools Bill: 

House of Lords Parliamentary Papers, XXI, 308, 1865. 
P. 167 This is the main object': Farrar to H., 1 October 1865, HP, 


Huxley did at one point: Pall Mall Gazette, 24 December 


P. 168 *Do not despair': H. to Farrar, 6 October 1867, F. W. Farrar, 

Men I Have Known (New York, 1897), p. 152. 
P. 169 the governing body: Illustrated London News, 7 September 

John Stuart Mffl: Mill to H., 8 and 18 April 1865, HP, 22.223 

and 22.235. 
William Ellis: F. W. Robinson, William Ellis and His Work for 

Education (MA thesis, University of London, 1919). 
a large engraving: Illustrated London News, 20 July 1867. 
'Unfettered': Times, 10 June 1871. 
P. 170 The work in languages: Middlesex Mercury and County Ad" 

vertiser, 20 July 1872. 
was apparently reluctant: W. B. Hodgson to H., 25 June 1868, 

HP, 18.204. 
Huxley and Tyndall: J. F. Tremayne to H., 10 December 

1868, HP, 42.35. 

a most interesting plan: HP, 42.38. 
P. 171 For Tyndall: HP, 1.57 and 42.50. 

*raw Brazilians': M". Hewlett, "The Gods in the Schoolhouse', 

English Review, XII, 43, December 1912. 
*For some reason': Our Neighbourhood (Baling), December 

P. 172 progress of the College: Thomasorfs Local Directory for 

Hounslow, etc., 1871 and 1887. 
Two years later: Middlesex Independent, 31 July 1889. 
P. 173 taking to drink': H. S. Salt, Memories of Bygone Eton (1928), 

p. 210. 
the whole system: H. to Leonard H., 6 July 1884, LL, H, 

a pupil of the tune: Gilbert Bourne to Henry Roscoe, 26 April 

1912, Eton Muniments. 
a master: M. D. Hill, private communication to author, 20 

March 1953. 
Oscar Browning: Times Educational Supplement, 21 November 


a letter from Huxley: Eton College Minutes, 14 May 1878. 
at his second meeting: ibid., 28 July 1879. 
P. 174 Trofessor Huxley reported 5 : ibid., 11 November 1879. 

Within three months, etc.: ibid., 11 February and 11 May 1880, 

8 February 1881, 12 February 1884. 

not solely concerned with science: ibid., 9 May and 14 Novem- 
ber and 12 December 1882. 


P. 175 1 look to the new appointment': H, to Leonard H., 6 July 
1884, LL, H, 134. 

who voted against: Eton College Minutes, 29 July 1884. 

'stoutly advocated': G. C. Brodrick, Memories and Impres- 
sions, 1831-1900 (1900), p. 258. 



Pages 177-193 
Important sources for this chapter are: 

Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Cambridge (1852). 

Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Oxford (1852). 

Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on 
Scientific Instruction (1868). 

Third Report of the Royal Commission on Scientific Instruction 
(Devonshire Commission, 1873). 

Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . Oxford and Cam- 
bridge (1874). 

Oxford University Gazette. 

Cambridge University Reporter. 

C. Mallet, A History of the University of Oxford (1924). 

A. I. Tillyard, A History of University Reform from 1800 . . . the 
University of Cambridge (1913). 

D. A. Winstanley, Later Victorian Cambridge (1947). 

See also: Cyril Bibby, T. H. Huxley's Idea of a University', 
Universities Quarterly, X, 377, August, 1956. 

Particular references are as follows: 
P. 177 It is as well' : H. to Tyndall, 22 July 1874, HP, 9.84. 

'a clerical gerontocracy': A. P. Martin, Life and Letters of the 

Rt. Hon. Robert Lowe . . . (1893), I, 27. 
lialf clerical seminaries'; CE 9 IE, 79. 
the host' :CE, III, 203. 
P. 178 'Such a position': H. to F. J. FurnivaU, 24 November 1856, 

Huntington MSS. 
Win you ascertain': he. cit. 

1 shafl set to work': Rolleston to H., May 1860, HP, 25.148. 
P. 179 Thorough Club: LL, 1, 198 and HP, 3L120. 

'Any time': G. M. Humphrey to H., 22 March 1866, HP, 


P. 179 *a spiritual police 9 : M. Pattison, Suggestions on Academical 

Organisation with Especial Reference to Oxford (1868), 

pp. 127-129. 
P. 180 'the conjoint operation 9 : G. Smith, The Reorganisation of the 

University of Oxford (1868), p. 6. 

1toth of these systems 9 : Select Committee on Scientific In- 
struction, Report (1868), A. 7957, 
'J.H.N. 9 : Leslie Stephen to H., 8 April 1889, HP, 27.57. 
P. 181 'Somewhere in Professor Huxley': Quarterly Review, January 


'University education should not be 9 : CE, m, 237-241. 
In an ideal University 9 : CE, HI, 204. 
Of there are Doctors 9 : CE, III, 206. 
P. 182 'the high protecting power 9 : J. H. Newman, Christianity and 

Scientific Investigation (1859). 
the mediaeval university 9 : H. to Lankester, 11 April 1892, 

HP, 30.448. 

1 do not think 9 : CE, HI, 226. 
the best investigators: CE, IE, 255. 
P. 183 1 read your letter 9 : W. G. Clark to H., 2 April [1870], HP, 

'There seems to have been 9 : H. to Darwin, 22 June 1870, LL 9 

I, 331. 
P. 184 Exeter College: H. to A. Dohrn, 5 June 1872, HP, 13.218. 

'I would not bother you 9 : Lankester to H., 18 December [1872], 

HP, 21.39. 
Already in 1868: Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, 

Report (1868), AA. 2699 and 484. 
Soon: Oxford University Gazette, 23 January and 24 December 

1872, 5 April and 10 June 1873. 
P. 185 Huxley was brought in: Rollaston to H., [71880], HP, 30.117; 

and G. C. Brodrick, Memories and Impressions, 1831-1900 

'seven teasers 9 : H. to M. Foster, 29 September 1874, HP, 

F. M. Batfour: J. W. Clark, Old Friends at Cambridge and 

Elsewhere (1900), p. 285. 
'Spider staffers 9 : H. to W. H. Thompson, 19 December 1880, 

HP, 30.119. 
he became an elector: Nature, XXVH, 167, 214 and 450, 14 

and 28 December 1882 and 8 March 1883. 
Freemasons 9 Tavern: Times, 23 November 1872. 


P. 186 Letters written by Jowett: to H., 23 April 1877, HP, 7.9; to 
Mrs H., 6 May 1877, HP, 7.11; to H., 7 May [1878], HP, 
7.15; to H., 2 December 1885, HP, 7.58. 

P. 187 were more successful: Oxford University Gazette, 23 No- 
vember 1886. 

similar battle ... at Cambridge: Cambridge University Re- 
porter, 25 March 1879, 9 April, 4 May, 15 June, 2 and 6 
November 1880. 
P. 188 *A protest from you': J. C. Collins to H., 24 March 1885, HP, 


P. 189 a strangely tepid letter: M. Arnold to J. C. Collins, 24 October 
1886, Three Letters of John Churton Collins (privately 
published, 1910). 
'That a young Englishman': Pall Mall Gazette, 22 October 

various other indications: Oxford Times, 20 June 1885; HP, 

25.230; HP, 21.123, 131, 133; HP, 28.61. 
P. 190 *You will have heard 1 : Jowett to Mrs H., 17 June 1881, HP, 

'Could you entertain': Brodrick to H., 21 June 1881, HP, 

P. 191 Moreover, Jowett emphasised: Jowett to H., 4 July 1881, HP, 


1 am getting old': H. to Brodrick, 22 June 1881, LL, II, 30. 
1 am most truly sorry': H. J. S. Smith to H., 12 July 1881, 

HP, 26.119. 
P. 192 1 have been thinking': H. to C. J. Faulkner, 9 October 1881, 

HP, 16.34. 
removing his doubts: Faulkner to H., 10 October 1881, HP, 

P. 193 1 do not think': H. to Leonard H., 4 November 1881, LL, H, 


1 shall be glorious': H. to T. S. Baynes, 9 June 1879, LL, II, 4. 
*a sort of apotheosis': H. to Bartholomew Price, 20 May 1885, 
LL, II, 110. 



Pages 194-214 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
Calendars of the four Scottish universities (various dates). 


Report of the Royal Commission on the Universities of Scotland 


Court Minutes of University of Edinburgh. 
Council Minutes of Aberdeen University. 
Edinburgh Evening Courant. 
St Andrews Gazette and Fifeshire News. 

Aberdeen Free Press. 
Aberdeen Daily Express. 
Aberdeen Herald. 

See also: Cyril Bibby, T. H. Huxley and the Universities of Scot- 
land', Aberdeen University Review, XXXVII, 134, Autumn 1957. 

Particular references are as follows: 
P. 194 If your annals': C, 111,191. 

P. 195 "Had I accepted' : H. to fianc6e, 14 October 1853, LL 9 1, 1 13. 
Teople have been at me': H. to Hooker, 24 November 1854, 

HP, 2.4. 
P. 196 strongly urged him: H. to Lizzie, 26 November 1854, LL, I, 

1 dread leaving London': H. to Dyster, 5 January 1855, HP, 


'Apropos of Edinburgh': he. cit. 
the newspapers reported: Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening 

Courant, 3 April 1866. 
for nearly twenty years: University of Edinburgh Court Minutes, 

8 November 1869 and 18 July 1887. 
the Crown was seeking: Bruce to H., 26 October 1870, HP, 

P. 197 'I . . . positively polished off': H. to Foster, 11 August 1875, 

LL, I, 446. 

'Talk about brains': H. to Dyster, 9 June 1875, HP, 15.135. 
P. 198 1 cleared about 1000': H. to Tyndall, 13 August 1875, HP, 

there is no one': W. Turner to H., 30 September 1875, HP, 


'he had the sense': LL, I, 442. 

P. 199 'another confounded commission 9 : H. to E. L. Youmans, 27 
June 1876; John Fiske, Life and Letters of Edward Living- 
ston Youmans (New York, 1894), p. 334. 
'The office of Lord Rector': J. T. Morrison to H., 24 January 
1886, HP, 23.92. 


P. 199 *but my health': H. to J. T. Morrison, 1 February 1886 (draft), 

HP, 23.94. 

P. 200 'Since my arrival': H. to Tyndall, 31 March 1872, HP, 9.50. 
P. 201 'Huxley's object in Egypt': St Andrews Gazette and Fifeshire 

News, 30 March 1872. 
P. 202 'the office should be a real one': Aberdeen Free Press, 30 

October 1872. 

P. 203 'If all men of character' : ibid., 29 October 1872. 
if the Pope: ibid., 8 November 1872. 
'a sort of influence': ibid., 22 November 1872. 
'Our correspondence 9 : ibid., 21 November 1872. 
This correspondence': ibid., 27 November 1872. 
P. 204 *Why has the claimant' : Aberdeen Herald, 23 November 1872. 
The kind of Rector' : Aberdeen Free Press 9 14 November 1872. 
'but it proved abortive': Aberdeen Herald, 14 December 1872. 
results of voting: ibid., 21 December 1872. 
the mode of election': H. to Tyndall, 1 January 1873, HP, 

P. 205 the fact of any one' : he. cit. 

'the students made': H. to wife, 1 March 1874, LL, I, 407. 
"Throughout the whole': Aberdeen Free Press, 28 February 


Vorth volumes': Scotsman, 28 February 1874. 
anonymous pamphlet: Protoplasm, Powheads, etc. (1875), 

in Aberdeen University Library. 
P. 206 'used the Aberdonians' : H. to Foster, 23 February 1874, HP, 


'a school of manners': CE, III, 203. 
the man who is all morality': CE, III, 205. 
P. 207 'Methuselah': CE, III, 221. 

just as students might go on: CE, in, 215 and 223. 

meet his predecessor: H. to M. E. Grant Duff, 17 December 

1872, Grant DuffMSS. 
IJnlike other Lord Rectors': H. to Tyndall, 1 January 1873, 

HP, 9.63. 
P. 208 professors of divinity: Aberdeen Daily Free Press, 17 April 

1 have been in Aberdeen': H. to Foster, 22 April 1873, HP, 


a Council Committee: Aberdeen University Council Minutes, 
9 April 1873. 


P. 208 'Your letter leads me*: A. Harvey to H., 15 April 1873, HP, 


P. 209 Huxley made public: Nature, IX, 21, 13 November 1873. 
P. 210 'patrimonial rights'; Scotsman, 27 February 1874. 

the Council accepted: Aberdeen University Council Minutes, 

15 April 1874. 

'Did I tell you': H. to wife, 1 March 1874, LL, I, 408. 
P. 211 'providing a sufficient share': Scotsman, 3 March 1874. 

'if the University': Aberdeen Daily Free Press, 10 May 1875. 
an opposing petition: Aberdeen University Council Minutes, 

13 October 1875; Scotsman, 25 September 1875. 
P. 212 Huxley's questions to witnesses: Royal Commission on Uni- 
versities of Scotland, Report (1878), QQ. and AA. 115- 
136, 165-172, 571-572, 617, 726, 729, 740, 927, 1197- 
98, 1390, 1587, 1731-1732, 1834-39, 1958-63, 3392. 
P. 213 Royal Commission's report: ibid., I, 26, 28, 29, 30, 152-156, 



Pages 215-230 

Important sources for this chapter are: 
Minutes of Senate. 
Minutes of Committees. Printed for the confidential use of the 

Senate (1867-1880). 
Minutes of Committees and Official Memoranda. Printed for the 

confidential use of the Senate (1881-1890). 
Report of the Committee appointed to Consider the Propriety of 

Establishing a Degree or Degrees in Science . . . (1858). 
Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . new University or 

power . . . in London (Selborae Commission, 1889). 
Report of the Royal Commission . . . [on] . . . the Draft Charter 

for the proposed Gresham University . . . ('Cowper', 'Gresham' 

Commission, 1894). 
W. H. Allchin, An Account of the Reconstruction of the University 

of London (1905-1912). 
T, L. Humberstone, University Reform in London (1926). 


Particular references are as follows: 
P. 215 *I had quite given up': H. to W. Flower, 27 June 1892, LL, II, 

P. 216 telling the medical faculty: CE, III, 315. 

Jodrell Chairs: H. Hale Bellot, University College, London, 

1826-1926 (1929), p. 315 and HP, 19.70-19.74. 
'Since I saw you': Jodrell to H. [1873], HP, 19.72. 
P. 217 at Huxley's suggestion: Sir G. Young to H., 17 January 1879, 

HP, 29.266. 
*what on earth': H. to F. J. FurnivaU, 14 December [1856], 

Huntington MSS. 
P. 218 recalls the pleasure: LL, I, 238. 

in 1857 Huxley: Minutes of Senate, 8 July 1857. 
he took the initiative: H.'s draft memorial, HP, 42.143. 
P* 219 'Academic bodies' : Minutes of Senate, 12 May 1858. 

Huxley's evidence: Committee [on] Degrees in Science, 

Report (1858), pp. 65-70. 
based very much: Select Committee on Scientific Instruction, 

Report (1868), A. 2028. 

for the first time: The Natural Sciences Tripos had already 
been instituted at Cambridge, but it was dpen only to those 
who had already otherwise qualified for a degree. 
*I apprehend': H.'s draft evidence, HP, 42.34. 
P. 220 retention of physiology: Minutes of Committees (1867-1880), 

p. 106. 
P. 221 'Clay the great whist player': Granville to H., 28 July 1883, 

HP, 21.213. 
P. 222 kept him wefl informed: Paget to H., 2 February 1887, HP, 

*a man who knows 9 : H.'s memorandum to University of 

London, HP, 42.179. 

P. 223 Lord Justice Fry: Minutes of Committees and Officia Memo- 
randa (1881-1890), p. 86. 

We can always': Paget to H., 28 April 1888, HP, 24.12. 
Senate produced' its own plan: Minutes of Senate, 28 January 

P. 224 some pencilled notes: HP, 42.81. 

*a perfect muddle': H. to Donnelly, 30 March 1892, LL, H, 

'unless people dearly understand': H. to Lankester, 11 April 

1892, HP, 30.148. 
to take care that': H. to Weldon, 27 March 1892, LL, II, 308. 


P. 225 'grafting a College de France' : H. to Lankester, 1 1 April 1892, 

HP, 30.148. 

'I am in great spirits': H. to Foster, 27 June 1892, LL 9 II, 333. 
P. 226 Pearson later complained: Pearson to F. Galton, 14 July 
1906, K. Pearson, Life and Labours of Francis Galton (1914- 
1930), III, 289. 

bitter open letter: Times, 3 December 1892. 
'As for a government': ibid., 6 December 1892. 
liad to show that': LL, H, 314. 
P. 227 'That to which I am utterly opposed' : H. to Weldon, 9 February 

1893, LL, H, 315. 
resign his Presidency: H. to Weldon, 25 January 1893, HP 9 

'I am going to a meeting' : H. to Foster, 9 November 1892, LL, 

II, 314. 
'You should see the place': H. to Collier, 8 November 1892, 

LL, H, 307. 
P. 228 which Huxley had drafted: Minutes of Committees and Official 

Memoranda (1881-1890), p. 229. 
invited to suggest names: Donnelly to H., 29 March 1892, HP, 

evidence to Gresham Commissioners: HP, 42.104 and Cowper 

Commission, Report (1894), p. 554 et seq. 
P. 229 1 say that very possibly': ibid., p. 563. 
'under the circumstances': HP, 42.141. 
P. 230 engagement with Lord Rosebery, H.'s diary, 26 May 1894. 

It is rumoured': H. to Rosebery, 4 December 1894, LL, II, 



Pages 231-259 

Important sources for this chapter are: 

Special commemorative issue of New- York Tribune, 23 

September 1876. 

'Address on University Education', CE, HI, 235-261. 
Johns Hopkins University, MS material re official opening. 




This general assessment is based partly on an examination 
of H.'s Scientific Memoirs, partly on M. Foster's obituary 
notice in Proc. Roy. Soc., LIV, 55, partly on P. C. 
Mitchell's Thomas Henry Huxley: a Sketch of his Life and 
Work (1901), and partly on assessments by many leading 
scientists in the special supplement published on the 
centenary of Huxley's birth by Nature (CXV, 697-752, 
9 May 1925). 

(c) THE x CLUB 

This general account is based on many incidental references 
in the biographies, memoirs and correspondence of its 
members and some of its occasional guests, including the 
John Tyndall MSS at the Royal Institution. 


Minutes of the Court of Governors. 

Minutes of the Council. 

Minutes of the Senate. 

Reports from the Council to the Court of Governors. 

Particular references are as follows: 

P. 231 The question of questions': CE, VH, 77 and 154. 

P. 233 'an organ of grin-and-bear-it-iveness': H. to Foster, 28 April 

1809, HP, 4.16. 
*He writes as if': Argyll to Tyndall, 29 January 1891, G. D. 

Argyll, Autobiography and Memoirs (1906), H, 526. 
1 never came away' : LL, n, 433. 
'What I like': E. C. K Collier, A Victorian Diarist . . . 1873- 

1895 (1944), p. 35. 

1 wish to God': Darwin to Huxley, 27 March 1882, LL, H, 38. 
*I ten you 5 : H. A. Harper, The Personal Letters of John Fiske 
(private circulation, Torch Press, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 
1939), p. 217. 
P. 234 The whole nation' :LL, 1, 460. 

'It wffl be something strange': H. to Lizzie, 8 June 1876, HP, 

*a sort of dream': H. to Lowell, 14 November 1883, Harvard 


P. 235 'young, energetic 5 : H. to Oilman, 20 February 1876, Johns 
Hopkins MSS. 


P. 235 In usum studiosum': H. to Martin, 2 April [187?], ibid. 

'You have among you': New- York Daily Tribune, 26 August 

P. 236 based on the local geology: ibid., 1 1 September 1876. 

absence of religious compulsion: the tone was set by a notice 
displayed on the campus: "A brief religious service will be 
held every morning at 8.45 in Hopkins Hall. No notice will 
be taken of the presence or absence of anybody.** 

1 am very sorry' : Johns Hopkins MSS. 

*Huxley was bad enough': F. Franklin, Life of D. C. Oilman 
(New York, 1910), p. 221. 

It was bad enough 9 : Johns Hopkins MSS. 

$1000 and 10,000: W. H. Appleton to Mrs H., 22 August 
1876, HP, 10.108. 

Minnesota: W. W. Forbes to Oilman, 30 September 1876, 
HP, 17.54. 

Princeton: H. F. Osborn, Impressions of Great Naturalists 
(New York, 1924), p. 6. 

Yale: L. Huxley, Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, 
(1918), p. 208. 

Harvard: A. Agassiz to H., 8 November 1882, HP, 6.146. 
P. 237 freedom of thought: HP, 31 .105. 

'An education fitted for free men': CE 9 HI, 238. 

'It is important': CE, III, 251. 

there should be not too many': CE, HI, 243. 

'deficient in industry' : CE, III, 242. 
P. 238 'a great warrior' : CE, HI, 256. 

the future of the world' : CE, III, 254. 

'Do not suppose': CE, HI, 260. 

'the one condition of success': CE, HI, 261. 
P. 239 Whether state rights' : CE, III, 260. 

'as population thickens': loc. cit. 

Mr Cocker's arithmetic: H.'s unpublished MS, 1887, HP, 

Fruits of Philosophy: H. to Foster, 18 July 1883, LL, E, 56. 

Mrs Besant and Miss Bradlaugh: LL, H, 56. 

Population Question Association: Minutes of a private con- 
ference, 9 March 1888, HP, 49.66. 

'If historical writers' : HP, 42.58. 
P. 240 'It is hard to say': CE, IX, 212, f.n. 

'and, if need be': CE, IX, 219. 
P. 241 'I paid comparatively little attention 9 : LL, I, 58. 


P. 242 1 have been oppressed' : LL, I, 485. 

P. 243 It is the organisation': H. to Haeckel, 7 June 1865, LL, I, 


the facts concerning': British Association, Report, 1866. 
P. 244 'so full of quotations' : Nature, CXV, 707, 9 May 1925. 

'Remember that it was Huxley': P. C. Mitchell, New Review, 

August 1895. 

'subject to the production': CE, VII, 150. 
*Like a good Catholic': Francis Darwin, Life and Letters of 

Charles Darwin (1887), II, 232. 
'as near an approximation': CE, VII, 149. 
'Because no law': H. to Hooker, 4 September 1861, LL, I, 227. 
P. 245 *you have loaded yourself': H. to Darwin, 23 November 1859, 

LL, I, 175. 
'Suppose that external conditions': H. to Lyell, 25 June 1859, 

American Philosophical Society MSS. 
'I am sincerely': Times, 1 December 1894. 
P. 246 Crushed the cobwebs': A. Keith, 'Huxley as Anthropologist', 

Nature, CXV, 722, 9 May 1925. 
P. 247 the frontiers of the new world': Nature, LI, 1, 1 November 

He had recently had a dream: P. C. Mitchell, Thomas Henry 

Huxley . . . (1901), p. 204 (1913 edn.). 
P. 248 If I know anything': HP, 31.105. 

the most powerful': Fiske to wife, 8 December 1873, E. F. 

Fiske, Letters of John Fiske (1940), p. 144. 
P. 249 1say,A.':LL,I,259. 

In fact, a favourite problem': H. to Herbert Spencer, 3 August 

1861, LL, I, 230. 
P. 250 'merely the Absolute redivivus': H. to F. J. Gould, 1889, 

Literary Guide, January 1902. 
the direct effect': CE, VI, 307. 
'only two out of : CE, VI, 286. 
P. 251 'if the folk in the spiritual world' : LL, 1, 420. 

Teach a child what is wise': Edwin Hodder, Life and Work of 

the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury (1886), III, p. 282. 
the awe and reverence': CE, HI, 393. 
*in relation to the human mind': H., Crayfish (1879), p. 3. 
'the imperfections': CE, I, 33. 

P. 252 Newman: M. Pattison, Memoirs (1885), p, 105. 
'science, hi the course of: H., Hume (1878), p. 59. 
'One does not free': CE 9 V, 13. 


P. 252 "The present and the near future*: CE 9 IV, 237-238. 
P. 253 'No longer in contact' : he. cit. 
'Old Noll' :LL, II, 322. 
'among as queer a crew': H. to Tyndall, 25 November 1883, 

HP, 9.144. 

'rightful freedom' : LL, II, 407. 
he nevertheless signed: James Sully to Leonard H. [1900], 

HP, 27.131. [The contrary impression is widespread, owing 

to an error in LL, n, 406.] 
*Everyday':CE,IX, 30. 
P. 254 <if morality has survived' : CE 9 IX, 145. 

*a universal, intrepid': W. H. Mallock, The New Republic . . . 

(1877), p. 56 (Rosemary edn.). 
*what a heart-breaking business': CE, VII, vii, 
"The "points" of a good citizen': CE 9 IX, 23. 
'the sons of the masses': CE, HI, 203. 
P. 255 closely with Kay-Shuttle worth: Owens College, Manchester, 

Court Minutes y 1870 passim. 
'Any corporation of men': Manchester Guardian, 3 October 


'Unless we are led': unidentified newspaper cutting in Man- 
chester University Library. 
'We are in the case of Tarpeia': H. F. Osbom, Impressions of 

Great Naturalists (New York, 1924), p. 93. 
P. 256 gave Patrick Geddes : P. Mairet, Pioneer of Sociology: the Life 

and Letters of Patrick Geddes (1957), p. 72. 
Beveridge's address: W. Beveridge, Power and Influence (1953), 

p. 247. 

'and, what is still more important': CE, IE, 185. 
'If individuaUty has no play' : CE, I, 277. 
P. 257 'the first-recorded judicial murder' : CE, VI, viii. 
'The first agnostic' : he. cit. 

'inclined to think': unpublished fragment, HP, 45.104. 
*no personal habit' : CE, IX, 243. 
'better a thousand times': H. to Tyndall, 22 October 1854, 

LL, I, 121. 

P. 258 'It flashes across me' : J. Morley, Recollections (1917), I, p. 1 14. 
'one should be always ready': H. to Romanes, 28 September 

1893, LL, n, 368. 
P. 259 almost the type-specimen: G. V. Plekhanov, The Rdle of the 

Individual in History (English tr., 1940). 
'Posthumous fame' : H. to Howell, 2 January 1880, LL, 1, 476. 


Names of persons and periodicals are in general indexed only where the entry is 
of some significance apart from the mere receipt of a communication. All such 
communications are documented in the References beginning on p. 285. 

A priori argument. H.'s suspicion of, 52 

Abbott, Edwin Abbott, 187 

Aberdare, Lord, 118, 197 

Aberdeen Free Press, 202, 205 

Aberdeen University, 11, 36, 37, 124, 
181, 182, 194, 201 ff. 

Academic freedom, H.'s views on, 113, 
115, 160 

'Administrative Nihilism', 51, 103 

Admiralty, 9, 198 

Agassiz, Alexander, 234, 237 

Agnostic Annual, 60 

Agnostic, origin of word, 60 

Agnosticism, 250, 257 

'Agnosticism', 66, 84 

* Agnosticism: A Rejoinder', 66 

'Agnosticism and Christianity', 66 " 

Albert, Prince Consort, 107 

Alford, Henry Dean, 54, 103 

Amalekites, smiting the, 71 

Amberley, Kate, Lady, 34, 151 

American Assn. for Adv. of Science, 235 

Anderson, Elizabeth Garrett, 35, 146, 
148, 162 

Angus, Joseph, 146 

Anthropological Institute, 246 

Anthropology, at Oxford, 190 

Anthropology, H.'s work on, 16, 246 

Anti-Corn Law League, 6 

Apothecaries Hall, 232 

Appleton, Charles, 185 

Appleton, William Henry, 235 

Argyll, Duke of, 64, 233, 253 

Aristotle, 5 

Arnold, Julia Frances (Mrs L. Huxley, 
daughter-in-law), 15 

Arnold, Matthew, 23, 93, 187, 189, 251, 

Arnold, Thomas, 164 

Ascidians, H.'s work on, 241 

Association for Promoting a Profes- 
sorial Univ. of London, 225 

Association for Organisation of Aca- 
demical Study, 185 

Association for Promoting a Teaching 
Univ. for London, 222 

Astynomocracy, 51 

Authority, H.'s rejection of, 18 

Avebury, Lord, 20, 147, 248 

BACONIAN Induction, 242 
Baer, Karl Ernst von, 242 


Balfour, Arthur James, 87 

Balfour, Francis Maitland, 185, 247 

Baltimore, 181, 237 

Banning (Kent), 5 

Barry, Alfred, 146 

Battersea (St John's) College, 138, 149 

Baynes, Thomas Spencer, 193 

Beche, Sir Thomas De La, 112 

Bedford Square College, 217 

Belfast, 95 

Besant, Annie, 239 

Beveridge. Sir William (Lord), 256 

Bible-reading in schools, 149 

Birds, H.'s work on, 243 

Birkbeck College, London, 217 

Birmingham, 26, 41 

Birmingham and Midland Institute, 92 

Birmingham University, see Mason 

'Bishop Berkeley on Metaphysics of 

Sensation' 63, 103 
Bishopsgate Training College, 138 
Board of Trade, 112, 124 
Bologna University, 193 
Borough Road College, 138, 172 
Boston (USA), 235 
Bradlaugh, Alice, 239 
Bradlaugh, Charles, 203, 239 
Bradley, George Granville, 191 
Breslau University, 193 
British Association for Advancement of 

Science, 9, 11, 20, 68, 74, 80, 94 ff., 

British Medical Association, 136 
British Museum, 106, 107 
Brodrick, George Charles, 190, 191 
Browning, Oscar, 173 
Bruce, Henry Austin (Aberdare), 118 


Brunei, Isambard Kingdom, 2 
Buffalo (USA), 235 
Buke of Discipline (Knox), 209 
Burden-Sanderson, John Scott, 217 
Busk, George, 248 
Butler, Henry Montagu, 187 

CAIRD, Principal, 212 

Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts, 

Cambridge, 94 
Cambridge museum, 106 
Cambridge Philosophical Society, 79 



Cambridge University, 37, 177 ff., 207, 
220, 247, 254, see also names of col- 

Cambridge University, R. C.s on, 178 

Cambridge YMCA, 46, 63 

Campbell, George Douglas (Argyll), 
64, 233, 253 

Campbell, Peter Colin, 210, 212 

Cant, H.'s hatred of, 11 

'Capital Mother of Labour', 52 

Carlyle, Thomas, 6, 25, 59, 187, 196 

Carpenter, William Benjamin, 96, 218 

Casale, 248 

Cell functions, H.'s work on, 243 

Cephalous Mollusca, H.'s work on, 72, 

Charing Cross Medical School, 7, 135 

Charitable funds, 157 

Charity Commissioners, 134 

Charter, 6 

Chester museum, 105 

Chesterton, Gilbert Keith, 16 

Christianity, H.'s views on, 252 

Christian Science, 251 

Christie, John, 210 

Christison, Sir Robert, 198 

Church Congress, H.'s verse on, 84 

Church of England, H.'s views on, 48 

Church schools, 153 

City and Guilds College, 129 

City and Guilds of London Institute, 
127, 129 

City Companies, 126 ff., see also names 
of Companies. 

City of London School, 172 

City Press, 126 

Clare College, Cambridge, 79 

Clarendon Commission, 22, 38, 165, 

Clarke, Thomas Chatfield, 149, 162 

Classics, in education, 187 

Classification, H.'s work' on, 16, 241 

Cleland, John, 248 

Clergy, as chartered libertines, 64 

Clodd, Edward, 46, 152 

Clothworkers Company, 126 

Clubs, see name of Club. 

Cobden, Richard, 168 

Ccelenterata, H.'s work on, 241 

Cole, Sir Henry, 107, 124 

College de France, 225 

College of Preceptors, 138 

Colleges, see name of College. 

Collier, Ethel Gladys (nee Huxley, 
daughter), 14, 15 - 

Collier, John (son-in-law), 15, 228 

Collier, Laurence (grandson), 16 

Collier, Marian (nee Huxley, daughter), 
14, 15, 132 

Collins, John Churton, 188 

Columbia University, 248 

Commissions, see name of Commission. 

Committees, see name of Committee. 

Comte, Auguste, 65, 98 

Contemporary Review, 103, 148, 149, 

Controversy, H.'s skill in, 18, 83 

Conway, Moncure Daniel, 33 
Cook, Ellen (n6e Huxley, sister), 4 
Cook, John (brother-in-law), 4 
Coral and Coral Reefs, 97, 100 
Corporal punishment, H.'s views on, 

Cotton, William Richmond, 158 
Coventry, 3 

Cowper Commission, 224, 228 
Cowper, Earl, 225 
Crayfish, H.'s work on, 16 
Cremer, William Randal, 146, 147 
Crocodiles, H.'s work on, 16 
Cromwell, John, Canon, 146, 153, 154, 

Curriculum, in London Board Schools 


Currie, Sir Edmund Hay, 154 
Cuvier, Baron, 31 

DALGAJRNS, Father, 54 

Darwin, Charles Robert, 16, 53, 68, 70 

71, 78, 79, 90, 91, 99, 101, 106, 111 

183, 203, 233, 244 

Daughters, H.'s plans for education, 35 
Davidson, Alexander Dyce, 208 
Davies, Sarah Emily, 36, 146 
Death, H.'s attitude to, 257 
Debate, H.'s delight in, 17, 66 
Deceased wife's sister prohibition, 15 
Delapierre, Octave, 169 
Department of Science and Art, 22, 28 

110, 116, 118, 124, 129 
'Descartes* "Discourse" ', 63 
Devonshire Commission, 23, 115, 173 
Dialectical materialism, 51, 250 
Dialectical Society, 251 
Disraeli, Benjamin, 205 
Domestic science, H.'s work for, 138 
Donnelly, Sir John Fretchfield Dykes, 

118, 119, 120, 121, 122, 125, 129 
Draper, Dr, 68 
Drapers Company, 126 
Drawing in education, 42, 159, 174 
Dublin Royal College of Science, 248 
Dublin University, 193 
Dundee, 167 
Durham University, 215 
Dyster, Frederick Daniel, 33, 69 


Baling School, 3 

Easingwold Agricultural Club, 133 

East End, 7, 30 

Eastbourne, 1, 87 

Eckersley, Rachel (nee Huxley, 

daughter), 14, 15 
Eckersley, William 


Alfred (son-in-law), 

Ecole Normale, 140 

*Economics as a Liberal Education' 

(Beveridge), 256 
Edinburgh, 65, 196 

Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, 91 
Edinburgh University, 35, 109, 123, 193 

194 ff., 199,248 
Education Act (1870), 139, 145 



Education Act (1944), 28 
Education Department, 124, 160, 198 
Education, Institute of, 141 
Education, Minister of, H. on need for, 


Education, Parliamentary votes for, 22 
Education, Science and Art, S. C. on, 


Education, State intervention in, 23 
Educational Exhibition (1854), 125 
Educational ladder, from gutter to uni- 
versity, 157 
Elementary education, organisation of, 

in London, 156 
Elementary Instruction, R. C. on, 22, 


Elliot Smith, Sir Grafton, 100 
Ellis, William, 169 

Emancipation Black and White', 36 
English literature, at Oxford, 189 
Erlangen University, 193 
Essay on Development (Newman), 63 
Essays on Liberal Education, 167 
Established Church Scientific, 227 
Ethnological Society, 246 
Ethnology, H.'s work on, 236 
Eton College, 172 ff. 
Evolution, H.'s views on, 16, 47, 50, 70, 


'Evolution and Ethics', 50 
'Evolution of Theology', 63 
Ewart, William, 169 
Examinations, H.'s views on, 37, 124, 

229, 237 
Exeter, 94 

Exeter College, Oxford, 184 
Eyre, Governor, of Jamaica, 25 

FARADAY, Michael, 32, 232 

Farrar, Frederick William, Dean, 47, 

48, 166, 167, 172 
Farrer, Thomas Henry, Lord, 43, 51, 

82, 152 

Faulkner, Charles Joseph, 191, 192 
Fawcett, Henry, 179 
Female education, H.'s views on, 34 ff. 
Fine arts, place in university, 181, 206, 


Finsbury Technical College, 129 
Firth College, Sheffield, 215 
Fisgard, HMS, 9 
Fishmongers Company, 128 
Fiske, John, 17, 235 
Flourens, M. J. P., 79 
Flower, Sir William Henry, 107 
Foote, George William, 253 
Forbes, Edward, 109, 195 
Forster, William Edward, 145 
Fortnightly Review, 61, 65, 103 
Foster, Sir Michael, 54, 131, 132, 140, 

183, 185, 218, 247 
Foundations of Belief (Balfour), 87 
Frankland, Sir Edward, 248 
Frazer, Sir James George, 63 
Freethinker, 253 
French Revolution (Carlyle), 6 
Froude, James Anthony, 54 

Fruits of Philosophy* 239 

Fry, Sir Edward, Lord Justice, 223 

Furnivall, Frederick James, 178 

GADARENE swine, 84 

Garrett (Anderson), Elizabeth, 35, 146, 
148, 162 

Garrick Club, 42 

Geddes, Sir Patrick, 111, 248, 256 

Gentians, H.'s work on, 16 

Geological Society, 34, 78, 246 

Geological Survey, 108 

Geology, H.'s work on, 16, 246 

Geology (Hutton), 5 

George, Henry, 52 

George Yard Free School, Whitechapel, 

Germ theory, H.'s views on, 94 

Giglioli, Enrico, 248 

Gilbert, Sir William Schwenk, 3 

Oilman, Daniel Coit, 234, 236 

Girton College, Cambridge, 36 

Gladstone, William Ewart, 19, 28, 54, 
67, 81, 84, 126, 155, 253 

Glasgow University, 194, 205 

Goethe, J. Wolfgang von, 26, 39, 258 

Golden Bough (Frazer), 63 

Goldsmiths Company, 127 

Gordon, Charles (Huntly), 202 

Gordon (Jamaica rioter), 25 

Gould, Charles, 248 

'Government: Anarchy or Regimenta- 
tion', 52 

Government School of Mines, see 
School of Mines. 

Grant, Sir Alexander, 212 

Grant Duff, Sir Mountstuart Elphin- 
stone, 19, 86, 165 

Granville, Earl, 114, 221 

Gray, Asa, 234 

Great Exhibition, 108 

'Gresham' Commission, 224, 228 

Grey, Maria, 36 

Grote, George, 32 

Grove, Sir George, 103 

HABERDASHERS Company, 126 

Hahn, Father, 97 

Hamilton, Sir William, 60 

Harcpurt, Sir William G. G. V, V., 128 

Harris, Frank, 60 

Harrison, Frederic, 66, 98 

Harrow School, 166, 167, 172 

Hartington, Lord, 15, 131 

Harvard University, 236 

Harvey, Alexander, 208 

Haslar Naval Hospital, 241 

Headmasters' Conference, 172 

Health education, 138 

Heathorn, Henrietta Anne (Mrs T. H. 

Huxley, wife), 8, 10, 12, 13, 57, 161, 

190, 233, 235 
Herbert, Auberon, 147 
Heroes and Hero-Worship (Carlyle), 6 
Hero-worship, H.'s views on, 25 
Heteropoda, H.'s work on, 16 
Hippocampus minor, 73 



Hirst, Thomas Archer, 248 
Historical materialism, 51, 250 
History, in education, 41, 189 
History of Christianity, planned by H., 


Hobhouse, Arthur, Baron, 147 
Hodgson, William Ballantyne, 169 
Holyoake, George Jacob, 65 
Home Rule, H.'s views on, 26, 86 
Home and Colonial School Society, 


Homotaxis, 246 
Honours, H.*s views on, 31, 32 
Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton, 12, 26, 53, 

71, 101, 187, 248 
Hornby, James John, 172, 187 
Howell, George, 128, 259 
Howes, George Bond, 110 
Hughes, Thomas, 102 
Hume, 63 
Hunt, Robert, 116 
Huntly, Marquess of, 202 

Huxley's Family 

Aldous Leonard (grandson), 17 
Eliza ('Lizzie', Mrs Scott, sister), 5, 8, 

11, 18, 25, 57, 109, 113, 196, 234, 


Ellen (Mrs J. C. Cook, sister), 4 
Ethel Gladys (Mrs J. Collier, 

daughter), 14, 15 
George Knight (brother), 4 
George (father), 2, 3, 5 
Henrietta Anne (nee Heathorn, wife), 

8, 10, 12, 13, 57, 161, 190, 233, 


Henry CHany*, son), 14, 15 
James Edmund (brother), 4 
Jessie Oriana (Mrs F. W. Waller, 

daughter), 14, 15, 27 
Julian Sorrel (grandson), 14 
Leonard (son), 2, 3, 14, 15, 48, 56, 86, 

193, 199, 200 
Marian (Mrs J. Collier, daughter), 

14. 15, 132 
Nettie (Mrs J. H. Roller, daughter), 

Noel' (son), 14,58 

Rachel (Mrs W. A. Eckersley, 

daughter), 14, 15 
Rachel (nee Withers, mother), 4, 5, 

William (brother), 4 

see- also Arnold, Collier, Cook, 

Eckersley, Roller, Scott, Stobart, 


Huxley, Thomas Henry 


childhood, 1; economic position of 
parents, 2; schooling, 3; difficulties in 
father's family, 4; continues self- 
education, 5; learns German, 5; 
keeps adolescent journal, 6; early 
wish to be engineer, 7 ; begins medical 
apprenticeship, 7; Charing Cross 

Medical School, 7; student prizes, 7, 
232; First MB, 7; first research paper 
published, 7; Assistant-Surgeon, 7; 
posted to HMS Rattlesnake, 8; re- 
search on voyage, 8; learns Italian, 
42; meets future wife in Sydney, 8; 
returns to England, 8; granted re- 
search-leave, 9; elected FRS, 8; 
awarded Roy. Soc. Gold Medal, 9; 
first public lecture, 89; death of 
mother, 5; early scientific journalism, 
101; controversy with Admiralty, 9; 
struck from Navy List, 10; fails to 
get Chairs, 1 1 ; considers emigrating, 
10; appointed to School of Mines, 12, 
109; rejects Chair at Edinburgh, 196; 
death of father, 5; lecturer at St 
Thomas's, 135; Fullerian Professor 
at Royal Institution, 90; marriage, 
12; examiner to London University, 
218; son Noel born, 14; decides not 
to apply for Oxford Chair, 178; 
Crooman lecturer, 72; elected to 
Athenaeum, 232; daughter Jessie 
bora, 14; Secretary of Geological 
Society, 246; daughter Marian born, 
14; debate with Bishop of Oxford, 
69; edits Natural History Review, 
101 ; death of son Noel, 14; son Leon- 
ard born: 14; Hunterian Professor at 
Royal Coll. Surgeons, 135; forms 
Thorough Club, 179; daughter 
Rachel born, 14; sells Roy. Soc. 
medal to help sister-in-law, 4; 
daughter Nettie born, 14; formation 
of x Club, 248; membership of liter- 
ary clubs, 42; rapid increase of in- 
come, 53 ; joins Jamaica Committee, 
25; honorary degree at Edinburgh, 
196; son Henry born, 14; daughter 
Ethel born, 14; Governor of Inter- 
national College, 168; Principal of 
South London Working Men's Col- 
lege, 33; President of Ethnological 
Society, 94, 246; joins Metaphysical 
Society, 54; coins word 'agnostic*, 60; 
introduces Nature, 102; demonstra- 
tion lessons to school children, 139; 
President of Geological Society, 78, 
246; Governor of Owens College, 
255 ; helps to found Anthropological 
Institute, 246; President of British 
Association, 30 ? 94; appointed to 
Royal Commission on Scientific In- 
struction, 115; and R. C. on Conta- 
gious Diseases Acts, 144; elected to 
London School Board, 146; develops 
*type system' of teaching, 111; moves 
School from Jermyn Street to South 
Kensington, 117; starts summer 
courses for teachers, 140; Secretary 
of Royal Society, 144, 248; break- 
down in health and convalescence in 
Egypt, 162; nearly Rector of St An- 
drews, 200; Rector of Aberdeen, 37, 
205 ; Professor locum tenens at Edin- 
burgh, 197; appointed to R. C. on 



Universities of Scotland, 212; receives 
Wollaston Medal, 246; visits USA 
and opens Johns Hopkins University, 
235; speech at Royal Academy, 42; 
speaks for Darwm at Cambridge, 79; 
promotes technical education, 125; 
advises City Companies, 126; daugh- 
ter Jessie married, 15; honorary de- 
gree at Dublin, 193 ; Fellow of Eton, 
172; daughter Marian married, 15; 
honorary degree at Cambridge, 193; 
honours from abroad, 193, 234; Dean 
of Normal School of Science, 119; 
Inspector of Salmon Fisheries, 128; 
appointed to R. C. on Medical Acts, 
136; rejects Linacre Chair at Oxford, 
191 ; rejects Mastership of University 
College, Oxford, 193; offered post at 
Harvard, 237; Senator of London 
University, 220; President of Royal 
Society, 248; Trustee of British 
Museum, 107; ill-health becoming 
chronic, 222; convalescence in Italy, 
121 ; daughter Rachel married, 1 5 ; re- 
signs Professorship, but continues as 
Dean of Normal School, 121; son 
Leonard married, 15; controversy 
with Gladstone, 81 ; honorary degree 
at Oxford, 193; defines purpose of 
Imperial Institute, 130; death of 
daughter Marian, 132; convalescence 
in Engadine, 66; agnosticism con- 
troversy, 66; daughters Ethel and 
Nettie married, 15; sociological con- 
troversy, 52; son Henry married, 15; 
moves to Eastbourne, 87, 122; trip to 
Canaries, 84; rejects peerage, 32; 
made Privy Councillor, 32; Romanes 
lecturer at Oxford, 50 ; visit to Maloja, 
87 ; receives Darwin medal, 245 ; work 
for London University reform, 221 ; 
leads deputation to Prime Minister, 
230; final illness and death, 88, 258 


own estimate of, xxii; attachment to 
mother, 4; brilliance as lecturer, 109; 
charm, 162, 233; clerical affinities, 
45; concern for efficiency, 120; con- 
cern for morality, 42, 46 ff.; con- 
sideration for intellectual inferiors, 
163 : controversial skill, 18, 83 ; delight 
in debate, 17, 66; devotion to hon- 
esty, 43, 46, 61 ; eloquence, 162; Eng- 
lishness, 27; humour and wit, 162; 
industry, 16, 161; literary skill and 
tastes, 16, 42; morbid dread of cant, 
11; political effectiveness, 19, 162, 
232; prejudices discarded, 25; pro- 

hetic element, 45; puritanism, 12, 
9, 46, 56; rejection of authority, 18; 
resilience, 12; strain of madness, 5; 
suited to expanding society, 24, 259; 
talent for selection of men, 247; 
teaching ability, 141; tenacity, 46; 
tenderness, 18, 46, 233; trust in his 
children, 15; versatility, 1, 16, 20, 259 


academic freedom, 113, 115, 160; 
agnosticism, 60, 66, 84, 250, 257; 
approximation to historical material- 
ism, 51, 250; authorities the curse of 
science, 18; Bible, 149, 151; Chris- 
tianity, 252; Church of England, 48; 
classics in education, 187; death, 257; 
drawing in education, 42, 159, 174; 
educational expenditure, 147; ele- 
mentary education, 139, 148, 158; 
evolution and ethics, 50; evolution 
theory, 70, 244; examinations, 37, 
124, 229, 237; female education, 
34 ff.; future of USA, 238; hero- 
worship, 25 ; history in education, 41, 
189; Home Rule, 26; honours, 31, 
32; idealism and materialism, 62, 
249 ; immortality, 55, 58 ; Indian Em- 
pire, 27; individual and State, 27, 51, 
166, 256; Irish, 26; Jews and Juda- 
ism, 26, 252; laws of nature, 64; 
liberal education, 44; literary style, 
17, 189; literature in education, 41, 
1 89, 256 ; marriage laws, 15 ; material- 
ism and idealism, 62, 249; medical 
education, 136, 207, 209, 222; mental 
structure, 38; miscegenation, 93; 
morality, 6, 45, 253; museums, 105; 
music in education, 159, 174; Ne- 
groes, 25; politics and economics, 31, 
52, 239, 240; population problems, 
52, 239; power of science, 247; pro- 
fessional education, 135ff.; racial 
superiority, 25, 26, 93; religion, 48, 
252; religious education, 150; Roman 
Catholicism, 155; science and reli- 
gion, 89, 251; science in education, 
38,40, 110 159, 166, 170; slavery, 25; 
social studies in education, 41, 256; 
socialism, 31, 52; specialisation, 114, 
255; teacher education, 118, 137, 141, 
160; technical education, 114, 133, 
134; unemployed rich, 240; univer- 
sity education, 142, 180, 182, 224, 
226, 228, 229, 238; women, 34 ff.; 
working class, 29 ff., 98, 254 


America, 235; animal automatism, 
63, 95; biogenesis, 94; biology, 90, 
91, 100, 140; Descartes, 46, 63; 
emancipation, 36; embryology, 90; 
ethnology, 26, 92, 246; evolution, 47, 
90, 91, 98, 236; evolution and ethics, 
50; fossils, 57, 93, 96; immortality, 
55; individual and State, 29, 51; 
liberal education, 33, 44, 144; miracle 
of resurrection, 55; nature of soul, 
55 ; nerves, 98; palaeontology, 78, 93; 
physiography, 100, 139; psychology, 
90, 91 ; sensation, 63 ; scientific edu- 
cation, 22, 93, 139, 164; technical 
education, 29, 127, 132; university 
education, 181, 205, 237, 255; verte- 
brate skull, 72; yeast, 97 



WRITINGS (excluding most re- 
printed lectures) 

gradual change in interests, 16; 
translations of, 101; 'Address on 
University Education*, 181, 237; 
'Administrative Nihilism', 51, 103; 
'Agnosticism', 66, 84; 'Agnosticism: 
A Rejoinder', 64; 'Agnosticism 
and Christianity', 64; 'Bishop 
Berkeley on the Metaphysics of 
Sensation', 63, 103; 'Capital the 
Mother of Labour', 52; Coral and 
Coral Reefs, 97, 100; 'Descartes' 
"Discourse" ', 63 ; 'Emancipation 
Black and White', 36; 'Evidence of 
Miracle of Resurrection', 55; "Evolu- 
tion and Ethics', 50; 'Evolution of 
Theology*, 63; 'Government^ Anar- 
chy or Regimentation*, 52; Has a 
Frog a Soul?', 55; 'Human Hair- 
sheath', 7; Hume, 63; 'Hypothesis 
that Animals are Automata', 63, 233 ; 
'Illustrations of Mr. Gladstone's 
Controversial Methods', 85; 'Inter- 
preters of Genesis and Interpreters of 
Nature', 82; 'Keepers of the Herd of 
Swine', 84; Lay Sermons, Addresses 
and Reviews, 144; Lessons in Ele- 
mentary Physiology, 100, 110; 'Liberal 
Education', 44, 103; 'Lights of the 
Church and Light of Science', 84; 
'Man and the Animal Kingdom', 
98; Man's Place in Nature, 92, 101, 
231 ; Manual of Anatomy of Verte- 
brated Animals, 145; 'Methods and 
Results of Ethnology', 103; 'Mor- 
phology of Cephalous Mollusca', 72; 
Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnosti- 
cism*, 88, 258; 'Mr Gladstone and 
Genesis', 82; 'Natural Inequality of 
Men', 52; 'Natural Rights and 
Political Rights', 52; 'Phen9mena of 
Organic Nature', 99; 'Physical Basis 
of Life', 92, 103; Physiography, 100, 
139, 213; 'Principal Modifications of 
Mankind*, 92; 'School Boards: What 
They Can Do and What They May 
Do', 104, 148; 'Science and Morals', 
61, 103; 'Science and Pseudo- 
Science', 64; 'Science and the 
Bishops', 65; 'Scientific and Pseudo- 
scientific Realism', 64; 'Scientific 
Aspects of Positivism', 65, 103; 
'Scientific Education', 93, 103; 
'Sensation and the Sensiferous 
Organs', 63; 'Struggle for Existence 
in Human Society', 49; 'Theory of 
the Vertebrate Skull', 72; Thoughts 
and Doings, 6, 71; 'Universities: 
Actual and Ideal', 104, 181, 205; 
'Views of Hume, Kant and Whateiy', 
55; 'Zoological Relations of Man 
with Lower Animals', 73 

Hybridism, H.'s work on, 16 
'Hypothesis that Animals are Auto- 
mata', 63, 233 

ICHTHYOPSIDA, H.'s work on, 242 

Idealism, H.'s views on, 62, 250 

'Illustrations of Mr. Gladstone's Con- 
troversial Methods', 85 

Illustrious, HMS, 10 

Immortality, 55, 58 

Imperial College of Science and Tech- 
nology, 129; see also City and Guilds 
College, Royal College of Science, 
School of Mines. 

Imperial Institute, 130 

Impregnable Rock of Holy Scripture 
(Gladstone), 85 

'Impressions of America', 235 

Indian Empire, H.'s views on, 27 

Individual and State, H.'s views on, 27, 
51, 166, 256 

Institute of Education, 141 

Intellectual dishonesty, 70 

International College, 168 

International Exhibition (1871), 125 

'Interpreters of Genesis and Inter- 
preters of Nature', 82 

Ipswich, 11 

Irish, H.'s views on, 26 

Isleworth, 169 

JAMAICA Committee, 25 

Jews, H.'s views on, 26, 252 

Jews* School, Spitalfields, 156 

Jex-Blake, Sophia, 35 

Jodrell, Thomas Jodrell Phillips, 216 

Johns Hopkins University, 181, 182, 

235, 236, 237, 248 
Jowett, Benjamin, 186, 190, 191, 192 

lips, 100, 255 

'Keepers of Herd of Swine', 84 

Keith, Sir Arthur, 246 

King's College, London, 11, 123, 146, 
215, 217, 222, 223, 225 

Kingsley, Charles, 25, 37, 47, 58, 60, 61, 
78, 150 

Knight, Charles, 3 

Knowles, Sir James Thomas, 54, 56, 
82, 87, 103, 104 

Knox, John, 209 

Koliiker, Rudolf von, 79 


Lankester, Sir Edwin Ray, 17, 67, 140, 
184, 190, 217, 247 

Lawrence, Sir John Laird Mair, Lord, 
146, 162 

Lay Sermons, Addresses etc, 144 

Leamington, 91 

Lecky, William Edward Hartpole, 67 

Leeds University, see Yorkshire Col- 

Lenin, Vladimir Ilyitch, 63, 250 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 6 

Lessons in Elementary Physiology, 100, 

Leveson-Gower, Granville George 
(Granville), 114,221 

'Liberal Education', 44, 103 



Liddell, Henry George, 192 

Liddon, Henry Parry, Canon, 64, 84 

'Lights of Church and Light of Science', 

Lilley, William Samuel, 61 

'Limits of Religious Thought* (Man- 
sel), 58 

Linacre Chair of Physiology, 178 

Linnean Society, 248 

Literary skill, H.'s, 16 

Literary Society, 42 

Literary style, H.'s views on, 17, 189 

Literature, in education, 41, 189, 256 

Liverpool, 28, 30, 94, 132, 139, 161 

Liverpool Institute School, 40, 139, 165, 

Liverpool Operative Trades Commit- 
tee, 31 

Liverpool United Trades Council, 31 

Livery Companies, 126 ff., see also 
names of Companies. 

Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) 
Act (1890), 132 

Logic (Hamilton), 5 

London Institution, 91 

London School Board, 27, 134, 144 ff.; 
religious compromise, 150; Scheme 
of Education Committee, 155; or- 
ganisation of elementary education, 
156; curriculum for schools, 158 

London School of Economics, 256 

London University, 7, 136, 142, 215 ff.; 
see also names of Colleges. 

London University, R. C.s on, 223, 224, 

Louis Philippe ('Citizen King'), 3 

Love and Mr. Lemsham (Wells), 140 

Lowe, Robert, 107, 177 

Lowell, James Russell, 234 

Lubbock, Sir John (Avebury), 20, 147, 

Lucraft, Benjamin, 149, 158 

Ludlow, John Malcolm Forbes, 102 

Lux Mundi, 84, 252 

Lyell, Sir Charles, 34, 35, 53, 58, 70, 92, 

MCCARTHY, Justin, 67 
Macgilkvray, John, 8 
Macmillan, Alexander, 233 
Macmillarfs Magazine* 103 
Magdalen College, Oxford, 184 
Magnus, Sir Philip, 133 
Mallock, William Hurrell, 254 
Mammals, H.'s work on, 242 
'Man and Animal Kingdom', 98 
Man's Place in Nature, 92, 101, 231 
Manchester, 31, 41, 97, 132 
Manchester museum, 105 
Manchester University, see Owens 


Manning, Henry, Cardinal, 54, 155, 162 
Mansel, Henry Longueville, 58, 60 
Manual of Anatomy of Vertebrated 

Animals, 145 
Maria Grey College, 138 
Marine Biological Station, 189 

Marine organisms, H.'s work on, 9 

Marsh, Othniel, 145, 234, 235 

Martin, Henry Newell, 235, 248 

Martineau, James, 54 

Marx, Karl, 51, 97 

Marylebone, 29, 146 

Mason College, Birmingham, 41, 215 

Masson, David, 103 

Materialism, H.'s views on, 62, 249 

Maurice, Frederick Denison, 33 

Mauritius, 13 

Medical Act (1886), 137 

Medical education, H.'s views on, 136, 

207, 209, 222 
Mee, John, 160 
Mencken, Henry Louis, 17 
Mendel, Gregor, 244 
Merton College, Oxford, 184, 185 
Metaphysical Society, 54, 55, 56 
'Methods and Results of Ethnology*, 

Mill, John Stuart, 147, 169 

Mill Hill School, 165 

Miller, John Cale, Canon, 162 

Miller, Hugh, 99 

Minister of Education, H. on need for, 


Minnesota University, 236 
Miracles, 18, 55 

Miscegenation, H.'s views on, 93 
Mitchell, Sir Peter Chalmers, 244 
Mivart, St George Jackson, 19, 39, 54, 

Moberley, William, 38 

Monkswell, Lady, 233 

Morality, H.'s views on, 6, 45, 61, 253 

Morley, John, Viscount, 55, 80, 92, 103, 

104, 145 

Morley, Samuel, 146 
Morphology, H.'s work on, 16 
'Morphology of Cephalous Mollusca', 

'Mr. Balfour's Attack on Agnosticism 1 , 

88, 258 

'Mr. Gladstone and Genesis', 82 
Muller, Johannes, 242 
Mundella, Anthony John 121, 131 
Murchison, Sir Roderick Impey, 112, 

Museum of Practical Geology, 105, 108, 

116; see also School of Mines. 
Museums, in education, 105, 106, 107 
Music, in education, 159, 174 

NAPIER, Arthur Sampson, 188 
Nashville (Tennessee), 235 
National Assn. for Promotion of Tech- 
nical Education, 123, 132 
National Assn. of Science Teachers, 138 
National Society for Improvement of 

Women's Education, 36 
Natural History Museum, 107 
Natural History Review, 47, 72, 101 
'Natural Inequality of Men', 52 
'Natural Rights and Political Rights' 

Nature, 102, 209 



Neaves, Lord, 201 

Negroes, H.'s views on, 25 

New College, Oxford, 184 

New Republic (Mailock), 254 

New truths, fate of, 90 

New York, 24, 236 

New-York Tribune, 24, 236 

Newcastle, 132 

Newcastle Commission, 22, 148 

Newman, John Henry, Cardinal, 3, 55, 

63, 66, 177, 180, 252 
Newton, Sir Isaac, 31 
Nicholas, Dr D., 2 
Nineteenth Century, 49, 52, 64, 66, 81, 

88, 101 
Normal School of Science, 1 18, 140; see 

also Royal College of Science, School 

of Mines. 

North Staffs. University College, 220 
Norway, 15 
Norwich, 94, 96 
Norwich Argus, 96 
Nottingham, 96, 167 

Origin of Species, 16, 47, 68, 78, 90, 91, 


Osborn, Henry Fairfieid, 248 
O'Shea, Kitty, 86 
Otago University, 248 
Owen, Sir Richard, 9, 18, 68, 72, 73, 

Owens College, Manchester, 215, 247, 

Oxford, Bishop of (Wiiberforce), 18, 68, 

72, 94 

Oxford, 1860 meeting at, 68 
Oxford Magazine, 50 
Oxford University, 26, 177 ff., 207, 247, 

254; see also names of Colleges. 
Oxford University, Royal Commissions 

on, 178, 190 

PAGET, Sir James, 221, 223 
Palaeontological doctrine, H.'s criticism 

of, 78 

Palaeontology, H.'s work on, 242 
Palgrave, Francis Turner, 33 
Pall Mall Gazette, 17, 130, 188 
Palmer, Sir Roundell (Selborne), 223 
Parker, Thomas Jeffery, 111, 248 
Parnell, Charles Stewart, 26, 86 
Pattison, Mark, 54, 179, 185, 192 
Paulton, Abraham Walter, 168 
Payment by results, 124 
Payne, Joseph, 34, 139 
Pearson, Karl, 225 
Pension scheme for teachers, 160 
People's Palace, 217 
Percy, John, 116 

'Phenomena of Organic Nature', 99 
Physical Basis of Life', 92, 103 
Physical training, H.'s views on, 159 
Physiography, 100, 139, 213 
Playfair, Lyon, Baron, 124 
Plekhanov, Georgy Valentinovitch, 259 
Plumtre, Frederick Charles, 192 
Plymouth, 189 

Politics and economics, H.'s views on, 

Polytechnics, 132 
Popularisation, scientific, 16, 107 
Population problems, H.'s views on, 52, 


Population Question Assn., 239 
Positivism, 65, 251 
Poulton, Edward, 247 
Prejudices, H.'s discarded, 25 
Price, Bartholomew, 193 
Primrose, Sir Archibald Philip (Rose* 

bery), 230 

Prince of Wales, 130, 169, 234 
Princess Helena College for Girls, 37 
Princeton University, 236, 248 
'Principal Modifications of Mankind*, 

Professional education, H.'s views on, 

135ff.; see also medical education, 

teacher education. 

Protoplasm, Powheads, etc. (anon.), 205 
Psychology, first business of, 38 
Public opinion, four stages of, 77 
Public Schools, 164 ff. 
Public Schools Act (1868), 172 
Public Schools Bill, Select Committee 

on, 165 
Public Schools, R. C. on, 23, 38, 165 


Punch, 73 

Puritanism, H.'s, 12, 39, 46, 56 
Pusey, Edward Bouverie, 183 

Quarterly Review, 19, 63, 181 
Queen Mary College, London 217 
Queen's College, Cork, 11 
Queen's College, Galway, 248 
Queen's College, Oxford, 184 

RABELAIS Club, 42 

Racial superiority, H.'s views on, 25, 


Ramsay, Andrew Crombie, 113, 116 
Rattlesnake, HMS, 8, 9, 13, 240 
Reader, 102 
Red Lion Club, 95 
Reed, Sir Charles, 146, 163 
Regent's Park College, 146 
Religious compromise on London 

School Board, 150 

Religious opposition to science, 89, 251 
Research, place hi university, 182 
Richardson, Sir John, 241 
Rigg, James Harrison, 146, 154, 162 
Rio de Janeiro, 25 
Ripon, Bishop of, 67 
Rogers, William, 47, 139, 146, 149 
Roller, John Harold (son-in-law), 15 
Roller, Nettie (ne'e Huxley, daughter), 

14, 15 

Rolleston, George, 178, 190 
Roman Catholicism, H.'s views on, 155 
Romanes, George John, 26, 190 
Romanes Lecture, 50 
Roscoe, Sir Henry Enfield, 131, 137 
Rosebery, Lord, 230 



Rossiter, William 33 

Rousseau, Jean Jacques, 52 

Royal Academy, 42 

Royal Albert Hall, 126 

Royal College of Chemistry, 115 

Royal College of Physicians, 222, 224 

Royal College of Science, 122, 129; see 

also Normal School of Science, 

School of Mines. 
Royal College of Surgeons, 135, 222, 


Royal Commissions, see name of Com- 
Royal Institution, 78, 89, 90, 115, 232, 


Royal Mining College, 135 
Royal School of Mines, see School of 

Royal Society, 8, 9, 72, 79, 129, 186, 

244, 248, 249 
Royal Society of Arts, 37, 125, 127, 133, 


Rugby School, 172 
Ruskm, John, 35, 200 

SABINE, Colonel, 79 

St Andrews University, 194, 199, 201 

St John's College, Battersea, 138, 149 

St Louis (USA), 236 

St Mark's College, Chelsea, 146, 149 

St Thomas's Medical School, 135 

Salisbury, Lord, 32 

Salt, see Scott 

Salters Company, 128 

Sartor Resartus (Carlyle), 6 

Satan, Prince of this world, 51 

Saturday Review, 101 

Sauropsida, H.'s work on, 242 

Savage of civilisation, 134 

Scheme of Education Committee (Lon- 
don School Board), 155 

Schmitz, Dr Leonhard, 169 

School Board, London, see London 
School Board. 

'School Boards', 104, 148 

School of Mines, 12, 20, 91, 97, 98, 
108 ff., 129, 138, 140, 180; see also 
Normal School of Science, Royal 
College of Science. 

Schools, see name of School. 

Science, its power, 247 

Science and Art, Department of, 22, 28, 
110, 116, 118, 124, 129 

'Science and Morals', 61, 103 

'Science and Pseudo-Science', 64 

Science and religion. 89, 251 

'Science and the Bishops', 65 

Science degrees, 178, 212, 218, 220 

Science teaching, H.'s views on, 38, 40, 
110, 159, 166, 170 

'Scientific and Pseudo-scientific Real- 
ism 1 , 64 

'Scientific Aspects of Positivism', 65, 

'Scientific Education', 93, 103 

Scientific Instruction, R. C. on, 23, 115, 

Scientific Instruction, S. C. on, 114, 125, 

135, 138, 180 

Scientific popularisation, 89 ff., 246 
Scientific professionalism, 240, 247, 248 
Scientific work, H.'s, 16, 240 ff. 
Scotsman, 205 

Scott (Salt), John (brother-in-law), 5, 7 
Scott, Eliza (nee Huxley, sister), 5, 8, 11, 

18, 25, 57, 109, 1 1 3, 196, 234, 235 
Scottish Universities, 194 ff. 
Scottish Universities, R. C. on, 199, 211 
Sedgwick, Adam, 185 
Selborne, Lord, 223 
Selborne Commission, 223 
Select Committees, see name of Com- 

Selwyn, Bishop, 3 
Senior, Nassau, 22 

"Sensation and Sensiferous Organs', 63 
Sheffield University, see Firth College 
Sidgwick, Henry, 183, 185 
Simon, Sir John, 1 
Singapore, 248 
Skelton, Sir John, 18, 45 
Slavery, H.'s views on, 25 
Smith, Goldwin, 179 
Smith, Sir Grafton Elliot, 100 
Smith, Henry John Stephen, 191 
Smith, William, 169 
Smith, William Henry, 150 
Smyth, Sir Warington Wilkinson, 113, 


Social studies, in education, 41, 256 
Socialism, H.'s views on, 31, 52 
Societies, see name of Society. 
Society of Arts, 37, 125, 127, 133, 138 
South Hampstead High School for 

Girls, 37 

South London Art Gallery, 34 
South London Working Men's College, 

33, 144 
Speaker, 225 

Specialisation, H.'s views on, 114, 255 
Spectator, 45 

Spencer, John Poyntz, Lord, 119, 136 
Spencer, Herbert, 14, 45, 49, 51, 52, 60 

107, 109, 130, 248, 250 
Spinoza, Benedict, 26 
Spiritualism, 251 
Spottiswoode, William, 248 
Stanley, Arthur Penrhyn, Dean, 54, 191 
Stanley, Owen, 8 

State and individual, 27, 51, 166, 256 
Stephen, Leslie, 66, 181, 233 
Stobart, Sophy Wylde (Mrs H. Huxley, 

daughter-in-law), 15 
Strahan, Alexander, 104 
'Struggle for Existence in Human 

Society', 49 

Superstitions, of men of science, 78 
Sydney (Australia), 3, 8, 13 
Sydney University, 11 
Sylvester, James Joseph, 26 

Table Talk of Shirley (Skelton), 18 
Teacher education, H.'s views on, 118, 
137, 141, 160 



Teachers' Training and Registration 

Society, 138 
Technical education, H.'s views on, 1 14, 

133, 134 
Technical education, H.'s work for, 

123 ff., 240 
Technical Education, National Assn. 

for Promotion of, 123, 132 
Technical Instruction Act (1889), 132 
Tenby (S. Wales), 14 
Tennessee (USA), 5, 24, 235 
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 54, 87, 165 
Tennyson, Huxley's verses on death of, 


Testimony of Rocks', 236 
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 3 
ThMge skepsis, 39 
"Theory of Vertebrate Skull', 72 
Theosophy, 251 
Thirlwall, Bishop, 63 
Thiselton-Dyer, Sir William Turner, 


Thompson, Silvanus Phillips, 133 
Thompson, William Hepworth, 183 
Thomson, Sir Charles Wyville, 197, 

198, 248 

Thorough Club, 179 
Thoughts and Doings, 6, 71 
Tichbome, 'Sir Roger', 204 
Times, 79,116, 127, 130, 131 
Toronto University, 11 
Training Colleges, 137; see also names 

of Colleges. 

Trinity College, Cambridge, 183, 185 
Trinity College, Dublin, 193 
Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 179 
Triposes, at Cambridge, 220 
TuUoch, John, 200, 212 
Turner, Sir William, 198 
Tyler, Sir Edward Burnett, 190 
Tyndall, John, 25, 54, 96, 101, 113, 115, 

140, 147, 167, 169, 170, 187, 196,203, 

248, 249 
Type system, 111, 179 

UNEMPLOYED rich, H.'s views on, 240 
USA, H.'s views on, 24, 235, 238 
USA, H.'s visit to, 235 ff. 
Universities, see name of University. 
Universities (Scotland) Act (1889), 214 
'Universities: Actual and Ideal', 104, 

181, 205 

University College, Liverpool, 215 
University College, London, 123, 136, 

215, 222, 223, 225, 239 
University College, Oxford, 185 
University education, H.'s views on, 

142, 180, 182, 224 ff., 238 
University reform, in London, 221 ff. 

VANDERBHT University, 236 
Verbal delusions, need to avoid, 77 

Verulam Club, 54 

'Views of Hume, Kant, and Whately', 


Vines, Sydney, 140, 247 
Vivian Grey (Disraeli), 215 

WAGE, Henry, 65, 66 

Wallace, Alfred Russel, 53 

Waller, Jessie Oriana (nee Huxley, 

daughter), 14, 15, 27 
Waller, Frederick William (son-in-law)* 


Ward, Henry Marshall, 247 
Ward, Wilfrid Philip, 87 
Ward, William George, 54, 56 
Warre, Edmond, 175 
Warwickshire museum, 105 
Warwickshire Natural History and 

Archaeological Society, 105 
Water Babies (Kingsley), 62, 74 
Watson, Morrison, 247 
Watts, Charles Albert, 253 
Waugh, Benjamin, 146, 150, 163 
Webb, Beatrice, 5 
Webster, John, 210 
Weldon, Walter Frank Raphael, 224 
Welldon, James Edward Cowell, 175 
Wells, Herbert George, 120, 140, 

Westminster College, 146 
Westminster Review, 101 
Wilberforce, Samuel, Bishop, 18, 68, 72, 


Wilson, James Maurice, 167, 172 
Winchester, 172 
Withers, Rachel (Mrs G. Huxley, 

mother), 4, 5, 13, 25 
Witness, 92 

Wollaston Medal, 246 
Women, H.'s views on, 34 ff. 
Workers, lectures to, 96, 98, 99 
Working class, H.'s views on, 29 ff., 98, 

Working Men's Club and Institute 

Union, 164 

Working Men's College, 33 
Wrottesley, Sir John, Lord, 165 
Wtirtzburg University, 193 

x Club, 248 

YALE University, 235, 236 

'Yeast', 97 

Yorkshire College, Leeds, 215 

Youmans, Edward Livingston, 99, 


YMCA (Cambridge), 46, 63 
Youth's Companion, 104 

Zeitgeist, H.'s attitude to, 23 
'Zoological Relations with Lower Ani- 
mals 5 , 73 

derness and compassion ; of what one of his students called 
his sublime quality as a lecturer; his deep concern for the 
sufferings of the poor; his devotion to Darwin and his dis- 
like of Gladstone; his early realization that over-population 
was destined to be the world's gravest problem ; his tireless 
activity and his remarkable effectiveness in promoting the 
causes he thought right; his immense range of contacts in 
science, art, administration, politics, education and religion. 
"... A valuable study of a great human figure." 
And, from the Foreword by Aldous Huxley: "Dr. Bibby's 
book reminds us that we have blessings to count as well as 
shortcomings to complain of, and that we owe these bless- 
ings to the labors of a few devoted and persistent enthusi- 
asts. The most herculean of the^e laborers and possibly the 
most effective was T. H. Huxley. 

"Reading Dr. Bibby's pages, one is constantly astonished. 
Astonished, first of all, by Huxley'" extraordinary capacity 
for work and by his no less extraordinary skill in persua- 
sion, diplomacy and the art of overcoming official inertia. 
And astonished even more by the extraordinary up-to-date- 
ness of his ideas on education." 

There are twenty-one remarkable illustrations; and a 
truly fascinating Conspectus of T. H. Huxley's Life and 


220 West 42nd Street 
New York 36