Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley — Volume 1 eBook

Leonard Huxley
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 472 pages of information about Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley — Volume 1.

I put all this clearly before Bence Jones yesterday, with the proviso that I could and would do nothing that should embarrass the Institution or himself.

If there is the least difficulty in supplying my place, or if the managers think I shall deal shadily with them by resigning before the expiration of my term, of course I go on.  And I hope you all understand that I would do anything rather than put even the appearance of a slight upon those who were kind enough to elect me.

Ever yours,

T.H.  Huxley.

[He found a substitute for 1868, the last year of the triennial course, in Dr. (now Sir) Michael Foster.  Of his final lectures in 1867 he used to tell a story against himself.]

In my early period as a lecturer, I had very little confidence in my general powers, but one thing I prided myself upon was clearness.  I was once talking of the brain before a large mixed audience, and soon began to feel that no one in the room understood me.  Finally I saw the thoroughly interested face of a woman auditor, and took consolation in delivering the remainder of the lecture directly to her.  At the close, my feeling as to her interest was confirmed when she came up and asked if she might put one question upon a single point which she had not quite understood.  “Certainly,” I replied.  “Now, Professor,” she said, “is the cerebellum inside or outside the skull?” ("Reminiscences of T.H.  Huxley” by Professor H. Fairfield Osborn).

[Dr. Foster used to add maliciously, that disgust at the small impression he seemed to have made was the true reason for the transference of the lectures.]



[In 1868 he published five scientific memoirs, amongst them his classification of birds and “Remarks upon Archaeopteryx Lithographica” ("Proceedings of the Royal Society” 16 1868 pages 243-248).  This creature, a bird with reptilian characters, was a suggestive object from which to popularise some of the far-reaching results of his many years’ labour upon the morphology of both birds and reptiles.  Thus it led to a lecture at the Royal Institution, on February 7, “On the Animals which are most nearly intermediate between Birds and Reptiles.”

Of this branch of work Sir M. Foster says:  (Obituary Notice “Proceedings of the Royal Society” volume 59):—­

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

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Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley — Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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