Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/759

This page has been validated.
739
SKETCH OF PROFESSOR HUXLEY.

SKETCH OF PROFESSOR HUXLEY.[1]
By ERNST HAECKEL,

OF THE UNIVERSITY OR JENA.

THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY was born at Ealing, on May 4, 1825. With the exception of two and a half years spent at the semi-public school at Ealing, of which his father was one of the masters, his education was carried on at home, and in his later boyhood was chiefly the result of his own efforts. In 1842 he entered the medical school attached to Charing Cross Hospital, where, at that time, Mr. Wharton Jones, distinguished alike as a physiologist and oculist, was lecturing on physiology. In 1845 Mr. Huxley passed the first M.B. examination at the University of London, and was placed second in the list of honors for Anatomy and Physiology, the first place being given to Dr. Ransome, now of Nottingham. After some experience of the duties of his profession among the poor of London, in 1846 he joined the medical service of the Royal Navy, and proceeded to Haslar Hospital. Thence he was selected, through the influence of the distinguished arctic traveler and naturalist, Sir John Richardson, to occupy the post of assistant-surgeon to H.M.S. Rattlesnake, then about to proceed on a surveying voyage in the Southern Seas. The Rattlesnake, commanded by Captain Owen Stanley, with Mr. MacGillivray as naturalist, sailed from England in the winter of 1846. She surveyed the Inner Route between the Barrier Reef and the East Coast of Australia and New Guinea, and, after making a voyage of circumnavigation, returned to England in November, 1850. During this period Mr. Huxley investigated, with a success known to all naturalists, the fauna of the seas which he traversed, and sent home several communications, some of which were published in the "Philosophical Transactions" of the Royal Society. The first which so appeared, presented by the late Bishop of Norwich, and read June 21, 1849, bears the title "On the Anatomy and Affinities of the Family of the Medusæ." This was, however, not Mr. Huxley's first scientific effort. While yet a student at Charing Cross Hospital, he had sent a brief notice to the Medical Times and Gazette, of that layer in the root-sheath of hair which has since borne the name of Huxley's Layer. Shortly after his return he was (June, 1851) elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1853 Mr. Huxley, after vainly endeavoring to obtain the publication by the Government of a part of the work done during his voyage, left the naval service, and in 1854, on the removal of Edward Forbes from the Government School of Mines to the chair of Natural

  1. From Nature. The first part of this sketch has been supplied by its editor.