Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/763

This page has been validated.

here established the fundamental law that, in every respect, the anatomical differences between man and the highest apes are of less value than those between the highest and the lowest apes. Especially weighty is the evidence adduced, for this law, in the most important of all organs—the brain; and by this the objections of Prof. Richard Owen are, at the same time, thoroughly refuted. Not only has the Evolution Theory received from Prof. Huxley a complete demonstration of its immense importance, not only has it been largely advanced by his valuable comparative researches, but its spread among the general public has been largely due to his well-known popular writings. In these he has accomplished the difficult task of rendering most fully and clearly intelligible, to an educated public of very various ranks, the highest problems of philosophical biology. From the lowest to the highest organisms, from Bathybius up to man, he has elucidated the connecting law of development.

In these several ways he has, in the struggle for truth, rendered Science a service which must ever rank as one of the highest of his many and great scientific merits.

No statement of the character and work of Prof. Huxley would be complete that did not recognize his remarkable attainments as a writer. All who have read the masterly papers contained in "Lay Sermons," or the "Critiques and Addresses," will acknowledge his fine and vigorous command of English, and the literary richness of his style. He has a keen enjoyment of literary excellence, and "keeps up" with poetry, fiction, and the progress of critical thought, notwithstanding his indefatigable scientific investigations. Owing to these traits, Prof. Huxley has a high reputation as a popular scientific teacher; and even his "Lectures to Working-men" are models of what such discourses should be—clear, simple, and attractive, yet carefully accurate and strictly scientific. As a public speaker he is quiet, deliberate, fluent, and, we might almost say, colloquial; while socially he is genial, witty, and brilliant. He is, moreover, a man of enlarged sympathies, in this respect contrasting markedly with many scientific men, who are swallowed up in their specialties, and never give a thought to any thing beyond them. Prof. Huxley has, however, overworked himself, and damaged his health. We hope he will regain his power, and be able to give this country a season of lecturing, as he has long hoped to do. He is perhaps the only scientific man in England who could revive for us the pleasant experience we had with Prof. Tyndall last year.