Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 58.djvu/275

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[Huxley's address at the Dublin meeting of the British Association gives an admirable account of the condition of anthropological science twenty-two years ago. It has not been republished in the 'Collected Essays,' but like everything that Huxley wrote it is worth reading at the present time.]

WHEN I undertook, with the greatest possible pleasure, to act as a lieutenant of my friend, the president of this section, I steadfastly purposed to confine myself to the modest and useful duties of that position. For reasons, with which it is not worth while to trouble you, I did not propose to follow the custom which has grown up in the Association of delivering an address upon the occasion of taking the chair of a section or department. In clear memory of the admirable addresses which you have had the privilege of hearing from Professor Flower, and just now from Dr. McDonnell, I can not doubt that that practice is a very good one; though I would venture to say, to use a term of philosophy, that it looks very much better from an objective than from a subjective point of view. But I found that my resolution, like a great many good resolutions that I have made in the course of my life, came to very little, and that it was thought desirable that I should address you in some way. But I must beg of you to understand that this is no formal address. I have simply announced it as a few introductory remarks, and I must ask you to forgive whatever of crudity and imperfection there may be in the mode of expression of what I have to say, although naturally I shall do my best to take care that there is neither crudity nor inaccuracy in the substance of it. It has occurred to me that I might address myself to a point in connection with the business of this department which forces itself more or less upon the attention of everybody, and which, unless the bellicose instincts of human nature are less marked on this side of St. George's Channel than on the other, may possibly have something to do with the large audiences we are always accustomed to see in the anthropological department. In the geological section I have no doubt it will be pointed out to you, or, at any rate, such knowledge may crop up incidentally, that there are on the earth's surface what are called loci of disturbance, where, for long ages, cataclysms and outbursts of lava and the like take place. Then everything subsides into quietude;