January 04, 2012

Thomas Huxley calls his shot

From the very fine Apes Angels And Victorians (link, other link), picked up for a buck at a church book sale:


[W]hile his wife lay in the next room waiting for her first child to be born, [Huxley] planned his future in a spirit of solemn dedication:
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 pursuits in either of these branches. 

It is impossible to map out beforehand how this must be done. I must seize opportunities as they come, at the risk of the reputation for desultoriness. 

In 1860 I may fairly look forward to fifteen or twenty "Meisterjahre," and with the comprehensive views my training will have given me, I think it will be possible in that time to give a new and healthier direction to all Biological Science.
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 recognized as mine or not, so long as it is doneā€”are these aims? 1860 will show.

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