We have ever been admirers of Professor Huxley's genius but 'We see signs which lead ue; to believe that the single- mindedness less with which he has deveted himself to scientific study, is' producing a state of mind in this investigator for which we can find no word so expressive as exclusiveness. A writer in Appleton's Journal, describing the personal peculiar ities of Professor Huxley, recently stated that he was not only found of following, but did follow the standard current litera ture of the day ; yet not long since he is reported to have styled the language of some writers who, not having fold 1-portions of the earth's crust and the depression °t otner portions by the action of powerful interna1 foircest. In to point of vtew even earthquakes may have ^eirusM, aad act to prevent th° worid from gradraany becoming » “ast aque ous desert. The uses to which the solvent poweT of w\ter is putrte / arts are' too extended for enumeration. B finds a-pplkaisBa, I in every household in cooking, cleansing of clothing, and -i most all domestic employments, and in the industries of the world there could not probably be mentioned one in which it does not directly or indirectly play an important part. ' Nearly all are aware that the solvent power of water is greatly increased by heating it, but few are aware to what an extent this may be carried. In the expCTtarnfa made by the Fronch chemist, De la Tour, on the effects of Mgp. “ temperatures on liquids inclosed in hermetically sealed tubes, it was found that water heated in a space of four times its bullk became steam at 773° Fah., and in this state exerted a pwer- .al solvent power upon even such a refractory substance as glass. The decomposition of bones by the aid of superheated steam is a branch of manufacture now carried on to a consid, erable extent. We ever been admirers of Professor Huxley genius, but 'We see signs which lead us to believe that the single- minds1ess with which he has devoted himself to scientific study, is producing a state of mind in this investigator for which we can find no word so expressive as exclusiveness. A writer in Appleton Journal, describing the personal peculiar- iti es of Professor Huxley, recently stated that he was not only fond of following, but did follow the standard current literature of the day; yet not long since he is reported to haVe styled the language of some writers who, not having fol- 1 owed so ctosely as Mmseif the scientific discussions of' the day, cannot be exxpec ted to evince so deep an int erest in th em, and who had expressed some doubts as to their value, “ sensuous" This is not the first time the same gentleman has let loose his scientific wrath against those who do not believe the sole end of man is to store his mind with scientific knowledge. We can rea dily see how one of the high pri estS of science like Professor IIUX ley, having entered in to the “holy of holies” of her temple, may be impatient of the opinions of those whohave not even entered the outer gate; but we think it well for even the most learned to guard against the error of measuring other peoples' tastes or acquirements by their own. Those who have made classical learning the sine qua non, and have looked down upon men without Greek scholarship as ignoramuses, no matter how much they knew of geology, have justly been condemned for their intolerance in this respect; and scientific . man, no matter how distinguished in his own field of research, is no more justifiable in depreciating the knowledge of others. Mr. Huxley is not, however, content with satirizing un scientific literary men, but he sometimes permits himself to drop a remark calculated to show depreciation of those sci ences which he has not made his peculiar specialty. In a recent article in Macacmillan's Jfaga^asine, he let something of this kind escape him with reference to mathematical science. We are glad to see that this has not been allowed to pass unquestioned. At the recent session of the British Association at Exeter, one of the leading English mathematicians, Professor Sylvester, called him to account. “ It would seem,” he said, “ that, according to Professor Huxley, the business of the mathematical student is, from limited propositions, bottled up and ready for future use, to deduce any required result by a process of the same general nature as a student of language employs in declining and conjugating his nouns and verbs; that to make out a mathematical proposition and to construe or parse a sentence are equivalent or identical mental operations. Such an opinion scarcely seems to need serious refutation." ” No statement could have been made more opposite to the facts of the case than that mathematical analysis is not constantly invoking the aid of new principles, new ideas, and new methods not capable of being defined by any form of words, but springing directly from the inherent powers and activity of the human mind, and from continually renewed introspection of that inner world of thought of which the phenomena are as varied, and require as close attention to discern, as those of the outer physical world, to which the inner one in each individual man may be conceived to stand in somewhat the same general relation of correspondence as a shadow to the object from .which it is projected ; that it is unceasingly calling forth the faculties of observation; that oue of its leading features is induction ; that it has frequen; recourse to experimental trial and verification, and that it affords a boundless scope for the exercise of the highest efforts of imagination and in vention." It will not do for a man who has made as 'bold speculations as Professor Huxley, to disparage a science winch, if not direct 1 y, has indirectly furnished him important, data on which to found his theoni es, and there wi l not be wanting those who will see in such attempts, a want of liberality, surprising in one of such broad views as he generally takes of most subjects.
This article was originally published with the title "Professor Huxley and Scientific Exclusiveness" in Scientific American 21, 14, 217 (October 1869)