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The Centenary of Huxley


    THE centenary of the birth of Thomas Henry Huxley on May 4, 1825, is an event which may very appropriately be marked in a special way in NATURE. The first issue of this journal, in November 1869, opened with a translation by Huxley of Goethe's rhapsody “Die Natur”—an introduction which compelled thought and the full meaning of which was, therefore, not widely understood. He referred to this in an article entitled “Past and Present” contributed to the issue of November n, 1894, and suggested that if such a prose poem was not intelligible to many readers it was because “At that time, it was rare for even the most deservedly eminent of the workers in science to look much beyond the limits of the specialty to which they were devoted, rarer still to meet with any one who had calmly and clearly thought out the consequences of the application, in all the regions into which the intellect can penetrate, of that scientific organon, the power and fruitfulness of which, within their particular departments, were so obvious.” With the exception of a critical review in the Nineteenth Century of Lord Balfour's “Foundations of Belief,” the article was the last pronouncement of his faith in biological evolution and the idea of human progress through the use of scientific knowledge. A few months later, on June 29, 1895, he passed into the stillness of death.

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