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months, learnt their language, studied them minutely, and explored much of the surrounding country. I know of no more daring feat by any traveller. A short account of this exploration is given in Nature, vol. ix. p. 328.
I used often to call in at Jermyn Street if I had any question to ask Huxley, and he was always ready to give me all the information in his power; while I am pretty sure I owe partly, if not largely, to his influence the grant of the royal medal of the Royal Society, and perhaps also of the Darwin medal. Once only there was a partial disturbance of our friendly relations, of the exact cause of which I have no record or recollection. I had published some paper in which, I believe, I had stated some view which he had originated without mentioning his name, and in such a way as to leave the impression that I put it forth as original. This I had no notion of doing ; but I think it was an idea which had become quite familiar to me, and that I had quite forgotten who originated it. I fancy some one must have called Huxley's attention to it, and when I next met him, I think just as he was leaving Jermyn Street to go home, he was much put out, and said something intimating that after what I had said in this paper, he wondered at my speaking to him again. I forget what more was said, but on going home I looked at the article, and found that I had used some expression that might be interpreted as a slight to him. I immediately wrote a letter of explanation and regret, and I here give his reply, which greatly relieved me, and our relations at once resumed their usual friendly character.
“MY DEAR WALLACE,
Very many thanks for your kind letter. " I am exceedingly callous to the proceedings of my enemies, but (I suppose by way of compensation) I am very sensitive to those of valued friends, and I certainly felt rather sore when I read your paper. But I dare say I should have 'consumed my own smoke' in that matter as I do in most, if I had not been very tired, very hungry, very cold, and
consequently very irritable, when I met you yesterday. Pray forgive me if I was too plain spoken,
“And believe me, as always,
“Yours very faithfully,
“T. H. HUXLEY. "Jermyn Street, February 14, 1870."
In a letter he wrote me, in 1881, on another matter he refers to my former intimacy with his children. “Your little friends are grown to be big friends. Two are married, and one has made me a grandfather. Leonard, my eldest boy, is six feet high, and at Balliol ; even the smallest of the mites you knew is taller than her mother. All within reach unite with me in kindest regards and remembrances.”
In 1891 I had read two books by Mr. Arthur J. Bell, a Devonshire gentleman who had devoted himself to the study of the modern physical sciences in their relation to the deepest problems of our nature and destiny. The first was entitled, “Whence comes Man, from 'Nature' or from God'?" The second, published two years after the first, as a sequel to it, was called, “Why does Man Exist ?” I was greatly struck with the power of reasoning, the clearness of style, and the broad grasp of the whole subject displayed by the author, and having written to him to say how much I had enjoyed his books, he called upon me at Parkstone, and in the course of conversation he expressed a great desire that Huxley should be induced to read them—at all events the second, which, though a sequel to the first, is quite independent of it. I therefore wrote to Huxley, telling him the author
1 As I am sure that there are many persons who have never heard of these books who would greatly enjoy them, I will here quote the subject matter of the second as stated in the last page of the first work, as follows:
“Before replying to the question with which we started—the question, • Whence comes Man, from "Nature" or from “God”?'—we must, I think, state what man is.
“As it seems to me, man is the highest development of the Power' called * Life'-a Power added, at a comparatively late period of geological time, to Powers already existing.
" To the question, then, “Whence comes man ; does he come from Nature or from God?' we must, I think, reply that not only man, but Nature also, owe
would be pleased to send him the books if he would like to have them, and in that case would be glad if he would give his opinion of the work. His reply, dated November 23, 1891, is a characteristic example of his style, and as it is also the last letter of his I possess, I here reproduce it.
“Hodeshea, Eastbourne. “MY DEAR WALLACE,
“ The instinct of self-preservation leads me, as a rule, to decline to read and still more to give an opinion about books that are sent to me. But, then, they do not usually come with such a recommendation as yours, and if your friend Mr. Bell is kind enough to send me a copy of his book, I will not only read it, but pay him the highest compliment in my power, by doing my best to pick holes in it! I can't say no fairer.'
their existence to the Infinite Eternal Being-God, who 'created' all things." Then follows the striking passage which he reprints as the “ Argument" of the second work, “Why does Man Exist?"
ARGUMENT. “Supposing these answers to be accepted, other questions suggest themselves. We want to know why man exists. We want to know why God 'created' him. Did God desire that man should be good? Is there any reason why he should be good? If there be, then why does evil exist ? And there arises also the further question, that, supposing there be a good reason why man should be good, is goodness possible to him? If his character be made for him, not by him, how can he be good if his character, which he did not make himself, be not good ? Does his existence terminate at death? Does he come into the world only for the sake of what he therein does-suffers-enjoys? or is his existence continued after death? Is that existence, if it be continued after death, to be desired or to be dreaded ? Is the having been born a misfortune or a blessing? What is the character of God? Is He a Being to be feared-to be hated-or to be loved ? What are man's relations to his fellow-man? What are man's relations to God that awful Being whose power over us seems to be absolute ? And that last, most terrible of questions, Is man's existence owing to God's malevolence-to His indifference-or to His love ?"
Here are surely subjects enough for a volume of 420 pages, and Mr. Bell discusses them all thoroughly and honestly, with wonderful knowledge and sagacity, with sound logic, and in clear, forcible, and often brilliant language. And he arrives at a grand-a magnificent conclusion—a conclusion that comes as near to a satisfactory solution of these seemingly insoluble problems as with our limited faculties we can attain to,
“I get along very well under condition of keeping quiet here, and I am happy to say that my wife, who joins with me in kind remembrances, has greatly improved in health since we settled here.
“ Ever yours very
Although Huxley was as kind and genial a friend and companion as Darwin himself, and that I was quite at ease with him in his family circle, or in after-dinner talk with a few of his intimates (and although he was two years younger than myself), yet I never got over a feeling of awe and inferiority when discussing any problem in evolution or allied subjects—an inferiority which I did not feel either with Darwin or Sir Charles Lyell. This was due, I think, to the fact that the enormous amount of Huxley's knowledge was of a kind of which I possessed only an irreducible minimum, and of which I often felt the want. In the general anatomy and physiology of the whole animal kingdom, living and extinct, Huxley was a master, the equal—perhaps the superior-of the greatest authorities on these subjects in the scientific world; whereas I had never had an hour's instruction in either of them, had never seen a dissection of any kind, and never had any inclination to practise the art myself. Whenever I had to touch upon these subjects, or to use them to enforce my arguments, I had to get both my facts and my arguments at second hand, and appeal to authority both for facts and conclusions from them. And because I was thus ignorant, and because I had a positive distaste for all forms of anatomical and physiological experiment, I perhaps over-estimated this branch of knowledge and looked up to those who possessed it in a pre-eminent degree as altogether above myself.
With Darwin and Lyell, on the other hand, although both possessed stores of knowledge far beyond my own, yet I did possess some knowledge of the same kind, and felt myself in a position to make use of their facts and those of all other students in the same fields of research quite as well as the
majority of those who had observed and recorded them. I had, however, very early in life noticed, that men with immense knowledge did not always know how to draw just conclusions from that knowledge, and that I myself was quite able to detect their errors of reasoning. I also found that when, in my early solitary studies in physics or mechanics, I came upon some conclusion which seemed to me, for want of clear statement in the books at my command, contrary to what it ought to be, yet when, later, the matter was clearly explained, I at once saw where my error lay and had no further difficulty. I will here mention one of these smaller stumbling-blocks, which I know are to this day quite impassable by large numbers of persons who are interested in physical science. It is the fact that degrees of latitude increase in length from the equator to the pole, the only explanation usually given being that this is due to the compression at the poles, or, in other words, of the polar diameter being less than the equatorial. Now nine persons out of ten (probably more) who know what a “ degree” is, and have an elementary knowledge of geometry, and perhaps a much more than elementary knowledge of several other sciences, could not explain offhand why this is so ; while many of them, meeting with the statement for the first time and trying to understand it, would come to the conclusion that it was a mistake-perhaps a printer's error, and that degrees really decrease towards the pole. For they know that a circle is divided into 360 parts, each being a degree, and if you draw a circle round the earth, passing through the two poles with a radius of half the equatorial diameter, and divide it into 360 equal parts, each of those parts will be a degree. But the earth's radius at the poles will be about 132 miles less than at the equator; therefore the degrees will be proportionately less, not more as stated. I possess a pamphlet addressed to the President of the Royal Astronomical Society by a Mr. Gumpel, pointing this out, and asking them to correct so important an error. But I presume he was only laughed at, as what Professor de Morgan called a "paradoxer," and the Americans a "crank," and I dare say