T. H. Huxley Criticism - Essay

Henry F. Osborn (essay date 1895)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Memorial Tribute to Professor Thomas H. Huxley," in Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. XV, November 11, 1895, pp. 40-50.

[In the following essay, Osborn surveys Huxley's career and pays tribute to his lasting influence.]

All the members of this Academy, all men of science in America, in fact, are in different ways indebted to the late Professor Huxley. We would be ungrateful, indeed, especially in this section of the Academy, if we failed to join in the tributes which are being paid to him in different parts of the world.

In his memory I do not offer a formal address this evening, but as one of his students, would present...

(The entire section is 4370 words.)

P. Chalmers Mitchell (essay date 1900)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Citizen, Orator, and Essayist," in Thomas Henry Huxley: A Sketch of His Life and Work, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1900, pp. 204-17.

[In the essay that follows, Mitchell examines Huxley's rhetorical style and his involvement in scientific organizations.]

A great body of fine work in science and literature has been produced by persons who may be described as typically academic. Such persons confine their interest in life within the boundaries of their own immediate pursuits; they are absorbed so completely by their avocations that the hurly-burly of the world seems needlessly distracting and a little vulgar. No doubt the thoughts of those who cry out most loudly...

(The entire section is 4019 words.)

Oliver Lodge (essay date 1906)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to Man's Place in Nature and Other Essays, by Thomas Henry Huxley, J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1906, pp. ix-xvii.

[In the following essay, Lodge distinguishes Huxley's scientific materialism from naturalized philosophies, claiming that his heroic efforts in favor of the former did not imply the latter.]

Forty years ago the position of scientific studies was not so firmly established as it is to-day, and a conflict was necessary to secure their general recognition. The forces of obscurantism and of free and easy dogmatism were arrayed against them; and, just as in former centuries astronomy, and in more recent times geology, so in our own...

(The entire section is 3287 words.)

Walter E. Houghton (essay date 1949)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Rhetoric of T. H. Huxley," in The University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, January, 1949, pp. 159-75.

[In this essay, Houghton contends that, contrary to traditional appraisals, Huxley used a variety of rhetorical tools to advocate his agnosticism.]

For anyone so obviously devoted to controversy and propaganda, Huxley enjoyed a reputation for candour and sincerity that seems almost incredible. We can scarcely believe that the self-appointed champion of science, writing in an age of bitter religious controversy, and endowed with both pugnacity and a flair for style, could have resisted the temptation to use rhetorical sophistries of one kind or...

(The entire section is 8899 words.)

Oma Stanley (essay date 1957)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "T. H. Huxley's Treatment of 'Nature'," in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 18, January, 1957, pp. 120-27.

[In the following essay, Stanley claims that Huxley's early, romantic view of nature differs from his later, scientific philosophy. Stanley suggests that the shift may have occurred as a result of John Stuart Mill's essay "Nature."]

The reader of Thomas Henry Huxley may be puzzled in observing the contradictory points of view toward Nature embodied in the various essays. In any one essay the view is consistent. But in one piece Nature appears as a loving mother heaping rich gifts upon her children if they obey her rules. And in another...

(The entire section is 4755 words.)

Charles S. Blinderman (essay date 1962)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "T. H. Huxley's Theory of Aesthetics: Unity in Diversity," in Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 21, Fall, 1962, pp. 49-55.

[In the following essay, Blinderman examines Huxley's art criticism as it bridges the gap between science and humanities and explicates his literary powers.]

Leonardo Da Vinci, painter and inventor, and Albert Einstein, violinist and mathematician and social critic, were geniuses of Protean talent, creative in art and science. Another such figure whose works are illuminated by the creative imagination which makes for constant contemporaneity was Thomas Henry Huxley. He is less well known than these two epitomes of human power,...

(The entire section is 4956 words.)

Joseph H. Gardner (essay date 1970)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "A Huxley Essay as 'Poem'," in Victorian Studies, Vol. XIV, No. 2, December, 1970, pp. 177-91.

[In the essay that follows, Gardner explores the literary devices used by Huxley to support his claim that "On the Physical Basis of Life" is poetry.]

Of all the acknowledged nineteenth-century masters of non-fictional prose, Thomas Henry Huxley raises in its most acute form the critical problem of justifying nonfiction as "literature" and "art." As scientist, educator, and agnostic, Huxley more than makes good a claim to significance as "background" and grist for the mills of intellectual and social history. Nor would many deny that his writings—whether they be...

(The entire section is 7329 words.)

James G. Paradis (essay date 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: T. H. Huxley: Man's Place in Nature, University of Nebraska Press, 1978, pp. 1-9, 11-45, 165-96.

[In the following excerpts, Paradis examines Huxley's early, romantic scientific view and his later view that man's hope lies in his moral objection to natural determinism. Paradis also explores Huxley's conception of the role of the scientist in understanding humankind's existential condition, comparing it specifically with Matthew Arnold's view as expressed in Culture and Anarchy.]


Nothing great in science has ever been done by men, whatever their powers, in whom the divine afflatus of the truth-seeker was...

(The entire section is 30092 words.)

Ed Block, Jr. (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "T. H. Huxley's Rhetoric and the Popularization of Victorian Scientific Ideas: 1854-1874," in Victorian Studies, Vol. 29, No. 3, Spring, 1986, pp. 363-86.

[In this essay, Block explores Huxley's rhetorical style and the extent to which he shaped modern scientific writing.]

The most recent books treating Thomas Henry Huxley make a strong claim for the impact that his work had on developing a sense of "man's place in nature" and his place in science during the nineteenth century.1 Critics agree that many of Huxley's essays remain important landmarks and persuasive defenses of Victorian science. Yet few have sought to describe precisely how Huxley's...

(The entire section is 10209 words.)

James Paradis (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Evolution and Ethics in its Victorian Context," in Evolution & Ethics: T. H. Huxley's Evolution and Ethics, With New Essays on its Victorian and Sociobiological Context, Princeton University Press, 1989, pp. 3-55.

[In this essay, Paradis discusses the social and political implications of Huxley's "Prolegomena" and "Evolution and Ethics."]

In the summer of 1892, three years before his death, an ailing T. H. Huxley wrote the celebrated lecture "Evolution and Ethics," which he delivered at Oxford University the afternoon of May 18, 1893. The lecture, together with the "Prolegomena," an introductory essay completed in June of 1894, set traditional...

(The entire section is 20606 words.)