Autobiography and Selected Essays

By Thomas Henry Huxley; Ada L. F. Snell | Go to book overview

THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY


AUTOBIOGRAPHY

And when I consider, in one view, the many things . . . which I have upon my hands, I feel the burlesque of being employed in this manner at my time of life. But, in another view, and taking in all circumstances, these things, as trifling as they may appear, no less than things of greater importance, seem to be put upon me to do. -- Bishop Butler to the Duchess of Somerset.

THE "many things" to which the Duchess's correspondent here refers are the repairs and improvements of the episcopal seat at Auckland. I doubt if the great apologist, greater in nothing than in the simple dignity of his character, would have considered the writing an account of himself as a thing which could be put upon him to do whatever circumstances might be taken in. But the good bishop lived in an age when a man might write books and yet be permitted to keep his private existence to himself; in the pre-Boswellian epoch, when the germ of the photographer lay concealed in the distant future, and the interviewer who pervades our age was an unforeseen, indeed unimaginable, birth of time.

At present, the most convinced believer in the aphorism "Bene qui latuit, bene vixit," is not always able to act up to it. An importunate person informs him that his portrait is about to be published and will be accompanied by a biography which the importunate person proposes to write. The sufferer knows what that

-1-

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Autobiography and Selected Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents ii
  • Preface iii
  • Introduction iv
  • Autobiography 1
  • On the Advisableness of Improving Natural Knowledge 15
  • A Liberal Education 35
  • On a Piece, of Chalk 44
  • Principal Subjects of Education 73
  • The Method of Scientific Investigation 85
  • On the Physical Basis of Life 95
  • On Coral and Coral Reefs 115
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