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date: 22 January 2021

T. H. Huxley 1825–95
English biologist 

  1. I, the man without a rag of a label to cover himself with…took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ‘agnostic’.
    Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘Agnosticism’
  2. The great tragedy of Science—the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
    Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘Biogenesis and Abiogenesis’
  3. Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit: and its methods differ from those of common sense only as far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.
    Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘The Method of Zadig’
  4. If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?
    Collected Essays vol. 3 (1895) ‘On Elementary Instruction in Physiology’ (written 1877)
  5. Patience and tenacity of purpose are worth more than twice their weight of cleverness.
    Collected Essays vol. 3 (1895) ‘On Medical Education’ (address at University College, 1870)
  6. The chessboard is the world; the pieces are the phenomena of the universe; the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient. But also we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance.
    Lay Sermons, Addresses, and Reviews (1870) ‘A Liberal Education’
  7. If some great Power would agree to make me always think what is true and do what is right, on condition of being turned into a sort of clock and wound up every morning before I got out of bed, I should instantly close with the offer.
    ‘On Descartes' Discourse on Method’ (written 1870)
  8. My reflection, when I first made myself master of the central idea of the ‘Origin’, was, How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!
    ‘On the Reception of the “Origin of Species”’ in F. Darwin Life and Letters of Charles Darwin vol. 2 (1888) ch. 5
  9. It is the customary fate of new truths to begin as heresies and to end as superstitions.
    Science and Culture and Other Essays (1881) ‘The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species’
  10. Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
    Science and Culture and Other Essays (1881) ‘The Coming of Age of the Origin of Species’
  11. Logical consequences are the scarecrows of fools and the beacons of wise men.
    Science and Culture and Other Essays (1881) ‘On the Hypothesis that Animals are Automata’
  12. I asserted—and I repeat—that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling it would rather be a man—a man of restless and versatile intellect—who, not content with an equivocal success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice.
    replying to Bishop Samuel Wilberforce in the debate on Darwin's theory of evolution
    at a meeting of the British Association in Oxford, 30 June 1860; see Wilberforce
  13. English law does not permit good persons, as such, to strangle bad persons, as such.
    letter in Pall Mall Gazette, 31 October 1866
  14. I am too much of a sceptic to deny the possibility of anything.
    letter to Herbert Spencer, 22 March 1886
  15. The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.
  16. Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
    on his memorial plaque at Ealing, unveiled in 1902; Cyril Bibby (ed.) T. H. Huxley on Education (1971)