SCIENCE AND ART
Thomas Henry Huxley
May 5, l883
I beg leave to thank you for the extremely kind and appreciative manner in which you have received the toast of Science. It is the more gratefu1 to me to hear that toast proposed in an assembly of this kind, because I have noticed of late pears a great and growing tendency among those who were once jestingly said to have bee11 born in a pre-scientific age to look upon science as an invading and aggressive force, which if it had its own way would oust from the universe all other pursuit. I think there are many persons who look upon this new birth of our times as a sort of monster rising out of the sea of modern thought with the purpose of devouring the Andromeda of art. And now and then a Perseus, equipped with the shoes of swiftness of the ready writer, with the cap of invisibility of the editorial article, and it may be with the Medusahead of vituperation, shows himself ready to try conclusions with the scientific dragon. Sir, I hope that Perseus will think better of it; first, for his own sake, because the creature is hard of head, strong of jaw, and for some time past has shown a great capacity for going over and through whatever comes in his way: and secondly, for the sake of justice, for I assure you, of my own personal knowledge that if left alone, the creature is a very debonair and gentle monster. As for the Andromeda of art, he has the tenderest respect for that lady, and desires nothing more than to see her happily settled and annually producing a flock of such charming children as those we see about us.
But putting parab1es aside, I am unable to understand how any one with a knowledge of mankind can imagine that the growth of science can threaten the development of art in any of its forms. If I understand the matter at all, science and art are the obverse and reverse of Nature's medal; the one expressing the eternal order of things, in terms of feeling, the other in terms of thought. When men no longer love nor hate; when suffering causes no pity, and the tale of great deeds ceases to thrill, when the lily of the field shall seem no longer more beautifully arrayed than Solomon in all his glory, and the awe has vanished from the snow-capped peak and deep ravine, then indeed science may have the world to itself, but it will not be because the monster has devoured art, but because one side of human nature is dead, and because men have lost the half of their ancient and present attributes.