Huxley And Phillips Brooks -- By: William Newton Clarke

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: Huxley And Phillips Brooks
Author: William Newton Clarke


Huxley And Phillips Brooks1

Prof. William Newton Clarke

The last months of the nineteenth century witnessed the publication of two great biographies,—“The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley,” by Leonard Huxley, his son, and “The Life of Phillips Brooks,” by Professor Allen. No two biographies could more fitly have seen the light just as the old century was expiring. They are great in themselves, rich in material, sympathetic and strong in execution, worthy of their subjects; and they are great in significance, as representative of great movements and tendencies in the century that is past. Each of the two men was a leader of vast effectiveness, picturesque as well as strong, who left a powerful impress upon his time, and each stands for a view of life that is to-day of the first importance. Taken together, the two biographies bring out in the acutest form the great religious contrast and question of the present age. I can propose nothing more helpful than a study of these men as their biographies present them, and of some of the sharp issues that are raised by

the twofold story. It is true that I am not competent to discuss the two men in view of all that they have done. Only a skilled scientist could do justice to Huxley, and only a great master in religion to Brooks. If I limit myself to the biographies and what they suggest, even thus the field is far too large for the time at my disposal. But let me do what I can toward setting before you the men and their meaning.

Very impressive are the two men as a pair of prominent figures in their century. Huxley was born in 1825, Brooks in 1835. Huxley’s first large work was done in the fifties, Brooks’s in the sixties. Brooks died in 1893, Huxley in 1895. Both were intense and furious workers, laboring to the uttermost, and the two broke in health at about the same age; Brooks dying at once, however, while Huxley lingered for years in comparative feebleness. Their activity covered the period of greatest transformation in the nineteenth century. On two continents of the world, in two continents of thought, the two men labored simultaneously, in the thick of the time when new things were pressing in to be known and estimated and life was finding new significance. They met more than once,—in London,—once as guests of James Russell Lowell. Huxley talked, but Brooks was silent. The meeting was pleasant, but no special contact was established between the two. Perhaps Brooks could have understood Huxley better than Huxley could have understood Brooks, but the two men stood apart, each a prominent figure in his own world of thought and life. Each looked into the other’s world, as he must, and dealt...

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