Empires of the Deep Past
BABY NOEL WAS 'JOLLY to a degree'. But his father's resolution about avoiding controversy quickly crumbled. It couldn't have been otherwise. Huxley's cadre was moving into power, but everywhere they met Owen's imperious presence. What the scientific parvenus lacked in social strength they made up in moral posturing: hence Huxley's hallelujah, that finally 'the Lord hath given this Amalekite unto mine hands'.
Owen was to deliver guest lectures on extinct animals in Jermyn Street. His talks always attracted the Good and Great. It was galling to see them swan through the school, sundry lords, the Duke of Argyll, Dr Livingstone, fresh from the Zambezi, to be shown the 'intelligence of the Creative Power'. On the strength of this Owen announced himself as 'Professor of Comparative Anatomy & Palaeontology, Government School of Mines' in the Medical Directory. That was effectively Huxley's title and he took it as a slap in the face. 'Of course I have now done with him', Huxley seethed in January 1857, 'I would as soon acknowledge a man who had attempted to obtain my money on false pretences'. 1
While Owen drew the socialites, Huxley retreated among the cloth caps. The flyposters for his working-class lectures were drawing crowds of 500, 'and the fellows are as ... intelligent as the best audience', in fact 'they are the best audience ... & they react upon me so that I talk to them with a will'. And he took pains to make them 'participants in my train of thought - not to shove information down their throats as if they were Turkeys to be consumed'.
Word of his lecturing prowess was out, the excitement, the controversy. His Fullerian audience doubled. Hooker sat in. So did
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Publication information: Book title: Huxley:From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest. Contributors: Adrian Desmond - Author. Publisher: Perseus Books. Place of publication: Cambridge, MA. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 231.
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