Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

27
Polishing off the G.O.M.

HUXLEY'S BREAKDOWNS were peculiar. A mental lethargy left him unable to face the world. He had no 'positive complaint', just a 'deadness that hangs about me'. His haggard looks had Matthew Arnold in tears after a chance meeting. The 'great anguish about Mady' had immobilized Hal again. And yet, ordered off to sunny climes, and told by his adoring superiors to 'at once act upon Sir A Clarke's [sic] advice', he had the will to work his way to Venice. He should have been fighting through the snarled-up traffic to his office. Instead mid-October found him sitting in a gondola. 1

Nettie remained, left with her own burden of organizing Rachel's wedding. She never forgot 'the agony of that time, Hal away, in torture of mind & weak in body', as she too 'lost hope'. A bleak telegram told them of Mady's total mental collapse, turning Hal into a silent 'wounded beast'. He slunk back for the wedding on 6 November. Rachel was marrying a blue-eyed civil engineer Alfred Eckersley, on a contract to build a railroad across southern Spain. But the wedding was a tortured dream: a flounce of feather-hatted bridesmaids, the shower of rice vexing the bride, Nettie in her Court dress trying to seat 90 to breakfast. By 3 o'clock it was all over and Rachel on her way to Spain. The worry returned as Nettie looked at Hal. 'Between him & Mady, my soul has been torn'. Like a typical depressive, Huxley was unable to cope with it in his daughter. The Times reported his flight, leaving the Fisheries men flummoxed. But Gladstone's Ministers agreed on the need for a 'Coercion Bill first in his case'. 2 Not that it proved hard to evict him from Britain.

The couple returned to Italy as Britain froze. They left Foster editing a new edition of the Lessons in Elementary Physiology and looking after affairs. He dropped in to Marlborough Place to find

-537-

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Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Adrian Desmond *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • The Apostle Paul of the New Teaching xiii
  • Part One - The Devil's Disciple *
  • 1825-1846 Dreaming My Own Dreams *
  • 1 - Philosophy Can Bake No Bread 3
  • 2 - Son of the Scalpel 18
  • 3 - The Surgeon's Mate 36
  • 1846-1850 the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea *
  • 4 - Men-Of-War 53
  • 5 - An Ark of Promise 66
  • 6 - The Eighth Circle of Hell 86
  • 7 - Sepulchral Painted Savages 111
  • 8 - Homesick Heroes 129
  • 1850-1858 Lost in the Wilderness *
  • 9 - The Scientific Sadducee 149
  • 10 - The Season of Despair 172
  • 11 - The Jihad Begins 195
  • 12 - The Nature of the Beast 216
  • 13 - Empires of the Deep Past 231
  • 1858-1865 the New Luther *
  • 14 - The Eve of a New Reformation 251
  • 15 - Buttered Angels & Bellowing Apes 266
  • 16 - Reslaying the Slain 292
  • 17 - Man's Place 312
  • 1865-1870 the Scientific Swell *
  • 18 - Birds, Dinosaurs & Booming Guns 339
  • 19 - Eyeing the Prize 361
  • Part Two - Evolution's High Priest *
  • 1870-1884 Marketing the 'New Nature' *
  • 20 - The Gun in the Liberal Armoury 385
  • 21 - From the City of the Dead to the City of Science 411
  • 22 - Automatons 433
  • 23 - The American Dream 463
  • 24 - A Touch of the Whip 483
  • 25 - A Person of Respectability 495
  • 26 - The Scientific Woolsack 507
  • 1885-1895 the Old Lion *
  • 27 - Polishing off the G.O.M 537
  • 28 - Christ Was No Christian 562
  • 29 - Combating the Cosmos 583
  • 30 - Fighting Unto Death 600
  • Afterword *
  • Abbreviations 645
  • Notes 648
  • Bibliography 751
  • Index 783
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