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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

9
The Scientific Sadducee

NOT FOR HUXLEY the mariner's folly, flipping guineas into the deep to thank Neptune for deliverance. But emotionally he was just as extravagant. After the long homeward haul the very rigging quivered with excitement. All hands strained for a sight of industrial Devonport. At last, on 23 October 1850, its smokestacks appeared over the horizon. After 40,000 miles on a jury‐ rigged, rotting scuttle-bucket, through hell-and-high-water, past interminable reefs and endless little Englands, he was back.

That day he 'saw English green fields' for the first time in four years. Not that he noticed, firing off letters, asking 'news of a certain naughty sister of mine', Lizzie in Tennessee. By now Yule had a ship full of impatient souls. Beating up the Channel, they were dogged by contrary winds and chased by the blue devils. 1 But Huxley put the time to use, planning his naval blockade of the Admiralty.

Past the White Cliffs his spine stiffened. He drew up a report for the hydrographer Sir Francis Beaufort. Another went to Sir John Richardson listing his discoveries, asking about 'a nominal appointmerit' to a Thames ship in order to write them up. Officers routinely went on half pay until they were recalled. 2 But what surgeon's mate had the gall to dictate stronger terms to the Sea Lords? He wanted to remain on leave, and on half pay until he had finished. Nothing less would do.

They put in at Sheerness docks, ten miles down river from Chatham. More dusty grainstores and cranes, bluecoats and barking officers - and the first real feeling he had arrived: 'I was standing in the midst of a group busily talking ... when I felt my arm touched and lo! there stood my brother James'. It was the same

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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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