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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

10
The Season of Despair

CHRISTMAS FOUND HUXLEY climbing the walls of a new den. The news from abroad left him 'as savage as a bear'. The Sydney chair never materialized, and the mail on 29 December 1851 had him growling uncontrollably. A Canadian contact tipped him off that nepotism would win out in Toronto. References from the world's best paled beside the qualification of another candidate, 'a Brother of a Gentleman holding a high position in the Provl. Govnt'. 'Of course he will have it', snapped Huxley: merit meant nothing.

He began his descent once again, shattered, wrecked on more reefs:

Into what lies I have deceived myself about devotion to Science and the cultivation of the Intellect ... It is all a sham ... I could stamp and cry aloud for powerless vexation. 1

In a fit he tried to make a killing another way. Despite his debts he borrowed more to flutter on his brother's gold-mining speculations. The fever was infectious. Hadn't Pendennis' father made a mint on copper mines and turned a brass-button gentleman, ignoring his drug-grinding origins? These were boom and bust times. 'Fanning himself is deep in an Australian Gold Mine', George was backing a 'Californian Gold mine - the West Mariposa', but then he was as 'wily as any fox - with a vast amount of experience to boot' (which meant he had already 'made and lost one fortune'). But Huxley's fever quickly broke and he swore he would 'never be such an ass again'. 2

Others were in the same boat, eyeing the same reefs. An impecu

-172-

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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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