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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

12
The Nature of the Beast

HUXLEY'S EMOTIONAL TYRANNY turned to tenderness inside the family. Un vrai mari he was, upholding family virtues, disdaining Chapman's libertinism. Not that it was a conventional household: Waverley Place was unremittingly scientific, what with 'his occupation, his friends, his books'. Nettie 'attended little by little' becoming, like so many scientific wives, an unsung helpmate. She sketched, translated and proof-read. By morning she would blow up diagrams, then 'a hasty lunch, & [with] the cab at the door I would be just in time to get them hung at the Royal Institution'.

Thus the girl whose pleasure had been poetry entered a 'Fairy Land of Science'. She brought intellectual strengths. 'In this utilitarian day, when the old forms of spiritual existence which once ennobled mens lives are become effete', he agreed, one must 'cherish the ideal in the world of Art'. And wasn't Nature herself ultimately

a poem; not a mere rough engine-house for the due keeping of pleasure and pain machines, but a palace whose foundations, indeed, are laid on the strictest and safest mechanical principles, but whose superstructure is a manifestation of the highest and noblest art.

Hal, more and more the mechanical engineer, trotted Nettie around the foundations, giving disquisitions on the unseen forces and eternal verities, and the universal truths embodied in the tiniest diatom. Bit by bit she came to understand 'the great problems that underlay the dissection of even a fish or plant, or the identification of a fossil ... It was a revelation that ennobled the world I lived in'.

-216-

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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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