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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

15
Buttered Angels & Bellowing Apes

THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES tantalized a prim generation. In the freezing weeks after publication it appeared in the unlikeliest places. Commuters coming to hear Huxley's lecture even snapped up the second edition on Waterloo Station. News-vendors, usually with nothing but trashy shilling novels, were touting this Royal Green 15s tome.

It was the 'Book of the Day', Owen conceded. Love it or loathe it, the Origin could not be ignored. Wollaston, Huxley's fellow visitor at Downe, felt a 'cold shuddering' and turned hostile. Though Darwin was careful not to say it, the Origin ultimately meant that man, 'with all his lofty endowments and future hopes, was ... never "created" at all, but was merely ... a development from an ape'. But without the promise of Heaven or the fear of Hell, why should we live a good life? Huxley knew that this was the crux, even as he trashed Wollaston's 'stupid review'.

For or against, the reactions were intensifying. One embarrassing old botanist told Darwin he would continue to read the Origin 'as I do the precepts of Christ & the parable of the prodigal son, till my eyes fail me'. The ecstatic highs were only matched by the abusive lows. Others damned the book, fearing that the loss of Creation's moral purpose would 'brutalize' humanity. They compared Darwin's fantastic mechanism to 'Bishop Wilkin's locomotive that was to sail with us to the Moon'. 1 With the stones 'beginning to fly', an agitated Darwin was relieved to see Huxley's Times review reprinted in the Gardeners' Chronicle.

The Origin's sales galvanized conservatives. The Athenaeum demanded show trials to denounce Darwin in 'the Divinity Hall, the College, the Lecture Room, and the Museum'. It meant in

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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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