NOTHING SEEMED IMPOSSIBLE in the world's leading industrial nation. History was made as Crookes worked on cathode rays and Bell perfected the telephone. Britain even felt safe enough to begin test borings for a Channel Tunnel. Science and technology were making news.
By 1874 the restructuring of science was under way. It was becoming State-managed, with curriculums tightly prescribed and classrooms tightly policed. From the regimented lab to the patrolled exam hall, the regime was in place. The South Kensington professors were turning out their 'Whitworth Scholars' to run machine shops or teach in school.
It was no coincidence that this restructuring occurred as the traumas over evolution graduated into new concerns. Darwinism was becoming endurable, even natural for the industrial few. The histrionics caused by the Origin and Essays had passed. The Descent of Man went into a half-price second edition without a murmur, even though the mild Darwin - who could hate with the best of them - added Huxley's scalping 'supplement' on the outcome of the ape-brain debate to spite 'the fiend, Owen'. 'Denuded of its controversial spice', even a Brobdingnagian fossil world began to lose its fashionable interest in the 1870s. 1
But the new concerns allowed Hal to keep his capacity crowds. An industrial-age evolution was supported on deep piles, rarely seen and never doubted. These axiomatic foundations - like the immense underground piles Londoners saw going under the new tall buildings - were massive load-bearers: an undeviating uniformity of nature, the exact interchange of all forms of energy, and human thought as a function of the brain chemistry. This axiomatic undergirding