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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

24
A Touch of the Whip

IN MARCH 1877 the eagle-eyed raptor nodded off on his Secretary's perch and slept through Frank Darwin's paper on teasel plants. The Royal Society was rather astonished. It wasn't the Huxley of old. 'I am not quite happy about Hal', Nettie told Lizzie as the inner man sagged, 'but don't say so beyond yr home'. 1 Others saw his candle burning down fast.

Huxley was a glutton for punishing work, with endless opportunity to indulge himself. Thursday, his last free night, was finally sacrificed when Stanley started his meet-the-eminent evenings for young clerks and shop assistants at Westminster Deanery. Nettie was furious. Even the Professor was finding 'that as I get older doing more than two or three things at once becomes somewhat troublesome' - or so he told the Quekett Microscopical Club (of which of course he took the Presidency). And the 'Government never gives Hal any peace'. It co-opted him now onto his eighth Royal Commission, to look into the Scottish universities. Thus began more trips to Edinburgh and 'much work & no pay'. Even then the Treasury had the gall to query his expenses. But he had to get aboard to push through his reforms, and take 'up the case of you troublesome women', as he told the wife, 'who want admission into the University (very rightly too I think)'. 2

Nettie sat at home awaiting the daily numbered letter. A genteel circle came to her aid: Lord Arthur Russell would arrange a ducal box at Covent Garden, or she would accompany the older girls to the Season's soirées. By day the younger, boisterous Nettie and brother Len would 'chase & battle' about the house. 'The rushing, the screams ... ' and their mother laughing too much to be able to stop them. And the youngest of all, Harry, 12 in 1877, was 'wonderfully

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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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