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

By Adrian Desmond | Go to book overview

29
Combating the Cosmos

OF COURSE THE HATE MAIL started arriving. He was 'the Infidel and enemy of mankind' whose depraved writings 'are of the devil'. 1 And the Salvation Army was marching out to meet him.

The Army was led by another General. 'General' Booth's Army had a massive military field structure by 1890, with 9,400 officers commanding 1,375 corps and three-quarters of a million recruits. Having spent his later life studying the origins of sects, Huxley found one springing up under his nose: 'a new Ranter-Socialist sect', whose spine-tingling trombone parades and hymn-singing corybantism was so much 'sanctified buffoonery'. The two autocratic Generals, sharing so much and so little, prepared to do battle for the imperial spoils of the hinterland, the souls of the dispossessed. Their armies stood poised, their rival flags of Spiritual Democracy and Technocratic Professionalism fluttering, the one with its street carnivals, the other with its Darwinian promises. It was horribly uneven, for 'not even a Salvation Army of Huxleys' could stop the simpletons singing along with Booth. 2

General Booth was four years younger. When Tom was in his back‐ street anatomy school run by that democratic New Connexion Methodist Marshall Hall, the working-class Booth was living up to Hall's democratic 'Methodist Jacobinism'; he too had joined the New Connexion; he too was a Chartist supporter. Like Tom, the evangelist was a prey to despondency and sought regeneration in a crusade. His Methodists denied the Anglicans' providentially happy world teeming with 'delighted existence'; for them, 'the whole creation travaileth and groaneth'. In his war cry, Darkest England, Booth could speak with Darwinian vigour of the weakest going 'to the wall'. But he was another whose radical religious duty was to aid this

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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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