HUXLEY: THE PROPHET OF A GREAT HOPE
MANY OF US still recall the days when T. H. Huxley appeared a veritable Jack the Giant-Killer of the intellectual and moral world. Ever youthful in ardor, and armed with the shining sword of truth, he fought and killed many ogres who oppressed the children of the light. Pompously fossilized scientists like Owen, sanctimonious statesmen like Gladstone, and Oxford bishops like "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce, as well as the supposedly learned Duke of Argyll--all fell before him.
Was this earlier view unduly worshipful, or is our present age unduly neglectful of that most eminent Victorian? The appearance of these two unusually interesting and substantial books, viewing him in the light of present-day ideas, should help us to answer this question.
Mr. Ayres tackles his job in a singularly forthright manner. His picture is consistently that of the fighter for evolution, and purely personal matters form only the casual framework. Our hero succeeded and was feared because he was right. Those who opposed him were against the truth, and Mr. Ayres wastes no sympathy on them. But posterity has unfortunately accepted Huxley's own overmodest reference to himself as Darwin's bulldog and has not therefore given him full credit for developing the all-important idea of man's descent from anthropoid stock.____________________