|origin of species
Thomas Henry Huxley, Bulldog
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| Charles Darwin had little appetite for
involvement in the growing controversy which he, and Alfred
Russel Wallace, had initiated by making their theories known to
the public to the Linnaean Society in London in June 1858. Thomas
Henry Huxley was however a man of a different mettle!!! He was
known to be both intellectual brilliant and also to relish
intense debate and was to become remarkable as the foremost
supporter in England for the theory of Evolution.
Charles Darwin published his "Origin of Species" in November 1859 and, within days, Huxley sent a letter to Darwin regarding this work....
I finished your book yesterday... Since I read Von Baer's Essays nine years ago no work on Natural History Science I have met with has made so great an impression on me & I do most heartily thank you for the great store of new views you have given me... As for your doctrines I am prepared to go to the Stake if requisite... I trust you will not allow yourself to be in any way disgusted or annoyed by the considerable abuse & misrepresentation which unless I greatly mistake is in store for you... And as to the curs which will bark and yelp - you must recollect that some of your friends at any rate are endowed with an amount of combativeness which (though you have often & justly rebuked it) may stand you in good stead - I am sharpening up my claws and beak in readiness.
Huxley's first defences of Darwin's, then generally shocking, theory appeared in December of that year, Time and Life: Mr. Darwin's "Origin of Species" in Macmillan's Magazine and The Darwinian Hypothesis in The Times .
Huxley's subsequent activities in support of the theory of Evolution included a crushingly successful championship of a "scientific" and "rationalist" viewpoint over a viewpoint of "Religion", "Faith", and "Belief", as forwarded by a Bishop Wilberforce in a famous debate held under the auspices of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Oxford on June 30th 1860.
During the debate, Archbishop Wilberforce ridiculed evolution and asked Huxley whether he was descended from an ape on his grandmother's side or his grandfather's. Whilst accounts vary as to exactly what happened next it seems that after giving a brilliant intellectual defence of Darwin's theory, Huxley pointedly commented, "I would rather be the offspring of two apes than be a man and afraid to face the truth."
Huxley's lectures on organic evolution, which he gave to numerous lay and scientific audiences at various times and places from 1860 until his death, contributed greatly to the acceptance of the theory of Evolution by the scientific community and the wider public. He is even referred to by posterity as - Darwin's Bulldog. This tag may stem from his own usage of the term to describe his championship of Darwin's views.
In 1863 Huxley published a work of his own entitled Zoological Evidences as to Man's Place in Nature which was the first work to make the yet more controversial assertion that mankind should be viewed as being a product of evolutionary processes.
Thomas Henry Huxley
a biography of Darwin's Bulldog