Unfortunately the Bishop, hurried along on the current of his own eloquence, so far forgot himself as to push his attempted advantage to the verge of personality in a telling passage in which he turned round and addressed Huxley: I forgot the precise words, and quote from Lyell. 'The Bishop asked whether Huxley was related by his grandfather's or grandmother's side to an ape.' (Lyell's 'Letters,' vol. ii. page 335.) Huxley replied to the scientific argument of his opponent with force and eloquence, and to the personal allusion with a self- restraint, that gave dignity to his crushing rejoinder."
Many versions of Mr. Huxley's speech were current: the following report of his conclusion is from a letter addressed by the late John Richard Green, then an undergraduate, to a fellow-student, now Professor Boyd Dawkins. "I asserted, and I repeat, that a man has no reason to be ashamed of having an ape for his grandfather. If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would be a MAN, a man of restless and versatile intellect, who, not content with an equivocal (Prof. V. Carus, who has a distinct recollection of the scene, does not remember the word equivocal. He believes too that Lyell's version of the "ape" sentence is slightly incorrect.) success in his own sphere of activity, plunges into scientific questions with which he has no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions, and skilled appeals to religious prejudice."
The letter above quoted continues:
"The excitement was now at its height; a lady fainted and had to be carried out, and it was some time before the discussion was resumed. Some voices called for Hooker, and his name having been handed up, the President invited him to give his view of the theory from the Botanical side. This he did, demonstrating that the Bishop, by his own showing, had never grasped the principles of the 'Origin' (With regard to the Bishop's 'Quarterly Review,' my father wrote: "These very clever men think they can write a review with a very slight knowledge of the book reviewed or subject in question."), and that he was absolutely ignorant of the elements of botanical science. The Bishop made no reply, and the meeting broke up.
"There was a crowded conversazione in the evening at the rooms of the hospitable and genial Professor of Botany, Dr. Daubeny, where the almost sole topic was the battle of the 'Origin,' and I was much struck with the fair and unprejudiced way in which the black coats and white cravats of Oxford discussed the question, and the frankness with which they offered their congratulations to the winners in the combat.]
CHARLES DARWIN TO J.D. HOOKER. Sudbrook Park, Monday night [July 2nd, 1860].
My dear Hooker,
I have just received your letter. I have been very poorly, with almost continuous bad headache for forty-eight hours, and I was low enough, and thinking what a useless burthen I was to myself and all others, when your letter came, and it has so cheered me; your kindness and affection brought tears into my eyes. Talk of fame, honour, pleasure, wealth, all are dirt compared with affection; and this is a doctrine with which, I know, from your letter, that you will agree with from the bottom of your heart...How I should have liked to have wandered about Oxford with you, if I had been well enough; and how still more I should have liked to have heard you triumphing over the Bishop. I am astonished at your success and audacity. It is something unintelligible to me how any one can argue in public like orators do. I had no idea you had this power. I have read lately so many hostile views, that I was beginning to think that perhaps I was wholly in the wrong, and that -- was right when he said the whole subject would be forgotten in ten years; but now that I hear that you and Huxley will fight publicly (which I am sure I never could do), I fully believe that our cause will, in the long-run, prevail.