moved from its original inspiration, tontransmit itself to the next generation.”nThe failure of Victorian morality tontranscend its generation shows itself nowherenso clearly as in the Stephen family:nLike most British intellectuals of hisnday, Stephen “had no doubt that anythingnwhich shook the family, such asnadultery, must shake society”; his children,nVirginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell,njoined with other Bloomsbury intellectualsnin self-conscious promiscuity andn”The Higher Sodomy.”nStephen may be long remembered fornhis shrewd literary judgments on Wordsworth,nJohnson, and Coleridge; for thenpioneering scholarship of his History ofnEnglish Thought in the Eighteenth Centuryn(1876); and for his inaugural editorshipnof the Dictionary of National Biography.nHis Rakitin-like efforts to constructna modern, secular, and scientificnbasis for morality deserve only quietnoblivion. Seeking a terrestrial decalogue,nStephen argued in The Science of Ethicsn(1882) that virtue developed as the productnof evolutionary pressures on society.nSocial welfare presides as final arbiter ofngood and evil. No wonder his daughtersnrefused to bow the knee to such annearthbound and impotent deity. Annan,na generally sympathetic biographer, dismissesnStephen’s ethics as a “fraudulent”nequation that makes “men seeking theirnown pleasure . . . identical with [men]nseeking each other’s pleasure.” Nor doesnAnnan’s own manifest skepticism preventnhim from censuring Stephen for hisnblindness to “the splendors and glories ofnreligion and the infinite variety of waysnin which it corresponds to men’s needs.”nBut Stephen’s folly in trying “to makenthe social sciences do the work of religion”nwas matched by that of otherncontemporaries likewise looking for surrogatenfaiths: Mill made a creed out ofnUtilitarianism; Ruskin and Arnold worshipednArt and Poetry; Spiritualism attractednAlfred Wallace, Arthur ConannDoyle, and Frederick Myers; Shaw andnthe Webbs burned incense for Socialism;nSpencer and Huxley preached a Darwinistngospel; George Eliot and G.H.nLewes followed Comte into Positivism.nThese substitute faiths seldom wore well.nJohn Stuart Mill suffered a breakdownnwhen his faith in utilitarianism collapsednand had to be supplanted by a lessnscientific humanism; Ruskin gave up onnsocial regeneration through Art; BeatricenWebb served as panegyrist for Stalin;nWallace chased phrenologists and mesmerists;nSpencer ended his life hauntednby a vision of “omnipresent death”;nHuxley repudiated his hopes that evolutionnwould lead to moral progress.nThe cases of Spencer and Huxleynloom particularly large. For although notnall late Victorians staked their moralnphilosophy upon evolution, after 1859nno serious ethical thinker could ignorenthe implications of this new theory.nHimmelfarb makes the point that rationalism,nnaturalism, and utilitarianism hadneffectively subverted religious orthodoxynlong before Darwin. “Darwinism . . .ndid not so much displace God by man asndisplace man by nature, moral man bynamoral nature.” Victorians who hadngone to bed convinced they were humannbeings woke up to discover they werenmerely primates becoming. Moral convictionsnthat had looked like sturdy realitiesnvanished into mere curls of smokenrising above the evolutionary fire. Suddenly,nthe Victorian “Religion of Humanity”ncarried no more credibility thannthe Thirty-Nine Articles.nSome quietly resigned themselves tonthe sterility of this philosophic vista.nDarwin himself bade farewell (withnsome reluctance and pain) to music,npoetry, and God — though he doubtedn”whether the masses were ripe for atheism.”nThe codiscoverer of natural selection,nAlfred Wallace, never ripened. Wenturn away from the embarrassing spectaclenof a leading scientist attending seancesnand promoting pseudo-science, butnthere is something noble and even heroicnin Wallace’s insistence that evolutionncould account for neither Mind, Spirit,nVeneration, Hope, Wonder, Ideality, nornWit. With William Blake, Wallace darednto assert the inadequacy of “a finitenorganical perception” of “the HumannForm Divine.” Especially since he couldnnot write poetry like Blake’s, Wallacenpaid the price of intellectual respectability,nboth in his own day and since.nIn the final analysis, though, neithernWallace nor Blake offer a fully crediblenwitness for transcendence. Nor do thenUtopians Himmelfarb justly censures forntheir vehement attacks on Darwin’s heirsnin the sociobiology movement. We neednE.G. Wilson, David Barash, and KonradnLorenz to remind us of the givenness ofnour biological nature. What we neednmore is someone like Pascal, someonenwho knows that human nature bordersnon both the brute and the angelic andnnnthat we ignore either boundary at greatnperil. But to share Pascal’s perspective,nwe must share his faith. A devoutn(though Jansenist) Christian as well as anbrilliant mathematician, Pascal countednno cranial protrusions, created no privatenmythology, and sought out no levitatingntables.nSpencer and Huxley dispensed withnChristianity as cheerfully as they rejectednspiritualism, confident that Darwiniannevolution would provide a new bulwarknfor morality. Both made their reputationsnas writers, not scientists, but both demonstratednsomething like scientific honestynin their eventual admissions that innfact Darwinism and moral hope couldnnot be reconciled. A relentless systematizer,nSpencer pursued his materialistnvision as far as it would take him — onlynto prophesy a universal destiny of “dungnand death.” Spencer’s unflinching candornin confronting this conclusion continuesnto disturb today’s scientific thinkers,nincluding the Nobel laureate andnphilosopher of science Peter Medawar.n”What can have been responsible,”nMedawar recently asked, without answering,n”for the much greater weightn[Spencer] gave in his later thought to thenphenomena of dissipation and dissolution?”nA more subtle thinker than Spencer,nHuxley early professed “the greatest possiblenantipathy to all the atheistic andninfidel school” and scorned “popularnanti-theology.” Forced to choose betweenn”absolute materialism” and “absolutenidealism,” Huxley expressed a preferencenfor the latter. Clearly, his moralnthought was growing more idealist whennin his Romanes Lecture of 1893 henrepudiated his former assertion thatnman’s moral impulses could be traced tonthe “fixed order of nature.” Rather,nmoral behavior meant “a checking of thencosmic process,” even “combating it.”nHuxley left unanswered the question ofnwhere man would find the inspiration ornguidance for opposing natural forces, butnsome may take their hint from his designationnof his Romanes Lecture as “anvery orthodox discourse on the text,n’Satan, the Prince of this world.'” For ifnHuxley’s discourse survives as anythingnmore than a relic in the museum ofnVictorianism, the reason is that his scripturaln”text” points us to truths still livingnlong after we have joined Galsworthy innbidding farewell to “the bier of thenQueen, [and] the coffin of the Age.”nJANUARY 1988 / 37n