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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 31

The Untenable Hypotheses

The Untenable Hypotheses.

The Problem of the World's Origin—Three Hypotheses to Account for it—the Hypothesis of its Eternal Existence, the Miltonic Hypothesis; and the Hypothesis of Evolution—Testimonial Evidence Impossible; Circumstantial Evidence of the Highest Value—Geological Proof that the First and Second Hypotheses are Untenable.

To say that a crowded audience greeted Professor Thomas H. Huxley at Chickering Hall on the night of September 18, is to do injustice to the fact. The entrance was thronged at an early hour, and the only consolation of the people who were jammed together in front of the ticket office was that it was a highly respectable crush. Large numbers had evidently deferred the purchase of tickets until the last moment. The trouble was not ended when, after undergoing the last extremity of squeezing, the ticket office was reached and the purchase made. It was quite as difficult to get out from the crowd below as it was to get into it. Not a few agile gentlemen took the alternative of climbing up the sides of the stairs to join the happier throng that they had been long envying—the people that had bought their tickets in advance and had nothing to do but to ascend to the hall.

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Within, every seat seemed to be taken before the lecture began, the few vacancies were filled during the first ten minutes afterward, and "wall-flowers" were packed standing behind the seats. The hall was full of familiar faces; of men eminent in the learned professions; of New York's best society. Punctual to the very minute Professor Huxley Came forward upon the platform, and was of course treated with abundant applause. He laid a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost upon the reading desk; nothing else, neither manuscript nor notes. He leaned forward slightly over the desk and began speaking in measured words and with a low tone of voice. Except sometimes to grasp the desk with both hands and lean over it more intently, he did not vary his position or make use of gestures during the lecture.

At first, Professor Huxley was not distinctly heard by the entire audience, but after the noise made by people entering had subsided, there was less difficulty in this respect. He was listened to with the closest attention throughout, and the perfect silence of the audience, except at rare intervals when applause was called forth, gave striking evidence of the interest that was taken, notwithstanding the closeness of the argument and the absence of popular features in the discourse.