Adrian Desmond

Published On


Page Range

pp. 289–308


  • English

Print Length

20 pages

14. Satires on Saull

  • Adrian Desmond (author)
The Crisis-editor and former Saull collaborator, the Rev. James Elishama Smith, fell out with Owen in 1834 and left the movement. He founded the Shepherd, then the Penny Satirist, quieted down, and declared himself “done with the Infidels”. And so he took his Saull-satirizing towards the mainstream, into poor kitchens and eventually into the parlour, exposing Saull’s absurdity to 40,000 readers a week. Skits on man as a “civilized monkey”, or baboons wanting the franchise and electing Saull as their representative, were regular features. The split became wider, as Smith turned up his attacks on scientific materialism. But Saull still saw materialism as salvation, and integrated it into his critiques of the Whigs’ New Poor Law and Malthusian workhouses, now going up. He criticized the Poor Law at Aldersgate vestry level, and in numerous associations. He insisted that palaeontology, or rather Phillips’ concept of the ‘pabulum’ furnishing enough for all mouths at each geological revolution, promised plenty for all, once aristocratic and clerical greed was checked. But part of the difficulty, now, of getting any socialist ideas accepted was the clerical apoplexy caused by Owen’s marriage views (probationary periods, quick divorce). The social tarring of propagandist efforts as a result of these “horrible abominations” is looked at.


Adrian Desmond


Adrian Desmond was educated at University College London and Harvard University, where he was Stephen Jay Gould's first history of science PhD student. He has two MSc's, one in history of science, another in vertebrate palaeontology, and a PhD for his work on radical Victorian evolutionists. For twenty years he was an Honorary Research Fellow at University College London. He is the multi-award-winning author of nine books, which include: The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs, Archetypes and Ancestors: Palaeontology in Victorian London 1850-1875, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London, Darwin, Huxley: The Devil’s Disciple, Huxley: Evolution’s High Priest, Darwin’s Sacred Cause (with James Moore)