Richard Owen, the first director of the Natural History Museum, and Darwin were once friends and colleagues who shared the excitement of scientific research. After Darwin’s Origin, everything changed. Owen’s review of the book was scathing; he coached Wilberforce before the famous debate; and he never acknowledged Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Darwin was equally unkind, once saying to Lyell: Owen ‘ought to be ostracized by every naturalist in England.’ Owen’s Palaeontology (the study of life-forms from the distant past) is regarded as the first systematic treatise on the subject.
Richard Owen, Palaeontology. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1861. Leith Storage 9DIE O
Swiss-born Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) was a paleontologist and geologist who, from his base at Harvard University, commanded huge respect from the scientific community. He popularised the concept of ice ages on Earth. His Essay appeared just before Darwin’s Origin, and it provided a sharp contrast, especially with its assumptions of special creationism. All his life, Agassiz remained virulently opposed to Darwin’s theories on evolution.
Louis Agassiz, An Essay on Classification. London: Longman, Brown, Green, et al., 1859. Leith Storage GKA
The Rev. Adam Sedgwick (1785-1873), one of the founders of modern geology, was an early friend to Darwin, and who gave him assistance in his training as a scientist. Darwin craved positive reviews of Origin from the men of science he knew. Sedgwick was one, but alas, the conservative Anglican remained adamantly opposed, especially on religious grounds. His preface to his Discourse contains a lengthy attack on Vestiges and theories of development in general.
Adam Sedgwick, A Discourse on the Studies of the University. Leicester: Leicester University Press, 1969. General LB 2321 SE43