‘Have not many sciences such as Astronomy or Geology a side of feeling which is poetry?’ So asked Benjamin Jowett in 1858, and in 1889 Alfred Tennyson reported that those two ‘terrible Muses’ had taken over Parnassus. Victorian scientists have several claims to a place in literary history, quite apart from their influence on literary authors. Some were poets in Jowett’s sense, reacting with awe and wonder to natural phenomena. Some were romantic individualists, whose delight in their own discoveries made them effective propagandists, or satirists of all theories that contradicted theirs. Some were lucid exponents of unfamiliar concepts, or popularizers of work done by more original researchers. Some brought science into general literature, by discussing the wider implications, religious, social, or simply human, of scientific progress.
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