Finally, the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce, rose to speak. Wilberforce had been briefed (or so it is generally assumed) by the ardent anti-Darwinian Richard Owen, who had been a guest in his home the night before. As nearly always with events that end in uproar, accounts vary widely on what exactly transpired. In the most popular version, Wilberforce, when properly in flow, turned to Huxley with a dry smile and demanded of him whether he claimed attachment to the apes by way of his grandmother or grandfather. The remark was doubtless intended as a quip, but it came across as an icy challenge. According to his own account, Huxley turned to his neighbor and whispered, "The Lord hath delivered him into my hands," then rose with a certain relish.
Others, however, recalled a Huxley trembling with fury and indignation. At all events, Huxley declared that he would rather claim kinship to an ape than to someone who used his eminence to propound uninformed twaddle in what was supposed to be a serious scientific forum. Such a riposte was a scandalous impertinence, as well as an insult to Wilberforce's office, and the proceedings instantly collapsed in tumult. A Lady Brewster fainted. Robert FitzRoy, Darwin's companion on the Beagle twenty-five years before, wandered through the hall with a Bible held aloft, shouting, "The Book, the Book." (He was at the conference to present a paper on storms in his capacity as head of the newly created Meteorological Department.) Interestingly, each side afterward claimed to have routed the other.