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Letter 2376

Darwin, C. R. to Huxley, T. H.

1 Dec [1858]

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    Has had some misgivings about the memorial but now thinks his fears were vain and cowardly. Regrets R. I. Murchison was not told in advance. His low opinion of the Government and B. Disraeli.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 1

My dear Huxley

I suppose that you meant me to return the enclosed to you & not to Hooker.—

The letter strikes me as a very good one.

Since signing I have had many serious attacks of misgivings & quandarums, but I am coming daily to think more & more that you are all right & that my fears were vain & cowardly.— There is only one thing which I cannot help regretting that as soon as you had definitely made up your minds to exact terms &c of memorial that you did not pay Murchison the compliment, (for it would have been nothing more) of telling him before the memorial was sent in. I have a great respect for Murchison, notwithstanding his palpable & not unaimiable weaknesses.

I hope to God you will all be rewarded by a noble Museum.

Farewell | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

I have so strong a belief in the arrogance & presumption of our Governors, that I cannot put much faith in a memorial even if signed by every real man of science, having much influence at least with such a poor creature as B. Disraeli.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2376.f1
    Dated by the reference to the memorial signed by CD and others in November 1858 (see n. 4, below).
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    f2 2376.f2
    The item enclosed was a letter from Joseph Dalton Hooker to Roderick Impey Murchison. See following letter.
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    f3 2376.f3
    See letters to T. H. Huxley, 23 October [1858] and 3 November [1858], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 2 November [1858] and 27 [November 1858]. The text of the memorial is transcribed in Appendix VI.
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    f4 2376.f4
    Murchison, a trustee of the British Museum, was closely involved with negotiations over the relocation of the natural history collections and in June had circulated a petition protesting the move. The text of Huxley's memorial was printed in Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 27 November 1858, p. 861, and in the Athenæum, 27 November 1858, pp. 684–5. Since then, Hooker had met Murchison to discuss the second memorial, probably at the anniversary meeting of the Royal Society on 30 November. Murchison and Hooker were both on the society's council.
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    f5 2376.f5
    Benjamin Disraeli was chancellor of the exchequer from February 1858 to June 1859.
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