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Letter 2611

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

28 Dec [1859]

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    Delighted with Times review [26 Dec 1859]. Puzzled by author, suspects THH, but publication in Times makes it unlikely. Sorry for Owen.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 28th

My dear Huxley

Yesterday Evening when I read the Times of previous day I was amazed to find a splendid Essay & Review of me. Who can the author be? I am intensely curious. It included a eulogium of me, which quite touched me, though I am not vain enough to think it all deserved.— The Author is a literary man & German scholar.— He has read my Book very attentively; but what is very remarkable, it seems that he is a profound naturalist. He knows my Barnacle book, & appreciates it too highly.— Lastly he writes & thinks with quite uncommon force & clearness; & what is even still rarer his writing is seasoned with most pleasant wit. We all laughed heartily over some of the sentences. I was charmed with those unreasonable mortals who know everything all thinking fit to range themselves on our side Who can it be? Certainly I should have said that there was only one man in England who could have written this Essay & that you were the man. But I suppose I am wrong, & that there is some hidden genius of great calibre. For how could you influence Jupiter Olympus & make him give 312 columns to pure science? The old Fogies will think the world will come to an end.—

Well whoever the man is, he has done great service to the cause, far more than by a dozen Reviews in common periodicals. The grand way he soars above common religious prejudices, & the admission of such views into the Times, I look at as of the highest importance, quite independently of the mere question of species. If you should happen to be acquainted with the author for Heaven-sake tell me who he is.—

My dear Huxley | Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin

Upon my life I am sorry for Owen; he will be so d—d savage; for credit given to any other man, I strongly suspect is in his eyes so much credit robbed from him. Science is so narrow a field, it is clear there ought to be only one cock of the walk!

I could hardly sleep for thinking of the wonderful fact.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2611.f1
    The Times, 26 December 1859, p. 8.
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    f2 2611.f2
    Listing CD's scientific credentials, the reviewer mentioned CD's work on the cirripedes, stating: More recently Mr. Darwin, with a versatility which is among the rarest gifts, turned his attention to a most difficult question of zoology and minute anatomy; and no living naturalist and anatomist has published a better monograph than that which resulted from his labours. Huxley had praised Living Cirripedia (1851) and (1854) in similar terms in his lectures on general natural history (T. H. Huxley 1856–7). See Correspondence vol. 6.
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    f3 2611.f3
    The reviewer considered himself at liberty to pass by the creationist view and ‘to turn to those views which profess to rest on a scientific basis only, and therefore admit of being argued to their consequences. And we do this with the less hesitation as it so happens that those persons who are practically conversant with the facts of the case (plainly a considerable advantage) have always thought fit to range themselves under the latter category.’ (The Times, 26 December 1859, p. 8).
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    f4 2611.f4
    Huxley later confided to CD and to Joseph Dalton Hooker that he was the author of the review, and CD promised to keep the secret (Correspondence vol. 8, letter to T. H. Huxley, 1 January 1860, and L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 177). Secrecy was necessary because Samuel Lucas, who had agreed to review Origin, but ‘was as innocent of any knowledge of science as a babe’, had asked Huxley to help him out of this difficulty. Huxley later recalled that Lucas had stipulated, however, ‘that it would be necessary for him formally to adopt anything I might be disposed to write, by prefacing it with two or three paragraphs of his own.’ (LL 2: 255). The review is reprinted in T. H. Huxley 1893–4, 2: 1–22.
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    f5 2611.f5
    Anthony Trollope had referred to The Times as ‘Jupiter Olympus’ in several of his novels.
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