From T. H. Huxley [before 3 October 1857]1
Cuviers definition of the object of Classification seems to me to embody all that is really wanted in Science—it is to throw the facts of structure into the fewest possible general propositions— This of course leaves out of view & passes by, all questions of pedigree & possible modifications—dealing with existing animals and plants as faits accomplis2
I for one believe that a Scientific & logical Zoology & Botany are not at present possible—for they must be based on sound Morphology—a Science which has as yet to be created out of the old Comparative Anatomy—& the new study of Development When the mode of thought & speculation of Oken & Geoffroy S. Hilaire & their servile follower Owen,3 have been replaced by the principle so long ago inculcated by Caspar Wolff & Von Baer & Rathke4 —& so completely ignored in this country & in France up to the last ten years—we shall have in the course of a generation a science of Morphology & then a Scientific Zoology & Botany will flow from it as Corollaries—
Your pedigree business is a part of Physiology—a most important and valuable part—and in itself a matter of profound interest—but to my mind it has no more to do with pure Zoology—than human pedigree has with the Census— Zoological classification is a Census of the animal world
Ever yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley Chas Darwin Esq
On classification and possibilities of a scientific morphology and zoology. CD’s "pedigree business" is important for physiology but has nothing to do with pure zoology any more than human pedigree has to do with the census. Zoological classification is a census of the animal world.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2144,” accessed on 25 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2144