To T. H. Huxley 16 December 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Huxley
In my opinion your Catalogue is simply the very best Resume by far, on the whole Science of Natural History, which I have ever seen.2
I really have no criticisms; I agree with every word. Your metaphors & explanations strikee me as admirable. In many parts it is curious how what you have written agrees with what I have been writing, only with the melancholy difference for me that you put everything in twice as striking a manner, as I do.
I append more for the sake of showing that I have attended to the whole, than for any other object, a few most trivial criticisms.
I was amused to meet with some of the arguments, which you advanced in talk with me, on classification; & it pleases me, as my long proses were so far not thrown away, as they led you to bring out here some good sentences.3
But on classification I am not quite sure that I yet wholly go with you, though I agree with every word you have here said.— The whole, I repeat, in my opinion is admirable & excellent—
Ever yours | C Darwin
I return by the same post your pamphlet.—
p. 2. all crust of earth is not formed of strata, as in injected Trap and 5 masses of the wider extent.
p. 6. indefinite series of alterations: according to our present knowledge is not thus too strong, though I believe in it.
15. Silex chief ingredient of flint; may it not be called sole ingredient.
18. Sexes never combined in same individual. Quatrefages seems to believe in Serranus being hermaphrodite;6 I forget author’s name.
20. Is it wise to give, without any allusion to common view, your view of Star-fish &c. being Annulosa; the rest of world looking at them as type of one of the grandest Divisions of animal kingdom.7
27. I think little expansion is wanted in middle paragraph to show how a fish can be morphologically more complex and physiologically less so than the highest molluscs. I do not quite understand.
Higher in page. Sentence beginning “the other sense” was not at first clear, as I did not see with what contrasted.
39. I do not understand how you can say that if only fossils existed there would be no difficulty in practically species—as there is variation amongst fossils, as with recent, there seems to be same difficulty in grouping.
40. Top sentence strikes me as too long.
44. Mud being deposited in all parts of sea, sufficient to imbed remains and to be preserved to future generations, I believe this to be the gravest of errors: but I cannot enter into argument much too long.
57. Is it not bold to say one foot never deposited in one year: think of floods after earthquake, at least add never a foot over wide area.
THH’s catalogue [THH and R. Etheridge, A catalogue of the collection of fossils in the Museum of Practical Geology (1865), part published in 1857] best résumé he has seen of science of natural history. On classification he is not quite sure that he wholly goes along with THH. Encloses a few criticisms of THH’s preface.[enclosure survives as copy only].