From T. H. Huxley 20 January 1862
Jany 20th 1862
My dear Darwin
The inclosed article which has been followed up by another more violent more scurrilously personal & more foolish, will prove to you that my labour has not been in vain—and that your views & mine are likely to be better ventilated in Scotland than they have been1 I was quite uneasy at getting no attack from the ‘Witness’ thinking I must have overestimated the impression I had made & the favourableness of the reception of what I said— But the raving of the ‘Witness’ is clear testimony that my notion was correct—2
I shall send a short reply to the ‘Scotsman’ for the purpose of further advertising the question—3
With regard to what are especially your doctrines—I spoke much more favourably than I am reputed to have done— I expressed no doubt as to their ultimate establishment—but as I particuly desire not to be misrepresented as an advocate trying to soften or explain away real dificulties—I did not in speaking enter in to the details of what is to be said in diminishing the weight of the hybrid difficulty— All this will be put fully when I print the Lecture—4
The arguments put in your letter are those which I have urged to other people— of the opposite side—over & over again.5
I have told my students that I entertain no doubt that twenty years experiments on pigeons conducted by a skilled physiologist instead of by a mere breeder—, would give us physiological species sterile inter se from a common stock—(& in this if I mistake not I go further than you do yourself) and I have told them that when these experiments have been performed I shall consider your views to have a complete physical basis—and to stand on as firm ground as any physiological theory whatever—6
This was impossible for me in the time I had to lay all this down to my Edinburgh audience—& in default of full explanation it was far better to seem to do scanty justice to you
I am constitutionally slow of adopting any theory that I must need stick by when I have once gone in for it—but for these two years I have been gravitating towards your doctrines & since the publication of your Primula paper with accelerated velocity—7 By about this time next year I expect to have shot past you—and to find you pitching into me for being more Darwinian than yourself— However, you have set me going & must just take the consequences, for I warn you I will stop at no point so long as clear reasoning will carry me further—
My wife & I were very grieved to hear you had had such a sick house—8 but I hope the change in the weather has done you all good— Anything is better than the damp warmth we had
I will take great care of the three ‘Barriers’—9 I wanted to cut it up in the ‘Saturday’10 but how I can fulfil my benevolent intentions—with four lectures a week—a lecture at the Royal Institution11 & heaps of other things on my hands I don’t know
Ever | Yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley
I am very glad to hear about Brown Sequard;12 he is a thoroughly good man & told me it was worth while to come all the way to Oxford to hear the Bp. pummelled13
The Witness attacks THH’s lecture.
Assures CD he spoke more favourably of his doctrines than the reports show.
Agrees with CD’s arguments on sterility of hybrids and predicts physiological experiments will produce physiological species sterile inter se. Has come even closer to CD’s view especially since Primula paper. Will soon be more Darwinian than CD.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3396,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3396