skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   11 November 1866

26 Abbey Place

Novr. 11th. 1866

My dear Darwin

I thank you for the New Edition of the ‘Origin’1 & congratulate you on having done with it for a while—so as to be able to go on to that book of a portion of which I had a glimpse years ago—2

I hear good account of your health—indeed the last was that you were so rampageous you meant to come to London & have a spree among its dissipations3

May that be true—

I am in the thick of my work & have only had time to glance at your ‘Historical sketch’—

What an unmerciful basting you give “Our Mutual friend”— I did not know he had put forward any claim!4 And even now that I read it black & white, I can hardly believe it—

I am glad to hear from Spencer that you are on the right (that is my) side in the Jamaica business— But it is wonderful how people who commonly act together are divided about it—5

My wife joins with me in kindest wishes to Mrs Darwin6 & yourself | Ever yours truly | T H Huxley

Actual Potential [7 dots decreasing in size] [Infinity symbol]

State of the Family!7

You will soon receive an Elementary Physiology book—not for your reading but for Miss Darwin’s—8 Were you not charmed with Haeckel?9


The reference is to the fourth edition of Origin. Huxley’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for the fourth edition (Correspondence vol. 14, Appendix IV).
Huxley refers to Variation, which was published in 1868. CD had sent Huxley a draft of the chapter on pangenesis (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865]).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD was in London from 22 to 29 November 1866.
The ‘Historical sketch’ at the beginning of the fourth edition of Origin had been revised to include a reference to Richard Owen’s recent claim that he had presented a theory of descent as early as 1850 (see Origin 4th ed., pp. xvii–xviii). See letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 May [1866] and n. 11. Charles Dickens’s Our mutual friend (London: Chapman and Hall) was published in 1865.
Herbert Spencer had solicited CD’s support for the Jamaica Committee (see letter from Herbert Spencer, 2 November 1866 and n. 1). While CD, Spencer, and Huxley supported the move to prosecute the former governor of Jamaica, Edward John Eyre, friends of theirs, notably Joseph Dalton Hooker and John Tyndall, were opposed to prosecution (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 November 1866; for Tyndall’s role on the Eyre Committee, see Semmel 1962, pp. 123–7).
Emma Darwin. Huxley’s wife was Henrietta Anne Huxley.
Presumably the dots in the diagram represent Huxley’s seven children, the last of whom, Ethel, had been born in May 1866 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 May 1866, n. 17). The second column contains the mathematical symbol for infinity.
The references are to T. H. Huxley 1866 and Henrietta Emma Darwin.
Ernst Haeckel had visited CD on 21 October 1866 (see letter from Ernst Haeckel, 19 October 1866). He also visited Huxley at around the same time (Krauße 1987, pp. 76–7).


Thanks for 4th ed. of Origin.

What a basting CD gives "our mutual friend" [Owen].

Glad he argrees with THH on Jamaica affair [Gov. Eyre and the "rebellion"].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Abbey Place, 26
Source of text
DAR 166: 312
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5275,” accessed on 25 May 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14