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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   28 September 1871

Castlemount, St. Andrews

Sep. 28. 1871

My dear Darwin

I send herewith a duplicate proof of my article in which I have corrected all the most important printer errors—for your private delectation1 But if you like you can send it on to dear old Hooker when you have read it—2 I have told him what I am about and I know he will chuckle on the slaughter of the Amalekite.3

Knowles (Editor of Contemporary) thinks so much more of the article than I do, that he is going to reserve it for his November number because he says people will have come back to town & he will have had time to ‘blow the trumpet’—4 I am not much given to this sort of thing myself but under the circumstances it is perhaps as well, that people should be made to understand that the gallant Mivart is not going to have it all his own way—5

I am really grieved to find that you have no doubt that the authorship of the Quarterly article, must be attributed to him—6 The internal evidence of the fact seemed to me very strong—and yet I hoped there might be some escape from the conclusion— In it shews that he is one of those people who will write anonymously what they dare not put their names to. The fact that Mivart is the author of the Quarterly article quite removes some compunction I had before about shewing up his nonsense about Suarez.7

I am very glad you are going to take up his objections in detail, as I have kept pretty clear of that part of the matter believing it better policy to strike hard about those questions which men devoid of special scientific learning can deal with.8

My article is confoundedly long as it is—

Great as you say is the power of misrepresentation.9 But one use of the study of the history of science & of philosophy, is the true faith it brings that the power of misrepresentation great as it is, is of no permanent importance— I brought Jowett’s Plato with me and have been studying the ‘Republic’ in his charming translation10

In the course of the last two thousand years I suppose that some millions of human jackasses have brayed & kicked up their heels at Plato’s ideal— And yet there it is alive & fresh and as helpful & delightful to me as it was to old Thomas More— Now I venture to prophesy that whatever clouds of dust the ‘powers of Doom’ (who is stupidity) may raise about the ‘Origin of Species’—it will remain fresh & helpful to all true students; and two thousand years hence—when my name is known only because it occurs in the ‘origin’ and learned scholars have decided that ‘Darwin’ was not a real person, but the assumed name of a society of distinguished naturalists who, being afraid of the Church, wrote under a pseudonym which is an obvious play upon the old English word ‘Daring’—earnest students will be drawing new ideas from your inspiration—and consoling themselves with the reflection that after all, Truth doesn’t die. ‘Gaudeamus igitur, senes dum sumus’ as the old Bursch-song doesn’t say—11

The wife sends best love to all   Harry is all right again and he & the rest are tearing about like mad—because everything is packed up & we start for home tomorrow.12 I never saw such little beggars for enjoying themselves

My wife says golf has greatly improved me & diminished my anterior curvature




Ever Yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley


Huxley refers to his article ‘Mr. Darwin’s critics’, in the Contemporary Review (T. H. Huxley 1871b).
Huxley refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Huxley compares his attack on St George Jackson Mivart to Saul and the Israelites’ slaughter of their enemies the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15: 2–7.
James Thomas Knowles was the editor of the Contemporary Review. Huxley’s article (T. H. Huxley 1871b) was published in the November 1871 issue.
Mivart’s Genesis of species (Mivart 1871a) was critical of Descent.
CD correctly suspected Mivart of writing a hostile anonymous review of Descent for the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871c; see letter to T. H. Huxley, 21 September [1871] and n. 6).
In his article ‘Mr. Darwin’s critics’ (T. H. Huxley 1871b), Huxley took particular care to criticise Mivart’s use of the work of the Catholic theologian Francisco Suárez in Genesis of species (Mivart 1871a); see letter from T. H. Huxley and H. A. Huxley, 20 September 1871 and n. 5.
CD added a chapter to Origin 6th ed. to address objections to the theory of natural selection; he replied in particular to Mivart.
Huxley refers to Plato’s Republic, in volume 2 of Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s dialogues (Jowett trans. 1871).
Gaudeamus igitur, senes dum sumus: Let us then rejoice, while we are old (Latin). Huxley alters a traditional student song. The original opening line is ‘Gaudeamus igitur, iuvenes dum sumus’ (Let us then rejoice while we are young). Bursch-songs, or Burschenlieder, are student songs (German).
Huxley refers to Henrietta Anne Huxley and Henry Huxley; see letter from T. H. Huxley and H. A. Huxley, 20 September 1871.


Sends proof of article for Contemporary Review [18 (1871): 443–76].

Is grieved to hear that Mivart is author of Quarterly Review article. THH thought better of him than that.

Compares the Origin to Plato’s Republic: "it will remain fresh for two thousand years".

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
St Andrews
Source of text
DAR 99: 43–46
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7973,” accessed on 27 June 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19