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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   8 June 1878

4 Marlborough Place | N. W.

June 3rd 1878

My dear Darwin

I send you the inclosed article on ‘Evolution’ which will appear in the next volume of the Encyclopædia Britannica— I do not think anybody has traced out the strange mutations in the meaning of the word before— And I think you will be astonished to see what Lamarck’s opinions were in 1794.1

Madge is about again and except that her voice is between a duck’s and a raven’s seems not much the worse— But we had an awful period of anxiety, for ten or twelve days2

The wife & she will be off to Westgate in a day or two to recruit3 They both need it—although my wife kept up remarkably indeed wonderfully well

My mind is entirely set on Cray fishes. I have been working out their structures in relation to their distribution with very pretty results4 The southern hemisphere forms are quite distinct from the northern & each area has its own group

They are evidently all modifications of marine ancestors which have been improved oft

Ever | Yours very truly | T. H. Huxley


Huxley contributed the subsection ‘Evolution in biology’ to the ‘Evolution’ article (EB 9th ed. 8: 744–51), which traces the changing uses of the word ‘evolution’ from the early eighteenth century. On p. 748, Huxley cited passages from Jean Baptiste de Lamarck’s Recherches sur les causes des principaux faits physiques (Research on the causes of the major physical facts; Lamarck 1793–4, 2: 213–14) and contrasted them with Lamarck’s view in Philosophie zoologique (Lamarck 1809). The passages concerned the distinction between minerals (termed ‘nature’ by Lamarck) and organic beings, stated that the principle of life was unknowable, and emphasised the great differences between life and nature, suggesting that the spontaneous generation of organic beings was impossible (see Corsi 1988, p. 51). The passage ‘que l’existence de ces êtres étonnants n’appartiennent nullement à la nature’ (that the existence of these astonishing creatures has nothing at all to do with nature) is underlined in CD’s copy of Huxley’s article in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. For more on the development of Lamarck’s thought and interpretations of it, see Corsi 1988 and Bowler 1983, pp. 86–95.
Huxley’s daughter Marian had been dangerously ill with diphtheria (see A. Desmond 1994–7, 2: 113).
Huxley’s wife was Henrietta Anne Huxley; Westgate-on-Sea is a town in Kent.
Huxley had lectured on crayfish to working men at the Royal School of Mines, Jermyn Street, London, from 29 April to 3 June 1878 (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 490). He had presented a paper, ‘On the classification and the distribution of the crayfishes’, to the Zoological Society of London on 4 June 1878 (T. H. Huxley 1878c); in it, he showed a remarkable correspondence between the morphological and geographical divisions of crayfishes. In 1880, he published The crayfish: an introduction to the study of zoology (T. H. Huxley 1880).


Bowler, Peter John. 1983. The eclipse of Darwinism. Anti-Darwinian evolution theories in the decades around 1900. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University Press.

Desmond, Adrian. 1994–7. Huxley. 2 vols. London: Michael Joseph.

EB 9th ed.: The Encyclopaedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature. 9th edition. 24 vols. and index. Edinburgh: A. and C. Black. 1875–89.

Lamarck, Jean Baptiste. 1793–4. Recherches sur les causes des principaux faits physiques. 2 vols. Paris: Chez Mazaclan.

Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Antoine. 1809. Philosophie zoologique; ou exposition des considérations relatives à l’histoire naturelle des animaux; à la diversité de leur organisation … et les autres l’intelligence de ceux qui en sont doués. 2 vols. Paris: Dentu; the author.


Sends article on "Evolution" [Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th ed.]. CD will be interested in Lamarck’s opinions in 1794.

Is working on crayfish and their distribution.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Marlborough Place, 4
Source of text
DAR 166: 349
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11546,” accessed on 1 March 2021,