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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   11 June [1878]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

June 11th.—

My dear Huxley

I thank you very much for your article on Evolution. It seems to me capitally done; but how you find time to pick the brains of all those old fellows, about whom a gentleman of the present day knows nothing, is astonishing. It is extremely curious about Lamarck: one would like to learn, as you say, what made him change his front so completely.2 I do not know whether I ought to return the article, but shd. like to keep it, & will do so unless I hear to the contrary.

We often thought & talked about you during your late distress; for we know what that kind of misery is. I still look back with horror to what we endured when some of our children were dangerously ill with scarlet-fever & we were in a panic about the others, & then when my wife caught it, that was a climax.—3

Ever yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 8 June 1878.
Huxley had enclosed his subsection ‘Evolution in biology’ of the ‘Evolution’ entry for Encyclopaedia Britannica (EB 9th ed. 8: 744–51); CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Huxley’s part of the article was an account of the changing use of the word ‘evolution’ in the work of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck and others; see letter from T. H. Huxley, 8 June 1878 and n. 1.
Huxley’s daughter Marian was recovering from diphtheria; see letter from T. H. Huxley, 8 June 1878 and n. 2. CD’s youngest child, Charles Waring Darwin, died of scarlet fever in 1858; see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, [29 June 1858]. In June and July 1862, CD’s son Leonard was ill with scarlet fever and his wife, Emma, contracted it in August; see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to A. R. Wallace, 20 August [1862].


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Encyclopaedia Britannica online.


Thanks for evolution article; would like to know what made Lamarck "change his front" so completely.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 331)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11550,” accessed on 4 March 2021,