skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   4 February [1880]1

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

Febr 4th

My dear Huxley

Oh Lord what a relief your letter has been to me. I feel like a man condemned to be hung who has just got a reprieve. I saw in the future no end of trouble, but I feared that I was bound in honour to answer.2 If you were here I cd show you exactly how the omission arose.—3

Your letter when read aloud made us all shake with laughter.— You have indeed done me a lasting kindness

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

The affair has [annoyed] & pained me to a silly extent; but it wd. be disagreeable to any one to be publickly called in fact a liar.

He seems to hint that I interpolated sentences in Krause’s M.S, but he could hardly have really thought so. Until quite recently he expressed great friendship for me & said he had learnt all he knew about Evolution from my books, & I have no idea what has made him so bitter against me.4 You have done me a real kindness.—

Litchfield will be infinitely pleased at your letter. Emma is copying it to send him.—5


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 February 1880.
Huxley had advised CD not to respond to Samuel Butler’s letter to the Athenæum (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 1 February [1880], enclosure 1), in which Butler suggested that CD intentionally failed to mention that Ernst Krause’s original essay (Krause 1879a) had been reworked for Erasmus Darwin (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 February 1880).
CD had explained the accidental omission of a note about the revision of Krause’s essay in his first draft letter to the Athenæum, but had not sent that draft to Huxley (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 1 February [1880], enclosure 2).
Butler’s first letter to CD had expressed his enjoyment of Origin; he later sent CD drawings by Arthur Dampier May, some of which were published in Expression (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Samuel Butler, 1 October 1865, and Correspondence vol. 20, letter from Samuel Butler to Francis Darwin, [before 30 May 1872]).
Huxley had praised the advice CD received from his son-in-law Richard Buckley Litchfield. A copy of the letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 February 1880, in Emma Darwin’s hand, is in DAR 92: B95–6; in the copy, the words ‘every son of a’ were substituted with ‘everyone’, and Huxley’s drawing was omitted.


Erasmus Darwin. By Ernst Krause. Translated from the German by W. S. Dallas, with a preliminary notice by Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1879.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Greatly relieved by THH’s letter [advising against a reply to Samuel Butler].

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: 338)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12458,” accessed on 18 May 2022,