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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   11 [April] 18801

Abinger Hall | Dorking

Sunday March 11th 80

My dear Huxley

I wished much to attend your lecture, but I have had a bad cough & we have come here to see whether a change wd. do me good, as it has done.2 What a magnificent success your lecture seems to have been, as I judge from the reports in the Standard & D. News, & more especially from the accounts given me by 3 of my children.3 I suppose that you have not written out your lecture so fear there is no chance of its being published in extenso.4 You appear to have piled, as on so many other occasions, honours high & thick on my old head. But I well know how great a part you have played in establishing & spreading the belief in the descent-theory, ever since the grand review in the Times & the battle Royal at Oxford up to the present day.5

Ever my dear Huxley | Yours sincerely & gratefully | Charles Darwin

It was absurdly stupid in me, but I had read the announcement of your Lecture & thought that you meant the maturity of the subject, until my wife one day remarked, “yes it is about 21 years since the Origin appeared”, & then for the first time the meaning of your words flashed on me!6


The month is established by the reference to Huxley’s lecture (see n. 2, below). CD wrote March in error.
Huxley delivered a lecture, ‘The coming of age of the Origin of species’, at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 9 April 1880. The Darwins visited Abinger, Surrey, from 8 to 13 April 1880 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Articles on Huxley’s lecture appeared in the Standard, 10 April 1880, p. 3, and the Daily News, 10 April 1880, p. 2.
The lecture was published in Nature, 6 May 1880 (T. H. Huxley 1880c).
An unsigned review of Origin by Huxley had appeared in The Times, 26 December 1859, pp. 8–9 ([T. H. Huxley] 1859). On the events that took place at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, particularly the verbal encounter between Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, and Huxley on 30 June 1860, see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VI.
At this time the age of majority in Britain was 21.


[Huxley, Thomas Henry]. 1859a. The Darwinian hypothesis. The Times, 26 December 1859, pp. 8–9.

Huxley, Thomas Henry. 1880c. The coming of age of the Origin of Species. Nature, 6 May 1880, pp. 1–4.

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.


Sorry he missed THH’s lecture ["The coming of age of The origin of species", Royal Institution, 9 Apr 1880]. Has read press notices and heard from his children of its great success.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Abinger Hall
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 340)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12574,” accessed on 4 October 2023,