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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   13 November 1880

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

Nov. 13th 1880

My dear Huxley,

At last I have collected sufficient facts about Wallace, chiefly from Miss Buckley. The enclosed paper is too long, but I could not well make it shorter.1 The more I hear about Wallace, the more I think that you will do a really kind action if you can start with a few good signatures for a memorial. If there is any prospect of success I would send the memorial with notes to all the men on whom we fix, and would do anything else which I possibly could. But what form the memorial ought to take, I have no idea; and I hope that you will aid in this. Nor do I know how the memorial ought to be presented; if by a deputation of two or three, I would gladly come to London for the purpose. I have scribbled down the names of the persons whom to ask to sign, that is if you approve. I could approach Lord Aberdare Pres. Geograph. Socy. through Bates.2 Miss Buckley suggested the Duke of Argyll; and I have reason to think that he would wish to aid Wallace; but I suppose it would never do to ask a Minister to sign a memorial to the Premier.3

I have seldom wished for anything so much, as to succeed in getting some provision for Wallace.

My dear Huxley, | Yours very sincerely | Charles Darwin

I am so anxious about this affair, that ask Mrs. Huxley to send me a Post-card with word “received”.4

P.S Very many thanks about letter to Nature.—

P.S. 2d Your note about “dried” forms will give many a person a jolly laugh.5


Spottiswood Pres. R. Soc.

Huxley Sec. — do

Allman Pres Linnean Soc.

Flower Pres. Zoological Soc

Sclater Sec. — do

Ld. Aberdare Pres. Geograph. Soc.

Bates Sec — do

Duke of Argyll???




Perhaps (what do you think?)

Günther—Curator(?) British Museum (I could ask Gunther to sound Owen)

Newton Professor of Zoology, Cambridge


This altogether makes 13 names with one or two additional doubtful men

Mr Smiles got a pension for Edwards, the Scotch Naturalist, & when he came down here for my signature, he told me that he felt sure that it was the best plan to have very few signers.8 He said this when I suggested some good men to him.—


Arabella Burton Buckley had sent a summary of Alfred Russel Wallace’s claims for a government pension (see letter from A. B. Buckley, 7 November 1880 and enclosure, and Appendix VI). There is a draft of the memorial in DAR 196: 3; for a transcription, see Appendix VI.
Henry Austin Bruce, first Baron Aberdare, became president of the Royal Geographical Society in 1880 (Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography 2 (1880): 772). Henry Walter Bates was assistant secretary of the society.
Henrietta Anne Huxley; no postcard has been found, but see the letter from T. H. Huxley, 14 November 1880.
CD had asked for advice on his letter to Nature, 5 November [1880] (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 5 November 1880 and nn. 1 and 3). Huxley’s reply and the note on ‘dried’ forms have not been found.
William Spottiswoode was president of the Royal Society of London and Huxley was secretary; George James Allman was president of the Linnean Society; William Henry Flower was president of the Zoological Society of London and Philip Lutley Sclater was secretary (ODNB). John Lubbock and Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Albert Günther was keeper of the zoological department at the British Museum and Richard Owen was superintendent of the natural history departments; Alfred Newton was professor of zoology and comparative anatomy at Cambridge University; George Rolleston was Linacre Professor of anatomy and physiology at Oxford University (ODNB).
Samuel Smiles had started a memorial to obtain a civil list pension for Thomas Edward; CD had agreed to sign (see Correspondence vol. 24, letter to Samuel Smiles, 16 December 1876, and Secord 2003).


Secord, Anne. 2003. ‘Be what you would seem to be’: Samuel Smiles, Thomas Edward, and the making of a working-class scientific hero. Science in Context 16: 147–73.


Sends draft of memorial for a pension for Wallace with suggested names of signers. Asks THH’s help.

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: 346)
Physical description
LS(A) 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 12811,” accessed on 1 March 2024,