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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   10 June 1855


June 10th, 1855.

Shall you attend the Council of the Royal Society on Thursday next? I have not been very well of late, and I doubt whether I can attend; and if I could do anything (pray conceal the scandalous fact), I want to go to the Crystal Palace to meet the Horners, Lyells, and a party.1 So I want to know whether you will speak for me most strongly for Barrande.2 You know better than I do his admirable labours on the development of trilobites, and his most important work on his Lower or Primordial Zone. I enclose an old note of Lyell’s to show what he thinks.3 With respect to Dana,4 whom I also proposed, you know well his merits. I can speak most highly of his classificatory work on crustacea and his Geographical Distribution.5 His Volcanic Geology is admirable, and he has done much good work on coral reefs.6

If you attend, do not answer this; but if you cannot be at the Council, please inform me, and I suppose I must, if I can, attend.7

Thank you for your abstract of your lecture at the Royal Institution,8 which interested me much, and rather grieved me, for I had hoped things had been in a slight degree otherwise. I heard some time ago that before long I might congratulate you on becoming a married man.9 From my own experience of some fifteen years, I am very sure that there is nothing in this wide world which more deserves congratulation, and most sincerely and heartily do I congratulate you, and wish you many years of as much happiness as this world can afford.


Emma Darwin wrote ‘Crystal P.’ in her diary on 14 June, the same day as the council meeting of the Royal Society.
Joachim Barrande was a candidate for election as a foreign member of the Royal Society, but he was not nominated at the council meeting on 14 June.
Letter from Charles Lyell, 23 April 1855.
James Dwight Dana was also one of the candidates who failed to be nominated for election.
Dana 1852–3 and Dana 1853.
Dana 1849 and Dana 1848.
Huxley attended the meeting of the council on 14 June; CD was absent (Royal Society council minutes).
T. H. Huxley 1855b. There is a copy in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Huxley disputed the facts upon which Louis Agassiz had based his view that certain fish have in their embryonic stage characteristics of earlier adult forms. Huxley concluded that ‘there is no real parallel between the successive forms assumed in the development of the life of the individual at present, and those which have appeared at different epochs in the past’ (T. H. Huxley 1855b, p. 85; Foster and Lankester eds. 1898–1903, 1: 303–4).
Huxley had become engaged to Henrietta Anne Heathorn in Sydney, New South Wales, in 1847 during the voyage of H.M.S. Rattlesnake. Henrietta Heathorn and her parents arrived in England at the beginning of May 1855. She and Huxley were married on 21 July (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 128–9).


Asks whether THH will attend Council of Royal Society and speak for him on Joachim Barrande and J. D. Dana.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 145: 159
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1697,” accessed on 18 December 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5