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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   13 [December 1856]1


My dear Huxley


I must just thank you for your note. For quickness sake, I think I shall read Translation, at least if Book is big.—2 I fear Entomologist will not let the Italian Bee pass as a variety: it is reckoned good species.3

I am much pleased at what you say about relations of cement-gland & organs in higher Crust.—4 I shall be quite content to be moderately right on subject; & I do very much hope you will dissect the receptacle in Conchoderma. Remember, that the so-called “true ovaria” yet act, as I saw pellets of yellow stuff on one or two occasions in transitu in the unbranched part between the “true ovaria” & ovarian tubes or cæca.5

I hardly myself remember, at present, what I asked you (thanks for Hincks),6 but I will put down 2 or 3 points on next page, for chance of your coming across good examples; then enter them in your note Book, but do not take trouble to write.—

With cordial thanks for all your kindness | My dear Huxley | Ever yours | C. Darwin

I hope that Mrs.— Huxley is pretty well.—7

Can “Darwin” be an eternal & necessary hermaphrodite?8

Cases of organs in which there is no apparent passage or transition from other organ: or still better, if such transition can be shown in an unexpected manner.9 E.G. Electrical organs in Fish, seem to be really new organ & not any other changed. Some think poison-gland of Snakes are not salivary gland modified. I require passages, but I always give all the facts which I can collect, hostile to my notions.

Cases of odd & inexplicable connection, between different parts of structure, so that if one changes the other changes. E.G. All cats with blue eyes are deaf.— or Hairless dogs are nearly toothless, which latter we can understand.—


Dated by the relationship to the letter to T. H. Huxley, 9 December [1856].
Siebold 1857, the English translation of Siebold 1856.
CD referred to the Italian dark bee in Natural selection, p. 372 n. 5.
Henrietta Anne Huxley was pregnant. The Huxleys’ first child, a son, was born 31 December 1856 (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 151).
CD was gathering such cases for chapter 8 of his species book, ‘Difficulties on the theory of natural selection in relation to passages from form to form’ (Natural selection, pp. 339–86). CD mentioned a case provided by Huxley (ibid., p. 357 and n. 1).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Hincks, Thomas. 1852. On a peculiar organ which occurs on some of the marine Bryozoa and which appears to indicate a difference of sex. Report of the 22nd meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Belfast, Transactions of the sections, pp. 75–6.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Siebold, Karl Theodor Ernst von. 1856. Wahre Parthenogenesis bei Schmetterlingen und Bienen. Ein Beitrag zur Fortpflanzungsgeschichte der Thiere. Leipzig. [Vols. 7,8]

Siebold, Karl Theodor Ernst von. 1857. On a true parthenogenesis in moths and bees; a contribution to the history of reproduction in animals. Translated by William S. Dallas. London: John van Voorst.


Pleased by what THH says on cement glands and organs in higher Crustacea. Content to be moderately right.

Hopes THH will dissect the Conchoderma.

Asks for cases of organs in which there is no apparent transition from other organs or in which transition can be shown in an unexpected way and for instances of odd and inexplicable connections between parts, such that if one part varies the other varies also.

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: 44, 375)
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2020,” accessed on 20 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6