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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   30 [March? 1858]1



Dear Lubbock

I have told Mr Busk that I have returned the paper to you.2 I shall not be easy till you send me briefest scrap to say that you have received it from me; for it would be so dreadful if it were lost.— Will you send it back to Linnean Socy.—

What an admirable & philosophical paper it is! I have sent your remark to Mr Busk to be given to Huxley.—3 I have, also, sent some criticisms to Busk, to be communicated to H. if he concurs with my opinion; which is to condense the discussion versus Owen’s theory.4

I do not like the introduction & comparison with man so remote in scale of nature.5 Still less do I like sentence about the maidens having epidermic Babies.—very well for a Review.—6 It is a grand paper—how very curious the comparison with vertebrates, & how satisfactory the homologies of all Articulata.—7

Yours most truly | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the preceding and following letters.
It seems that CD must have written a private letter, now lost, to George Busk in addition to his official referee’s report on T. H. Huxley 1858 (see preceding letter).
Lubbock’s note to Huxley has not been found. Huxley claimed to have seen ‘ovarian glands’ in the apical chambers of Aphis never before detected in insects. Lubbock was at this time investigating the morphology of Coccus (see letter from John Lubbock, 10 June 1858) and may have told Huxley that he had seen similar glandular bodies in Coccus. There is a note to this effect in T. H. Huxley 1858,p. 205. In a concluding note dated 16 November 1858, Huxley mentioned Lubbock’s observations of such glands in several other insect families (T. H. Huxley 1858, pp. 233–4).
CD’s letter has not been found. Huxley’s criticism of Richard Owen’s theory of parthenogenesis was given at length in T. H. Huxley 1858, pp. 212–18. Huxley had previously criticised Owen’s theory in the first two lectures of his course ‘Lectures on general natural history’ (T. H. Huxley 1856–7) (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 [May 1856]).
Huxley, attempting to point out deficiencies in Owen’s explanation of parthenogenesis, argued that his theory of a diminishing spermatic force that ultimately necessitated sexual union should be just as applicable to man as to aphids, and was hence an insufficient hypothesis (see T. H. Huxley 1858, p. 215).
This sentence does not appear in the published version.
T. H. Huxley 1858, pp. 228–34.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Huxley, Thomas Henry. 1856–7. Lectures on general natural history. Medical Times & Gazette n.s. 12: 429–32, 481–4, 507–11, 563–7, 618–23; 13: 27–30, 131–4, 157–60, 278–81, 383–6, 462–3, 537–8, 586–8, 635–9; 14: 133–5, 181–3, 255-7, 353–5, 505–8, 638–40; 15: 159–62, 186–9, 238–41, 467-71.


Comments and criticisms on JL’s paper [possibly: "On the development of Chloëon dimidiatum", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 24 (1863): 61–78].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 23 (EH 88206472)
Physical description
ALS 3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2397,” accessed on 18 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7