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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   3 July [1860]1

Sudbrook Park | Richmond | (I return to Down on Saturday)

July 3d

My dear Huxley

I have been water-curing here for a few days at first with very little success, but now with better hope; for I was quite worn out by anxiety about my girl & my stomach had got into dreadful state. My girl is a little better & I hope this day was moved first stage from home.2

I had letter from Oxford written by Hooker late on Sunday night, giving me some account of the awful battles which have raged about “species” at Oxford. He tells me you fought nobly with Owen, (but I have heard no particulars) & that you answered the B. of O. capitally.—3 I often think that my friends (& you far beyond others) have good cause to hate me, for having stirred up so much mud, & led them into so much odious trouble.— If I had been a friend of myself, I should have hated me. (how to make that sentence good English I know not.) But remember if I had not stirred up the mud some one else certainly soon would.— I honour your pluck; I would as soon have died as tried to answer the Bishop in such an assembly. Was Owen very blackguard? H. says that the Bishop turned me into ridicule & was very savage against you.—   I hardly like to ask you to write, for I know how you are overworked; but I shd rather like to hear a bit about the battle. I did not imagine that it would have turned up at Oxford; but I am now glad that I had no choice about going for I was utterly unfit.—   The world surely will soon get weary of subject & let us have some peace. Though, on other hand, I do believe this row is best thing for subject.—   As I am never weary of saying I shd. have been utterly smashed had it not been for you & three others.

I can now see (which I did not at first) how very important the few early favourable reviews were.—   Have you seen Hopkins in last Fraser:4 it is well done & good spirit shown, (except about the soul)5 but nothing new; the weak points are well put.— I have attacked him in letter for saying that I base my view on the difficulties of the subject; & for ignoring the fertility of some hybrids. & infertility of the Verbascum & Tobacco vars.—6

I fancy from what Hooker says he must have answered the Bishop well.— God knows, I honour & thank you both.

Ever yours | C.D.


CD was at Sudbrook Park hydropathic establishment from 28 June to 7 July 1860 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that she and the children left for Hartfield on 3 July 1860.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1860. CD refers to Richard Owen and Samuel Wilberforce, the bishop of Oxford, both of whom attacked Origin at separate sessions at the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. See Appendix VI.
In the second part of his review of Origin published in Fraser’s Magazine (Hopkins 1860), William Hopkins discussed the religious implications of CD’s theory.
e believe that man has an immortal soul, and that the beasts of the field have not. If any one deny this, we can have no common ground of argument with him. Now we would ask, at what point of his progressive improvement did man acquire this spiritual part of his being, endowed with the awful attribute of immortality? Was it an “accidental variety” seized upon by the power of “natural selection” and made permanent?‘ (Hopkins 1860, 62: 88).
CD’s letter to Hopkins has not been found. See also letter to Asa Gray, 3 July [1860].


Hopkins, William. 1860. Physical theories of the phenomena of life. Fraser’s Magazine 61: 739–52; 62: 74–90.

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.


Has had a report on Oxford BAAS meeting from Hooker. Asks THH to write about it. Has heard he fought nobly with Owen and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce. Regrets trouble he has caused his friends.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Sudbrook Park
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 121)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2854,” accessed on 31 January 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8