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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   8 August [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Aug 8th

My dear Huxley

Your note contained magnificient news & thank you heartily for sending it me.—1 Von Baer weighs down with a vengeance all the virulence of Owen & weak arguments of Agassiz. If you write to Von Baer for Heaven sake tell him that we should think one nod of approbation on our side of the greatest value; & if he does write anything beg him to send us a copy;2 for I would try & get it translated & published in the Athenæum & in Silliman to touch up Agassiz.— By Jove how it would rile Owen! I am getting very spiteful towards that grand Seigneur. The other day he sent me a copy of one of his Reports!!!3

Have you seen Agassiz’s weak metaphysical & theological attack on the Origin in last Silliman;4 I would send it you, but apprehend it would be less trouble for you to look at it in London than return it to me.—   R. Wagner has sent me a German Pamphlet, giving an Abstract of Agassiz Essay on Classification “Mit Rucksicht auf Darwin’s Ansichten &c &c”.—5 He wont go vy “dangerous lengths” but thinks the truth lies half way between Agassiz & the Origin.—6 As he goes thus far he will nolens & volens have to go further. He says he is going to review me in yearly Report.7

My good & kind agent for the propagation of the Gospel ie the Devil’s gospel.— Ever yours | C. Darwin


R. Owen 1859b. See preceding letter.
Louis Agassiz reviewed Origin in the American Journal of Science and Arts, popularly known as ‘Silliman’s journal’ after the founding editor Benjamin Silliman. There is an annotated copy of the review (Agassiz 1860) in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL, presented to CD by Benjamin Silliman Jr. Agassiz’s critique was drawn from a discussion of the species question in his forthcoming third volume of Contributions to the natural history of the United States (Agassiz 1857–62).
Wagner 1860b. A separately paginated offprint of the article, which was first published in the Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. In the article, Rudolph Wagner discussed points relating to the species question brought forward by Agassiz in the first volume of Agassiz 1857–62, reprinted separately as Agassiz 1859. Wagner received a letter from CD in response to his pamphlet, a passage from which Wagner later published (Wagner 1862, p. 167): ‘Although You are far from agreeing with me I thank You by heart for the liberal and most kind way in which You allude to it. All that I can hope and expect is, that my views should be fairly considered’.
Wagner 1860b, p. 795. The passage is marked in CD’s copy.
Wagner contributed a report to the 1861 volume of the Archiv für Naturgeschichte on recently published works in general zoology and the natural history of man; he devoted a considerable portion of this report to a discussion of Origin. See Wagner 1861.


Agassiz, Louis. 1857–62. Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America. 4 vols. Boston, Mass.: Little, Brown & Company. London: Trübner.

Agassiz, Louis. 1859. An essay on classification. London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, & Roberts; Trübner & Co. [Reprint of vol. 1, pt 1, of Contributions to the natural history of the United States of America. 4 vols. 1857–62.] [Reprint edition. Edited by Edward Lurie. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1962.]

Agassiz, Louis. 1860. On the origin of species. American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 30: 142–54. [Reprinted in Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 6 (1860): 219–32.]

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.


News of K. E. von Baer’s support is magnificent – far outweighs Owen and Agassiz. Asks THH to tell Baer that a statement from him would be of utmost value.

R. Wagner [in an article on Louis Agassiz’s principles of classification, Göttingsche gelehrte Anzeiger (1860) pt 2: 761–800] "goes half way" between Agassiz and Origin.

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: 133)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2893,” accessed on 30 June 2022,

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