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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   22 February [1861]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 22d

My dear Huxley

On my journey home, a scheme occurred to me, which I think is worth your thinking about.—2 Do you not think a little change would be the best thing for Mrs. Huxley, if she could be induced to try it?3 I have been talking with my wife & she joins heartily in asking whether Mrs. Huxley would not come here for a fortnight & bring all the children & nurse. But I must make it clear that this House is dreadfully dull & melancholy. My wife lives upstairs with my girl & she would see little of Mrs. Huxley, except at meal times, & my stomach is so habitually bad that I never spend the whole evening even with our nearest relations. If Mrs Huxley could be induced to come, she must look at this house, just as if it were a country inn, to which she went for a change of air. There is this one advantage, that she would have no trouble, such as she would have if she were to go to an Inn. Also we are near; so that she cd. start from the Victoria station for Beckenham, whither we could send our carriage. And Lastly you could probably come down & spend the Sunday here. Now do think of this scheme. I know well that this house in its present state presents heavy disadvantages; but perhaps a little visit here might do Mrs. Huxley good & give her strength.—4

My dear Huxley | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

P.S.5 I have heard from Trübner that the Box from U. States did not contain any M.S. Review from Wright of Boston.6 It seems to have been forgotten by some accident.


Dated by the invitation for Henrietta Anne Huxley to visit Down House (see n. 4, below).
CD travelled to London on 21 February 1861, returning to Down on 22 February (Emma Darwin’s diary). He attended a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society on 21 February 1861 (Bonney 1919, p. 154).
Henrietta Huxley was recuperating from the birth of a child in December 1860 and suffering ‘inconsolable grief’ over the death in September 1860 of the Huxleys’ first-born son, Noel (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 216). Emma Darwin had experienced a similar trauma in 1851 (see Correspondence vol. 5).
Henrietta Huxley and the children visited the Darwins at Down House from 9 to 25 March 1861 (Emma Darwin’s diary). In a letter sent to Henrietta Emma Litchfield and published in the biography of her mother, Henrietta Huxley recalled this visit (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 186): in the early days of our acquaintance, just after we had lost our boy, she begged me to come to her and bring the three children and nurse, and I should have the old nurseries at Down. I first wrote that I was too ill to be out of my home, that I could not get downstairs till 1 o’clock. Her reply was, that that was the usual state of the family at Down, and I should just be following suit. What wonder that I had for her always the most grateful affection.
The postscript is no longer with the original letter but is included in the copy in DAR 145.


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

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

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Invites Mrs Huxley and the children to spend a fortnight at Down.

MS of Chauncey Wright’s review has not yet arrived.

[P.S. missing from original.]

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: 157); DAR 145
Physical description
ALS 4pp inc & C 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3066,” accessed on 22 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9