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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   25 February 1863

Jermyn St

Feby 25th 1863

My dear Darwin

Please to say to Miss Henrietta Minor Rhadamanthus Darwin that I plead guilty to the justice of both criticisms & throw myself on the mercy of the Court1

As extenuating circumstances with respect to indictment No. 1. see prefatory notice.2

Extenuating circumstance No 2: that I picked up ‘Atavism’ in Pritchard years ago—and as it is a much more convenient word than ‘Hereditary transmission of variations’ it slipped into equivalence in my mind—and I forgot all about the original limitation3

But if these excuses should in your judgment tend to aggravate my offences suppress ’em, like a friend.

One may always hope more from a lady’s tenderheartedness than from her sense of justice

Publisher has just sent to say that I must give him any corrections for second thousand of my booklet immediately—4

Why did not Miss Etty send any critical remarks on that subject by the same post? I should be most immensely obliged for them

Ever | Yours faithy | T. H. Huxley


See letter to T. H. Huxley, [before 25 February 1863]. The reference is to Henrietta (Etty) Emma Darwin. ‘Rhadamanthus’ is a character from Greek mythology: a son of Zeus and Europa and one of the judges in the lower world. The term is used allusively to denote an ‘inflexible judge; a rigorous or severe master’ (OED).
At Huxley’s request, Robert Hardwicke, the publisher of Huxley’s 1862 lectures to working men (T. H. Huxley 1863a), included a prefatory notice by Huxley explaining that while he had given Hardwicke’s shorthand writer, J. Aldous Mays, permission to take lecture-notes with a view to publishing them, he had had ‘no leisure to revise the Lectures, or to make alterations in them, beyond the correction of any important error in a matter of fact’.
The reference has not been identified.
Huxley’s Evidence as to man’s place in nature (T. H. Huxley 1863b), was first published on 20 February 1863 by the London publishers Williams & Norgate; it sold quickly and a second printing was called for almost immediately. The publishers launched the second printing on 21 March 1863 (Publishers’ Circular, 16 February 1863, p. 85, and 1 April 1863, p. 181; see also L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 201–2). CD sent his comments on T. H. Huxley 1863b in his letter to Huxley of 26 [February 1863].


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Pleads guilty to both criticisms of "Miss Henrietta Minor Rhadamanthus Darwin" [see 3896] of points in his Lectures [to working men].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Jermyn St
Source of text
DAR 166: 299
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4010,” accessed on 8 March 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11