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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   5 November [1864]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 5th

My dear Huxley

I must & will answer you, for it is a real pleasure to me to thank you cordially for your note.2 Such notes, as this of yours & a few others are the real medal to me & not the round bit of gold.3 These have given me a pleasure which will long endure; so believe in my cordial thanks for your note.

I want to make a suggestion to you, but which may probably have occurred to you. Emma4 was reading your Lecture5 to Horace6 & ended by saying “I wish he would write a book”   I answered he has just written a great Book on the Skull.7 “I dont call that a Book” she replied & added “I want something that people can read; he does write so well”. Now with your ease in writing & with knowledge at your fingers’ ends, do you not think you could write a “Popular Treatise on Zoology”.8 Of course it would be some waste of time; but I have been asked more than a dozen times to recommend something for a beginner, & could only think of Carpenter’s Zoology.9 I am sure that a striking Treatise would do real service to Science by educating naturalists. If you were to keep a portfolio open for a couple of years, & throw in slips of paper, as subjects crossed your mind; you would soon have a skeleton (& that seems to me the difficulty) on which to put the flesh & colours in your inimitable manner.

I believe such a Book might have a brilliant success: but I did not intend to scribble so much about it.—

Give my kindest remembrances to Mrs Huxley & cordial thanks for her sympathy.10 Tell her I was looking at “Enoch Arden” & as I know how she admires Tennyson I must call her attention to two sweetly pretty lines (p. 105) .... : “and he meant, he said he meant, Perhaps he meant, or partly meant, you well”.11 Such a gem as this is enough to make me young again & like poetry with pristine fervour.—

My dear Huxley | Yours affecy | Ch. Darwin

Can you give me a Photographic Carte of yourself— I have set up a Book for my Scientific friends,12 | C. D.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 4 November 1864.
CD refers to the Copley Medal. See letter from T. H. Huxley, 4 November 1864 and n. 1.
CD may be referring to one of the lectures from the series entitled On our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature (T. H. Huxley 1862). The lectures were reprinted in 1863 (T. H. Huxley 1863a). CD’s annotated copy of T. H. Huxley 1862 is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 425). A copy of T. H. Huxley 1863a is in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 426).
CD refers to Huxley’s Lectures on the elements of comparative anatomy (T. H. Huxley 1864c). The second half of the book is on the vertebrate skull. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 425). See also letter to T. H. Huxley, 11 April [1864].
Huxley never wrote a general book on zoology; however, he did write a popular introduction to the subject, based on the study of a single animal type, the crayfish (see T. H. Huxley 1880). CD’s annotated copy of T. H. Huxley 1880 is in the Darwin Library–Down (see Marginalia 1: 423).
CD refers to William Benjamin Carpenter’s text-book on zoology, first published as part of the Popular cyclopædia of natural science (Carpenter 1844), and later enlarged and issued separately (Carpenter 1845).
CD quotes from ‘Sea dreams’, by Alfred Tennyson. The poem appears on p. 105 of Enoch Arden, etc (Tennyson 1864). See Correspondence vol. 13, letter from Henrietta Anne Huxley, 1 January 1865.
The album has not been found.


Carpenter, William Benjamin. 1845. Zoology; being a systematic account of the general structure, habits, instincts, and uses of the principal families of the animal kingdom; as well as of the chief forms of fossil remains. 2 vols. London: Wm. S. Orr & Co.

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

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Tennyson, Alfred. 1864. Enoch Arden, etc. London: Edward Moxon & Co.


Appreciates THH’s note more than Medal.

Encourages THH to write a popular treatise on zoology.

Sends Mrs Huxley a quotation from Tennyson, with sarcastic comment.

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: 207)
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4661,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12