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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Henrietta Anne Huxley   1 January 1865

Dear Mr. Darwin

Hal1 has just brought me your note containing your slyly disparaging remarks on my beloved Tennyson—& quoting “as a gem”

‘And he meant, he said he meant, Perhaps he meant, or partly meant you well.’2

In the first place it was very mean of you to give the lines without the context shockingly Owenlike3

Secondly. The lines only convince me more than ever that Tennyson is quite master of his situation. Could you better render In words, the desire in the wife’s mind to do justice, to—her enemy I suppose for I have not read “Sea Dreams”, together with the conflicting feeling which yet possessed her of his insincerity? I am very pleased that Tennyson accredits the feminine mind with such a strong sense of justice.

I now refer to the book— I am grieved to find that a philosopher of your repute—should have damaged your reputation for accuracy so greatly as to tell me that the quotation was from “Enoch Arden” whereas it was from “Sea Dreams”— If the “facts?!” in the Origin of Species are of this sort—I agree with the Bishop of Oxford—4

Yours too sincerely | Henrietta Huxley

love to your dear wife & ask her for a screed.

New Year’s Day | 1865.


In the letter to T. H. Huxley, 5 November [1864] (Correspondence vol. 12), CD had quoted this passage from ‘Sea Dreams’, by Alfred Tennyson. CD had remarked, ‘Such a gem as this is enough to make me young again & like poetry with pristine fervour’. The poem appeared in the volume Enoch Arden, etc (Tennyson 1864), p. 105.
CD had protested to Huxley and others about the ‘false & malignant’ review of Origin by Richard Owen ([Owen] 1860): ‘I never saw such an amount of misrepresentation’ (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to T. H. Huxley, 9 April [1860]; see also letter to Charles Lyell, 10 April [1860]).
The reference is to Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, who had criticised Origin in his article in the Quarterly Review ([Wilberforce] 1860). See also Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VI.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

[Owen, Richard.] 1860b. [Review of Origin & other works.] Edinburgh Review 111: 487–532.

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

[Wilberforce, Samuel.] 1860. [Review of Origin.] Quarterly Review 108: 225–64.


Has just been shown CD’s remarks on Tennyson. Upbraids CD for "Owen-like quotation" out of context, and getting source wrong. "If ""facts"" in Origin are of this sort I agree with Bishop of Oxford."

Letter details

Letter no.
Henrietta Anne Heathorn/Henrietta Anne Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 284
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4733,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13