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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   16 July 1865

Jermyn St

July 16th | 1865

My dear Darwin

I have just counted the pages of your M.S. to see that they are all right and packed it up to send you by post, registered, so I hope it will reach you safely—1 I should have sent it yesterday but people came in & bothered me about post time

I did not at all mean by what I said to stop you from publishing your views and I really should not like to take that responsibility2

Somebody rummaging among your papers half a century hence will find Pangenesis & say “See this wonderful anticipation of our modern Theories—and that stupid ass, Huxley, prevented his publishing them”

And then the Carlylians of that day will make me a text for holding forth upon the difference between mere vulpine sharpness & genius—3

I am not going to be made a horrid example of in that way— But all I say is publish your views—not so much in the shape of formed conclusions—: as of hypothetical developments of the only clue at present accessible—and don’t give the Philistines more chances of blaspheming than you can help

I am very grieved to hear that you have been so ill again—

Ever | Yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley


Huxley refers to the manuscript of CD’s section on pangenesis for Variation, which CD had sent to him for criticism (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 12 July [1865]).
The letter containing Huxley’s opinions on the manuscript has not been found; however, see the letter to T. H. Huxley, 12 July [1865], in which CD said he would try to persuade himself not to publish his views.
The reference is to Thomas Carlyle and his admirers. In his well-known book On heroes, hero-worship, & the heroic in history, Carlyle compared the virtuous man’s ability to understand nature with that of the immoral man. The latter he likened to a fox and said: ‘what such can know of Nature is mean, superficial, small’ (Carlyle 1841, p. 173). CD had read many of Carlyle’s books, including Carlyle 1841 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, DAR 119: 10b). Huxley’s views on Carlyle are discussed in Paradis 1978, pp. 47–71.


Carlyle, Thomas. 1841. On heroes, hero-worship, & the heroic in history: six lectures: reported, with emendations and additions. London: James Fraser.

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

Paradis, James G. 1978. T. H. Huxley: man’s place in nature. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Did not intend to persuade CD against publishing Pangenesis. Will not take the responsibility, nor risk being made a horrible example 50 years hence.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Jermyn St
Source of text
DAR 166: 309
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4875,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

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