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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Henry Huxley   [before 30 January 1868]1

My dear Darwin

I wish to offer our hearty congratulations upon your son’s great success at Cambridge2

Is he my heraldic young friend of seven or eight years ago?3 It must be amazingly jolly to have a son come out in this style— And I must make my boys give their progenitors some such pleasure—; though they are not likely to go to either University4

The two volumes of the new book have just reached me5

My best thanks for them; and if you can only send me a little time for reading them within the next three months, you will heighten the obligation twenty-fold— I wish I had either two heads or a body that needed no rest—!

Ever yours faithfully | T H Huxley

Wife & chicks flourishing—& nearly purified6


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to T. H. Huxley, 30 January [1868].
George Howard Darwin was second in the final examination for the mathematical tripos at Cambridge (Cambridge University calendar 1868).
George once had an interest in heraldry (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. D. Fox, 3 October [1856]). Huxley had visited Down House on several occasions in 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8).
Huxley refers to the universities at Oxford and Cambridge. Huxley had two sons, Leonard and Henry. Leonard won a scholarship to Oxford, and was a student at Balliol College from 1879 (Clark 1968, p. 99).
The reference is to Variation. Huxley’s name appears on the presentation list for the book (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix IV).
Huxley refers to Henrietta Anne Huxley; their other children (see n. 4, above), were Jessie, Marian, Nettie, Rachel, and Ethel. Two of the Huxley children had fallen ill with scarlet fever in November 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 November 1867 and n. 15).


Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.

Clark, Ronald W. 1968. The Huxleys. London: Heinemann.

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


Congratulations on George’s attaining Second Wrangler.

Variation has just arrived. Wishes he had two heads or a body that needed no rest.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Museum of Practical Geology
Source of text
DAR 166: 313
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5814,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16