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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   11 March 1869

Jermyn St

March 11th 1869

My dear Darwin

I “know quite enough about Mr Vernon Lushington to have paid every attention to what he has to say”, even if you had not been his ambassador1

I glanced over his letter when I returned home last night very tired with my two nights chairmanship at the Ethnological & the Geological Societies—2

Most of it is fair enough, though, I must say not helping me to any novel considerations— Two paragraphs, however, contained opinions which Mr Lushington is at perfectly liberty to entertain; but not, I think, to express to me—

The one is, that I shaped what I had to say at Edinburgh with a view of stirring up the prejudices of the Scotch presbyterians (imagine how many presbyterians I had in my audience!) against Comte3

The other, is the concluding paragraph, in which Mr Lushington recommends me to “read Comte”—clearly implying, that I have criticized Comte without reading him—

You will know how far I am likely to have committed either of the immoralities thus laid to my charge—

At any rate, I do not think I care to enter into some direct relations with any one who so heedlessly & unjustifiably assumes me to be guilty of them— Therefore I shall content myself with acknowledging the receipt of Mr Lushington’s letter through you

Yours very faithfully | T. H. Huxley


See letter to T. H. Huxley, 10 March 1869 and n. 2. Lushington’s letter has not been found.
The Ethnological Society of London met on 9 March 1869 (Journal of the Ethnological Society of London n.s. 1 (1868–9): ix). The Geological Society of London met on 10 March 1869 (Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 25 (1869): 235). Huxley was president of both societies in 1869.
The paper that appeared in the Fortnightly Review for 1 February 1869 (T. H. Huxley 1869a) was based on a talk that Huxley had given in Edinburgh on 8 November 1868 in which he criticised the philosophy of Auguste Comte (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 10 March 1869 and n. 2).


Nothing new in Lushington’s letter. Two paragraphs are offensive – that THH sought to stir up Scotch Presbyterian prejudices against Comte at Edinburgh and that he had not read Comte.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Jermyn St
Source of text
DAR 166: 317
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6654,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17