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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Tyndall   16 April 1873

Royal Institution of Great Britain

16th April 1873

My dear Darwin

Your excellent letter reached me on Saturday last.1 You will doubtless set the matter before Huxley effectually in your own gentle way;2 but for my part the idea of ‘entreatis’ would not have occured to me. It is his clear and bounden duty to do what we wish him to do: his duty to himself: his duty to his wife and children: his duty to us and to the world.

Compare his case with that of Faraday, the most delicate minded man that ever lived, the most Sensitive to the touch of anything questionable in the way of money. He accepted a pension of £300 a year. Now I take it that we can measure Huxley’s merits as well as the prime minister of the day could measure those of Faraday;3 and I also take it that what is done by his most intimate friends ought to raise less scruple in his mind than anything that could be done by the taxpayers of England.

I wish with you that Mrs. L.4 had not subscribed—It suggests the idea of an effort, which ought to be entirely absent from the movement. | Heartily yours | John Tyndall


See letter to John Tyndall, 11 April 1873. The Saturday preceding 16 April 1873 was 12 April.
At a meeting on 8 April 1873, it was agreed that CD should be the one to inform Thomas Henry Huxley of the subscription raised by his friends (see letter to William Spottiswoode, [8 April 1873]; see also letter to T. H. Huxley, 23 April 1873).
Michael Faraday was awarded a civil list pension of £300 a year in 1836. It was the subject of some political embarrassment because Faraday had at first refused the offer from the prime minister of the day, William Lamb (Lord Melbourne), who reportedly referred to such pensions as ‘humbug’ (ODNB).
Katherine Murray Lyell (see letter to John Tyndall, 11 April 1873 and n. 4).


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


It is Huxley’s "duty to do what we wish him to do – his duty to his wife and children, his duty to us and to the world". Shares CD’s wish that Mrs [Henry] L[yell?] had not subscribed – it suggests the idea of an effort.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Tyndall
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Royal Institution
Source of text
DAR 106: C13–14
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8860,” accessed on 23 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21