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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin   24 April [1873]1

Ap. 24th

Dear Emma

Col Lyell2 has just been in to tell me about Lady L and I told him I would let you know. She died this morning at the Gt Western where she had come up to not being able to get into Harley St on account of the house being under repair.3 It was called Gastric Fever but she was able to walk from the train to the hotel so that I had no idea it was so serious— it turned into typhoid & just at last she sank rather suddenly.

Sir C is now in Harley St.

Herbert Spencer was very anxious to know about the state of affairs as he said he was afraid to speak to Huxley lest he should be called to account. He said the article in Edinborgh showed very bad feeling and it is a thoroughly nasty unfair review as ever I read.4



The year is established by the reference to the death of Mary Elizabeth Lyell.
Charles and Mary Elizabeth Lyell had been on an excursion and probably returned to London sometime around 9 April (see letter to Charles Lyell, [9 April 1873]). The Great Western Royal Hotel was next to Paddington rail station, the London terminus of the Great Western Railway. The Lyells’ home was at 73 Harley Street (Post Office London directory 1872).
Spencer was probably worried about Huxley’s response to learning of the subscription that had been raised for him (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 23 April 1873, and letter from T. H. Huxley, 24 April 1873). Expression was harshly reviewed in the April 1873 issue of the Edinburgh Review (137: 492–528). The anonymous reviewer, identified as Thomas Spencer Baynes in the Wellesley index, argued that Thomas Henry Huxley had attempted to justify CD’s misleading use of language, quoting at length from Huxley’s paper ‘On the physical basis of life’ (T. H. Huxley 1869; see [Baynes] 1873, p. 501). Spencer may have worried that the review would upset both Huxley and CD.


[Baynes, Thomas Spencer.] 1873. [Review of Expression.] Edinburgh Review 137: 492–528.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


Lady Lyell has died of typhoid.

Herbert Spencer is anxious to know about the state of affairs [fund for Huxley].

Edinburgh Review article [review of Expression, Edinburgh Rev. 137 (1873): 492–528] is "a thoroughly nasty unfair review as ever I read".

Letter details

Letter no.
Erasmus Alvey Darwin
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 105: B88
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8874,” accessed on 10 December 2022,

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