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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley to Anton Dohrn   15 November 1873

4 Marlborough Place | N.W

Nor. 15th 1873

My dear Dohrn

Your letter arrived appropriately enough this morning1 as Darwin & I were engaged last evening in a consultation over the affairs of the Station—2 Neither he nor I think that there is much to be done among our rich men—but there is a strong feeling among scientific people who understand the value of the station & know the sacrifices which you have made to establish it to be of such use to you as they can.

The only feasible means of raising money which occurs to us is to circulate among those persons who are likely to be interested & helpful—and among those only the following Statement to be headed

Private & Confidential

We the undersigned have reason to believe that the following statement is correct   A well known Zoologist Dr. Anton Dohrn, is building a Zoological Station at Naples, not as a private speculation but for the good of science; and he has already expended (sum to be stated)

From the failure of his contractor he is now in a position of difficulty and there is reason to fear that the whole undertaking may fail unless he receives assistance

He wishes to borrow about £1000—but we think that it would be a better plan to present to him a sum of money, to be used exclusively in completing the station.

We are convinced after due deliberation that a Zoological Station at Naples founded and carried on in accordance with Dr Dohrns plan, would be in many ways of the highest service to Natural Science and especially as a means of educating young naturalists in Zoological Research— Of those who have signed this paper some are unable, from various circumstances, to subscribe but are earnestly desirous to see the Station successful; others have not yet determined what they will subscribe. Any one who is inclined to give his assistance in any manner is requested to write to — — — — who will manage the affair & be responsible for the transmission of the subscriptions3

This would be signed by Darwin, M. Foster, Balfour   Dew Smith,4 myself & others and we think it very probable we might be able to raise £400 or £500 in this way

I am not going to subscribe myself—having like you, been engaged in building—I have just at present no cash to spare5— And this has been one reason for my hesitation about applying to other people  

The document as you see will be marked ‘Private & Confidential’ & therefore can acquire no publicity—

But you have expressed so strong a feeling against a public subscription—that I told Darwin I thought we could not proceed in this manner without consulting you— And I write without delay to ask whether the step we propose to take will meet with your approval or not   Let me have your answer speedily—

I am very glad that the Philosophical Transactions have reached you safely6 and still more rejoiced to find that you can say “Apage, Sathanas!7 to the blue Devils.

Commend me to Mademoiselle8 & believe me | Ever Yours | T. H. Huxley

I write in haste to save post


Letter from Anton Dohrn to T. H. Huxley, 10 November 1873 (Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives, Huxley 13: 247–8).
On the financial difficulties of the Zoological Station at Naples, see the letter from F. M. Balfour, 11 November 1873, and the letter to G. H. Darwin, 15 November [1873].
A draft of this circular in CD’s hand is in the Darwin Archive–CUL (DAR 96: 163).
Huxley refers to Michael Foster, Francis Maitland Balfour, and Albert George Dew-Smith. In CD’s original draft of the circular, the following names appear at the end, together with the amounts subscribed: ‘F Balfour 50£ | Dew Smith 100£ | Ch Darwin 50£ | G. H Dar 10£’ (DAR 96: 163).
On Huxley’s financial troubles, see the letter from T. H. Huxley, 24 April 1873.
Huxley had arranged for a set of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society to be sent to the Zoological Station at Naples for its library (letter from T. H. Huxley to Anton Dohrn, 1 October 1873, (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives, Huxley 13: 240–1)).
Apage, Sathanas!: Depart, Satan! (Greek), from Matthew 4: 10. Blue devil: deep despondency.
Huxley refers to Dohrn’s fiancée, Marie de Baranowska.


THH sends to AD a draft, prepared by himself and CD, of a statement for a subscription fund to assist AD’s Naples Zoological Station.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Felix Anton (Anton) Dohrn
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 13: 249)
Physical description
6pp & AdraftS (by CD) 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9412,” accessed on 22 October 2021,

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