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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Lubbock   [1 January 1864]1



My dear Lubbock.—

I am better today than I have been for 2 or 3 weeks & am going to try to write a few lines to you.—2 Your Review of Huxley has been read to me.3 I fear I always like praise too much; but I am not ashamed to say that I enjoy it from you, even though the praise be too much & too strong.— I only wish you had praised Huxley’s part of work more.—4

I see announced that you are going to publish a book of Essays & am glad to see it.5 But you must remember that you ought to keep to original work as many can write Review & Summaries &c &c, but very few indeed can make original observations. Excuse this admon〈ition.〉

I must write no more.— I fear it will be months before I shall work again.—

Farewell   Your sincere friend | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from John Lubbock, 10 January 1864. The Fridays preceding 10 January fell on 1 and 8 January; CD felt well only on 1 January (see n. 2, below, and letter to John Scott, 8 January [1864]).
Having suffered poor health throughout the summer of 1863, CD had been particularly ill during the last four months of the year (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Emma Darwin to W. D. Fox, 8 December [1863], and Appendix II). Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) for 1 January 1864 records: ‘acid sickness 8 – good day billiards’.
Lubbock’s review of Thomas Henry Huxley’s On our knowledge of the causes of the phenomena of organic nature (T. H. Huxley 1863a) was published in the January 1864 issue of the Natural History Review ([Lubbock] 1864). CD’s unbound copy of this issue of the journal is in the Darwin Library–CUL. T. H. Huxley 1863 was the bound version of Huxley’s series of evening lectures for working men delivered in November and December 1862 and first published in six parts in 1862 (T. H. Huxley 1862). There is an annotated copy of T. H. Huxley 1862 in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 423–4).
Lubbock began his review by responding to some of CD’s critics ([Lubbock] 1864, pp. 37–40); in discussing the lectures he defended CD’s theory in light of Huxley’s criticism that CD had not yet demonstrated the possible development of varieties that when crossed were sterile, a step that Huxley thought was necessary to prove the role of natural selection in speciation (ibid., pp. 41–3, and T. H. Huxley 1863a; see also Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix VI). For CD’s reaction to T. H. Huxley 1862, see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to T. H. Huxley, 28 December [1862], and Correspondence vol. 11, letter to T. H. Huxley, 10 [January 1863].
Lubbock 1865b. CD probably saw the announcement of Lubbock’s essays in the Reader, 26 December 1863, p. 762. The announcement gave the title as ‘Prehistoric Archæology; or, Essays on the Primitive Condition of Man in Europe and America’. There is an annotated copy of Lubbock 1865b in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 512–13).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

[Lubbock, John.] 1864b. Huxley’s lectures on the origin of species. Natural History Review n.s. 4: 37–43.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.


JL’s review of Huxley ["Lectures to working men", Nat. Hist. Rev. n.s. 4 (1864)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Lubbock, 4th baronet and 1st Baron Avebury
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 263: 61 (EH 88206505)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4375,” accessed on 26 February 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12