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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   18 April 1864

Royal School of Mines | Jermyn St

April 18th 1864

My dear Darwin

I was rejoiced to see your handwriting again—so much so that I shall not scold you for undertaking the needless exertion (as is my duty to do) of writing to thank me for my book1

I thought the last Lecture would be nuts for you, but it is really shocking.2 There is not the smallest question that Owen wrote both the article ‘Oken’ & the Archetype book, which appeared in its second edition in French— why, I know not— I think if you will look at what I say again there will not be much doubt left on your mind as to the identity of the writer of the two3

The news you give of yourself is most encouraging4—but pray don’t think of doing any work again yet.— Careful as I have been during this last winter not to burn the candle at both ends—I have found myself since the pressure of my lectures ceased5—in considerable need of quiet & I have been lazy accordingly—

I do not know that I fear, with you, caring too much for Science—for there are lots of other things I should like to go into as well—: but I do lament more & more as time goes on, the necessity of becoming more & more absorbed in one kind of work—a necessity which is created for any one in my position—partly by one’s reputation and partly by one’s children— For directly a man gets the smallest repute in any branch of science the world immediately credits him with knowing about ten times as much as he really does, and he becomes bound in common honesty to do his best to climb up to his reputed place, And then the babies are a devouring fire eating up the present & discounting the future—; they are sure to want all the money one can earn & to be the better for all the credit one can win—6

However, I should fare badly without the young Monkies— Your pet Marian is almost as shy as ever though she has left off saying ‘Can’t’—by the way—7

My wife is wonderfully well. As I tell her Providence has appointed her to take care of me when I am broken down and decrepit—

I hope you can say as Much of Mrs Darwin—

Pray give her my kind regards | & believe me | Ever yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley


In his letter to Huxley of 11 April [1864], CD thanked him for sending his Lectures on the elements of comparative anatomy (T. H. Huxley 1864c).
Huxley refers to Richard Owen, to Owen’s article on Lorenz Oken in the eighth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, and to R. Owen 1855 (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 11 April [1864] and n. 4).
For Huxley’s lectures as Hunterian Professor of comparative anatomy at the Royal College of Surgeons, see letter from T. H. Huxley, 16 January 1864 and n. 4; see also L. Huxley, ed. 1900, 1: 251.
In 1864, Huxley’s children were Jessie Oriana, aged 6, Marian, aged 5, Leonard, aged 3, Rachel, who would be 2 on 5 May, and Nettie, 7 months (see A. Desmond 1994–7).
In March 1861, Huxley’s wife, Henrietta Anne, and Jessie, Marian, and Leonard, stayed at Down House; the Darwins particularly enjoyed Marian, who was then almost two (A. Desmond 1994–7, 1: 294).


Desmond, Adrian. 1994–7. Huxley. 2 vols. London: Michael Joseph.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1900. Life and letters of Thomas Henry Huxley. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.


No doubt that Owen wrote "Oken" and the archetype book, which appeared in its second edition in French.

Pressures of work and family.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Royal School of Mines
Source of text
DAR 166: 301
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4465,” accessed on 14 May 2021,

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