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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley to G. G. Stokes   8 December 1864

Jermyn St

Dcr. 8th 1864

My dear Stokes

I have never imagined that the ‘we’ referred to anybody but the Council1

I thought that Darwin was proposed by the medal for Busk & not as you say by Falconer, but that is a matter of no moment2

Most unquestionably I do not think that an assent of the proposer (whoever he was) to such word as “Then we are to understand that the work on the origin of Species is not included among the grounds of the award of the Copley Medal to Mr Darwin” from the President, affords a justification for the insertion in the address of the passage complained of or any allusion whatsoever to that work3

Even if the informal and general assent of Darwin’s proposer to such a proposition could be held to bind the Council and could be interpreted as the ‘general & collective’ determination of the whole body (a monstrous supposition) all that it could justify would be silence respecting the work

How can an agreement to say nothing about a book, justify one of the parties to that agreement in telling all the world that it “contains a mass of observations … unrivalled for interest, minuteness &c, see address 4

If that which you have mentioned occurred5—and I gladly take your authority for it—the case is worse than ever—in my apprehension

Ever yours faithfully | T. H. Huxley


See letter from G. G. Stokes to T. H. Huxley, 7 December 1864. Huxley refers to the Council of the Royal Society of London.
Huxley refers to George Busk and Hugh Falconer (see letter from G. G. Stokes to T. H. Huxley, 7 December 1864 and n. 3).
See letter from G. G. Stokes to T. H. Huxley, 7 December 1864. Huxley refers to Edward Sabine, president of the Royal Society.
Huxley refers to Sabine’s anniversary address delivered to the Royal Society on 30 November 1864 (see first letter from G. G. Stokes to T. H. Huxley, 5 December 1864). The section of the address about the award of the Copley medal to CD, as printed in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, is reproduced in Appendix IV.


THH never imagined that "we" referred to anyone but the [Royal] Society Council. Still objects to inclusion of the passage, since "an agreement to say nothing" [about the Origin] does not justify comment on it by one party to the agreement.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
George Gabriel Stokes, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
CUL (George Stokes papers, Add. 7656 H1385)
Physical description
Adraft 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4706,” accessed on 14 June 2021,

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