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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   4 October [1865]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Oct 4

My dear Huxley

I was rejoiced to see your hand writing with a good account of your family & of yr own profound idleness, which must be a novelty to you.2 I have done nothing since May 1st which is enough almost to break my heart; but I am slowly getting better, & this I owe entirely I believe to Dr Bence Jones who has half starved me to death & reduced my weight 15lb but done me wonderful good.3

Poor dear Hooker seems to have had a most serious illness, but he seems as vigorous as ever in mind, judging from a long & pleasant letter I recd from him a few days ago.4

I suppose you know about the sale of the “Reader”; but I have heard nothing beyond the bare fact of the sale to Mr Bendyshe.5 I do not know whether we old shareholders are paid off.6 I shall regret extremely if the Reader fails as a newspaper for general science.7

Pangenesis in my mind is rising a little more into favour after the shock it received from your criticism;8 but you did me an immense service in making me estimate its value at a very low figure, as indeed must be the case with any mere hypothesis.

I hope you are grappling with your work like a refreshed giant & I dare say you did not quite resist looking at marine animals at little Hampton.9

My dear Huxley | yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin

E.D’s love to Mrs Huxley & the dear little people.10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 2 October 1865.
CD first consulted Henry Bence Jones in July 1865 (see letter to Asa Gray, 15 August [1865] and n. 12; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [or 28 September 1865] and n. 14).
CD refers to the attack of rheumatic fever suffered by Joseph Dalton Hooker in August 1865 and to the letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 September 1865]. See letter from F. H. Hooker, 6 September [1865] and nn. 2 and 5.
CD’s Account book–banking account (Down House MS) records an investment of £80 in the Reader Limited Company on 24 November 1864, but there is no record of any repayment to him after the sale of the company (see also Correspondence vol. 12, letter to John Lubbock 19 November [1864]).
CD had been an enthusiastic subscriber to the journal, recommending it highly (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 12, letter to Roland Trimen, 13 May 1864). The last issue of the Reader appeared on 12 January 1867 (Sullivan ed. 1984, p. 349).
CD had sent Huxley his manuscript of his hypothesis of pangenesis, asking him whether it was suitable for inclusion in Variation (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865] and nn. 4–8). Huxley’s reply has not been found; however, see the letters to T. H. Huxley, 12 July [1865] and [17 July 1865], and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 16 July 1865.
The Huxley family had spent their holiday in Littlehampton, West Sussex (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 2 October 1865 and n. 1).
The reference is to Emma Darwin, and to Henrietta Anne Huxley and the Huxley children (see letter from T. H. Huxley, 2 October 1865, n. 1). The letter is in Emma’s hand.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has done nothing since 1 May. Slowly getting better under Bence Jones’s diet.

The Reader has been sold – would regret its failure as a newspaper for general science.

Pangenesis is recovering from shock it received from THH’s criticism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 223)
Physical description
LS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4909,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13