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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   30 January [1868]1

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

Jan. 30

My dear Huxley

Most sincere thanks for your kind congratulations.2 I never received a note from you in my life without pleasure; but whether this will be so after you have read Pangenesis, I am very doubtful.3 Oh Lord what a blowing up I may receive. I write now partly to say that you must not think of looking at my Book till the summer, when I hope you will read pangenesis, for I care for your opinion on such a subject more than for that of any other man in Europe.— You are so terribly sharp-sighted & so confoundedly honest! But to the day of my death I will always maintain that you have been too sharp-sighted on Hybridism; & the Chapter on the subject in my Book I shd like you to read; not that, as I fear, it will produce any good effect, & be hanged to you.—4

I rejoice that your children are all pretty well.— Give Mrs Huxley the enclosed & ask her to look out (for no 5) when one of her children is struggling & just going to burst out crying.5 A dear young lady near here, plagued a very young child for my sake, till it cried, & saw the eyebrows for a second or two beautifully oblique, just before the torrent of tears began.6

The sympathy of all our friends about George’s success (it is the young Herald) has been a wonderful pleasure to us.7 George has not slaved himself, which makes his success the more satisfactory.

Farewell my dear Huxley, & do not kill yourself with work | Yours most sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Variation (see n. 3, below).
See letter from T. H. Huxley, [before 30 January 1868]. Huxley had written to congratulate CD on George Howard Darwin’s examination results.
CD had sent Huxley a presentation copy of Variation (see letter from T. H. Huxley, [before 30 January 1868]). He refers to the chapter ‘Provisional hypothesis of pangenesis’ (Variation 2: 357–404). CD had sent a draft of the chapter to Huxley in 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13).
CD refers to Chapter 19 of Variation, which contained ‘remarks on hybridism’. The implications of research on hybridity by CD and others had long been a subject of debate between CD and Huxley, who had asserted that natural selection could not be considered a vera causa for the origin of species until varieties had been produced by artificial selection that were sterile with each other and with their parent form. For their early discussions on this subject, see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix VI. CD had revised his chapter on hybridism in the fourth edition of Origin and had urged Huxley to reconsider his views in light of that chapter (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to T. H. Huxley, 22 December [1866]). See also Correspondence vol. 15, letter from T. H. Huxley, [before 7 January 1867], and letter to T. H. Huxley, 7 January [1867].
CD refers to Henrietta Anne Huxley. The enclosure, probably a printed questionnaire on the expression of emotions, has not been found. Number five on the questionnaire pertained to the expression of a person in low spirits (see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix V).
CD discussed crying in chapter 6 of Expression. He reported observations made on a number of infants and children, but the observers are not identified.


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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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


Thanks for congratulations.

Doubts THH’s response to Pangenesis will give him pleasure. "Oh Lord what a blowing up I may receive."

Still thinks THH has been too "sharp sighted" on hybridism.

Sends Mrs Huxley Queries about expression.

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: 237)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5817,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16