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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Henry Huxley   21 January 1870

26 Abbey Place

Jan 21. 1870

My dear Darwin

It is hard to resist an invitation of yours—but I dine out on Saturday;1 & next week three Evenings are abolished by Societies of one sort or another— And there is that horrid Geological address looming in the future—!2

I am afraid I must deny myself at present

I am glad you liked the sermon— Did you see the ‘Devonshire Mans’, attack in the Pall Mall?.

I have been wasting my time in polishing that worthy off— I would not have troubled myself about him, if it were not for the political bearing of the Celt question just now.—3

My wife4 sends her love to all your circle | Ever Yours | T. H. Huxley


CD had evidently invited Huxley to Down for the same weekend as he hoped Albert Günther, Joseph Dalton Hooker, and Robert Swinhoe would come (see letter to Albert Günther, 16 January [1870]).
Huxley gave his presidential address to the Geological Society of London on 18 February 1870 (T. H. Huxley 1870b).
Huxley had given a lecture on 9 January 1870 on ‘The forefathers and forerunners of the English people’ under the auspices of the National Sunday League; the text of the lecture was published in the Pall Mall Gazette, 10 January 1870, pp. 8–9. In the lecture, Huxley argued that populations of mixed Celtic and Teutonic (or Saxon) ancestry occurred throughout large parts of Britain and Ireland, so that differences in the behaviour of ‘a Tipperary man’ and ‘a Devonshire man’ had nothing to do with blood. He cautioned, ‘the sooner we leave off drawing political distinctions between Celts and Saxons the better’; and added that there was in any case no sufficient proof of the existence of any difference other than language between Celt and Teuton. His reasoning was criticised in a letter from ‘A Devonshire man’, published in the Pall Mall Gazette, 18 January 1870, p. 6; Huxley published a rejoinder in the Pall Mall Gazette, 21 January 1870, p. 6. The Act for the Disestablishment of the Irish Church had been passed in 1869, and a Land Bill, to improve the conditions of Irish tenants, was under discussion.
Henrietta Anne Huxley.


Refers to "Devonshire Man"’s attack on him ["Professor Huxley’s last new theory", Pall Mall Gaz. 18 Jan 1870, p. 6]. His intention to answer – a waste, except for political bearing of Celt question ["Professor Huxley on Celts and Teutons", Pall Mall Gaz. 21 Jan 1870, p. 6].

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Abbey Place, 26
Source of text
DAR 166: 323
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7084,” accessed on 7 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18