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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   5 December [1873]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Dec. 5th

My dear Huxley.

I am very sorry about Dohrn’s troubles, but there is clearly nothing to be done for him at present.— I hardly understand his motives about his Father.2 I have written to Cambridge to tell the men there nothing can be done.3

I am delighted to hear that Hooker’s election went off so well; but my mouth waters from longing to know how the fiend, Owen, distinguished himself4

It is good news that you have written about the Brain; but I shall not be ready for some weeks for your M.S., as my new Edit. of the Descent has turned out an awful job.—5 It took me ten days merely to glance over letters & reviews with criticism & new facts. It is a devil of a job.

I cannot say much for my health, & begin to fear that diet will do only a little for me. The great benefit at first was, I believe, merely due to a change, & changes of all kinds are at first highly beneficial to me.—

Yours most truly | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 December 1873.
See letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 December 1873. CD refers to Anton Dohrn and Carl August Dohrn. Anton Dohrn was trying to raise money for the zoological station at Naples; his father had already contributed a substantial amount for the construction of the station (Groeben 1982, pp. 90–1).
CD’s letter has not been found, but he may have written to Francis Maitland Balfour (see letter from F. M. Balfour, 11 November 1873).
See letter from T. H. Huxley, 3 December 1873 and n. 2. Joseph Dalton Hooker had been elected president of the Royal Society of London. CD also refers to Richard Owen.
Huxley’s letter of 3 December 1873 is incomplete; the section discussing Huxley’s writing on the brain is missing, but CD probably refers to a note on resemblances and differences in the structure of the brain in apes and humans that Huxley wrote as a supplement to the second edition of Descent (see Descent 2d ed., pp. v; 199–206). CD began working on the new edition on 20 November 1873 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).


Descent 2d ed.: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition. London: John Murray. 1874.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Groeben, Christiane, ed. 1982. Charles Darwin 1809–1882, Anton Dohrn 1840–1909: correspondence. Naples: Macchiaroli.


Sorry to hear of Dohrn’s troubles. Has written to prospective donors saying that nothing can be done because of attitude of Dohrn’s father.

New [2d] edition of Descent is an awful job.

Diet no longer doing much for his health.

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: 305)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9173,” accessed on 19 January 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21