T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1864

April 18, 1864

My dear Darwin –I was rejoiced to see your handwriting again, so much so that I shall not scold you for undertaking the needless exertion (as it's my duty to do) of writing to thank me for my book. [Hunterian Lectures on Anatomy ]

I thought the last lecture would be nuts for you, but it is really shocking. There is not the smallest question that Owen wrote both the article "Oken" and the Archetype Book, which appeared in its second edition in French–why, I know not. I think that if you will look at what I say again, there will not be much doubt left in your mind as to the identity of the writer of the two.

The news you give of yourself is most encouraging; but pray don't think of doing any work again yet. Careful as I have been during this last winter not to burn the candle at both ends, I have found myself, since the pressure of my lectures ceased, in considerable need of quiet, and I have been lazy accordingly.

I don't know that I fear, with you, caring too much for science–for there are lots of other things I should like to go into as well, but I do lament more and more as time goes on, the necessity of becoming more and more absorbed in one kind of work, a necessity which is created for any one in my position, partly by one's reputation, and partly by one's children. For directly a man gets the smallest repute in any branch of science, the world immediately credits him with knowing about ten times as much as he really does, and he becomes bound in common honesty to do his best to climb up to his reputed place. And then the babies are a devouring fire, eating up the present and discounting the future; they are sure to want all the money one can earn, and to be the better for all the credit one can win.

However, I should fare badly without the young monkeys. Your pet Marian is almost as shy as ever, though she has left off saying "can't," by the way.

My wife is wonderfully well. As I tell her, Providence has appointed her to take care of me when I am broken down and decrepit.

I hope you can say as much of Mrs. Darwin. Pray give her my kind regards.–And believe me, ever yours faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

May 4, 1864

[To Mrs. Elizabeth Scott]

You will want to know something about my progress in the world. Well, at this moment I am Professor of Natural History here, and Hunterian Professor of Comparative Anatomy at the College of Surgeons. The former is the appointment I have held since 1855; the latter chair I was asked to take last year, and now I have delivered two courses in that famous black gown with the red facings which the doctor will recollect very well. What with the duties of these two posts and other official and non-official business, I am worked to the full stretch of my powers, and sometimes a little beyond them; though hitherto I have stood the wear and tear very well.

I believe I have won myself a pretty fair place in science, but in addition to that I have the reputation (of which, I fear, you will not approve) of being a great heretic and a savage controversialist always in rows. To the accusation of heresy I fear I must plead guilty; but the second charge proceeds only, I do assure you, from a certain unconquerable hatred of lies and humbug which I cannot get over.

I have read all you tell me about the south with much interest and with the warmest sympathy, so far as the fate of the south affects you. But I am in the condition of most thoughtful Englishmen. My heart goes with the south, and my head with the north.

I have no love for the Yankees, and I delight in the energy and self-sacrifice of your people; but for all that, I cannot doubt that whether you beat the Yankees or not, you are struggling to uphold a system which must, sooner or later, break down.

I have not the smallest sentimental sympathy with the negro; don't believe in him at all, in short. But it is clear to me that slavery means, for the white man, bad political economy; bad social morality; bad internal political organisation, and a bad influence upon free labour and freedom all over the world. For the sake of the white man, therefore, for your children and grandchildren, directly, and for mine, indirectly, I wish to see this system ended. Would that the south had had the wisdom to initiate that end without this miserable war!

All this must jar upon you sadly, and I grieve that it does so; but I could not pretend to be other than I am, even to please you. Let us agree to differ upon this point. If I were in your place I doubt not I should feel as you do; and, when I think of you, I put myself in your place and feel with you as your brother Tom. The learned gentleman who has public opinions for which he is responsible is another "party" who walks about in T's clothes when he is not thinking of his sister.

If this were not my birthday I should not feel justified in taking a morning's holiday to write this long letter to you. The ghosts of undone pieces of work are dancing about me, and I must come to an end.

Give my love to your husband. I am glad to hear he wears so well. And don't forget to give your children kindly thoughts of their uncle. Dr. Wright gives a great account of my namesake, and says he is the handsomest youngster in the Southern States. That comes of his being named after me, you know how renowned for personal beauty I always was.

I asked Dr. Wright if you had taken to spectacles, and he seemed to think not. I had a pain about my eyes a few months ago, but I found spectacles made this rather worse and left them off again. However, I do catch myself holding a newspaper further off than I used to do.

Now don't let six months go by without writing again. If our little venture succeeds this time, we shall send [presents] again.–Ever, my dearest Lizzie, your affectionate brother, T. H. Huxley.

October 5, 1864

Jermyn Street

My dear Darwin–I am very glad to see your handwriting (in ink) again, and none the less on account of the pretty words into which it was shaped.

It is a great plasure to me that you like the article ["Criticisms of the Origin of Species"], for it was written very hurriedly, and I did not feel sure when I had done that I had always rightly represented your views.

Hang the two scalps up in your wigwam!

Flourens I could have believed anything of, but how a man of Kölliker's real intelligence and ability could have so misunderstood the question is more than I can comprehend.

It will be a thousand pities, however, if any review interferes with your saying something on the subject yourself. Unless it should give you needless work I heartily wish you would.

Everybody tells me I am looking so exceedingly well that I am ashamed to say a word to the contrary. But the fact is, I get no exercise, and a great deal of bothering work on our Commission's Cruise; and though much fatter (indeed a regular bloater myself), I am not up to the mark. Next year I will have a real holiday.

I am a bachelor, my wife and belongings being all at that beautiful place, Margate. When I came back I found them all looking so seedy that I took them off bag and baggage to that, as the handiest place, before a week was over. They are wonderfully improved already, my wife especially being abundantly provided with her favourite east wind. Your godson is growing a very sturdy fellow, and I begin to puzzle my head with thinking what he is and what he is not to be taught.

Please to remember me very kindly to Mrs. Darwin, and believe me, yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

October 6, 1864

My dear Hooker–Donnelly told me to-day that you had been applied to by the Science and Tarts Department to examine for them in botany, and that you had declined.

Will you reconsider the matter? I have always taken a very great interest in the science examinations, looking upon them, as I do, as the most important engine for forcing science into ordinary education.

The English nation will not take science from above, so it must get it from below.

Having known these examinations from the beginning, I can assure you that they are very genuine things, and are working excellently. And what I have regretted from the first is that the botanical business was not taken in hand by you, instead of by ––.

Now, like a good fellow, think better of it. The papers are necessarily very simple, and one of Oliver's pupils could look them over for you. Let us have your co-operation and the advantage of that reputation for honesty and earnestness which you have contrived (Heaven knows how) to get.

I have come back fat and seedy for want of exercise. All my belongings are at Margate. Hope you don't think my review of Darwin's critics too heretical if you have seen it.–Ever yours faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

When is our plan for getting some kind of meeting during the winter to be organised?

Letters of 1865
Letters of 1863

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Gratitude and Permissions

C. Blinderman & D. Joyce
Clark University

§ 1. THH: His Mark
§ 2. Voyage of the Rattlesnake
§ 3. A Sort of Firm
§ 4. Darwin's Bulldog
§ 5. Hidden Bond: Evolution
§ 6. Frankensteinosaurus
§ 7. Bobbing Angels: Human Evolution
§ 8. Matter of Life: Protoplasm
§ 9. Medusa
§ 10. Liberal Education
§ 11. Scientific Education
§ 12. Unity in Diversity
§ 13. Agnosticism
§ 14. New Reformation
§ 15. Verbal Delusions: The Bible
§ 16. Miltonic Hypothesis: Genesis
§ 17. Extremely Wonderful Events: Resurrection and Demons
§ 18. Emancipation: Gender and Race
§ 19. Aryans et al.: Ethnology
§ 20. The Good of Mankind
§ 21.  Jungle Versus Garden