T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1870

January 21, 1870

My dear Darwin–It is hard to resist an invitation of yours–but I dine out on Saturday; and next week three evenings are abolished by Societies of one kind or another. And there is that horrid Geological addressing looming in the future!

I am afraid I must deny myself at present.

I am glad you liked the sermon. Did you see the "Devonshire man's" attack in the Pall Mall?

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

My wife sends her love to all you.–Ever yours, T. H. Huxley.

April 6, 1870

Geological Survey of England and Wales

My dear Tyndall,



That's a practical application of Electricity for you.

May 4, 1870

[To William Kitchen Parker]

I read all the most important part of your Frog-paper last night, and a grand piece of work it is–more important, I think, in all its bearings than anything you have done yet.

From which premisses I am going to draw a conclusion which you do not expect, namely, that the paper must by no manner of means go into the Royal Society in its present shape. And for the reasons following:–

In the first place, the style is ultra-Parkerian. From a literary point of view, my dear friend, you remind me of nothing so much as a dog going home. He has a goal before him which he will certainly reach sooner or later, but first he is on this side the road, and now on that; anon, he stops to scratch at an ancient rat-hole, or maybe he catches sight of another dog, a quarter of a mile behind, and bolts off to have a friendly, or inimical sniff. In fact, his course is . . .. . (here a tangled maze is drawn) not –. In the second place, you must begin with an earlier stage. . . . That is the logical starting-point of the whole affair.

Will you come and dine at 6 on Saturday, and talk over this whole business?

If you have drawings of earlier stages you might bring them. I suspect that what is wanted might be supplied in plenty of time to get the paper in.

May 10, 1870

26 Abbey Place

[To Matthew Arnold]

My dear Arnold–Many thanks for your book [St. Paul and Protestantism] which I have been diving into at odd times as leisure served, and picking up many good things.

One of the best is what you say near the end about science gradually conquering the materialism of popular religion.

It will startle the Puritans who always coolly put the matter the other way; but it is profoundly true.

These people are for the most part mere idolaters with a Bible-fetish, who urgently stand in need of conversion by Extra-christian Missionaries.

It takes all one's practical experience of the importance of Puritan ways of thinking to overcome one's feeling of the unreality of their beliefs. I had pretty well forgotten how real to them "the man in the next street" is, till your citation of their horribly absurb dogmas reminded me of it. If you can persuade them that Paul is fairly intepretable in your sense, it may be the beginning of better things, but I have my doubts if Paul would own you, if he could return to expound his own epistles.

I am glad you liked my Descartes article. My business with my scientific friends is something like yours with the Puritans, nature being our Paul.– Ever yours very faithfully, T. H. Huxley.

June 1870

[To Henrietta]

I hear a curious rumour (which is not for circulation), that Froude and I have been proposed for D.C.L.'s at Commemmoration, and that the proposition has been bitterly and strongly opposed by Pusey. They say there has been a regular row in Oxford about it. I suppose this is at the bottom of Jowett's not writing to me. But I hope that he won't fancy that I should be disgusted at the opposition and object to come [i.e. to pay his regular visit to Balliol]. On the contrary, the more complete Pusey's success, the more desirable it is that I should show my face there. Altogether it is an awkward position, as I am supposed to know nothing of what is going on.

June 22, 1870

My dear Darwin–I sent the books to Queen Anne St. this morning. Pray keep them as long as you like, as I am not using them.

I am greatly disgusted that you are coming up to London this week, as we shall be out of town next Sunday. It is the rarest thing in the world for us to be away, and you have pitched upon the one day. Cannot we arrange some other day?

I wish you could have gone to Oxford, not for your sake, but for theirs. There seems to have been a tremendous shindy in the Hebdomadal board about certain persons who were proposed; and I am told that Pusey came to London to ascertain from a trustworthy friend who were the blackest heretics out of the list proposed, and that he was glad to assent to your being doctored, when he got back, in order to keep out seven devils worse than that first!

Ever, oh Corphaeus diabolicus, your faithful follower, T. H. Huxley.

August 25, 1870

[To Henrietta]

My work is over and I start for Kingstown, where I mean to sleep to-night, in an hour. I have just sent you a full and excellent report of my lecture. I am glad to say it was a complete success. I never was in better voice in my life, and I spoke for an hour and a half without notes, the people listening as still as mice. There has been a great row about Tyndall's address, and I had some reason to expect that I should have to meet a frantically warlike audience. But it was quite otherwise, and though I spoke my mind with very great plainness I never had a warmer reception. And I am not without hope that I may have done something to allay the storm, though, as you may be sure, I did not sacrifice plain speaking to that end. . . . I have been most creditably quiet here, and have gone to no dinners or breakfasts or other such fandangoes except those I accepted before leaving home. Sunday I spent quietly here, thinking over my lecture and putting my peroration, which required a good deal of care, into shape. I wandered out into the fields in the afternoon, and sat a long time thinking of all that had happened since I was here a young beginner, two and twenty, and ... you were largely in my thoughts, which were full of blessings and tender memories.

I had a goodnight's work last night. I dined with the President of the College, then gave my lecture. After that I smoked a bit with Foster until eleven o'clock, and then I went to the Northern Whig office to see that the report of my lecture was all right. It is the best paper here, and the Editor had begged me to see to the report, and I was anxious myself that I should be rightly represented. So I sat there till a quarter past one having the report read and correcting it when necessary. Then I came home and got to bed about two. I have just been to the section and read my paper there to a large audience who cannot have understood ten words of it, but who looked highly edified, and now I have done. Our lodging has turned out admirably, and Ball's company has been very pleasant. So that the fiasco of our arrangements was all for the best.

November 17, 1870

[To Dohrn]

This wretched war is doing infinite mischief; but I do not see what Germany can do now but carry it out to the end.

I began to have some sympathy with the French after Sedan, but the Republic lies harder than the Empire did, and the whole country seems to me to be rotten to the core. The only figure which stands out with anything like nobility or dignity, on the French side, is that of the Empress,and she is only a second-hand Marie-Antionette. There is no Roland, no Corday, and apparently no man of any description.

The Russian row is beginning, and the rottenness of English administration will soon, I suppose, have an opportunity of displaying itself. Bad days are, I am afraid, in store for all of us, and the worst is for Germany if it once becomes thoroughly bitten by the military mad dog.

The "happy family" is flourishing and was afflicted, even over its breakfast, when I gave out the news that youhad been ill.

The wife desires her best remembrances, and we all hope you are better.

Letters of 1871
Letters of 1869

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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