T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1875

May 16, 1875


My dearest Jess–Your mother's letter received this morning reminds me that I have not written to "Cordelia" (I suppose she means Goneril) by a message from that young person–so here is reparation.

I have 330 students, and my class is the biggest in the University–but I am quite cast down and discontented because it is not 351,–being one more than the Botany Class last year–which was never so big before or since.

I am thinking of paying 21 street boys to come and take the extra tickets so that I may crow over all my colleagues.

Fanny Bruce is going to town next week to her grandmother's and I want you girls to make friends with her. It seems to me that she is very nice–but that is only a fallible man's judgment, and Heaven forbid that I should attempt to forestall Miss Cudberry's decision on such a question. Anyhow she has plenty of energy and, among other things, works very hard at German.

M–– says that the Rotttle—Tootles have a bigger drawing-room than ours. I should be sorry to believe these young beginners guilty of so much presumption, and perhaps you will tell them to have it made smaller before I visit them.

A Scotch gentleman has just been telling me that May is the worst month in the year, here; so pleasant! but the air is soft and warm to-day, and I look out over the folliage to the castle and don't care.

Love to all, and specially M––. Mind you don't tell her that I dine out to-day and to-morrow–positively for the first and last times.–Ever your loving father, T. H. Huxley.

June 5, 1875 [American Philosophical Society Library]

31 Royal Terrace Edinburgh

[To James Thomas Knowles]

My dear Knowles

I was in London but I am back. I only ran up on the night of the 26 for the meeting of the Royal Society on the 27. & the Commission on the 28. & travelled back here on the 29h.

I am sorry I cannot be at the meeting of the Metaphysical on Tuesday as I should have liked to do my little towards backing Lord Alfred up.

It is most refreshing to read his fair & manly statement after being wearied by the venomous sentim[ent]ality & inhuman tenderness of the members of the Society for the infliction of cruelty on Man–who are ready to let disease torture hecatombs of men as long as poodles are happy.

Let Art & Science, Men & Women die
But let no tear suffuse a lap dog's eye!

Didn't a noble poet write something like that? Or did I see it in the Spectator?

August 11, 1875

Cragside, Morpeth

[To Michael Foster]

My dear Foster–We are staying here with Sir W. Armstrong–the whole brood. Miss Matthaei and the majority of the chickens being camped at a farm-house belonging to our host about three miles off. It is wetter than it need be, otherwise we are very jolly.

I finished off my work in Edinburgh on the 23rd and positively polished off the Animal Kingdom in 54 lectures. French without a master in twelve lessons is nothing to this feat. The men worked very well on the whole, and sent in some creditable examination papers. I stayed a few days to finish up the abstracts of my lectures for the Medical Times; then picked up the two elder girls who were at Barmoor and brought them on here to join the wife and the rest.

How is it that Dohrn has been and gone? I have been meditating a letter to him for an age. He wanted to see me, and I did not know how to manage to bring about a meeting.

Edinburgh is greatly exercised in its mind about the vivisection business and "Vagus" "swells wisibly" whenever the subject is mentioned. I think there is an inclination to regard those who are ready to consent to legislation of any kind as traitors, or at any rate, trimmers. It sickens me to reflect on the quantity of time and worry I shall have to give to that subject when I get back.

I see that –– has been blowing the trumpet at the Medical Association. He has about as much tact as a flyblown bull.

I have just had a long letter from Wyville Thomson. The Challenger inclines to think that Bathybius is a mineral precipitate! in which case some enemy will probably say that it is a product of my precipitation. So mind, I was the first to make that "goak." Old Ehrenberg suggested something of the kind to me, but I have not his letter here. I shall eat my leek handsomely, if any eating has to be done. They have found pseudopodia in Globerigina .

With all good wishes from ours to yours.–Ever yours faithfully, T. H. Huxley.

August 13, 1875

Cragside, Morpeth

My dear Tyndall–I find that in the midst of my work in Edinburgh I omitted to write to De Vrij, so I have just sent him a letter expressing my pleasure in being able to co-operate in any plan for doing honour to old Benedit [Spinoza], for whom I have a most especial respect.

I am not sure that I won't write something about him to stir up the Philistines.

My work at Edinburgh got itself done very satisfactorily, and I cleared about 1000 by the transaction, being one of the few examples known of a Southerner coming north and pillaging the Scots. However, I was not sorry when it was all over, as I had been hard at work since October and began to get tired.

The wife and babies from the south, and I from the north, met here a fortnight ago and we have been idling very pleasantly ever since. The place is very pretty and our host kindness itself. Miss Matthaei and five of the bairns are at Cartington–a moorland farm—house three miles off–and in point of rosy cheeks and appetites might compete with any five children at their age and weight. Tess and Mady are here with us and have been doing great execution at a ball at Newcastle. I really don't know myself when I look at these young women, and my hatred of possible sons-in-law is deadly. All send their love.–Ever yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

Wish you joy of Bristol.

October 30, 1875

My dear Darwin–The inclosed tells its own story. I have done my best to prevent your being bothered, but for various reasons which will occur to you I did not like to appear too obstructive, and I was asked to write to you. The strong feeling of my colleagues (and my own I must say also) is that we ought to have your opinions in our minutes. At the same time there is a no less strong desire to trouble you as little as possible, and under no circumstances to cause you any risk of injury to health.

What with occupation of time, worry and vexation, this horrid Commission is playing the deuce with me. I have felt it my duty to act as counsel for Science, and was well satisfied with the way things were going. But on Thursday when I was absent at the Council of the Royal Society –– was examined, and if what I hear is a correct account of the evidence he gave I may as well throw up my brief.

I am told that he openly professed the most entire indifference to animal suffering, and said he only gave anæsthetics to keep animals quiet!

I declare to you I did not believe the man lived who was such an unmitigated cynical brute as to profess and act upon such principles, and I would willingly agree to any law which would send him to the treadmill.

The impression his evidence made on Cardwell and Forster is profound, and I am powerless (even if I had the desire which I have not) to combat it. He has done more mischief than all the fanatics put together.

I am utterly disgusted with the whole business.–Ever yours,

T. H. Huxley.

Of course keep the little article on Species. It is in some American Encyclopædia published by Appleton. And best thanks for your book. I shall study it some day, and value it as I do every line you have written. Don't mention what I have told you outside the circle of discreet Darwindom.

Letters of 1874
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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