T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1876

August 11, 1876

[New Haven]

[To Henrietta]

I have not seen the notice in the World you speak of. You will be amused at the article written by the interviewer. He was evidently surprised to meet with so little of the "highfalutin" philosopher in me, and says I am "affable" and of "the commercial or mercantile" type. That is something I did not know, and I am rather proud of it. We may be rich yet.

We are hard at work still. Breakfast at 8:30–go over to the Museum with Marsh at 9 or 10–work till 1:30–dine–go back to Museum and work till 6. Then Marsh takes me for a drive to see the views about the town, and back to tea about half-past eight. He is a wonderfully good fellow, full of fun and stories about his Western adventures, and the collection of fossils is the most wonderful thing I ever saw. I wish I could spare three weeks instead of one to study it.

To-morrow evening we are to have a dinner by way of winding up, and he has asked a lot of notables to meet me. I assure you I am being "made of," as I thought nobody but the little wife was foolish enough to do.

August 19, 1876


[To Mr. Clarence King]

My dear Sir–In accordance with your wish, I very willingly put into writing the substance of the opinion as to the importance of Professor Marsh's collection of fossils which I expressed to you yesterday. As you are aware, I devoted four or five days to the examination of this collection, and was enabled by Prof. Marsh's kindness to obtain a fair conception of the whole.

I am disposed to think that whether we regard the abundance of material, the number of complete skeletons of the various species, or the extent of geological time covered by the collection, which I had the good fortune to see at New Haven, there is no collection of fossil vertebrates in existence, which can be compared with it. I say this without forgetting Montmartre, Siwalik, or Pikermi–and I think that I am quite safe in adding that no collection which has been hitherto formed approaches that made by Professor Marsh, in the completeness of the chain of evidence by which certain existing mammals are connected with their older tertiary ancestry.

It is of the highest importance to the progress of Biological Science that the publication of this evidence, accompanied by illustrations of such fulness as to enable palæontologists to form their own judgment as to its value, should take place without delay. – I am your very faithfully,

Thomas H. Huxley.

October 27, 1876 [HP 8.296]

My dear Tyndall–Our sympathy is as usual profound.

I felt as strong an objection to going into this matter under Carpenter's auspices that, while I accepted the invitation for to-morrow, I expressly guarded myself against undertaking to proceed further with the inquiry. I suggested the propriety of having somebody to note down exactly all that occurs so as to have a precis of what happens, which we can all see and agree to before parting.

Then to take a plan of the room and note the exact position of all the articles of furniture before proceedings commence.

I would not trust the Virgin Mary herself if she professed to be a medium. But we shall see what we shall see.

Ever yours, T. H. Huxley.

November 18, 1876

Dear Sir–I have read the "Protest," with a copy of which you have favoured me, and as you wish that I should do so, I will trouble you with a brief statement of my reasons for my inability to sign it.

I object to clause 2 on the ground long since taken by Hume that the order of the universe such as we observe it to be, furnishes us with the only data upon which we can base any conclusion as to the character of the originator thereof.

As a matter of fact, men sin, and the consequences of their sins affect endless generations of their progeny. Men are tempted, men are punished for the sins of others without merit or demerit of their own; and they are tormented for their evil deeds as long as their consciousness lasts.

The theological doctrines to which you refer, therefore, are simply extensions of generalisations as well based as any in physical science. Very likely they are illegitimate extensions of these generalisations, but that does not make them wrong in principle.

And I should consider it waste of time to "protest" against that which is.

As regards No. 3 I find that as a matter of experience, erroneous beliefs are punished, and right beliefs are rewarded–though very often the erroneous belief is based upon a more conscientious study of the facts than the right belief I do not see why this should not be as true of theological beliefs as any others. And as I said before, I do not care to protest against that which is.

Many thanks for your congratulations. My tour was very pleasant and taught me a good deal.–I am yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

November 19, 1876

4 Marlborough Place

My dear Darwin–I confess I have less sympathy with the half-and-half sentimental school which he represents than I have with thoroughgoing orthodoxy.

If we are to assume that anyone has designedly set this wonderful universe going, it is perfectly clear to me that he is no more entirely benevolent and just in any intelligible sense of the words, than that he is malevolent and unjust. Infinite benevolence need not have invented pain and sorrow at all–infinite malevolence would very easily have deprived us of the large measure of content and happiness that falls to our lot. After all, Butler's "Analogy" is unassailable, and there is nothing in theological dogmas more contradictory to our moral sense, than is to be found in the facts of nature. From which, however, the Bishop's conclusion that the dogmas are true doesn't follow.–With best remembrances to Mrs. Darwin, ever yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

Letters of 1875
Letters of 1877

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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