T. H. Huxley
Letters and Diary 1879

January 1879

[To John Skelton]

My dear Skeleton–Being the most procrastinating letter-writer in existence, I thought or pretended to think that it would not be decent to thank you until I had read the book. And when I had done myself that pleasure, I further pretended to think that it would be much better to wait till I could send you my Hume book, which as it contains a biography, is the nearest approach to a work of fiction of which I have yet been guilty.

The 'Hume' was sent, and I hope reached you a week ago; and as my conscience just now inquired in a very sneering and unpleasant tone whether I had any further pretence for not writing on hand, I thought I might as well stop her mouth at once.

You will see oddly enough that I have answered your question about dreams in a sort of way on page 96.

You will get nothing but praise for your book, and I shall be villipended for mine. Is that fact, or is it not an evidence of a special Providence and Divine Government?

Pray remember me very kindly to Mrs. Skeleton. I hope your interrupted visit will yet become a fact. We have a clean bill of health now.–Ever yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

April 21, 1879

South Kensington

My dear Boy–I was very glad to get your good news this morning, and I need not tell you whether M–– was pleased or not.

But the light of nature doth not inform us of the value and duration of the "Guthrie"–and from a low and material point of view I should like to be informed on that subject. However, this is "mere matter of detail" as the Irishman said when he was asked how he had killed his landlord. The pleasure to us is that you have made good use of your opportunities, and finished this first stage of your journey so creditably.

I am about to write to the Master of Balliol for advice as to your future proceedings. In the meanwhile, go in for the enjoyment of your holiday with a light heart. You have earned it. –Ever your loving father,

T. H. Huxley.

June 9, 1879

[To Thomas Spencer Baynes]

I shall be glorious in a red gown at Cambridge tomorrow, and hereafter look be treated as a Person of Respectability.

I have done my best to avoid that misfortune, but it's of no use.

December 21, 1879

4 Marlborough Place

[To Edward Clodd]

My dear Mr. Clodd–I have been spending all this Sunday afternoon over the book you have been kind enough to send me [Jesus of Nazareth], and being a swift reader, I have travelled honesty from cover to cover.

It is the book I have been longing to see; in spirit, matter and form it appears to me to be exactly what people like myself have been wanting. For though for the last quarter of a century I have done all that lay in my power to oppose and destroy the idolatrous accretions of Judaism and Christianity, I have a never had the slightest sympathy with those who, as the Germans say, would "throw the child away along with the bath"–and when I was a member of the London School Board I fought for the retention of the Bible, to the great scandal of some of my Liberal friends–who can't make out to this day whether I was a hypocrite, or simply a fool on that occasion.

But my meaning was that the mass of the people should not be deprived of the one great literature which is open to them–not shut out from the perception of their relations with the whole past history of civilised mankind–not excluded from such a view of Judaism and Jesus of Nazareth as that which at last you have given us.

I cannot doubt that your work will have a great success not only in the grosser, but the better sense of the word.–I am yours very faithfully,

T. H. Huxley.

Letters of 1878
Letters of 1880

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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