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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   3 February [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

Feb 3d

My dear Huxley

Knowing how busy you are, it was a shame in me to trouble you; but you can form no idea how anxious I was about the flowing or sliding part; & I did not know that it was so difficult.—2 Many thanks for telling me what you can.3 Will not Tyndall experimentise upon broken ice in this horrid frost, & explain how two pieces of ice can freeze together,—4 I hope & daresay he has.—

I am sorry to hear of the “jolly row” with Owen;5 though I do not want to doubt that you are, as you once called yourself, as meek as a Dove—

With many thanks for your note, & most humble apologies for having bothered you | believe me | My dear Huxley | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the letter to T. H. Huxley, 17 January [1857].
See letter to T. H. Huxley, 17 January [1857], in which CD posed several questions relating to the joint paper by Huxley and John Tyndall on the structure and flow of glaciers (Tyndall and Huxley 1857).
Huxley had contributed little to the researches described in Tyndall and Huxley 1857. He claimed to have done nothing more than suggest that Tyndall might profitably apply his views on slaty cleavage to glacial phenomena. He also accompanied him to Switzerland to make first-hand observations of glaciers. As Huxley wrote to Joseph Dalton Hooker, ‘Tyndall fairly made me put my name to that paper, and would have had it first if I would have let him, but if people go on ascribing to me any share in his admirable work I shall have to make a public protest.’ (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 144).
Tyndall continued to experiment with ice, in order to explain the veined or laminated structure in some glaciers and to show that ice was a good conductor of heat (Eve and Creasey 1945, pp. 301–8). He did not, however, specifically address CD’s question about whether regelation could occur when the temperature was below freezing (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 17 January [1857], and letter to John Tyndall, 4 February [1857]).
Richard Owen had announced a course of lectures ‘on the osteology and palæontology, or the framework and fossils of the class Mammalia’ to be delivered in the Museum of Practical Geology, Jermyn Street, beginning 26 February 1857 (Athenæum, 14 February 1857, p. 197) and also assumed the title of professor of palaeontology at the School of Mines. Huxley, professor of natural history at the School of Mines, whose own lectures included palaeontology, considered Owen’s action was intended to undermine his position and broke off all personal relations with him (see L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 142, and A. Desmond 1982, p. 38).


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Desmond, Adrian. 1982. Archetypes and ancestors: palaeontology in Victorian London, 1850–1875. London: Blond & Briggs.


Thanks THH for his response on glacial movement. Hopes Tyndall will experiment on broken ice and explain how two pieces of ice can freeze together.

Sorry to hear of THH’s row with Richard Owen.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 104)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2045,” accessed on 5 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6