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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   29 May 1865

Jermyn St

May 29th 1865

My dear Darwin

I meant to have written to you yesterday to say how glad I shall be to read whatever you like to send me—1

I have to lecture at the Royal Institution this week2 but, after Friday, my time will be more at my own disposal than usual; and, as always, I shall be most particularly glad to be of any use to you

Any glimmer of light on the question you speak of is of the utmost importance and I shall be immensely interested in learning your views— And of course I need not add I will do my best to upset them   That is the nature of the beast—

I had a letter from one of the ablest younger zoologists of Germany, Haeckel,3 the other day in which this passage occurs—

“The darwinian theory the establishment and development of which is the object all my scientific labours, has gained ground immensely in Germany (where it was at first so misunderstood) during the last two years—and I entertain no doubt that it will before long be everywhere victorious”   And he adds, that I dealt far too mildly with Kölliker4

With kindest remembrances to Mrs Darwin & your family | Ever | Yours faithfully | T H Huxley

I am glad to hear the icebags are doing you good— I used to know Chapman very well in connexion with the Westminster5


CD had asked Huxley to read and comment on his pangenesis hypothesis (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865]).
Huxley delivered the Friday evening lecture at the Royal Institution on 2 June 1865 (Notices of the Proceedings at the Meetings of the Members of the Royal Institution of Great Britain 4: 461–3); the lecture was on the methods and results of ethnology, and was later published in the Fortnightly Review (T. H. Huxley 1865).
Huxley refers to Ernst Haeckel. Haeckel had written to CD in 1864 concerning the reception of Darwinian theory in Germany (see Correspondence vol. 12, letters from Ernst Haeckel, 9 [July 1864], 10 August [1864], and 26 October 1864). On the reception of CD’s theory in Germany, see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Friedrich Rolle, 26 January 1863 and nn. 6–14, Corsi and Weindling 1985, Montgomery 1988, Junker 1989, Engels ed. 1995, and Nyhart 1995.
In 1864 Rudolf Albert von Kölliker published a critical review of Origin (Kölliker 1864a and 1864b), which was translated into English in the Reader (Kölliker 1864c); see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 August 1864 and n. 12. Huxley’s answer to Kölliker’s criticisms appeared in the issue of the Natural History Review for October 1864, and focused in particular on undermining Kölliker’s claim that CD was a teleologist ([T. H. Huxley] 1864c). Annotated copies of Kölliker 1864b and 1864c, and of CD’s unbound copy of the Natural History Review for October 1864, are in the Darwin Library–CUL. For CD’s enthusiastic response to Huxley’s review of Kölliker, see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to T. H. Huxley, 3 October [1864] and n. 2, letter to Ernst Haeckel, 8 October [1864], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 October [1864]. CD had at first considered replying to Kölliker himself (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 28 August [1864] and [1 September 1864], and letter to T. H. Huxley, 3 October [1864] and n. 3). Haeckel later criticised Kölliker’s review in Haeckel 1866, 1: 100–1 n.
Huxley refers to John Chapman and the Westminster Review. See letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865] and n. 3.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Haeckel, Ernst. 1866. Generelle Morphologie der Organismen. Allgemeine Grundzüge der organischen Formen-Wissenschaft, mechanisch begründet durch die von Charles Darwin reformirte Descendenz-Theorie. 2 vols. Berlin: Georg Reimer.

Junker, Thomas. 1989. Darwinismus und Botanik. Rezeption, Kritik und theoretische Alternativen im Deutschland des 19. Jahrhunderts. Stuttgart: Deutscher Apotheker Verlag.

Montgomery, William M. 1988. Germany. In The comparative reception of Darwinism, with a new preface, edited by Thomas F. Glick. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Nyhart, Lynn K. 1995. Biology takes form. Animal morphology and the German universities, 1800–1900. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Glad to read what CD sends. Any glimmer of light on those subjects is of utmost importance.

Quotes a letter from Haeckel on progress of Darwinism in Germany.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Jermyn St
Source of text
DAR 166: 307
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4838,” accessed on 3 July 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13