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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   30 May [1865]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

May 30

My dear Huxley

I thank you most sincerely for granting my request in so kind a manner.2

When ever you read the M.S. be so kind as to suspend your judgment until you have read the whole, & then turn the subject a little in your mind. I have thought of it much, more than appears in the M.S. & am becoming convinced that some such view will have to be adopted; but I see that it over throws in an uncomfortable manner one’s common view on ordinary development.3 The style of the M.S has to be improved.

You will have to take some of my facts & partial conclusions on trust, but the greater number of the facts will be quite as familiar to you as to me.

You will really do me a very great service & with cordial thanks believe me yours sincerely | Ch Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from T. H. Huxley, 29 May 1865.
CD had asked Huxley whether he would read and comment on the manuscript of his pangenesis hypothesis (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865], and letter from T. H. Huxley, 29 May 1865).
CD may be alluding to the view expressed in his manuscript, that there is no essential difference between sexual and asexual reproduction or between reproduction and continual growth (see Olby 1963, pp. 253–6; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 April [1867] (Calendar no. 5485)). This represented a radical departure from CD’s earlier views on generation as expressed in his Notebooks (see Kohn 1980, pp. 83–7, and Hodge 1985, pp. 227–36). Olby has noted that CD’s revised position on reproduction partly reflected contemporary work on parthenogenesis that contributed to the undermining of the distinction between buds and germ-cells during the 1860s (Olby 1985, pp. 73–5, 80). See also Churchill 1979, and Farley 1982, pp. 72–111. On precursors to CD’s hypothesis of pangenesis, see Geison 1969, pp. 393–409.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Churchill, Frederick B. 1979. Sex and the single organism: biological theories of sexuality in mid-nineteenth century. Studies in History of Biology 3: 139–77.

Farley, John. 1982. Gametes & spores: ideas about sexual reproduction, 1750–1914. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Geison, Gerald L. 1969. Darwin and heredity: the evolution of his hypothesis of pangenesis. Journal of the History of Medicine 24: 375–411.

Hodge, M. J. S. 1985. Darwin as a lifelong generation theorist. In The Darwinian heritage, edited by David Kohn. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press in association with Nova Pacifica (Wellington, NZ).

Kohn, David. 1980. Theories to work by: rejected theories, reproduction, and Darwin’s path to natural selection. Studies in History of Biology 4: 67–170.

Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.

Olby, Robert. 1963. Charles Darwin’s manuscript of pangenesis. British Journal for the History of Science 1: 251–63.

Olby, Robert. 1985. Origins of Mendelism. 2d edition. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.


Thanks for THH’s willingness to read Pangenesis MS. Thinks some such view will have to be adopted but it overthrows, in an uncomfortable manner, ordinary development.

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: 217)
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4841,” accessed on 26 May 2022,

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