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Darwin Correspondence Project

From T. H. Huxley   22 June 1870

Geological Survey of England and Wales

My dear Darwin

I sent the books to Queen Anne St this morning—1 Pray keep them as long as you like, as I am not using them—

I am greatly disgusted that you are coming up to London this week—as we shall be out of Town next Sunday—2 It is the rarest thing in the world for us to be away and you have pitched upon the one day. Cannot we arrange some other day?

I wish you could have gone to Oxford, not for your sake, but for theirs.—3

There seems to have been a tremendous shindy in the Hebdomadal board about certain persons who were proposed; and I am told that Pusey came to London to ascertain from a trustworthy friend who were the blackest heretics out of the list proposed—and that he was glad to assent to your being doctored, when he got back—in order to keep out seven devils worst than that first!4

Ever, oh Coryphæus diabolicus5 | your faithful follower | T. H. Huxley

June 22. 1870


The Darwins were in London from 24 June to 1 July 1870 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). See letter to T. H. Huxley, 20 June [1870].
CD had been offered an honorary degree by the University of Oxford but declined to attend the ceremony due to ill health (letter from Robert Cecil, 7 June 1870 and n. 1).
The Hebdomadal Council was the University of Oxford’s ruling executive. Huxley himself and John Tyndall had also been nominated for honorary degrees (Browne 2002, p. 338). Edward Bouverie Pusey accepted CD’s nomination only in return for Huxley’s being dropped (ibid.).
The coryphaeus is the leader of the chorus in a Greek play.


Bischoff, Theodor Ludwig Wilhelm. 1845. Entwicklungsgeschichte des Hunde-Eies. Brunswick: F. Vieweg und sohn.

Browne, Janet. 2002. Charles Darwin. The power of place. Volume II of a biography. London: Pimlico.

Wagner, Rudolph. 1851–9. Icones physiologicae. Erläuterungstafeln zur Physiologie und Entwickelungsgeschichte. 2d edition, revised and edited by Alexander Ecker. Leipzig: Leopold Voss.


Reports "shindy" at Oxford over persons proposed for doctorate. Pusey assented to CD’s being "doctored" to keep out seven worse devils.

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Henry Huxley
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Geological Survey
Source of text
DAR 166: 322
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7239,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18