Next as to the text itself. The council were a little alarmed at the bulk of the book, and it is of the utmost importance that it would be condensed to the uttermost.
Furthermore, English propriety had taken fright at rumours touching the aggressive heterodoxy of some passages. (We do not much mind heterodoxy here, if it does not openly proclaim itself as such.)
And on both these points I had not only to give very distinct assurances, such as I thought your letters had entitled me to give; but in a certain sense to become myself responsible for your behaving yourself like a good boy!
If I had not known you and understood your nature and disposition as I fancy I do, I should not have allowed myself to be put in this position; but I have implicit faith in your doing what is wise and right, and so making it tenable.
There is not the slightest desire to make you mutilate your book or leave out anything which you conceive to be absolutely essential; and I on my part should certainly not think of asking you to make any alteration which would not in my judgment improve the book quite irrespectively of the tastes of the British public.
[Alterations are suggested.] But I stop. By this time you will be swearing at me for attacking all your favourite bits. Let me know what you think about these matters.
I congratulate you and Madame Haeckel heartily on the birth of your boy. Children work a greater metamorphosis in men than any other condition of life. They ripen one wonderfully and make life ten times better worth having than it was.
26 Abbey Place, November 15, 1868.
My dear Darwin,
You are always the bienvenu, and we shall be right
glad to see you on
We breakfast at 8.30, and the decks are clear before nine. I would offer you breakfast, but I know it does not suit you to come out unfed; and besides you would abuse the opportunity to demoralise Harry. [This small boy of nearly four was a great favourite of Darwin’s. When we children were all staying at Down about this time, Darwin himself would come in upon us at dinner, and patting him on the head, utter what was become a household word amongst us, “Make yourself at home, and take large mouthfuls.”]
Ever yours faithfully,
[An undated note to Darwin belongs to the very end of this year, or to the beginning of the next:—]
The two volumes of the new book have just reached me. My best thanks for them; and if you can only send me a little time for reading within the next three months you will heighten the obligation twenty-fold. I wish I had either two heads or a body that needed no rest!
[In 1869 Huxley published five paleontological papers, chiefly upon the Dinosaurs (see letter above to Haeckel, January 21, 1868). His physiological researches upon the development of parts of the skull, are represented by a paper for the Zoological Society, while the “Introduction to the Classification of Animals” was a reprint this year of the substance of six lectures in the first part of the lectures on “Elementary Comparative Anatomy” (1864), which were out of print, but still in demand by students.