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Huxley's long obituary of Darwin

(DARWIN, CHARLES.) HUXLEY, THOMAS HENRY.. (English) Charles Robert Darwin [obituary notice]. In Proceedings of the Royal Society. Vol. XLIV, No. 269

London: Royal Society, 1888

Pages i-xxv. Original wrappers. Spine neatly restored, some chipping.

FIRST EDITION.  Huxley’s 25-page reminiscence of his friend Charles Darwin is the most famous contemporary notice of Darwin’s life and death. Huxley, “Darwin’s bulldog,” was the naturalist’s most important and most passionate defender.

In this long essay, Huxley surveys Darwin’s life and works, paying considerable attention to the influence of Darwin’s parents, his education and upbringing, and his earliest experiences in natural history. Huxley discusses the prevailing opinions as to the nature of species and their origin before On the Origin of Species and the revolution it brought about. He then discusses at length the development of the theory of natural selection, the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, and the publication of Darwin’s theories in 1858-59. Huxley goes on to address the application of these ideas to the descent of man and then discusses the immense contributions to science that Darwin made over the rest of his life.

Huxley concludes, “On the 24th [of 1888], his remains were interred in Westminster Abbey, in accordance with the general feeling that such a man as he should not go to the grave without some public recognition of the greatness of his work. Mr. Darwin became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1839; one of the Royal Medals was awarded to him in 1853, and he received the Copley Medal in 1864. The ‘Life and Letters,’ edited with admirable skill and judgment by Mr. Francis Darwin, gives a full and singularly vivid presentment of his father’s personal character, of his mode of work, and of the events of his life. In the present brief obituary notice, the writer has attempted nothing more than to select and put together those facts which enable us to trace the intellectual evolution of one of the greatest of the many great men of science whose names adorn the long roll of the Fellows of the Royal Society.”