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Letter 2542

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

[22 Nov 1859]

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    Summary Add

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    CD hopes Woodward was not the Athenæum reviewer. "The manner in which he drags in immortality, & sets the Priests at me … is base".

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    JDH has made CD feel he can "face a score of savage reviewers".

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    H. C. Watson has written to him in tremendous praise of the Origin.


Wells Terrace | Ilkley, Otley | Yorkshire


My dear Hooker

I cannot help it, I must thank you for your affectionate & most kind note. My head will be turned. By Jove I must try, & get a bit modest. I was a little chagrined by review. I hope it was not Woodward. As advocate he might think himself justified in giving argument only one side. But the manner in which he drags in immortality, & sets the Priests at me & leaves me to their mercies, is base. He would on no account burn me; but he will get the wood ready & tell the black beasts how to catch me.— I will not say to soul that he is author.—

It would be unspeakably grand if Huxley were to lecture on the subject, but I can see this is mere chance: Faraday might think it too unorthodox.

I cannot help being sorry about H. C. Watson: he has helped me so kindly & liberally. I had a letter from him with such tremendous praise of my book, that modesty (as I am trying to cultivate that difficult herb) prevents me sending it you, which I shd have liked to have done, as he is very modest about himself.—

You have cockered me up to that extent, that I now feel I can face a score of savage Reviewers.— I suppose you are still with the Lyells—give my kindest remembrances to them. I triumph to hear that he continues to approve.

Believe me | Your would-be-modest friend | C. D.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2542.f1
    Dated by the relationship to the letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859].
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    f2 2542.f2
    Letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859].
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    f3 2542.f3
    The author was in fact John R. Leifchild (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859], n. 2).
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    f4 2542.f4
    Thomas Henry Huxley was hoping to deliver a lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on CD's species views. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859].
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    f5 2542.f5
    Michael Faraday, the director of the laboratory and Fullerian professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution, was a member of the Sandemanian congregation, a devout Protestant sect that practised primitive Christianity.
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    f6 2542.f6
    Hewett Cottrell Watson's fourth volume of his flora of Britain (Watson 1847–59) had been unkindly reviewed in Gardeners' Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859]. Francis Darwin's edition of CD's letters erroneously gives the name of T. H. Huxley instead of Watson here (LL 2: 229).
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    f7 2542.f7
    Letter from H. C. Watson, 21 November [1859].
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