skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 July 1865

High Force Inn | Middleton Teesdale

July 13/65.

Dear old Darwin

Your letter gladdened me as your hand writing always does, though the account of your state is anything but gladsome1   Thank Mrs Darwin very much for her part.2 This is just the place for my wife who gains ground rapidly, but loses it, or much of it, every now & then & is bloodless for a time. nevertheless, when weak,3 Neuralgia does not attack her here, as at Kew, & she walks several miles, & eats like a Trojan.

This is a wonderfully pretty place, especially the banks of the river. the moors are loathsome & the hills low broad rockless treeless & contemptible.4 I am studying the moraines all day long with as much enthusiasm as I am capable of after laying in bed till 9 eating heavy breakfasts & looking forward to dinner as the summum bonum of existence.5

I am reading Lubbock very carefully, it is excellent; most excellent, so well written sagacious & discriminating.6 How well & wisely he treats C. Lewis’ blunder & hastyness & the errors of others too.7 The Savage chapters are tantalizing for their brevity & incompleteness.8 Why did you not mention Lyells apologetic pages in your letter—to me—9 I suppose because the subject was most distressing— reason enough, for so it is— I am not satisfied with his apology at all— it is not handsome at all, & from an old Prince of science to a young aspirant, is not liberal I think. I am not surprised at Lubbock having been riled up originally: but cannot alter my opinion of the note,10 1. that the accusation is too broad & loose (exaggerated I fear), & 2. the latter paragraph is a bitter sarcasm though wholly unintentionally so I quite believe— Do consider it. he first accuses Lyell of extracting whole sentences without acknowlegdment & then attributes the denial of the robbery to a regretted inadvertence! i.e. Lyell first robs, then prearranges a fib to hide it, before he is accused mind you—& lastly when accused regrets his wilful uncalled for fib, as an inadvertence! by Jove if this is not a climax of villainy what is? all an ignorant bye-stander could say is, that his conscience is of a piece with his conduct. I am taking an ignorant byestanders view of the case— of course I know well that Lyells conduct has in justice no such interpretation.— I hope Lubbock will take no more notice of the affair, it is not worth it, & never was. worth anything beyond a mere assurance that he was first, though apparently second in the field.11

I know a little of Tylors brother— he is an FGS. & FLS. that Edward Forbes’ big heart embraced. The family are gas fitters &c &c, hardware tradesmen most wealthy & respectable, once quakers if not now quakers.12 I never saw this author. I am so glad you like the book.13 it is to me the most interesting since your orchid work14 that I have read, & like it I can always dip back with gusto, & be refreshed.

I have read vol: 2 of Leckie (not vol 1 yet) & am extremely interested & instructed.15 The next holiday I get I must read Buckle,16 of which I have only read part of vol 2. I am also reading Tom Payne who I think has been pretty largely plundered by Grey & Colenso.17

We have the Benthams here & my cousin Inglis Palgrave.18 I have not begun Giffords book19 regularly, but dipped here & there. it seems awfully conceited, vague & meagre of accurate topographical or scientific information, & very diffuse, but wonderfully clever as a literary composition. & no doubt full of valuable historical matter— he is a queer fellow, eccentric like all his Grandfather’s grandchildren; with brains enough for us all if he would put them to work systematically.20

I had the most enjoyable dinner I ever sat down to out your home or perhaps Lubbocks at Frank Palgraves the other day, the guests being Jowett Maurice & Gifford.— Browning & Stanley came afterwards.21

Can you afford to subscribe to the Palestine Exploration fund.22 I am deeply interested in the proper expenditure of the money & with Spottiswood Grove & some other good men I hope to see it well worked.23 I have given £3.3 (annually) for 3 years.

Herbert Spencer observations on umbellifer are utterly wrong—his reasoning partially right.24 How very odd, that the Antirrhinum case occurred to me as to you; I think that part of his reasoning, all or in great part wrong.25 he makes too little of Insect agency in shaping flowers, & of hereditary influence— too much of light air & unconquerable love of symmetry in the plant— still there is much in the line of argument. He sends me the proof sheets to comment on.26 I have not seen them since— he did not know that you had taken up the modifying effects of insect agency in impregnation   as a general law, that is.27

I have not seen Nat Hist. Review which will not pay, is all but defunct I hear! & cannot go on beyond the year.28

Oliver is working at African plants & his lectures29

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

My Charlie has taken hooping cough at school, he returns on 19th. which puts all our arrangements out as we must keep him apart, which is difficult during Willys holidays.30


See letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865] and n. 14. The first page of the letter is written in pencil in CD’s hand. The last letter CD had written to Hooker in his own hand was that of 1 June [1865].
Frances Harriet Hooker was recovering from a miscarriage (see letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865] and n. 15).
The Hookers had travelled to Middleton-in-Teesdale in County Durham on 26 or 27 June 1865 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 June 1865]). The High Force Inn was located in Forest and Frith, one of the four townships of the town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. The town is on the river Tees (Post Office directory of Northumberland 1858).
Hooker’s observations on moraines in the Tees valley were published in the Reader, 15 July 1865, p. 71 (Hooker 1865).
Previously, Hooker had told CD that he was disappointed with Lubbock 1865 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and n. 14).
John Lubbock pointed out that in G. C. Lewis 1862, pp. 455 and 467, George Cornewall Lewis treated the travels of the Carthaginian Himilco and the Greek Pytheas as mythical; Lubbock discussed the evidence for their voyages having taken place as described (Lubbock 1865, pp. 36–43).
Chapters 11 to 13 in Lubbock 1865 (pp. 335–472) were titled ‘Modern savages’ (see letter to John Lubbock, 11 June [1865] and n. 3). The purpose of Lubbock’s brief sketches of ‘modern savages’ was to ‘throw light on the ancient remains found in Europe, and on the condition of the early races which inhabited our continent’ (ibid., p. 336).
In the letter to Hooker of [10 July 1865], CD made no mention of having received the proofs for a new section to be added to the preface of the third edition of Antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863c). In response to Lubbock’s allegation of plagiarism against him (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 June [1865], n. 6), Charles Lyell changed a footnote as well as adding the so-called ‘apologetic pages’ to the preface of copies of C. Lyell 1863c printed after June 1865 (letter from Charles Lyell to Thomas Henry Huxley, 8 June 1865, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives, Huxley 6: 111; see also letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865], n. 7), resulting in variant versions of C. Lyell 1863c (see Bynum 1984, pp. 176–8). Lyell, who was in Kissingen, Bavaria, apparently arranged for copies of proofs of the revised preface to be sent to both CD and Hooker, among others (letter from Charles Lyell to Thomas Henry Huxley, 28 June 1865, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives, Huxley 6: 117). See Appendix V for the revised note and the ‘apologetic pages’ added to the preface of C. Lyell 1863c.
Hooker had once before mentioned to CD that he found the dispute between Lyell and Lubbock the more upsetting because of the difference in their ages (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865] and n. 9). For Hooker’s initial impression of the note in the preface to Lubbock 1865 accusing Lyell of plagiarism, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865]; for the text of the note, see the letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865], n. 3.
Hooker refers to the fact that, though Lubbock may have published on Danish shell-mounds before Lyell (see Lubbock 1861 and C. Lyell 1863a), Lubbock’s own work was predated by that of Charles Adolphe Morlot (Morlot 1859). Morlot 1859 was a summary of Forchhammer et al. 1851–5. See enclosures to letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865], and Appendix V.
After reading part of Tylor 1865, CD had asked Hooker whether he knew anything about the author, Edward Burnett Tylor (see letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865] and n. 5). Tylor’s brother, Alfred Tylor, was a geologist, a fellow of the Geological Society of London and the Linnean Society, and in charge of the family brassfoundry business. Evidently, he was one of many encouraged in the study of natural history by Edward Forbes (Literary Gazette, 25 November 1854, pp. 1016–18). Both brothers had been educated at the School of the Society of Friends, Grove House, Tottenham (DNB).
Tylor 1865.
The reference is to Orchids, published in 1862.
William Edward Hartpole Lecky’s History of the rise and influence of the spirit of rationalism in Europe (Lecky 1865) had brought him to public attention in 1865 (DNB). The central theme of the work was the development of reason and decline of superstition in human society.
Hooker refers to Henry Thomas Buckle’s History of civilisation in England (Buckle 1857–61). Lecky claimed to have been greatly influenced by his reading of Buckle (see Lecky 1865, 2: 188). CD had read and admired the first volume of Buckle 1857–61 in 1858 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 23; see also Correspondence vol. 7, letters to J. D. Hooker, 23 February [1858] and 31 March [1858]).
Hooker probably refers to Thomas Paine’s The age of reason (Paine 1794 and 1795). Hooker’s statement that Paine had been ‘plundered by Grey & Colenso’ may refer to Asa Gray’s pamphlet on natural theology and natural selection (A. Gray 1861) and the biblical critique of John William Colenso, bishop of Natal (Colenso 1862–79). In his pamphlet, Gray echoes Paine’s argument in the first part of The age of reason that the true revelation of God to man is embodied in the natural world (Paine 1794, pp. 22–31, A. Gray 1861, pp. 35–44; see also J. R. Moore 1979, pp. 339–40, on Gray’s belief in divine immanence). Colenso follows Paine in his focus on the Pentateuch and belief in the importance of a commonsense, critical approach to the study of the Bible (see, for example Colenso 1862–79, 2: vi; see also Davidson and Scheick 1994 for a detailed analysis of Paine’s biblical criticism).
The reference is to George and Sarah Bentham and to Robert Harry Inglis Palgrave, whose mother, Elizabeth Turner, was the sister of Hooker’s mother, Maria (Allan 1967).
Hooker refers to William Gifford Palgrave’s book, Narrative of a year’s journey through central and eastern Arabia (Palgrave 1865).
William Gifford Palgrave, an elder brother of Robert Harry Inglis Palgrave, travelled across central Arabia in 1862 and 1863 (DNB). In 1864 Hooker mentioned to CD William Gifford Palgrave’s plan to publish on his travels, but remarked that he had ‘made no observations of the smallest scientific value’ (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1864). Palgrave’s paternal grandfather was Meyer Cohen (DNB s.v. Francis Palgrave).
Hooker refers to Francis Turner Palgrave, Benjamin Jowett, John Frederick Denison Maurice, William Gifford Palgrave, Robert Browning, and Arthur Penrhyn Stanley. He also refers to John Lubbock.
The expedition to study the natural history of Palestine was organised under the direction of Henry Baker Tristram and left England in November 1863. Tristram reported on its progress at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Bath in 1864 (see Tristram 1864a, 1864b, and 1864c). Notices about the progress of the expedition and some early results were published in Natural History Review 4 (1864): 152–3, 311–12, 638–9. The Palestine Exploration Fund, set up to finance the expedition, received support from the British Association for the Advancement of Science until 1875 (see Howarth 1931, p. 201). In 1860 Hooker had taken part in an expedition to Syria and Lebanon, during which time he visited Jerusalem (see Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 September [1860] and n. 1; see also R. Desmond 1999, pp. 210–16).
Hooker refers to William Spottiswoode and William Robert Grove. In 1865, Grove was president elect of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, while Spottiswoode was president of its sectional committee for mathematics and physics (see Report of the thirty-fifth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Birmingham in September 1865, pp. xxx–xxxi).
Hooker refers to Herbert Spencer’s view that the size and shape of flowers in umbellifers was related to the density and shape of the umbellules (see letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865] and n. 8).
Spencer had argued from observation of peloric Gloxinia erecta flowers that flower shape was causally related to the angle formed between stem and flower stalk. CD noted, however, that both peloric and common flowers of Antirrhinum majus were positioned at the same angle to the stem (see letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865] and n. 9).
Hooker had been receiving proofs from Spencer throughout the publication of the instalments of Spencer 1864–7; his assistance was acknowledged in the preface to the published volumes (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1864 and n. 5).
CD had emphasised the relationship between insects and flower structure in Orchids, giving many examples of flower forms adapted for cross-pollination by insects. An example of the sort of ‘general law’ Hooker had in mind may be CD’s statement in ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’, p. 175 (Collected papers 2: 111): ‘I have found no exception to the rule, that when the stamens and pistil are bent, the bending is exactly to that side of the flower which secretes nectar … or … to that side where the structure of the flowers allows the easiest access to it.’
CD mentioned the review of Spencer’s latest instalment of Principles of biology in the July 1865 issue of Natural History Review in the letter from Charles and Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865], and also commented on the high quality of that issue. The Natural History Review ceased publication with volume 5 in 1865 (see A. Desmond 1994–7, 1: 342–3).
In his letter to Hooker of [10 July 1865], CD had asked about Daniel Oliver’s activities. Oliver, keeper of the herbarium and library at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was professor of botany at University College London. Hooker may also refer to the series of lectures that Oliver gave to the garden staff at Kew (see Britten 1917, p. 91). At this time, Oliver was also working on his Flora of tropical Africa (Oliver 1868–77; see Jackson 1917).
Hooker refers to his sons, Charles Paget Hooker, aged 10, and William Henslow Hooker, aged 12.


Studying moraines.

On Lubbock’s book [see 4860], and Lyell’s apology. Recapitulates whole affair.

W. E. H. Lecky [Rise of rationalism in Europe (1865)] and other reading.

Spencer’s observations are wrong on umbellifers, his reasoning partially right.

Natural History Review is all but defunct.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 30–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4873,” accessed on 25 July 2017,

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