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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   9[–10] November [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 9th

My dear Hooker

I am quite delighted to hear about Copley & Lyell.1 I have grown hot with indignation many times thinking of the way the proposal was met last year according to your account of it.2 I am also very glad to hear of Hancock; it will show that Provincials are not neglected.3 Altogether the medals are capital. I shall be proud & bound to help in any way about the eloge, which is rather a heavy tax on proposers of medals, as I found about Richardson & Westwood.4 but Lyells case will be twenty times as difficult— I will begin this very evening dotting down a few remarks on Lyell; though no doubt most will be superfluous, & several would require deliberate consideration. Anyhow such notes may be a preliminary aid to you. I will send them in few days time; & will do anything else you may wish.—5

I am astounded at H. C. Watson. Good God what a rule is his for helpinga fellow creature: I think you did very wisely to act on “least said soonest mended”.—6 Please remember 222 are at your service if wanted.—

Yours affecty | C. Darwin

I have had letter from Henslow this morning he comes here on 25th & I shall be delighted to see him; but it stops my coming to Club., as I had arranged to do; & now I suppose I shall not be in London to Dec. 16th, if odds & ends do not compel me to come sooner.—7 Of course I have not said a word to Henslow of my change of plans.— I had looked forward with pleasure to a chat with you & others.—

Postscript | I worked all yesterday evening in thinking & have written the paper sent by this Post this morning. Not one sentence would do, but it is the sort of rough sketch which I shd. have drawn out, if I had had to do it. God knows whether it will at all aid you.— It is miserably written, with horridly bad met-aphors,—probably horrid bad grammar.

It is my deliberate impression, such as I shd have written to any friend, who had asked me what I thought of Lyell’s merits. I will do anything else, which you may wish, or that I can.

C. D.

I have here & there put in doubts & criticisms, to render the whole rather less panegerical.


The council of the Royal Society had recommended that Charles Lyell be awarded the Copley Medal, the highest award of the society.
Hooker had unsuccessfully nominated Lyell for the medal in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1857] and 14 [November 1857]).
CD had previously suggested Albany Hancock for a Royal Medal (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 31 March [1858]; and vol. 6, letters to J. D. Hooker, 8 April [1856], to Edward Sabine, 23 April [1856], and to J. D. Hooker, 2 June [1857]). In 1858, Hancock was awarded one of the Royal Medals for his ‘numerous and varied contributions to Comparative Anatomy and Physiology, but more especially for his “Researches on the Organization of the Brachiopoda”’ (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 9 (1857–9): 518).
CD had nominated John Obadiah Westwood and John Richardson for Royal Medals in 1855 and 1856, respectively. See Correspondence vol. 5, letter to T. H. Huxley, 31 March [1855]; and vol. 6, letter to Edward Sabine, 23 April [1856].
CD’s notes have not been found. The Darwin Archive does, however, include some brief comments he made about the final version of the citation prepared by Hooker. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 24–5 November [1858].
Hewett Cottrell Watson had apparently declined to contribute to the subscription Hooker was raising for John Ralfs. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 November [1858].
See letter to J. S. Henslow, 9 November [1858]. The Philosophical Club of the Royal Society met on 16 December 1858. CD attended the meeting (Philosophical Club minutes, Royal Society).


Lyell receives Copley Medal; CD to write notes for JDH’s éloge of Lyell.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 253
Physical description
6pp encl CD note 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2355,” accessed on 24 June 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7