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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [15 June 1865]1



Dr Darwin

I am wonderfully taken with Tylor’s book & anxious to know your opinion of it—which seems to me quite exceptionally good.2

I have an admirable note from Huxley about this Lyellian affair, of the demerits of which he seems have a perfect appreciation. I enclose it.3

I have just begun your climbers.4

My wife does not recover fast,5 & still complains of a good deal of pain. We hope to get away to Teesdale on the 26th. the Benthams going with us.6—sleeping at York the first night.

Ever Yrs affec | J D Hooker


Jermyn St.

June 12th. 1865

My dear Hooker

I did not reply to your note last week7 as I was in hopes after all that you might have come upon our ploy, which was very successful always excepting your own and Mrs Hooker’s absence which was a great regret to all of us. I trust our not having you with us is no evidence that Mrs Hooker is any worse.

As you say, this Lyello-Lubbockian business is not a pleasing shindy. I have known all about it from the first from Lubbock & have given such advice as I thought would tend most towards a peaceful solution of the difficulty—8 Latterly Lyell has been to me & I have found it very difficult to deal honestly with both sides without betraying the confidence of either or making matters worse

The candle is a very small one & by no means worth the game— and I should have absolutely dissuaded Lubbock from taking any notice of the small plunder that had taken place, if it had not been for that unlucky note in which Lyell (innocently I do believe but very stupidly) expressly affirmed he had got nothing from Lubbock:9 & thereby (as it was obvious somebody had copied from somebody)—threw the onus upon Lubbocks shoulders— This rankled in Lubbocks mind & like all quiet and mild men who do get a grievance he became about twice as ‘wud’10 as Berserks like you & me. It was as much as I could do to get him to write to Lyell for an explanation before coming out with a preface to which what you have seen is milk & water.11 I hoped that Lyell would see he was in a mess & would set the whole affair straight with half a dozen words of frank explanation as he might have done— Instead of that came a long windy affair looking at the whole business from an exclusively Lyellian point of view and really dictating to Lubbock what he should do to get Lyell out of the scrape— Of course the Lubbockian furnace got seven times hotter and it is a mercy nothing worse came of it than what you saw in Lubbocks preface12

I am very glad you backed up my advice to Lyell.13 I must say he has behaved fairly enough since I put my finger into the pie and has done all I asked him to do— Lubbock I hope, will also comply with my (or rather I should say our Tyndall & Busk14 being his advisers with me) advice to cancel his own note & then all trace of a shindy which one will be glad to forget will have been wiped out.15

I don’t mind fighting to the death in a good big row but when A and B are supplying themselves from C’s orchard I don’t think it is very much worthwhile to dispute whether B filled his pockets directly from the trees or indirectly helped himself to the contents of A’s basket— If B has so helped himself he certainly ought to say so like a man: but if I were A, I would not much care whether he did or not

Lyell has been horribly disgusted about it— but I am not sure the discipline may not have opened his eyes to new & useful aspects of nature

Give our kindest regards 〈to〉 Mrs Hooker and say how gri〈eved〉 we are to hear of her illness

Ever yours faithfully, | T H Huxley

CD annotations16

End of letter: ‘Kingsley— any one you know? | Wimmer Book? | How to | Histry of Indian Mutiny.—’ pencil


The date is established by the date of the enclosure; in 1865, the first Thursday after 12 June was 15 June.
Hooker first mentioned Tylor 1865 in his letter of [26 May 1865], claiming that he was ‘charmed’ with it; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 June [1865].
For Hooker and CD’s discussion of the Charles Lyell–John Lubbock plagiarism affair, see the letters from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and [2 June 1865], and the letters to J. D. Hooker, 1 June [1865] and [4 June 1865]; see also Appendix V. Thomas Henry Huxley, whose letter to Hooker is enclosed, had been aware of the dispute from its earliest stages (see n. 8, below).
Hooker refers to ‘Climbing plants’ (see letter from Charles Kingsley, 14 June 1865, n. 1).
Frances Harriet Hooker was recovering from a miscarriage (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865] and n. 22).
Teesdale, which is in County Durham, just across the border from Yorkshire, was a familiar destination for the Hookers; see Correspondence vol. 12, letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 or 27 April 1864] and n. 18. Hooker refers to George and Sarah Bentham. Bentham was working with Hooker at Kew on the Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83).
Huxley refers to the letter from J. D. Hooker to T. H. Huxley, 6 June 1865 (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archive, Huxley 3: 109). In this letter, Hooker informed Huxley that he had recommended to Lyell that he should follow Huxley’s advice to cancel the note on page 11 of C. Lyell 1863c (for the text of the note, see the letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865], n. 6) and add an explanation in the preface stating exactly what information he obtained from Lubbock 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 13, Appendix V for the text of the altered part of the preface to C. Lyell 1863c and the revised note).
In the letter from T. H. Huxley to John Lubbock, 7 March 1865 (British Library MSS ADD. 49641), Huxley advised Lubbock to ask Lyell for an explanation of the note in C. Lyell 1863c (see n. 7, above) and to inform Lyell about the note he intended to publish. Huxley promised to consult with him further at ‘the Club’ (presumably a reference to the X Club; see letter from J. D. Hooker, [7–8 April 1865] and n. 8).
The note Huxley mentions is in C. Lyell 1863c, p. 11 (see letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker [31 May 1865], n. 6).
Wud (or wood): ‘Extremely fierce or violent’ (OED).
Huxley had written to Lubbock on 7 March 1865 (British Library MSS ADD 49641; see n. 8, above). Following Huxley’s advice, Lubbock wrote to Lyell on 13 March 1865 (University of Edinburgh Library, Special Collections, Lyell 1, Gen. 113/3644–5), asking for Lyell’s authorisation to include a note explaining that Lyell ‘through an inadvertence’ had copied from Lubbock’s article (Lubbock 1861).
Lubbock later told Hooker that he had originally intended to print parallel passages from Lubbock 1861 and C. Lyell 1863c to prove his claim of plagiarism (letter from John Lubbock to J. D. Hooker, 23 June 1865, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Letters to J. D. Hooker, vol. 14, doc. 183–4).
In a letter from J. D. Hooker to T. H. Huxley of 6 June 1865 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Letters to J. D. Hooker, vol. 14, doc. 97–8), Hooker told Huxley that he had written to Lyell telling him to follow Huxley’s advice, cancel his note (in C. Lyell 1863c), and say precisely what information he got from Lubbock, citing specific pages. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865], n. 7.
John Tyndall and George Busk, along with Lubbock, were members of the X Club (see n. 8, above). It is likely that Club meetings were a convenient venue where informal discussions on the dispute could be held. See Barton 1998.
Lubbock did cancel his note, though he still had serious reservations. In a letter to Huxley of 7 June 1865 (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, London, Huxley Papers 22: 64), Lubbock wrote: I should be quite satisfied with anything you & Tyndall & Busk settle & don’t think we are very likely to quarrel. I must say if Lyell states that he “wrote the text of Ch. 2 nearly verbatim as it now stands,” he will be falling into his old error. If he does this I must still put in something to protect myself from the charge of copying. Lubbock wrote to Hooker on 23 June 1865 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Letters to J. D. Hooker, vol. 14, doc. 183–4), still defending the note, but concluded, ‘It is a hateful business, & sometimes I almost wish that I had run the risk of misinterpretation.’
CD’s annotations relate to subjects he discussed in his letter to Hooker of [17 June 1865]. ‘Wimmer’ is presumably a reference to Christian Friedrich Heinrich Wimmer; see letter to J. D. Hooker, [17 June 1865], n. 8; ‘How to’ is probably a reference to Prichard 1864; see letter to J. D. Hooker, [17 June 1865], n. 9.


Impressed by Tylor’s book [see 4836].

Encloses admirable note from Huxley on Lyell–Lubbock affair.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 28; Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives (Huxley 2: 131)
Physical description
2pp † encl 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4855,” accessed on 27 May 2018,

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