From J. D. Hooker 25 April 1873
Dear Old Darwin
I am charmed with Huxley’s noble-minded letter.1 We had a walk & talk together yesterday, but no allusion passed.— but he said he had determined on a long holiday & was very doubtful about whether to give up his summer Lectures to schoolmasters or no.— He described himself as slightly better, certainly not worse. He asked if I would go with him in July to Auvergne & Germany, I promised that I would if I did not go to America, of which I have heard nothing more.
Lady Lyell’s death is a complete upset.2 I called today & had a long talk with poor Mrs Lyell3 & saw (at her wish) for the last time that most loveable face shrouded in flowers in the coffin— looking so calm & beautiful. Amid a flood of later memories my mind rushed back to long years ago, when quite a boy, I felt rather than thought it to be so beautiful, that I never could look at it without emotion— I used to dream of it as a child.
I have no morbid or other liking for seeing the faces of the dead, but am glad I have seen this; it was so beautiful— & I should not have liked my last thoughts of her to have been coupled with a face worn by sickness.
She seems never to have suffered any pain whatever of the smallest consequence, no uneasyness even, but to have sunk from the first going to Ludlow,4 gradually, taking abundant food all along & enjoying it.
Poor Lyell I did not see— Mrs. L. thought better not, & rightly. I am sure— he spends his time alternately in piteous sorrow, & in working at his antiquity of man with Miss Buckley.5 They have asked Mr Simmonds to bury her at Woking, beside Mrs. Horner.6 Lyell will live with Mrs Lyell I suppose they will take another Home.7 He is much better & has lost the tremor of the mouth— so Mrs Lyell says— I shall see him when it is all over.
From Mrs Lyell’s account I suspect the fever was typhoid; toward the end there was a slight pain over a spot in the side of the Abdomen, which probably indicated that disorganization of the intestine had set in, (of which I forget the name).8
I hope I have not bored you with all this.
Frances is much the better of her stay at Down & so am I in every way—9 I could eat nothing till I went there. & I did eat & enjoy Down as much as ever—& you know what that covers.
Ever yours affec | J D Hooker
Charmed by Huxley’s letter of appreciation .
Lady Lyell’s sudden death.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8880,” accessed on 12 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-8880