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Darwin Correspondence Project

DCP-LETT-9247

To J. D. Hooker   18 January [1874]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Jan. 18th

My dear Hooker

Very many thanks for Coral Reefs Book, but before receiving it I got a copy from Lyell, so I return yours by this post, & am not the less obliged.—2 I feared that it was too good luck to see you at luncheon in London.— We had grand fun one afternoon; for George hired a medium, who made the chairs, a flute, a bell & candlestick & fiery points jump about in my Brother’s Dining Room in a manner that astounded everyone & took away all their breaths.3 It was in the dark, but George & Hensleigh Wedgwood held the mediums hands & feet on both sides all the time. I found it so hot & tiring that I went away before all these astounding miracles or jugglery took place. How the man could possibly do what was done, passes my understanding. I came down stairs & saw all the chairs &c &c on the Table which had been lifted over the heads of those sitting round it.—

The Lord have mercy on us all, if we have to believe in such rubbish. F. Galton was there & says it was a good séance.—4

Now will you make a memorandum, or what wd. be better as more trustworthy ask Mrs Hooker5 kindly to make one & remind you. It is, if you ever attend the Balloting meetings of Athenæum Club, to attend the first one early in February & vote for my nephew, Henry Parker, & ask anyone whom you can influence. He is a fellow of Oriel College Oxford, & a most able & accomplished man, & I assure you in every way fitted to be a Member.

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

1
The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 January 1874.
2
CD had asked to use Hooker’s copy of Coral reefs to make corrections for a new edition (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 January 1874 and n. 3). Charles Lyell had supplied his copy (see letter to Charles Lyell, [13 January 1874]).
3
CD stayed with Erasmus Alvey Darwin from 10 to 17 January 1874 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). The medium hired by George Howard Darwin was Charles E. Williams (see Emma Darwin (1904), 2: 269). George Henry Lewes and Marian Evans (George Eliot) were also present.
4
Francis Galton had started investigating mediums and attending séances in 1872 (see Correspondence vol. 20, letter from Francis Galton, 19 April 1872). For more on the scientific interest in spiritualism in Victorian Britain, see Noakes 2004.
5
Frances Harriet Hooker.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-9247
From
Darwin, C. R.
To
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Down
Source of text
DAR 95: 311–12
Physical description
4pp

Summary

Reports on a séance. "The Lord have mercy on us all if we have to believe in such rubbish."

Asks JDH to vote for his nephew, Henry Parker, for Athenaeum membership.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9247,” accessed on 11 February 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-9247

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