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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   9 June 1878

The Royal Society, | Burlington House, London, W.

June 9th/78.

Dear Darwin

I have long had at heart a scheme for reducing the monstrous heavy fees (in future) of F.R.S. by establishing a “Publication Fund”—which by relieving the income of part of the expenditure on publications, would eventually set free the desired amount for the reduction of fees to the standard of other societies.1

To this end I induced my old friend Young of Kelly to give me £1000, & the Council has entered into my Scheme, accepted the £1000 as the first contribution to the fund & sanctioned my taking any honest course towards increasing it.2

Spottiswoode has gone into the matter for me, & finds that £10,000 would suffice, & further he thinks that an effort should be made to raise this sum at once amongst the Fellows—by subscriptions varying from £50 (which is as much as I can afford) to £1000, out of which a few swells may be cozened!—3

I need hardly say that I am ambitious to confer this boon on the Society & on Science before I leave the Chair—4 I am sure of your sympathy, but can well suppose that you cannot help; & shall not be surprized to be told so.

Ever affy yrs | Jos D Hooker.


Hooker was president of the Royal Society of London. For a full account of his scheme to reduce the fees of ordinary members of the society by covering its publication costs out of this new fund, see Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 28 (1878–9): 45–8.
James Young had given the donation to the Royal Society to be expended in a manner that Hooker approved of (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 28 (1878–9): 45). Young lived at Kelly House, Wemyss Bay, Renfrewshire, Scotland (ODNB). Hooker and Young probably met in Glasgow, where Young lived until 1837; Hooker lived there from 1820 to 1839 (ODNB s.v. Hooker, William Jackson).
William Spottiswoode was treasurer of the Royal Society. For Spottiswoode’s plan for the fund and a list of major subscribers, see Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 28 (1878–9): 46–7.
Hooker stood down as president on 30 November 1878 and was replaced by Spottiswoode; see Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 28 (1878–9): 63 and 69.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


JDH’s scheme for lowering F.R.S. fees by creating a fund through membership subscription.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Royal Society
Source of text
DAR 104: 109–10
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11547,” accessed on 10 December 2022,