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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen1   [November 1847–51]2

before3 of Whewell having scolded you; I am rather glad of it, as it shows that this typical Don feels the pressure from without.—4

What a grand number of novelties Hooker no doubt will bring home.5

Ever yours | C. Darwin


The original has a notation: ‘Part of a letter to Professor Owen’. The ascription is likely, but no corroboration of the reference to William Whewell’s ‘scolding’ has been found. Whewell and Owen had been schoolfellows at the Blue School, Lancaster, and were lifelong friends.
Dated by CD’s reference to Joseph Dalton Hooker’s expedition to India, 1847–51.
‘I had not heard’ was inserted preceding ‘before’, presumably by Richard Owen.
This may refer to Whewell’s reaction to those who wanted to reform the university curriculum to provide a greater emphasis on the study of science at Cambridge. Whewell had earlier criticised Charles Lyell’s chapter on university education in Travels in North America (C. Lyell 1845; Whewell 1845, ch. 2, sec. 2). See letter to Charles Lyell, [2 June 1847], and K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 127.
Hooker sailed for India on 11 November 1847.


Whewell, William. 1845. Of a liberal education in general; and with particular reference to the leading studies of the University of Cambridge. London.


"I had not heard before of Whench [Whewell?] having scolded you; I am rather glad of it …

What a grand number of novelties Hooker no doubt will bring home".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Owen
Sent from
Source of text
John K. Lattimer (private collection)
Physical description
ALS ** 1p inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13833,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4