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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   2 November [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 2d

My dear Hooker

I have pleasure in enclosing draft for 330 for Mr Ralfs1—if you fail in getting amount I will add £2s2 more.—

I hardly like sending Circulars to friends who are not naturalists, & all Naturalists you will think of, as J. Lubbock, Bunbury, Leighton of Shrewsbury, C. Spence Bate of Plymouth.2 Ld. Overstone professes to care for Science3 I would send him one.— You can send one to Miss Carr care of The Lady Cranworth4 Holwood Bromley, Kent She is interested in such subjects & kind, I fancy pretty rich.— Add my name in M.S. to List5 T. C. Eyton Esq Eyton Wellington Salop. I can think of no one else. Mr Peters (& I do not know his address) a rich Banker cares, or did care, much about Microscopes.—6

If I can think of any one else I will let you know.—

Many thanks for information about Museum; you seem progressing well.—7 I suppose Kensington Gore must be borne; but I must think a very large proportion of those who now visit Brit. Mus. go there on their feet & will not go by Railway, even if not costing more than an Omnibus.—8 I confess I feel rather frightened at change but sincerely hope that it is vain fear; & as Government is moving, I thoroughily agree to wisdom of naturalists moving.

Moor Park did me wonderful good & I walked one day 412 miles! with only a few rests!

My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin

The following addresses would be worth I think a penny stamp. Revd. W. Darwin Fox Delamere Rectory Northwich E. Vernon Harcourt Esq 9 Hastings E. Darwin Esq 57. Queen Anne St J. M. Herbert Esq 10 County Court Judge Hereford Wollaston 10 Hereford St Park Lane11 J. G. Perry Esq 12 12 Westbourne St Hyde Park Gardens H. C. Watson13 Thames Ditton W. H. Benson Esq 14 28 Grt. George St Portman Sqe

N.B. If many give or you think I ought to give more than 330 tear up my draft & I will at once send 550.15

You may add my name in M.S. for all these to list of Committee, if you like.—


CD’s contribution to a fund set up to aid the botanist John Ralfs. Hooker’s role in organising the fund through the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society is described in L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 414. The minutes of the Philosophical Club meeting on 28 October 1858 (Royal Society) read: Mr Huxley brought before the members of the Club individually the case of Mr. Ralfs well known for his Researches on the Desmidiae, who with failing health had been unexpectedly deprived of the small annuity upon which he depended Mr H. stated that he should be glad to receive subscriptions towards the purchase of an annuity for him— Dr. Hooker supported Mr. Huxley’s appeal. Ralfs’s work in compiling a comprehensive monograph on desmids (microscopic algae), to be published in a new edition of Andrew Pritchard’s A history of infusoria, living and fossil (1841), was delayed by ill-health, encroaching blindness, and poverty (DNB). Hooker’s appeal for £500 to buy Ralfs an annuity was subscribed twice over (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 414). Instead of using the whole sum for an annuity much larger than intended, the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society proposed investing the excess capital to serve as a general scientific charitable fund. CD was a signatory of a preliminary draft drawn up on 16 December 1858 to put this proposal before the Royal Society’s council (see Correspondence vol.7, Appendix VII).
Both CD and Samuel Jones Loyd, Baron Overstone, were members of the Athenæum Club (see Correspondence vol. 6, letters to W. E. Darwin, [26 February 1856], to J. D. Hooker, 11 May [1856], and to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1856]).
Robert Monsey Rolfe and his wife Laura (Lord and Lady Cranworth) lived at Holwood Hill, Keston, Kent. Lord Cranworth was lord chancellor, 1852–8. Miss Carr was probably a sister of Lady Cranworth (née Laura Carr).
Hooker evidently intended to circulate a printed list of subscribers to potential donors. The addition of CD’s name, would explain why the circular was to be sent to the people named in the letter.
Probably William Peters of 35 Nicholas Lane, London and Ashford Lodge, Sussex. Peters was a partner in the banking company Masterman, Peters & Co. (Post Office London directory 1858).
Hooker had evidently mentioned to CD the possibility of the new museum being located in Kensington Gore, a road on the northern boundary of the government site in Kensington. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 [October 1858].
Edward William Vernon Harcourt was an expert on the ornithology of Madeira and had formerly corresponded with CD on that topic (see Correspondence vol. 6).
John Maurice Herbert had been a close friend of CD’s since their undergraduate days at Cambridge.
Thomas Vernon Wollaston, a specialist on Madeiran entomology, was a friend and a scientific correspondent of CD’s.
John George Perry was a London surgeon and astronomer. He is listed in CD’s Address book (Down House MS).
Hewett Cottrell Watson, well known to both CD and Hooker, was particularly interested in the geographical distribution of plants. He had corresponded with CD since 1847 about botanical problems arising out of CD’s work.
William Henry Benson was a conchologist and entomologist. He had supplied CD with observations on shells in India in 1855 (Correspondence vol. 5, letter from W. H. Benson, 5 December 1855).
A payment of £3 3s. for ‘Ralfs charity’ was recorded in CD’s Account book (Down House MS) on1 November 1858.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


On moving the natural history collection of the British Museum to Kensington.

Subscription for John Ralfs.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 252
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2351,” accessed on 5 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7