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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   22 [June 1859]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I did not answer your pleasant note, with a good deal of news to me, of May 30th,1 as I have been expecting proofs from you. But now having nothing particular to do I will fly a note, though I have nothing particular to say or ask. Indeed how can a man have anything to say who spends every day in correcting accursed proofs; & such proofs! I have fairly to blacken them & fasten slips of paper on, so miserable have I found the style.—

You say you dreamt that my Book was entertaining, that dream is pretty well over with me, & I begin to fear that the Public will find it intolerably dry & perplexing. But I will never give up that a better man could have made a splendid book out of the materials.

I was glad to hear about Prestwich’s paper.2 My doubt has been (& I see Wright has inserted same in Athenæum)3 whether the pieces of flint are really tools: their numbers make me doubt;4 & when I formerly looked at Boucher de Perthes drawings5 I came to the conclusion that they were angular fragments broken by ice-action.6

Have you made out anything about Goodenia? Did crossing the Acacia do any good?—7 I am so hard worked that I can make no experiments. I have got only to 150 page in first Proof.—

Adios | My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Hooker’s letter has not been found.
In a paper delivered at a meeting of the Royal Society on 26 May 1859, Joseph Prestwich announced the discovery of flint implements in cave deposits that also contained the bones of extinct species of animals. It and other important papers about excavations made around this time began to establish the thesis of Jacques Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes that mankind had existed before the recent geological period (‘l’homme antédiluvienne’), contemporary with extinct species, and was therefore much older than any known historical population. Prestwich’s results were published in Prestwich 1860.
A letter from Thomas Wright published in the Athenæum, 18 June 1859, p. 809, on ‘Flint implements in the Drift’, commented on Prestwich’s Royal Society paper and on a paper on the same subject read at the Society of Antiquaries on 2 June by John Evans (Athenæum, 11 June 1859, pp. 781–2).
Wright noted that hundreds of the flint implements had been found: ‘We must suppose if done by men that they spent all their time chipping.’ (Athenæum, 18 June 1859, p. 809).
Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes had discovered shaped flints mingled with the fossil bones of extinct animals in the neighbourhood of Abbeville in the 1840s. His account of the flints as human tools contemporaneous with the fossils (Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes 1847–64) was at first rejected. However, Prestwich and Hugh Falconer were led by this report to visit Abbeville in 1858 and 1859 and confirmed his findings. CD refers to the first volume of the work, for which there is an entry in his reading notebook (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *128: 163).
One of the main problems that Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes had encountered was the difficulty of identifying shaped flints as objects made by man. His interpretation was supported by Prestwich in the paper read at the Royal Society on 26 May (see n. 2, above).
See letters to J. D. Hooker, 6 May [1859] and 2 July [1859].


Boucher de Crèvecoeur de Perthes, Jacques. 1847–64. Antiquités celtiques et antédiluviennes. Mémoire sur l’industrie primitive et les arts a leur origine. 3 vols. Paris: Treuttel & Wurtz [and others].

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


CD making extensive corrections on proofs of Origin. Worries that style is too dry.

Doubts about Joseph Prestwich’s discovery [of flint tools].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 18
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2471,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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