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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [20 November 1859]1

Wells Terrace | Ilkley, Otley, | Yorkshire


My dear Hooker

I have just read a review on my book in Athenæum & it excites my curiosity much, who is author.2 If you shd. hear who writes in Athenæum, I wish you would tell me.— It seems to me well done, but the Reviewer gives no new objections, & being hostile passes over every single argument in favour of the doctrine, instead of creation. I fear from tone of review that I have written in a conceited & cock-sure style, which shames me a little.— There is another Review, of which I shd like to know the author, viz of H. C. Watsons in G. Chronicle.3 some of the remarks are like yours, & he does deserve punishment, but surely the review is too severe: don’t you think so?—

I hope you got the 3 copies for foreign Botanists in time for your parcel, & your own copy.4 I have heard from Carpenter who I think is likely to be a convert.5 Also from Quatrefages, who is inclined to go a long way with us: he says that he exhibited in his Lectures a diagram closely like mine!6

I shall stay here one fortnight more & then go to Down staying on road at Shrewsbury a week.7 I have been very unfortunate, out of seven weeks, I have been confined for five to the House.— This has been bad for me, as I have not been able to help thinking to foolish extent about my Book. If some 4 or 5 good men come round nearly to our view, I shall not fear ultimate success. I long to hear what Huxley thinks. Is your Introduction published? I suppose that you will sell it separately: please answer this for I want extra copy to send away to Wallace.

I am very bothersome: farewell | Yours affect | C. Darwin

I was very glad to see Royal Medal for Mr Bentham.8


Dated by the reference to a review of Origin in Athenæum, 19 November 1859, pp. 659–60, and by CD’s remark that he had been at Ilkley for seven weeks. He arrived there on 4 October 1859 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
The review, which appeared in Athenæum, 19 November 1859, pp. 659–60, was anonymous, as was the custom. Hooker and Charles Lyell thought that Samuel Pickworth Woodward was the author (see following letter). According to the publisher’s marked copy of the Athenæum (City University Library, London) the reviewer was not Woodward but John R. Leifchild. Leifchild, a commissioner of coalfields, was a frequent reviewer in the quarterlies (Wellesley Index) and the author of books on the coal industry and, later, on religious topics (NUC). The attribution is confirmed in Marchand 1941, p. 226.
A review, written by John Lindley, of the fourth volume of Watson 1847–59 appeared in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 12 November 1859, pp. 911–12 (see following letter). CD had read Hewett Cottrell Watson’s volume earlier in the year (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1859]).
See letters to J. D. Hooker, 15 October [1859] and [27 October or 3 November 1859]. The three foreign botanists were Jacob George Agardh, Nils Johan Andersson and August Heinrich Rudolf Grisebach (Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix III).
Jean Louis Armand de Quatrefages de Bréau’s letter has not been found, but see letter to J. L. A. de Quatrefages de Bréau, 5 December [1859]. Quatrefages de Bréau was professor of the natural history of man at the Muséum d’histoire naturelle in Paris.
CD recorded in his ‘Journal’ (Appendix II) that he ‘returned Home (staying in London two days) on Dec. 9th.’ Emma Darwin’s diary records that she went to Shrewsbury on 25 November and left for London on 6 December 1859.
George Bentham was awarded one of the Royal Society’s Royal Medals ‘for his important contributions to the advancement of Systematic and Descriptive Botany.’ (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 10 (1859–60): 176).


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

Marchand, Leslie A. 1941. The Athenæum: a mirror of Victorian culture. North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press. Reprint edition. New York: Octagon Books. 1971. [vols. 7,8]

NUC: The national union catalog. Pre-1956 imprints. 685 vols. and supplement (69 vols.). London and Chicago: Mansell. 1968–81.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1847–59. Cybele Britannica; or British plants and their geographical relations. 4 vols. London: Longman.


Curious about author of review of Origin in Athenæum.

W. B. Carpenter has written and sounds converted, as has Quatrefages [de Bréau], who will "go a long way with" CD.

Has been ill and thus had time to brood about reception of book.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 27
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2537,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

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