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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [21 November 1859]1



Dear Darwin

I am a sinner not to have written you ere this, if only to thank you for your glorious book— What a mass of close reasoning on curious facts & fresh phenomena—it is capitally written & will be very successful I say this on the strength of 2 or 3 plunges into as many chapters, for I have not yet attempted to read it. Lyell, with whom we are staying is perfectly enchanted, & is absolutely gloating over it. I must accept your compliment to me & acknowledgement of supposed assistance from me as the warm tribute of affection from an honest (though deluded) man, & furthermore accept it as very pleasing to my vanity—but my dear fellow neither my name nor my judgment nor my assistance deserved any such compliments. & if I am dishonest enough to be pleased with what I dont deserve it must just pass.— How different the book reads from the mss— I see I shall have much to talk over with you. Those lazy printers have not finished my luckless Essay—which beside your book will look like a ragged handkerchief beside a Royal Standard. I will send copy for Wallace & any one else you wish.

I read the contemptuous & contemptible Athenæum yesterday Lyell thinks entre nous that Woodward may have wrote it, & I think his evidence conclusive but I will leave him to tell you what he thinks—so pray remember that I have said nothing about it!2 One thing you may set your mind at rest about—your book is as cautious & modest as any could be

Of course Lindley wrote the G.C. article on H.C.W. & upon my honor I do think it richly deserved.3 The sneering contempt with which he treats his enemies the virulence of his dishonest attacks on those he knows little of, & his patronizing air to those he approves, are beyond all whipping powers of reviewers—& I do think that his whole tone & argument in the long discussions of Cybele IV are as wrong in fact as they are principle.— I had nothing at all to do with the Review.—

I saw Huxley today who talked about giving a R Inst. Friday Evening to your book—but pray say nothing of this—it may come to nothing—he is vastly pleased with it.4

All Well | Ever yrs affect | Jos D Hooker


Dated by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859].
CD had asked Hooker whether he knew who had written the review of Origin in the Athenæum. Samuel Pickworth Woodward expressed his views on the origin of species to CD in his letter of 4 June 1856 (see Correspondence vol. 6). The author was not Woodward, however, but John R. Leifchild (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859], n. 2).
John Lindley was the editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle. Hooker refers to an anonymous review of volume 4 of Watson 1847–59, published in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 12 November 1859, pp. 911–12. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859].
Thomas Henry Huxley delivered an evening lecture ‘On species and races, and their origin’ at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 10 February 1860 (T. H. Huxley 1860).


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

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.


JDH’s congratulations on Origin.

Lyell believes S. P. Woodward wrote review in Athenæum.

Lyell’s and Huxley’s positive responses.

JDH has only plunged into a few chapters.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Athenaeum Club
Source of text
DAR 100: 135–6
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2539,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

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