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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [22 November 1859]1

Wells Terrace | Ilkley, Otley | Yorkshire


My dear Hooker

I cannot help it, I must thank you for your affectionate & most kind note.2 My head will be turned. By Jove I must try, & get a bit modest. I was a little chagrined by review. I hope it was not Woodward. As advocate he might think himself justified in giving argument only one side. But the manner in which he drags in immortality, & sets the Priests at me & leaves me to their mercies, is base. He would on no account burn me; but he will get the wood ready & tell the black beasts how to catch me.— I will not say to soul that he is author.—3

It would be unspeakably grand if Huxley were to lecture on the subject, but I can see this is mere chance:4 Faraday might think it too unorthodox.5

I cannot help being sorry about H. C. Watson: he has helped me so kindly & liberally.6 I had a letter from him with such tremendous praise of my book, that modesty (as I am trying to cultivate that difficult herb) prevents me sending it you, which I shd have liked to have done, as he is very modest about himself.—7

You have cockered me up to that extent, that I now feel I can face a score of savage Reviewers.— I suppose you are still with the Lyells—give my kindest remembrances to them. I triumph to hear that he continues to approve.

Believe me | Your would-be-modest friend | C. D.


Dated by the relationship to the letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859].
The author was in fact John R. Leifchild (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859], n. 2).
Thomas Henry Huxley was hoping to deliver a lecture at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on CD’s species views. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859].
Michael Faraday, the director of the laboratory and Fullerian professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution, was a member of the Sandemanian congregation, a devout Protestant sect that practised primitive Christianity.
Hewett Cottrell Watson’s fourth volume of his flora of Britain (Watson 1847–59) had been unkindly reviewed in Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [20 November 1859], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 November 1859]. Francis Darwin’s edition of CD’s letters erroneously gives the name of T. H. Huxley instead of Watson here (LL 2: 229).


LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

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


CD hopes Woodward was not the Athenæum reviewer. "The manner in which he drags in immortality, & sets the Priests at me … is base".

JDH has made CD feel he can "face a score of savage reviewers".

H. C. Watson has written to him in tremendous praise of the Origin.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 26
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2542,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

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