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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   3 March [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Saturday March 3d

My dear Hooker

What a days work you had on that Thursday.1 I was not able to go to London till Monday, & then I was a fool for going, for on Tuesday night I had an attack of fever (with a touch of pleurisy) which came on like a Lion, but went off as a lamb, but has shattered me a good bit.—2

I was much interested by your last note. That was a good sneer by the Bishop at Huxley.— 3 I think you expect too much in regard to change of opinion on the subject of species. One large class of men, more especially I suspect of naturalists, never will care about any general question, of which old Gray of Brit. Mus. may be taken as a type;4 & secondly nearly all men, past a moderate age either in actual years or in mind, are, I am fully convinced physically incapable of looking at facts under a new point of view. Seriously I am astonished & rejoiced at progress which subject has made; look at enclosed memorandum.

Owen says my book will be forgotten in 10 years;5 perhaps so, but with such a list, I feel convinced the subject will not. The outsiders, as you say, are strong.—

You say that you think that Bentham is touched, “but like a wise man holds his tongue”.—6 Perhaps you only mean that he cannot decide: otherwise I shd think such silence the reverse of magnanimity; for if others behaved the same way, how would opinion ever progress? It is a direliction of actual duty.—

I am so glad to hear about Thwaites.7 I do not know who “Greene” & “Oliver” are.—8 I have had an astounding letter from Dr. Boott: it might be turned into ridicule against him & me, so will not send it to anyone.—   He writes in a noble spirit of love of truth.—9

I wonder what Lindley thinks;—probably too busy to read or think on the question.—10

I am vexed about Bentham’s reticence; for it would have been of real value to know what part appeared weakest to a man of his powers of observation.—

I shd like to have a copy of Huxley’s lecture.—11

I am very very sorry for Huxley about his Lecture: he seems to me vexed. I suppose H. C. Watson was there for he noticed in a letter to me one surprising lapsus linguæ.—12

Farewell | My dear Hooker | Yours affect | C. Darwin

I am very glad to hear that Lady Hooker improves gradually though slowly.—

Is not Harvey in class of men who do not at all care for generalities?13 I remember your saying you could not get him to write on Distribution.—   I have found his works very unfruitful in every respect.—


Geologists14 Zoologists Physiologists15 Botanists16 Palæontologists17 Lyell Huxley Carpenter Hooker Ramsay J. Lubbock Sir H. Holland H. C. Watson to large extent Jukes L. Jenyns Asa Gray (to large extent) to some extent H. D. Rogers Searles Wood Dr. Boott (to large extent) Thwaites


CD had intended to attend a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society on Thursday, 23 February (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 February 1860]).
Emma Darwin’s diary indicates that CD went to London on 27 February 1860 and ‘came home unwell’ on the following day. On 29 February she recorded ‘his attack of the chest’.
Perhaps a reference to Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford. See letter from Charles Lyell, [13–14 February 1860].
John Edward Gray was keeper of the zoological department of the British Museum. CD had mentioned Gray’s criticisms of Origin in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 December [1859] (Correspondence vol. 7).
The occasion on which Richard Owen made this comment has not been traced.
Hooker told CD in December 1859 that George Bentham was ‘much agitated’ by Origin and that he did not know ‘how it will go’ (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from J. D. Hooker, [20 December 1859]).
Hooker had received a letter from George Henry Kendrick Thwaites, the director of the botanic garden in Peradeniya, Ceylon. Thwaites had also written to CD praising Origin (see letter from G. H. K. Thwaites, [14 February 1860]), but this letter did not arrive at Down until late in March (see letter to G. H. K. Thwaites, 21 March [1860]).
Probably Joseph Reay Greene, an Irish naturalist, and Daniel Oliver, assistant in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
John Lindley was professor of botany at University College, London, and editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle.
T. H. Huxley 1860a. In a letter to Asa Gray dated 16 March 1860, Hooker reported that ‘Huxley made a failure of the RI. Institution Lecture which was a great pity, as he intended to have backed the book but unfortunately managed to damage it.’ (Gray Herbarium, Harvard University). A report of the lecture appeared in the Athenæum, 3 March 1860, p. 308.
The letter from Hewett Cottrell Watson has not been found.
William Henry Harvey’s publications were almost exclusively taxonomic or descriptive works. CD had read Harvey’s more general treatise (Harvey 1854) but did not find it of great interest (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to S. P. Woodward, 18 July 1856).
Hooker, Watson, Asa Gray, Francis Boott, and Thwaites.
Thomas Henry Huxley, John Lubbock, Leonard Jenyns, and Searles Valentine Wood.


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

Harvey, William Henry. 1854. The sea-side book; being an introduction to the natural history of the British coasts. 3d ed. London. [vols. 6,8]

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.


CD’s list of fifteen converts. His opinions on opponents and supporters.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 45
Physical description
ALS 6pp list

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2719,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8