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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   30 May [1860]1

Down Bromley Kent

May 30th

My dear Hooker

I return Harvey’s letter: I have been very glad to see the reason why he has not read your Essay;2 I feared it was bigotry. And I am glad to see that he goes a little way (very much further than I supposed) with us on Nat. Selection.—   I was not sorry for a natural opportunity of writing just to show that I was not piqued at his turning me & my book into ridicule,—not that I think it was proceeding which I deserved or worthy of him.—3

It delights me that you are interested in watching progress of opinion on change of species; I feared that you were weary of subject; & therefore did not send A. Gray’s letters. The battle rages furiously in U. States. Gray says he was preparing a speech which would take 112 hour to deliver, & which he “fondly hoped would be a stunner”. He is fighting splendidly & there seem to have been many discussions with Agassiz & others at the meetings. Agassiz pities me much at being so deluded.— As for progress of opinion, I clearly see that it will be excessively slow, almost as slow as change of species. In fact it will, I believe, be insensible. I am getting wearied at the storm of hostile Reviews; & hardly any useful.—

Did you see in Literary Gazette that Prof. Clarke of Cambridge says the chief characteristic of such Books as mine is “their consummate impudence”—mild & gentleman-like language!—4

I am in great doubt about Oxford;5—assuming that Etty, is then quite well (she is better today, but the weary fever drags on), my doubt being chiefly from my own health, whether it would answer.— I have written to ask whether I cd. have rooms in a college.—6 If, however, everything is transcendantly well, my wife says she will go,—but all is dark yet.— I hope Mrs. Hooker goes on well—

Yours affect | C. D.—

Blyth writes from Calcutta that his ideas on species are quite revolutionised.—7


The endorsement is confirmed by CD’s reference to the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science to be held in Oxford in June 1860.
William Henry Harvey had been so occupied with delivering his course of lectures at Trinity College, Dublin, that he had not found time to read Hooker’s introductory essay (Hooker 1859) and had only recently read Origin. See L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 517, 519.
Harvey had presented a ‘serio-comic squib on Darwin’ at a meeting of the Dublin University Zoological and Botanical Association on 17 February 1860 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 515–16). He later sent it to CD ‘with the writer’s repentance’ (see letter from W. H. Harvey, 8 October 1860). The paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection—CUL.
See letters to J. S. Henslow, 17 May [1860], and to Asa Gray, 22 May [1860].
See n. 1, above.
Edward Blyth, curator of the museum of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, had corresponded with CD since 1855. He became an adherent of natural selection in 1860 and defended the theory at meetings of the society in November (DSB). Unfortunately, none of the letters from Blyth to CD during the years 1859 to 1861 have survived. Blyth’s views on Origin were published in the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 29 (1860): 436–7 and in the Calcutta Review 35 (1860): 64–88. The latter paper is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.


DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

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.


Harvey’s letter to JDH more accepting of natural selection than CD expected.

Battle over Origin is raging in the United States.

Weary of hostile reviews.

Doubts about going to Oxford [for BAAS meeting].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 59
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2818,” accessed on 22 January 2021,

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