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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker   26 December [1863]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Dec 26

Dear Dr Hooker

Charles begs me to tell you that nothing wd please him more than your having a bust of him & if he should get well enough to sit to Mr Woolner he will be sure to let you know but at present I am sorry to say that he could not even sit for 5 minutes.1 One day is a little better & one a little worse but I cannot say that he makes progress at present. He stays in his bed room & gets frequently in & out of bed & occasionally goes down stairs for a very short time, but he can only stand very short visits even of the boys.2 When not very uncomfortable his spirits are wonderfully good, but I am afraid he may remain just as he is very long before there is a struggle in his constitution & that the sickness is conquered.

With Charles & my love to Mrs Hooker3 & you | I am yours very sincerely | E. D.

About America I think the slaves are gradually getting freed & that is what I chiefly care for.4 The Times evidently thinks that is to be deplored,5 but I think all England has to read up Olmsted’s works6 again & get up its Uncle Tom again7


The reference is to the sculptor Thomas Woolner. The letter in which Hooker made this request has not been found. CD did not sit for Woolner until 1868 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1868] (Calendar, no. 6476)).
William Erasmus, George Howard, Francis, Leonard, and Horace Darwin.
President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which came into effect on 1 January 1863, freed the slaves in those states in rebellion against the Union. The Union forces effectively became armies of liberation (McPherson 1988, pp. 557–8).
The Times had maintained a hostile tone towards the Union cause in its coverage of the American Civil War. CD and Emma had long been unhappy with the newspaper’s treatment of the war with regard to slavery (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Asa Gray, 16 October [1862], and this volume, letter to Asa Gray, 23 February [1863] and n. 22).
Frederick Law Olmsted wrote a number of accounts of the social and economic conditions of the southern states of America: A journey in the seaboard slave states (Olmsted 1856), A journey through Texas (Olmsted 1857), and A journey in the back country (Olmsted 1860); these accounts were republished as a two-volume work entitled Journeys and explorations in the cotton kingdom (Olmsted 1861). CD had read Olmsted 1856 and 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 23 and 128: 25, and Correspondence vol. 9, letter to Asa Gray, 17 September [1861]).
A reference to Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe’s novel entitled Uncle Tom’s cabin (Stowe 1852). Stowe’s novel, which was popular in Britain, was an influential indictment of slavery (McPherson 1988, pp. 38–9, 88–9).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

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

McPherson, James M. 1988. Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Olmsted, Frederick Law. 1856. A journey in the seaboard slave states, with remarks on their economy. New York: Dix & Edwards. London: S. Low.

Olmsted, Frederick Law. 1857. A journey through Texas; or, a saddle-trip on the southwestern frontier: with a statistical appendix. New York: Dix, Edwards & Co.

Olmsted, Frederick Law. 1860. A journey in the back country in the winter of 1853–4. London: Sampson, Low, Son & Co.

Olmsted, Frederick Law. 1861. Journeys and explorations in the cotton kingdom. A traveller’s observations on cotton and slavery in the American slave states. 2 vols. London: Sampson, Low, Son & Co.

Stowe, Harriet Elizabeth Beecher. 1852. Uncle Tom’s cabin, or life among the lowly. 2 vols. Boston, Mass.: John P. Jewett.


CD would be pleased to sit for a bust by Thomas Woolner for JDH, but he is too ill now.

Emma’s views on slavery and the Civil War.

Letter details

Letter no.
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 214
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4359,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11