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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [26 September 1865]1

7 Terrace Road | Buxton


Dr Darwin

Out of the utter idleness of my mind I write to you you dear blessed ultima thule of my fatuous correspondence—to whom I can write in my folly, as well as in my sorrows & prosperity— Don’t you see I am better.2 I have quite got the use of my legs, walked full 5–6 miles yesterday & am getting up strength & flesh: if the Rheumatism would only leave my arm & finger joints I should be all right. Night sweats are still bad & most horrid, especially with linen sheets. We are most comfortably lodged, my wife is a splendid nurse;— we are blessed in the weather & pertiklarly in a goodish Cook!

We have read Uncle Silas   isnt it creepy?, & crawly too, one should have a brandy bottle & sal volatile to get through it in safety alone.3 how splendidly the interest is kept up. Then I took the Mill on the Floss, & am ravished with it; what a clever person the authoress is, I like it even better than Adam Bede.—4 how evidently the authoress belongs to the class of life of her heroines, with whom first love is an animal passion with nothing to elevate it. How splendid are her analysis of the mixed motives of human action in the young but not in the old & yet how vividly she represents the acts & conversation of the old.

Then I took a dose of Jamieson’s paper on the Glacial period of Scotland5 & wrote him a long letter praising it. Still I am sure there was a time when the contour of submerged Scotland was ploughed by Icebergs moving in definite directions (S.W. to N.E. or rather vice versa). Given a submerged Gt Britain a hundred miles or so off Victoria Land & the Bergs would plough it in a direction SW to N.E.—Bergs, some of them 10 miles long & 700 ft below water! I can fancy no other explanation of the parallelism of the great Scotch valleys but this: & as there are not more things in Heaven & Earth than are dreamt of in &c6 it follows as a matter of course

Then I read the Carrs of Carrlyon7—utter trash after G. Eliot— by the way I met Lewis at dinner & was not fascinated— Such a connection as his must tend to destroy a man’s manners in public; the very sense of its exciting prejudice must insensibly react in a man’s manners.8

Have you read Geikie, I liked it much but was not wholly satisfied somehow.9 Have you read “Frost & Fire”10   I have not, but want to; the author is a brand plucked from the burning! a son of a man my father knew well & I a little, Campbell of Islay an utter spendthrift who left his son a beggar, having run through a magnificent property that was sold by Tontine some 16 years ago—11 The young man, bred to the utmost fashion & luxury, insisted on working for his bread instead of hanging onto his multitudinous relations. I have scarce seen him for years but was struck with his occupying his holiday tours with Geological observations—& I read his Nova Scotia book (I forget its name) with a good deal of interest.12

Col. Strachey is back, you did not know him I think. he called often on me in Town & is full of Science— he is in Phil. Club13

Lyell called on me every 2 days & hugely I enjoyed it— he is a wonderful man. I am so glad the Lubbock affair is settled, at any price—14 it was a miserable affair whichever way regarded— What will Lubbock do now. I hear that Huxley was the great Scientific friend who backed his Parliamentary aspirations.15 Tyndall16 was dead against it. Thank God they did not ask me. I should have blurted out awfully against it. What madness of Lady L.17 to have urged it; she would be the first to suffer.

How strange is the difference between the loss of an aged parent & child— my father has been my companion as well as parent for 25 years   our intimacy has never been broken, our aims have been one as much as those of father & son ever could by possibility be but I have to reflect on his loss before I realize it & swell with grief.18 How different in my childs case!19 I cannot see that it is altogether natural though it is so in the main. Is my grief for him more selfish than that for my child, I cannot feel it to be so— I do suppose we have a pure nature, independent of conditions (& of Darwinism applied!) but what it is we can only hope to know if we realize a future state. What did you think of Tylor? & Leckie20 who is glorious, but I am astounded at his supposing that none but rationalistic views are held by most religious people including teachers of the X—21 he never goes to X that is clear.

Ever Yrs aff | J D Hooker

What about the Reader?22


The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from F. H. Hooker, 22 September [1865], and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [or 28 September 1865]. The Tuesday between 22 September and 28 September 1865 was 26 September.
Hooker had been recovering from rheumatic fever. See letter from F. H. Hooker, 22 September [1865] and n. 3.
Hooker refers to Le Fanu 1864. The reviewer in the Athenaeum, 7 January 1865, pp. 16–17, concluded, ‘The reader will be frightened at his own shadow as he goes to bed after finishing this book.’
The references are to Marian (or Mary Anne) Evans, who wrote under the name George Eliot, and to Eliot 1860 and Eliot 1859.
‘On the history of the last geological changes in Scotland’ by Thomas Francis Jamieson (Jamieson 1865). A brief notice of this paper also appeared in the Philosophical Magazine 29 (1865): 326. In 1861, CD had been convinced by Jamieson’s glacial explanation for the parallel roads of Glen Roy (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to T. F. Jamieson, 6 September [1861], and Appendix IX). He and Hooker nevertheless retained some doubts about whether glacial or fluvial action could account for all topographical features previously thought to have been the result of marine denudation (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [29 July 1865] and n. 11).
Hooker paraphrases Hamlet’s statement, ‘There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dream’t of in our Philosophy’; Shakespeare, Hamlet 1.3 (London: Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623).
George Henry Lewes was estranged from his wife, Agnes, with whom he had stopped living around 1851. In 1853, he and Marian Evans began a relationship that lasted until his death. For more on Lewes’s unconventional lifestyle, see Ashton 1991.
J. F. Campbell 1865a.
Hooker refers to John Francis Campbell and his father, Walter Frederick Campbell. Walter Campbell was laird of the Hebridean island of Islay, but went bankrupt in 1848 following a period of depressed agricultural prices, a series of harvest failures, and the emergence of potato blight. The estate was not disposed of by tontine, but sequestered and a trust set up on behalf of his creditors, for whose joint benefit it was eventually sold in 1853 (Storrie 1997, pp. 141–60).
J. F. Campbell 1865b.
Richard Strachey, a soldier and naturalist, had been in India; he was elected to the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society on 24 April 1865 (Bonney 1919, p. 59). The club was set up in 1847 to promote the scientific objects of the Royal Society, increase attendance at evening meetings, and encourage contribution of papers. Hooker was a founding member and CD was elected in 1854 (ibid., pp. 13–14, 39).
Hooker refers to the dispute that arose between John Lubbock and Charles Lyell over alleged plagiarism. See letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865] and enclosures, and Appendix V.
Hooker refers to Thomas Henry Huxley. Lubbock unsuccessfully stood for Parliament in the general election of 1865 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [29 July 1865] and n. 16).
Hooker’s father, William Jackson Hooker, died on 12 August 1865 (DNB).
Hooker had been deeply grieved by the death of his daughter Maria Elizabeth at the age of 6 in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 September 1863] and n. 2). On Victorian attitudes to the death of children, see R. Keynes 2001, pp. 185–92.
Hooker uses ‘X’ to refer to the church (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [10 March 1862] and n. 6). William Edward Hartpole Lecky had argued that the Protestant rejection of the idea of the miraculous paved the way for the rise of rationalism in Europe, citing the views of German theologians like David Friedrich Strauss as characteristic of the rationalist spirit of Protestantism (see Lecky 1865, 1: 182–5).


Aïdé, Hamilton. 1862. Carr of Carrlyon: a novel. 3 vols. London: Smith, Elder and Co.

Ashton, Rosemary. 1991. G. H. Lewes: a life. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

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

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Eliot, George. 1859. Adam Bede. 3 vols. Edinburgh: William Blackwood.

Eliot, George. 1860. The mill on the Floss. 3 vols. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons.

Geikie, Archibald. 1865. The scenery of Scotland viewed in connexion with its physical geology. London and Cambridge: Macmillan & Co.

Jamieson, Thomas Francis. 1865. On the history of the last geological changes in Scotland. [Read 11 January 1865.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 21 (1865): 161–203.

Keynes, Randal. 2001. Annie’s box. Charles Darwin, his daughter and human evolution. London: Fourth Estate.

Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan. 1864. Uncle Silas: a tale of Bartram-Haugh. London: Richard Bentley.

Lecky, William Edward Hartpole. 1865. History of the rise and influence of the spirit of rationalism in Europe. 2 vols. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, & Green.

Storrie, Margaret. 1997. Islay. Biography of an island. 2d edition. Islay: Oa Press.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1865. Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization. London: John Murray.


On his reading: George Eliot,

T. F. Jamieson on Scottish glaciation.

Glad Lyell–Lubbock affair is over.

His grief over loss of father and child.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 34–6a
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4899,” accessed on 1 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13