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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [22 November 1866]1



Dear Darwin

We shall be delighted to see any & all of you & at any hour.2 I shall be at home all the week— I have such lots of things to show you— I will enquire about Mirabilis— we have not Saxif. Fortunei, but have a similar one that would I hope suit your purpose.3

I do not shriek at your subscribing to the Jamaica Committee, though I entirely disapprove of it’s persecution of Eyre (for whom I have no respect but much pity) individually. I have not a syllable to say for his acts.—4 Logically you are right; but there are a vast many considerations besides & above mere logic & law and sentiment, that, I think, should influence us in such cases: & the balance in my mind is in favor of letting bad alone.— You can do no good, & may make bad worse. You may guess how far I go with & beyond you in sentiment, when I add, that I hold it to be morally unlawful criminal if you will to take the life of animals for sport. & I can draw no line logical, between taking the life of a partridge for sport, or a man (white or black) for anger or revenge—

I returned from Shrewsbury yesterday!, where I went, impelled by various motives, to attend the Sale.5 I was rewarded & very pleased by having seen your birth place &c &c &c—but grievously disappointed to find the Wedgwood bought in—   there was one that I had been trying to get ever since I began to collect.—a Medallion Emblematic of the Colonization of N S. Wales,—also a head of B. Franklin.6 So you may enjoy a counter shriek at my Wedgwood-mania breaking out in such force. Don’t you despise my folly— I know what you will say.— laugh away.—7 per contra I have not given up the thought of expanding my Lecture into a Treatise.8

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

Let me know as early as possible if you find you cannot come & I will run in & see you.


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 November 1866].
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), CD was in London from 22 to 29 November 1866. CD told Hooker he would like to visit one morning (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 November [1866]).
CD had asked whether Hooker could give him the roots of some species of Mirabilis other than M. jalapa. He also requested a specimen of Saxifraga fortunei. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 November [1866] and nn. 6 and 9.
CD told Hooker that he had subscribed to the Jamaica Committee. The group sought to have criminal charges brought against Edward John Eyre, the former governor of Jamaica (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 November [1866] and n. 8).
The sale of the contents of the Mount, the Darwin family home until the death of Susan Elizabeth Darwin in October 1866, was held from 19 to 24 November 1866 (Shrewsbury Chronicle, 16 November 1866). Hooker attended the sale on 20 and 22 November 1866 and bought several Wedgwood items (Fontaines ed. 1968; see item nos. 44, 60, 61, 72, and 175).
Hooker later discovered that CD’s sister Caroline Sarah Wedgwood had bought the items mentioned (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [12 December 1866] and n. 7). The medallion representing ‘Hope encouraging Art and Labour under the influence of Peace’ was made in 1790 and celebrated the founding of the settlement at Sydney Cove in 1788. Erasmus Darwin, CD’s grandfather, had been given a medallion and composed verses to go with it (Reilly 1992, pp. 329–30). The portrait medallion of Benjamin Franklin was made in 1777 (ibid., p. 236).
Hooker was an avid collector of Wedgwood ware, particularly medallions. CD, despite his Wedgwood family connections, did not share Hooker’s interest and occasionally joked about the subject (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 January [1863]; see also Allen 1967, pp. 215–16).
After Hooker told CD that he planned to publish his lecture on insular floras given at the recent meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (J. D. Hooker 1866a) in Gardeners’ Chronicle, CD had expressed reservations about the magazine, arguing that it was not ‘good or permanent enough’ and that few would be able to refer to it (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 October [1866] and n. 5). For the complete publication history of the lecture, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 August] 1866 and n. 3.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Reilly, Robin. 1992. Josiah Wedgwood 1730–1795. London: Macmillan London.


His views on the Eyre controversy.

Went to Shrewsbury (for sale of Susan’s effects), hoping to buy some Wedgwood medallions, but they had been bought.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 112–13
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5283,” accessed on 19 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14