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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   27 [January 1868]



My dear Hooker

I had heard nothing about Woollaston’s recent losses, & I am deeply grieved.1 Several months ago I heard from Lyell that he had had some losses in Railways, but he did not speak of it as so bad, as the case now appears.—2 It will be a real pleasure to me to help & I can well afford to subscribe £100; so will you be so kind as to act for me. Poor fellow with his broken health it is a fearful calamity.3 If his affairs do not recover, he wd. be a most proper man for a Government pension.— I presume it wd hurt his pride to receive temporary aid from Royal Soc. though in my opinion it ought not.—4 Anyhow I hope there may be a private subscription for Books, collections &c.— How foolish men are in their investments!—

Hearty thanks for your congratulations about George.5 It has greatly delighted us & made us as proud as peacocks. He owes it to indomitable energy & perseverance, which qualities he has shown, literally from his infancy. It pleases me particularly that he has never slaved himself, but taken a fair share of amusement & interest in other subjects.— Four-fifths of our delight has been in the sympathy of our friends,—& you my dear old fellow I always look at as our best & truest.

Yours affectly. | C. Darwin

Do you think Woollaston wd like to hear the sympathy of old friends. What makes me doubt, that I have had no communication with him for some years;6 I think he had got rather to hate me.—


CD met Charles Lyell in London in December 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II). No letter from Lyell containing this information has been found. The value of shares in British railway companies fell markedly in 1867 (see Annual Register 1867).
Wollaston had suffered from tubercular symptoms since 1847 (ODNB).
Civil list pensions for scientific practitioners had been introduced in the 1830s (see MacLeod 1970). A scientific relief fund was established by the Royal Society of London in 1859 (Record of the Royal Society of London, p. 111).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1868]. George Howard Darwin was second in the final examination for the mathematical tripos at Cambridge (Cambridge University calendar 1868).
For the last extant letter from Wollaston, see Correspondence vol. 8, letter from T. V. Wollaston, [16 September 1860].


Cambridge University calendar: The Cambridge University calendar. Cambridge: W. Page [and others]. 1796–1950.

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

MacLeod, Roy M. 1970. Science and the civil list, 1824–1914. Technology + Society 6: 47–55.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.


Grieved by Wollaston’s troubles. Offers contribution of £100. "How foolish men are in their investments."

Delight about George’s success.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 41–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5804,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16