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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 [June 1868]

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


My dear Hooker

What a man you are for sympathy. Your note has pleased us all greatly.— I was made “Eques” some months ago, but did not think much about it. Now by Jove we all do; but you in fact have knighted me!1 I am glad you were at the Messiah:2 it is the one thing that I shd like to hear again, but I daresay I shd find my soul too dried up to appreciate it, as in old days; & then I shd feel very flat, for it is a horrid bore to feel, as I constantly do, that I am a withered leaf for every subject except science. It sometimes makes me hate science, though God knows I ought to be thankful for such a perennial interest which makes me forget for some hours every day my accursed stomach.—

Frank was at the Messiah & he brought out, on coming home, such a string of “tremendous”, “awful”, “awfully grand” &c &c.— By the way Frank is beginning in some earnest Botany, & dissecting ovules &c & bewailing the difficulty of anatropous &c—primines, secundines &c— it drives him half mad, & I cannot help him—3

I wish you had told me how you get on with your address;4 I am fearfully interested on this head. I fear that there is no possibility of your coming here for a Sunday; but it is my firm conviction that the Down air would inspire you with some grand original thoughts & sublime sentences.

By the way I do not agree about “The Trumpet shall sound”;5 for I remember being struck with surprise & then with admiration at there not being at the words an overpowering blast of the Trumpet.

I have received the Duke of A. It is good news that Mrs. Hooker is recovering so well.6

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 June 1868 and n. 2. CD refers to the Prussian Order of Merit.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 June 1868 and n. 4. CD refers to Georg Frideric Handel’s Messiah.
Francis Darwin later assisted CD with botanical research (ODNB).
Hooker was to give the presidential address at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Norwich in August 1868.


Campbell, George Douglas. 1867. The reign of law. London: Alexander Strahan.

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.


On Pour le Mérite; JDH has made him think more highly of it.

Messiah is the one thing he would like to hear again, but thinks his soul might be too dried up now to appreciate it. Sometimes hates science for making him "a withered leaf" for everything else.

Frank [Darwin] now doing botany seriously.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 72–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6248,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

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