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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 November [1868]1

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

Nov. 26

Look first to p. 42

My dear Hooker

I did receive Watsons book & said to myself that Hooker is so busy that perhaps he will never see those odious passages, so I will keep silent.3 I can only call the article, as far as you are concerned, beastly. Of all the men I ever knew you least of all deserve to be called dictatorial or arrogant.—

As for his criticisms on me, they are not new or important (but I declare I cannot remember what they exactly were) & he was so complimentary to me & fair in his criticisms that I could honestly write & thank him cordially.4 But I could not help adding that I deeply regretted his expressions about you.— I fully expected to get a devil of an answer; but quite a mild one came, justifying his criticism on you, as if, supposing him to be botanically right, this is the least excuse for his tone & contemptuous epithets.—5

I shd. have written long ago, but I have been pestered with stupid letters, & am undergoing the purgatory of sitting for hours to Woolner, who, however, is wonderfully pleasant & lightens, as much as man can, the penance.— As far as I can judge he will make a fine Bust, & I tell my wife she will be proud of her old husband.—6

I wish you cd be tempted to come here next Sunday; for we shall have pleasant party the Vernon Lushingtons & Effie Wedgwood & Woolner & perhaps my son William.—7

The carriage will be on Saturday (28th.) at Orpington (for the party) about 4o. 50’, if you do not fear to come on the Box.— The train starts from Charing X at 4o. 18’.

I was very glad to hear from Lizzie that your poor Boy went off as well as could be hoped: you must have had a cruel amount of anxiety in making up your mind for this step.— God grant it may turn out well, & anyhow you have acted advisedly for the best.8

I fear it will be a dreadful disappointment to the Lubbocks, this accursed Election; but he is plucky for he went out with Harrier next morning at 7 after the poll.9

I have heard of, but know nothing about, the antarctic cold current in Indian Ocean.—10 I have read Croll: he is a wonderful man: he has almost convinced me that the even the level parts of U. States must have been covered with sheet of glacier ice.—11

I have just written to him about the alternation of glacial & warmer period, in N. & S. If this be admitted, then nearly all your objections to cool period extending to equator, will, I think, be removed, by temporary migration of equatorial flora southward.—12

I thought myself compelled to assume that whole world was simultaneously cooler. It will be an immense relief.— A new edition of Origin must be prepared soon for at last sale Murray sold some hundreds more than he possesses Owen!! & so I must attend to this point.—13

God Help you in reading this letter.

I did so enjoy yours & the Grays visit here.—14

Farewell | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 November 1868.
CD probably directed Hooker to look at this page of the letter because it contained the invitation to visit and information on the train time. CD double scored this paragraph.
CD refers to Hewett Cottrell Watson and to the first part of Watson 1868–70. For more on Watson’s book and the negative comments regarding Hooker, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 November 1868 and nn. 1 and 2.
CD’s letter to Watson has not been found. Watson destroyed much of his correspondence (Egerton 2003, p. 218). For the discussion of CD’s theory, see Watson 1868–70, 1: 45–59. CD wrote at the back of his copy, ‘Pamphlet wonderfully striking excellent sketch of my views’ (see Marginalia 1: 851).
Watson’s letter to CD has not been found.
Hooker had first suggested that CD sit for Thomas Woolner in December 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 26 December [1863]). CD had arranged to sit for Woolner in December 1867, but Woolner had postponed the sitting (see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Thomas Woolner, 6 December 1867). Woolner’s marble bust of CD was finished in 1870 (Woolner 1917, p. 240).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Woolner had arrived at Down on 19 November 1868; Alice Gertrude Woolner, Katherine Euphemia Wedgwood, Vernon and Jane Lushington, and William Erasmus Darwin were there from 28 to 30 November 1868.
CD refers to Elizabeth Darwin, and also to William Henslow Hooker, who had sailed for New Zealand on 11 November 1868, on the Matoaka (letter from J. D. Hooker to James Hector, 10 November 1868, in Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, pp. 102–5).
In his diary (BL Add. MS. 62680), Lubbock recorded that he had lost the election by fifty-five votes (see also The Times, 26 November 1868, p. 10). CD probably refers to Lubbock’s dogs (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to J. B. Innes, 18 October 1869).
James Croll had recently sent CD a three-part paper, ‘On geological time and the probable date of the glacial and the upper Miocene period’ (Croll 1868; see letters to James Croll, 19 September 1868 and 24 November 1868).
CD refers to his publisher, John Murray. CD recorded beginning work on the fifth edition of Origin on 26 December 1868 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix II)); it was published in May 1869 (Publishers’ Circular, 1 July 1869, p. 386). CD also refers to Richard Owen, and probably alludes to a remark by Owen that Origin would be forgotten in ten years (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 [December 1863]).
CD refers to Asa Gray and Jane Loring Gray, who visited Down with Hooker between 24 and 30 October 1868 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


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

Croll, James. 1868. On geological time, and the probable date of the Glacial and the Upper Miocene Period. Philosophical Magazine 4th ser. 35: 363–84; 36: 141–54, 362–86.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1868–70. Compendium of the Cybele Britannica; or, British plants in their geographical relations. 3 vols. Thames Ditton: printed for private distribution.

Woolner, Amy. 1917. Thomas Woolner, R.A., sculptor and poet: his life in letters. London: Chapman and Hall.


CD thought Watson’s article beastly in its criticisms of JDH. Watson’s criticism of CD was not new or important, but fair, so CD could honestly thank him, adding his regret at what was said about JDH.

Is sitting for Woolner bust.

Has read James Croll on alternation of glacial and warmer periods in north and south, which would remove JDH’s objections to cool period extending to equator.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 98–101
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6476,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

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