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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 November [1869]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Nov 13th

My dear Hooker

I heard yesterday from a relation who had seen in a newspaper that you were C.B.2 I must write one line to say “hurrah”, though I wish it had been K.C.B, as it assuredly ought to have been; but I suppose they look at K.C.B before C.B. as a Dukedom before an Earldom.—3

We had a very successful week in London,4 & I was unusually well & saw a good many persons, which when well is a great pleasure to me. I had a jolly talk with Huxley5 amongst others. And now I am at the same work as before & shall be for another 2 months, namely putting ugly sentences rather straighter; & I am sick of the work & as the subject is all on sexual selection, I am weary of everlasting males & females, cocks & hens.—6

It is a shame to bother you, but I shd. like sometime to hear a little about the C.B. affair.

I have read one or two interesting brochures lately, viz Stirling, the Hegelian, versus Huxley & protoplasm.—7 Tylor in Journal of Royal Institution on the survival of old thought in modern Civilisation.—8

Farewell, I am as dull as a duck, both male & female—

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


Dr. Hooker C.B. F.R.S9

Dr Hooker K.C.B

(this looks better)

I hear a grand account of Bentham’s last address, which I am now going to read.10

I find that I have blundered about Bentham’s address, Lyell was speaking about one that I read some months ago; but I read half of it again last night & shall finish it.11 Some passages are either new or were not studied enough by me, before.— It strikes me as admirable as it did on the first reading, though I differ in some few points. Such an address is worth its weight in gold, I shd. think, in making converts to our views. Lyell tells me that Bunbury has been wonderfully impressed with it, & he never before thought anything of our views on Evolution.—12

(I have just read & like very much your review of Schimper)13


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869.
Hooker had been appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 6 November 1869 (London Gazette, 9 November 1869, The Times, 10 November 1869, p. 6). CD’s relative has not been identified.
A Knight Commander, or KCB, was the next highest class of the Order of the Bath after a Companion (Risk 1972). See L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 145–7 for a discussion of Hooker’s honours.
The Darwins were in London from 1 to 9 November (‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II)).
CD had been going over his chapters on sexual selection for Descent since 4 August 1869 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II)).
James Hutchison Stirling was a follower of the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (see Stirling 1865); Erasmus Alvey Darwin recently sent CD a copy of As regards protoplasm, in relation to Professor Huxley’s essay, On the physical basis of life (Stirling 1869), which included a critique of T. H. Huxley 1869a (see letter from E. A. Darwin, 11 November [1869]).
The reference is to Edward Burnett Tylor, and Tylor 1869.
Hooker became a fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1847.
CD refers to George Bentham’s anniversary address given on 24 May 1869 to the Linnean Society of London (Bentham 1869b); there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
For CD’s earlier correspondence with Hooker on Bentham 1869b, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1869], and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 June 1869. CD evidently saw Charles Lyell while in London (see n. 4, above).
Hooker reviewed the first volume of Wilhelm Philipp Schimper’s Traité de paléontologie végétale (Schimper 1869–74) in Nature (J. D. Hooker 1869).


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1869. Vegetable palæontology. Nature 1: 48–50.

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.

Risk, James C. 1972. The history of the Order of the Bath and its insignia. London: Spink & Son.

Schimper, Wilhelm Philipp. 1869–74. Traité de paléontologie végétale: ou, la flore du monde primitif dans ses rapports avec les formations géologiques et la flore du monde actuel. 3 vols. and atlas. Paris: J. B. Baillière et fils.

Stirling, James Hutchison. 1869. As regards protoplasm, in relation to Professor Huxley’s essay, On the physical basis of life. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and sons.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1869. On the survival of savage thought in modern civilization. Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain 5 (1866–9): 522–35.


Congratulates JDH on his becoming a C.B.

Hard at work on sexual selection – weary of everlasting males and females, cocks and hens.

Has read J. H. Stirling vs Huxley on protoplasm [As regards protoplasm (1869)]

and E. B. Tylor on survival of old thoughts in modern civilisation.

Bentham’s Linnean Society [Presidential] Address [see 6793] is worth its weight in gold in making converts. C. J. F. Bunbury is impressed by it.

Likes JDH’s review of K. F. Schimper’s work [Paléontologie végétale, in Nature 1 (1869): 48].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 156–8
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6985,” accessed on 29 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17