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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker to Emma Darwin   15 September 1871

Royal Gardens Kew

Septr. 15/71

Dear Mrs Darwin

My Mother is so very ill at Torquay, that I cannot just now accept your kind invitation—much as I long for it—& to see you both again.1 She is suffering from another painful recurrence of the disease in her leg-bone, which weakens her much, & which I fear even her strong constitution may not resist.

Mrs Hooker returned the other day, after a charming tour in Bavaria & home by the Rhine—2 I have not seen the marriage in the paper—3 I hope all passed off with the least possible “putting about”— I am accused of once having uttered the horrid sentiment, that I would rather go to two burials than one marriage, any day—

I heard from Mr Huxley yesterday—threatening to “pin out” Mr Mivart, for his insolent attack on Mr Darwin, & adding that he was reading up Suarez & the Jesuit fathers & found that Mivart either misquoted or misunderstood him, & he (H.) proposed to vindicate the Catholic Fathers!—4 What an irony his life is becoming—I call him a “Polemician”5

Can Mr Darwin lend me Mivart?— & Buckle?— I am unhappy about the origin, (not source), of the wealth of Nations— apropos of something I am trying to write about Marocco, & I want immensly to have a talk with Charles about it.6

My Uncle Dawson took his School-masters holiday out, in a trip to the city of San Francisco & back— on the day his school reopened.7

Mrs Hooker sends best love & would have greatly liked a run to Down with me.

If my mothers state should admit of it, I shall offer myself for the first possible Sunday.

Ever sincerely Yours | Jos D Hooker


Hooker’s mother was Maria Hooker. She had been living at Torquay since 1870 to be near her daughter, Elizabeth Evans-Lombe (Allan 1967, p. 224).
Hooker refers to the marriage of Henrietta Emma Darwin and Richard Buckley Litchfield on 31 August 1871 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Hooker refers to Thomas Henry Huxley. St George Jackson Mivart attacked CD in his review of Descent in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1871c). The anonymous review appeared in July 1871 and was correctly believed by CD to be by Mivart (see letter to A. R. Wallace, 12 July [1871] and n. 5). In his book On the genesis of species (Mivart 1871a), Mivart quoted a number of Catholic sources, including the Spanish theologian Francisco Suárez.
The word ‘polemician’ (polemicist) seems to have been coined by Hooker, presumably on the model of ‘politician’ (OED).
Hooker probably refers to Mivart 1871a and to Henry Thomas Buckle’s History of civilization in England (Buckle 1857–61); the second volume draws on the work of Adam Smith, the author of Wealth of nations (A. Smith 1776). Hooker was working on a book about his travels in Morocco, eventually published as Journal of a tour in Marocco and the Great Atlas (Hooker and Ball 1878); the book described it as a country economically destroyed by the excesses and corruption of its rulers.
Hooker’s uncle, Dawson William Turner, was headmaster of the Royal Institution School in Liverpool (ODNB s.v. Turner, Dawson).


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Buckle, Henry Thomas. 1857–61. History of civilization in England. 2 vols. London: John W. Parker & Son.

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

Hooker, Joseph Dalton and Ball, John. 1878. Journal of a tour in Marocco and the Great Atlas. London: Macmillan and Co.

Mivart, St George Jackson. 1871a. On the genesis of species. London: Macmillan and Co.

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1871c. Darwin’s Descent of man. Quarterly Review 131: 47–90.

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.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Smith, Adam. 1776. An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations. London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell.


His mother very ill.

Mrs Hooker back from Bavaria.

Hopes marriage [of Henrietta] went well. Is accused of saying he would rather go to two burials than one marriage.

Has heard from Huxley who is threatening to "thin out" Mivart. Huxley is reading Francisco Suarez and finds Mivart misquotes or misunderstands him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 83–84
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7945,” accessed on 23 June 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19