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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker to Emma Darwin   19 October 1872


Octr. 19/72

My dear Mrs Darwin

The papers will probably have told you of our loss—1 & I hope this accounted for, (though so late) my not having answered your kind note about the horse.2

We have so much road work & carting over gravelly paths, that a tendency to foot-soreness would be a fatal objection in a horse for our work, or else we should have jumped at the offer. Our Horses have to go sometimes 25 miles, to bring things from the opposite side of London, & they have to do cart work in London as well, not unfrequently.

My dear Mother died very tranquilly after about 12 days of great distress, but hardly of pain— the long recumbent position had brought on excessive weakness, & thickening of the lungs, that impeded her breathing—& was very trying to bear. My sister from Scotland arrived too late to be recognized; my younger sister was with her Mother.3

I cannot tell you how severely we feel the blow— It sounds odd that a man of 55 should feel as if orphaned, but so it is— No one but a Mother retains a life-long interest in the members of her family, & one that strengthens with their numbers & their age. It may be true enough that a man shall leave father & Mother & cleave to his wife; but his Mother never leaves him till death. He may divide his affections, she never does.— I do not think that both accumulate affections, whatever one may do.

But what I chiefly feel is, the stimulus withdrawn— my prosperity was her chief joy—& my great joy in prosperity was the pleasure it gave her— for her sake I could put up with personal distinction— at least I feel as if it was for her pleasure that I did so, far more than for all other motives put together.

I return to Torquay on Monday for the funeral on Tuesday.

Ever my dear Mrs Darwin | most sincerely Yours | J D Hooker


Maria Hooker, Hooker’s mother, died on 16 October 1872. Her death was reported in The Times, 19 October 1872, p. 1.
Emma Darwin’s letter to Hooker has not been found, but see the enclosure to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 October 1872. Hooker wanted to buy a cart-horse.
Hooker refers to Maria McGilvray and Elizabeth Evans-Lombe, who lived in Torquay (Allan 1967, p. 224).


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


On his mother’s death.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Emma Wedgwood/Emma Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 124–5
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8565,” accessed on 17 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20