skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   25 April 1873


April 25/73

Dear Old Darwin

I am charmed with Huxley’s noble-minded letter.1 We had a walk & talk together yesterday, but no allusion passed.— but he said he had determined on a long holiday & was very doubtful about whether to give up his summer Lectures to schoolmasters or no.— He described himself as slightly better, certainly not worse. He asked if I would go with him in July to Auvergne & Germany, I promised that I would if I did not go to America, of which I have heard nothing more.

Lady Lyell’s death is a complete upset.2 I called today & had a long talk with poor Mrs Lyell3 & saw (at her wish) for the last time that most loveable face shrouded in flowers in the coffin— looking so calm & beautiful. Amid a flood of later memories my mind rushed back to long years ago, when quite a boy, I felt rather than thought it to be so beautiful, that I never could look at it without emotion— I used to dream of it as a child.

I have no morbid or other liking for seeing the faces of the dead, but am glad I have seen this; it was so beautiful— & I should not have liked my last thoughts of her to have been coupled with a face worn by sickness.

She seems never to have suffered any pain whatever of the smallest consequence, no uneasyness even, but to have sunk from the first going to Ludlow,4 gradually, taking abundant food all along & enjoying it.

Poor Lyell I did not see— Mrs. L. thought better not, & rightly. I am sure— he spends his time alternately in piteous sorrow, & in working at his antiquity of man with Miss Buckley.5 They have asked Mr Simmonds to bury her at Woking, beside Mrs. Horner.6 Lyell will live with Mrs Lyell I suppose they will take another Home.7 He is much better & has lost the tremor of the mouth— so Mrs Lyell says— I shall see him when it is all over.

From Mrs Lyell’s account I suspect the fever was typhoid; toward the end there was a slight pain over a spot in the side of the Abdomen, which probably indicated that disorganization of the intestine had set in, (of which I forget the name).8

I hope I have not bored you with all this.

Frances is much the better of her stay at Down & so am I in every way—9 I could eat nothing till I went there. & I did eat & enjoy Down as much as ever—& you know what that covers.

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Return’ blue crayon


See letter from T. H. Huxley, 24 April 1873. A copy of Thomas Henry Huxley’s letter was enclosed with the circular sent to all the contributors to the subscription fund raised to relieve Huxley’s financial problems (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [6 April 1873] and n. 2, and letter to subscribers to T. H. Huxley’s gift, [25 April 1873]).
Katherine Murray Lyell was Mary Elizabeth Lyell’s sister.
Charles and Mary Elizabeth Lyell had been on an excursion during part of March and April and evidently stayed in Ludlow, Shropshire (see letter to Charles Lyell, [9 April 1873]).
Charles Lyell, with the help of his secretary, Arabella Burton Buckley, was preparing a new edition of Geological evidences of the antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1873). The revised edition was published in May 1873 (Publishers’ Circular, 2 June 1873, p. 372).
Anne Susan Horner was Mary Elizabeth Lyell’s mother. Hooker also refers to William Samuel Symonds, a clergyman and geologist. Woking, Surrey, was the location of the Brookwood Cemetery, founded in 1850 for London burials following the closure of a number of overcrowded London churchyards.
Katherine Murray Lyell was married to Charles Lyell’s brother, Henry Lyell. They lived at 42 Regent’s Park Road (Post Office London directory 1872).
For more on the contemporary understanding of typhoid, see Budd 1873.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Frances Harriet Hooker visited Down from 18 to 25 April 1873; Hooker arrived on 19 April but the length of his stay is not recorded.


Budd, William. 1873. Typhoid fever: its nature, mode of spreading, and prevention. London: Longmans, Green.

Lyell, Charles. 1873. The geological evidences of the antiquity of man, with remarks on theories of the origin of species by variation. 4th edition, revised. London: John Murray.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Charmed by Huxley’s letter of appreciation [8873].

Lady Lyell’s sudden death.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 155–6
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8880,” accessed on 6 December 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21