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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   25 November 1874


Nov. 25/74.

Dear Darwin

Just read the enclosed, & return it. Keeping it private, I have answered that in such an emergency I was sure that the R.S. would not stand in the way, but have begged him to ask his medical man— I have assured him that for his own & family’s sake he should not attempt it, & I have warned him that considering what his health was 2 years ago, he will assuredly receive a round-robin from all his friends imploring him not to do so suicidal a thing. Just fancy—to have the Secretaryship of R.S., & his winter classes here, followed by a full course in Edinburgh, not over till August!1

I wait impatiently for his answer to me.

Harriet is getting on nicely & Miss Boycott is a very pleasant girl, as well as a thoroughly well brought up one. I could not wish Harriet a nicer companion.2

I am very busy; my first instinct after entering the House was to rush back to Down; but I soon got over that, & I have now to abbreviate those intervals between work, when the utter desolation falls like a black cloud over all my purport & pursuits.3

Ever yours affect | J. D. Hooker


Nov 24. 1874

My dear Hooker

The Edinburgh Professors are in a quandary— Victor Carus who was appointed Wyville Thomson’s substitute for some reason or other cannot lecture next summer and has left them in the lurch—4

Turner wrote to me a day or two ago to know if I could & would help them in this fix5—and give the course which lasts through May June & July   At first it seemed to me out of the question— But on second thoughts it appeared [possible]— I can manage the May examinations by deputy—for once—and I have no doubt that as W. T. is away on Government service I could get the requisite leave from My Lords

Remains the Royal Society— In May & June there are five meetings—one for election of Fellows is merely formal & does not need my presence   Two are on the same day as Council meetings and for them I could come up

Considering that Thomson is away on Royal Society business to a certain extent6 do you think there would be any harm in my omitting attendance at the Evening Meetings?

I should like to help in the difficulty— I should like to give the Edinburgh folks a specimen of what I think the teaching of my subject ought to be—and I by no means object to the money— I have written to Turner to say that subject to the assent of the Govt & the R.S. I think the thing may be done— But it is all contingent & in the air at present

How are you getting on? I trust building yourself a bridge over the abyss bravely7 I wish I could help you

Ever | Yours faithfully | T H Huxley


The enclosure relates Thomas Henry Huxley’s decision to give a course of lectures at the University of Edinburgh in the summer of 1875 in addition to his usual teaching at the South Kensington Department of Science and Art, and his duties as secretary to the Royal Society of London. In 1873, Huxley had suffered a serious breakdown, which prompted his friends to present him with sufficient funds to take a recuperative holiday (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to T. H. Huxley, 23 April 1873).
Hooker refers to his daughter Harriet Anne Hooker; Miss Boycott has not been identified.
J. D. and Harriet Hooker had stayed with CD at Down from 19 to 23 November 1874 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)) following Frances Harriet Hooker’s death on 13 November 1874 (see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 190).
Over the summers of 1873 and 1874, Julius Victor Carus lectured in place of Charles Wyville Thomson, who was away on the Challenger expedition from 1872 to 1876 (see letter from J. V. Carus, 19 January 1874 and n. 2).
William Turner was professor of anatomy at the University of Edinburgh.
The Royal Society had persuaded the Admiralty to fit out the Challenger for deep-sea scientific work (see Tizard et al. 1885, l–liii).
Huxley alludes to Hooker’s recent bereavement (see n. 2, above).


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


Encloses a letter [from Huxley about his invitation to lecture at Edinburgh]. Has done his best to dissuade Huxley from accepting the burden.

JDH’s depression in bereavement.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 228–9; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (JDH/1/14/f. 54)
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9732,” accessed on 30 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22