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Darwin Correspondence Project

From John Tyndall   28 December 1874

Royal Institution of Great Britain Dec. 1874. | 11 P.M.

My dear Darwin

I have just received & read your letters, and I need not tell you how how concerned I feel about it. It was only this morning I had a note from her, informing me that she intended to accompany the Spottiswoodes to Lubbock’s lecture, but giving no hint that she was ill.1 This, however, is like her. She is quite capable of dying without giving any sign.

I will so arrange matters that I may have an hour’s earnest conversation with her. I do not know that she will pay any attention to me; but I think if she listens to anybody she will be inclined to listen to me.

I quite think with you that Andrew Clark is the man most likely to give her sound advice, and I shall do my best to induce her to consult him.

Last night I returned from Kew, whither I went on Thursday. Hooker passed the crisis well.2 On christmas day he had some skating, and without our making any effort which would assuredly defeat itself, his mind was kept cheerfully occupied throughout— It was a happiness to me to be able to be at his side during this time of trial.

He told me about Mivart, and allowed me to read the correspondence.3 On à priori ground, & by an indescribable intuition, I could predict Mivart’s act as the natural outflow of his character.

always yours | John Tyndall


See letter to John Tyndall, 27 December 1874; CD was concerned about Ellen Frances Lubbock’s health. She probably wanted to attend the lecture of her husband, John Lubbock, on English wild flowers at the Royal Institution of Great Britain on 22 January 1875 (Lubbock 1875a). Tyndall also refers to William and Eliza Taylor Spottiswoode.
The Thursday preceding 28 December 1874 was 24 December. Joseph Dalton Hooker’s wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, had died on 13 November 1874 (Allan 1967, p. 225).
CD, Hooker, and Thomas Henry Huxley had been debating a response to St George Jackson Mivart’s anonymous attack on an article by George Howard Darwin (G. H. Darwin 1873a, [Mivart] 1874, p. 70). See letters to J. D. Hooker, 14 December 1874, 22 December 1874, 24 December [1874], and 27 December [1874], and letter and enclosure from T. H. Huxley, 23 December 1874.


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

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1874b. Primitive man: Tylor and Lubbock. [Essay review of the works of John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor.] Quarterly Review 137 (1874): 40–77.


JT had not known Lady Lubbock was ill. Will try to persuade her [to change physicians]. Agrees Andrew Clark is best.

Hooker has survived his crisis [death of his wife].

St G. J. Mivart’s act is a natural outflow of his character.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Tyndall
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Royal Institution
Source of text
DAR 106: C17–18
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9787,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

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