skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   23 February 1875

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Feb 23 1875

My dear Hooker

I have just heard from Miss Buckley of Lyell’s death.1 I have long felt opposed to the present rage for testimonials; but when I think how Lyell revolutionized Geology, & aided in the progress of so many other branches of Science I wish that something could be done in his honour. On the other hand, it seems to me that a poor testimonial would be worse than none; & testimonials seem to succeed only when a man has been known & loved by many persons; as in the cases of Falconer & Forbes.2 Now I doubt whether of late years any large number of scientific men did feel much attachment towards Lyell; but on this head I am very ill fitted to judge. I should like to hear sometime what you think, & if any thing is proposed, I shd particularly wish to join in it. We have both lost as good & as true a friend as ever lived.

My dear Hooker | yours affectly | Ch. Darwin


Arabella Burton Buckley’s letter to CD has not been found, but see the letter to A. B. Buckley, 23 February 1875. Charles Lyell died on 22 February 1875.
A memorial fund of close to £2000 was raised after the death of Hugh Falconer in 1865, providing for a marble bust of him in the Royal Society of London; a memorial fellowship in his name was also founded in the University of Edinburgh to encourage the study of palaeontology and geology (DNB). CD contributed ten guineas (£10 10s.) to the fund (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to George Busk, 20 February 1865 and n. 1). After the death of Edward Forbes in 1854, a memorial fund of £452 was raised (CD contributed £5); it was used to fund a bronze medal and book prize for natural history at the Royal School of Mines, London, and a bust of Forbes, placed in the Museum of Practical Geology in London (‘Memorial of Professor Edward Forbes’, Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives). Another bust was placed in the Edinburgh Museum (DNB).


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

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.


Mourns death of Lyell. Wonders whether enough men of science were attached to him to raise a fitting testimonial.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 377–8
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp & ADraft 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9866,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23