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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 February [1875]1

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

Feb. 25th

My dear Hooker

Your letter so full of feeling has interested me greatly. I cannot say that I felt his death much for I fully expected it, & have looked for some little time at his career as finished.2 I dreaded nothing so much as his surviving with impaired mental powers. He was indeed a noble man in very many ways,—perhaps in none more than in his warm sympathy with the work of others. How vividly I can recall my first conversation with him, & how he astonished me by his interest in what I told him.3 How grand, also, was his candour & pure love of truth. Well he is gone, & I feel as if we were all soon to go. But I believe your grief is largely owing to all that you have lately suffered; & in part to the mental fatigue & annoyance which you have undergone.—4 I do most truly rejoice that you will soon leave England for a short time, & do not, I beg you, work your body too hard. I am certain that you are mind & body worn out, & one of the two can not rest if the other is still worked.5 I am deeply rejoiced about Westminster Abbey,—the possibility of which had not occurred to me when I wrote before.6 I did think that his works were the most enduring of all Testimonials (as you say) to him; but then I did not like the idea, of his passing away with no outward sign of what scientific men thought of his merits. Now all this is changed, & nothing can be better than Westminster Abbey. Mrs Lyell has asked me to be one of the pall-bearers; but I have written to say that I dared not, as I shd so likely fail in the midst of the ceremony & have my head whirling off my shoulders.—7 All this affair must have cost you much fatigue & worry, & how I do wish you were out of England.— I never could have believed in such conduct as that of Lord. H. about the Kew deputation.8 I fear from what you say that Harriet is much ailing, & I shd. think the Doctors were quite right.

And now my head is rocking, so farewell my dear old friend | Yours affecty | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875].
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875]. Hooker had written about how deeply he felt the loss of Charles Lyell, who died on 22 February 1875.
CD first met Lyell on 29 October 1836 (see letter to A. B. Buckley, 23 February 1875 and n. 2).
Hooker’s wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, had died suddenly on 13 November 1874 (see Correspondence vol. 22, letter to J. D. Hooker, [17 November 1874] and n. 3). Hooker had lately been in a dispute with Henry Gordon-Lennox, the first commissioner of works, over an application to have a secretary appointed to him (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 February 1875 and n. 7).
Hooker was planning to visit Algeria with his daughter Harriet Anne Hooker (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875]).
Hooker had arranged to have Lyell buried at Westminster Abbey (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875]).
CD’s letter to Katherine Murray Lyell has not been found.
Gordon-Lennox had planned to receive a deputation concerning a petition to open the botanic garden in the mornings, but had not informed Hooker (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875]).


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


CD on his memory of Lyell. Deeply rejoices that he is to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 379–81
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9873,” accessed on 30 January 2023,

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