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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [29 June 1858]1



My dearest Hooker

You will, & so will Mrs Hooker, be most sorry for us when you hear that poor Baby died yesterday evening.2 I hope to God he did not suffer so much as he appeared. He became quite suddenly worse. It was Scarlet-Fever. It was the most blessed relief to see his poor little innocent face resume its sweet expression in the sleep of death.— Thank God he will never suffer more in this world.

I have received your letters. I cannot think now on subject, but soon will. But I can see that you have acted with more kindness & so has Lyell even than I could have expected from you both most kind as you are.3

I can easily get my letter to Asa Gray copied, but it is too short.—4

Poor Emma behaved nobly & how she stood it all I cannot conceive. It was wonderful relief, when she could let her feelings break forth—

God Bless you.— You shall hear soon as soon as I can think

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


The date is given by the endorsement and by CD’s reference to the death of the baby. Charles Waring Darwin died on Monday, 28 June 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
Charles Waring Darwin was the youngest of the children. He had been born on 6 December 1856. According to Henrietta Emma Darwin, ‘The poor little baby was born without its full share of intelligence. Both my father and mother were infinitely tender towards him, but, when he died in the summer of 1858, after her first sorrow she could only feel thankful. He had never learnt to walk or talk.’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 162). Henrietta probably overstated the case: for CD’s memorial of Charles Waring, see Correspondence vol.7, Appendix V.
Hooker and Charles Lyell had evidently suggested in the letters mentioned by CD that they submit Alfred Russel Wallace’s paper on species together with extracts from CD’s writings to the Linnean Society as a joint paper. This paper would make public CD’s work of twenty years and at the same time establish proof of his independent formulation of the concept of natural selection. See letter from J. D. Hooker and Charles Lyell to the Linnean Society, 30 June 1858.
CD refers to the letter and enclosure he had sent to Asa Gray (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 5 September [1857]), in which he explained in detail his theory of natural selection. The draft of the manuscript, later sent to the Linnean Society with CD’s emendations, is transcribed in Appendix III.


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

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.


Death of Charles Waring Darwin [1856–8] from scarlet fever.

JDH’s and Lyell’s kindness [presumably about A. R. Wallace’s letter]. CD can provide a copy of his letter to Asa Gray [about CD’s species theory].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 239
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2297,” accessed on 22 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7