skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   5 July [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

July 5th

My dear Hooker.

We are become more happy & less panic-struck, now that we have sent out of House every child & shall remove Etty, as soon as she can move. The first nurse became ill with ulcerated throat & quincy & the second is now ill with the Scarlet Fever, but thank God recovering. You may imagine how frightened we have been. It has been a most miserable fortnight.—

Thank you much for your note, telling me that all had gone on prosperously at Linn. Socy.—1 You must let me once again tell you how deeply I feel your generous kindness & Lyell’s on this occasion. But in truth it shames me that you should have lost time on a mere point of priority.

I shall be curious to see proofs. I do not in the least understand whether my letter to A. Gray is to be printed; I suppose not, only your note; but I am quite indifferent, & place myself absolutely in your & Lyells hands.

I can easily prepare an abstract of my whole work, but I can hardly see how it can be made scientific for a Journal, without giving facts, which would be impossible. Indeed a mere abstract cannot be very short.— Could you give me any idea how many pages of Journal, could probably be spared me?2

Directly after my return home, I would begin & cut my cloth to my measure.— If the Referees were to reject it as not strictly scientific I would, perhaps publish it as pamphet.—

With respect to my big interleaved abstract, would you send it anytime before you leave England, to enclosed address.3 If you do not go till August 7th–10th I shd. prefer it left with you.4 I hope you have jotted criticisms on my M.S. on big Genera &c sufficient to make you remember your remarks, as I shd. be infinitely sorry to lose them.5 And I see no chance of our meeting if you go soon abroad.

We thank you heartily for your invitation to join you; I can fancy nothing which I shd. enjoy more; but our children are too delicate for us to leave; & I shd. be mere living lumber.—

Lastly you said you would write to Wallace; I certainly shd. much like this, as it would quite exonerate me: if you would send me your note, sealed up, I would forward it with my own, as I know address &c.—6

Will you answer me sometime about your notions of length of my abstract.—

If you see Lyell will you tell him how truly grateful I feel for his kind interest in this affair of mine. You must know that I look at it, as very important, for the reception of the view of species not being immutable, the fact of the greatest geologist & Botanist in England, taking any sort of interest in subject: I am sure it will do much to break down prejudices.—

Yours affectionly | C. Darwin

Kindest remembrance to Mrs. Hooker.


See letter from J. D. Hooker and Charles Lyell to the Linnean Society, 30 June 1858. When Francis Darwin later came to compile CD’s letters for publication, Hooker sent him his recollections of the meeting at which Darwin and Wallace 1858 was read. He wrote (LL 2: 126): The interest excited was intense, but the subject was too novel and too ominous for the old school to enter the lists, before armouring. After the meeting it was talked over with bated breath: Lyell’s approval, and perhaps in a small way mine, as his lieutenant in the affair, rather overawed the Fellows, who would otherwise have flown out against the doctrine. We had, too, the vantage ground of being familiar with the authors and their theme.
CD planned to write an abstract of his researches to be published in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society. This would give a more thorough account of his theory than the brief notice read to the Linnean Society (Darwin and Wallace 1858). Hooker was actively involved with resuscitating and rationalising the various publications of the Linnean Society (see L. Huxley ed. 1918,1: 407–10).
CD refers to the fair copy of his essay of 1844 (DAR 113), which he had sent to Hooker in June (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [29 June 1858]).
The Hookers were planning a summer holiday in Switzerland in the company of William Henry Harvey (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 432–3). Their plans, however, were disrupted by the worsening illness of Frances Harriet Hooker’s aunt, Mary Jenyns.
CD refers to the manuscript on large and small genera, intended for his book on species (Natural selection, pp. 134–64), that he had sent to Hooker for his comments (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 May [1858]). CD’s plans to discuss the manuscript with Hooker had been interrupted by the illnesses of the Darwin children and the arrival of Alfred Russel Wallace’s letter. Hooker’s notes are written in pencil on the fair copy of the manuscript (DAR 15.1). See letter from J. D. Hooker, 13–15 July 1858.


LL: The life and letters of Charles Darwin, including an autobiographical chapter. Edited by Francis Darwin. 3 vols. London: John Murray. 1887–8.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Thanks JDH for his report on the reading of the Wallace and Darwin papers at the Linnean Society [read 1 July 1858; Collected papers 2: 3–19]. Considers how to publish his work. Offers to forward a note from JDH to Wallace.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 241
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2303,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

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