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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   6 October [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Oct. 6th

My dear Hooker.

Mr S. Parrell is applying for place of assistant at Linn. Socy.— When he was assistant at Brit: Mus:, I always found him particularly obliging & handy in getting Books &c for me.— He has earnestly begged me to speak in his favour.— He lost his place at B. Mus: from Insolvency, which showed reckless extravagance.1 But he tells me, & he says Dr. Gray2 & others know, that the chief loss was from his becoming surety for another. He says that if no penitence for extravagance can ever redeem the fault there is no hope for a man, who has thus erred ever to arise again; & this seems true; so I have thought I would tell you what I know in his favour.— He is, I am told, nephew of Prof. Clark of Cambridge.—3

If you have or can make leisure, I shd very much like to hear news of Mrs Hooker, yourself & children. Where did you go & what did you do & are doing? there is a comprehensive text.—

You cannot tell how I enjoyed your little visit here. It did me much good. If Harvey is still with you, pray remember me very kindly to him.4 We are an unfortunate family; since you were here, Lizzie has failed with irregular pulse like no less than four of our children previously. But I trust her case is by no means bad, & Lenny has I think nearly got over it, only having had one attack these two months.5 What a strange form of inherited constitution this is; my accursed constitution showing itself under a new form.—

I am working most steadily at my Abstract; but it grows to an inordinate length; yet fully to make my view clear, (& never giving briefly more than a fact or two & slurring over difficulties) I cannot make it shorter. It will yet take me three or four months; so slow do I work, though never idle. You cannot imagine what a service you have done me in making me make this abstract; for though I thought I had got all clear, it has clarified my brains much, by making me weigh relative importance of the several elements.—

I have been reading with much interest your (as I believe it to be) capital memoir of R. Brown in G. Chronicle.6

Ever my dear Hooker | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

Do not some time forget about Australian species & genera ranging N. through Malay archipelago.—7 I got Borrows answer about Pointers in Spain, for which many thanks.—8

I had a note from Falconer not long ago: he seems to have established a grand point, viz than man existed in England before the Rein-Deer & therefore before, I presume, the close of glacial Epoch.—9


Stephen Parrell was a third-class attendant in the zoological department of the British Museum from 1841 to 1848. He was promoted to second-class attendant in 1848 and was dismissed in August 1857 because of his insolvency (British Museum (Natural History) archives). He was not appointed to the staff of the Linnean Society: Frederick Yorke Brocas was the part-time assistant librarian at the Linnean Society until 1858, and at the end of the year Thomas West was appointed (Gage and Stearn 1988, p. 223).
John Edward Gray was keeper of the department of zoology in the British Museum, 1840–74.
Probably William Clark, professor of anatomy at Cambridge University, 1817–66.
Hooker and William Henry Harvey had visited Down from 28 to 31 August 1858 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Elizabeth and Leonard Darwin had been unwell during August and September 1858. For CD’s previous fears about Leonard’s health, see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 September [1857].
An unsigned obituary of Robert Brown was issued in parts in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 19 June 1858, pp. 493–4; 18 September 1858, p. 701; and 2 October 1858, pp. 732–3.
CD cited Hooker on this point in Natural selection, p. 559. Hooker had discussed the subject in Hooker and Thomson 1855, pp. 103, 253.
George Henry Borrow’s letter has not been found. CD cited him on this point in Variation 1: 42. CD had read Borrow’s books on Spain (Borrow 1843 and 1851) in 1844 and 1857 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 13b and 128: 21).
Hugh Falconer was engaged in a study of the mammalian bones and other remains found in caves in England and Europe. Following news of a new cave near Brixham in Devonshire, Falconer, William Pengelly, and Robert Everest received funds from the Royal Society to carry out excavations there. Falconer related the first results of the excavations at meetings of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society in May, June, and September 1858 (Bonney 1919, pp. 140–2). Flint implements were discovered in gravel beds below deposits containing reindeer antlers and, in a separate bed, bones of rhinoceroses and hyenas. These finds were announced at the Leeds meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in September 1858 by William Pengelly, director of excavations (Pengelly ed. 1897, p. 80). See also C. Murchison ed. 1868, 2: 486, 491–7.


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

Borrow, George Henry. 1843. The Bible in Spain; or, the journeys, adventures, and imprisonments of an Englishman, in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. 3 vols. London.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Abstract growing to inordinate length.

Writing in support of S. Passell as assistant at Linnean Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 248
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2335,” accessed on 28 October 2020,

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