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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   23 January 1866


Jany 23d/66.

Dear Darwin

I am truly grieved to hear of Mrs Langton’s state—1 I have been so haunted by death & his dart—this 6 or 8 years, that I can hardly bear to look at my children asleep in bed—2 I used to think a child asleep not only the loveliest thing in creation, but the most gratifying in every respect:— leaving nothing to be desired except that it would not grow older— all is changed now.—

May you soon my very dear friend be relieved of your aching sympathy for one so dear to you.

I go to the North on Saturday & shall be at the Etruria works on Monday. & back to Kew same night3

Your ever affectionate | Jos D Hooker

Frances is very sorry indeed,4 she liked Mrs Langton so much


Emily Catherine Langton, CD’s younger sister, was dying (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 [January 1866]).
Hooker’s father-in-law, John Stevens Henslow, died in May 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 9), his daughter Maria Elizabeth in September 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 1 October 1863 and n. 1), and his father, William Jackson Hooker, in August 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13). Extracts from Hooker’s letters expressing his reactions to these losses are collected in L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 60–5. See also Correspondence vol. 13, letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 September 1865].
Hooker and his cousin, Reginald Francis Douce Palgrave, travelled to the Wedgwood pottery works in Etruria, Staffordshire, in connection with a Wedgwood medallion to form the centrepiece of a memorial to William Jackson Hooker (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 January 1866 and n. 6).
Hooker refers to his wife, Frances Harriet Hooker.


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


Sorrow about Mrs Langton. Has been haunted by death these six or eight years. Now cannot bear to look at children asleep in bed – a sight he once thought the loveliest thing in creation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 55–6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4984,” accessed on 15 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14