From J. D. Hooker 30 August 1868
Royal Gardens Kew
Dear old Darwin
A thousand thanks for your letter. A regular sun-beam it was—1 What a pother these papers kick up about my mild theology! An Aberdeen one calls me an Atheist & all that is bad:2 to me, who do not intend to answer their abuse, misquotations, garbled extracts, & blunders, it is all really very good fun. There were gentle disapproving allusions at Kew Church today I am told! I am beginning to feel quite a great man!
Tyndall most assuredly did couple our names most prominently, unequivocally, & unmistakeably as the two modestest men in Science!!!3
The last day was by far the hardest work, what with Committees & Councils & the Mayor’s Dejeuner—& Huxleys splendid lecture to the Working men—on all which occasions I had to speak.—4 I never had such a day’s work, & had no rest whatever, from 10 am till 10 PM. I could not sleep at night, & had to give up the excursions next day. My darling wife5 did enjoy it all through most thoroughly, & proved herself “as strong as a woman” I am sure that without her the whole thing would have been to me simply intolerable; as it was, it was delightful to see her always in public & looking so pretty (at a distance at least) & pleased.
The sections were splendidly full all through. Poor Huxley made a sad mess of it by twice offending the clergy*, totally without cause or warrant,—once at the Prehisto[ry] Congress, when he likened them to Bulls of Basan—& again at the Red Lion Club, when they got up & left the room!6 I was not there having providentially been prevented attending— On this last occasion he had no intention of hitting the Clergy, but Carl Vogt7 No one understood this at the time, & whether or no the application was obvious, & the blunder atrocious. Several got drunk as usual at the Red Lions— I do wish I could persuade Lubbock8 to drop that very silly Club— he is now the head & front of it; & it really is a scandal to Science, & however it might have once been good under E. Forbes 25 years ago is now completely out of place, out of date, & out of keeping with the age & standing of the Members9
Stokes10 has accepted the Presidency for next year, & if he is as dull & wanting in tact as at Norwich, the Exeter meeting will not be brilliant.
My time was an anxious one as Willy who was staying with an old messmate of mine at Oxford burst a blood vessel in the Lungs on the very day of meeting, & we are a good deal anxious about him—11 We had constant letters & Telegrams, & my wife was ready to start at a minutes warning, but his good kind hosts would not allow it. & it would have made an awful row at Norwich. I went from Norwich to Oxford on Friday & brought him home on Saturday. He has had several slight returns, but is otherwise well, has no cough or bad symptom. The Oxford Doctor, an excellent man, declares that it is from the Lungs, & dreads tubercle, but can detect no lesion. We are keeping him very quiet, & he is not to go back to school this quarter.
I have between £8 & 9. to hand over to Mrs Cameron for sale of photographs, cheifly yours, of which 8 or 10 went off; but it is far too big for travellers to carry away. I wrote twice to her from Norwich.12
Asa Gray sails on 2d Sept from New York.13
I forgot to tell you that I read all over about you to Thomson who thought I had “drawn it very mild”— Bentham & Oliver do not think that I said a word too much.14
The Astronomers do not quite like my allusions to them. I had a long talk with Adams, who is a most charming fellow, he will not agree with me, but won’t give me any definite answer. He does not allow that Astronomy is in fault in the matter of the suns distance, no more it is in one sense, but astronomers are, & the science of Astronomy is simply the exponent of Astronomers knowledge—15
Lady Lyell was much pleased at my notice of Sir Chas: book & thanked me very heartily. Sir C. said nothing— Wallace was charmed. & so was Flower.16
I am longing to run to Down & tell you all about it—but I must go to Scotland next week (7th. or 8th.) to settle about the late Dr Arnott’s Library & Herbm. & then for a few days visit to a friend near Dunfermline—17
As soon as I can after my return I will run down to you (& bring my wife, if convenient to Mrs Darwin, & Willy keeps well, so that she may go without anxiety.)—
Love to all | Ever yr affec | J D Hooker
I gave your Reindeer Query to Nilsson & saw a great deal of Victor Carus.18
P.S. I have just seen Owen’s rigmarole in the Athenæum, is it worth answering?19
* The Clergy throughout behaved splendidly like men & gentlemen. The Cathedral service was glorious, the anthem was chosen for me “What though I know each Herb & Flower” & brought tears into my eyes, & Dr Magees discourse was the grandest ever heard by Tyndall Berkeley, Spottiswoode, Hirst or myself.20
The newspapers’ pother about his mild theology.
Tyndall’s reference to JDH and CD as the two "modestest" men in science.
Huxley offended the clergy twice without cause or warrant.
William Hooker ill.
Astronomers do not like JDH’s reference to them.