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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   5 September 1868

Royal Gardens Kew

Sept 5 /68.

Dear Darwin

A Mr A. J. Gower, HRH Consul at Nagasaki Japan called on me today, & I had an hour’s chat with him—1 He knows all about the Ainios, & is going back to their part of Japan—2 I have given away all the copies of your queries regarding expression:3—if you think it worth the while you can send one to Mr Gower (I told him possibly you would) 9 Via della Madonna, Leghorn, whither he goes on Monday & thence to Japan in a month— He will take Tylor’s & Lubbock’s books with him,4 & make observations: it was he who had to restore the Ainio Skulls stolen by Col: Vyse & the collector, Whiteley. some years ago.5

I did see the “Tiger” & was much amused.6 The Pall-Mall rather nettled me, partly because it was right, but more because it evidently sought out the weak point—to display smart criticism, The comparison of Religion to Science, & calling both opinions, & nothing more, was too absurd. & made no allusion to the rest of the address.7 It was also unfairly stated— I did not call all Natural Theology false (whatever I thought)8 nor do all Brit. Ass. addresses, as a matter of course, wind up with religion & science.9

Owen is indeed an awful ass; there was a lie, direct or indirect, in every paragraph of his article, & yet even this does not rile me with Owen— A man who can so deceive himself, as to believe that no fraud of his own is too gross to be seen through, as long as it is his own, is surely beyond exciting pity or contempt or any other human passion.10 I shall meet him just the same, & be hugely tempted to broach the subject bluntly to him. Was it you who told me that Carlyle called his smile “Sugar of lead”.11

Asa Gray’s come straight to lodgings which I have taken for them here. she will be knocked up he thinks— it will be jolly to go to Down with them12—but I doubt her standing the excitement; I fear she is either over exciteable or melancholic. the latter I suspect.13

Have you seen the Pall Malls inuendo apropos of the Cathedral Anthem at Norwich & me— it is all bosh.— Dr Buck, the organist—, gave it out of a real compliment—to me & I am sure I accepted it as such & enjoyed it extremely though I must confess I at first thought myself a huge egotist to suppose it was intended for me:—it was lovely & the Pall Mall may be d—d.14

Ever Yrs aff | J D Hooker.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Queries | Pall Mall | Berkeley | French Article on French dress’15 pencil


Abel Anthony James Gower had been appointed consul at Nagasaki in May 1867, and was transferred to Hiogo (Hyogo) and Osaka in July 1868 (Foreign Office list).
The Ainu, a people from the northern islands of Japan, are ethnically and culturally distinct from other Japanese. CD and Hooker may have learned of the Ainu from reading Bickmore 1868 (see letter to Charles Lyell, 14 July 1868 and n. 2).
CD had printed for distribution a list of queries on human expression in late 1867 or early 1868; for a transcription of the printed queries, see Correspondence vol. 16, Appendix V.
Hooker refers to John Lubbock’s Pre-historic times and to Edward Burnett Tylor’s Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization (Lubbock 1865 and Tylor 1865).
The ornithological collector, Henry Whitely, was convicted with two other Englishmen in 1866 of stealing Ainu skeletons, including skulls. The consul at Hakodate from 1862 to 1865, Francis Howard Vyse, had apparently directed the theft in the hope of selling the bones for a profit; the skeletons were shipped to England, possibly by Vyse, who resigned his position in December 1866. In May 1867, boxes containing the bones were returned to Hakodate and forwarded to the Ainu village of Mori, from which they had been stolen. See Hoare 1975. Gower’s role in the retrieval of the bones has not been determined; however, he was consul at Hakodate from May 1865 until July 1867 (Foreign Office list).
Hooker refers to an article in the Morning Advertiser reporting on his presidential address given to the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 19 August 1868 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 September [1868] and n. 11).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 September [1868] and n. 12. Less than three pages of Hooker’s eighteen-page address (J. D. Hooker 1868) were concerned with science and religion.
The Pall Mall Gazette did not claim that Hooker called ‘all’ natural theology false. It quoted the passage from Hooker’s address (J. D. Hooker 1868, p. 28), where Hooker referred to: Natural Theology, a science falsely so called, when, not content with trustfully accepting truths hostile to any presumptuous standard it may set up, it seeks to weigh the infinite in the balance of the finite, and shifts its ground to meet the requirements of every new fact that science establishes, and every old error that science exposes. and commented that Hooker had personified natural theology as ‘an evil genius … described as “it,” as a punishment for its bad conduct’ (Pall Mall Gazette, 22 August 1868, p. 1).
The Pall Mall Gazette, 22 August 1868, p. 1, claimed that presidential addresses at meetings of the British Association ended ‘almost invariably with some sort of disquisition upon the relations between science and religion’.
CD and Hooker believed wrongly that two anonymous articles in the Athenaeum ([Robertson] 1868a and 1868b) had been written by Richard Owen (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 September [1868] and nn. 2 and 3). For some earlier expressions of Hooker’s animosity towards Owen, see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 January – 8 February 1862], and Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [23 February 1863].
Thomas Henry Huxley claimed that Jane Baillie Welsh Carlyle, Thomas Carlyle’s wife, had said that Owen’s ‘sweetness’ reminded her of sugar of lead (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 2: 167). Sugar of lead: ‘lead acetate, sweet and poisonous, used as a mordant for dyeing and printing textiles’ (Chambers).
In his letter of 30 August 1868, Hooker wrote that Asa Gray and his wife, Jane Loring Gray, were to sail from New York on 2 September 1868. CD had invited the Grays to Down in his letter to Asa Gray of 15 August [1868]. Hooker and the Grays dined at Down on 24 October 1868, and some or all of them stayed until 30 October (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), and letter from F. H. Hooker to Emma Darwin, 24 September [1868]).
Jane Loring Gray’s inconsistent health is mentioned several times in letters from Asa Gray to CD (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, enclosure to letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [November 1863]). See also Dupree 1959, p. 182.
In its account of a service at Norwich cathedral held during the 1868 meeting of the British Association, the Pall Mall Gazette, 3 September 1868, p. 9, reported: an anthem was sung which seemed to be selected for the benefit of the “botanical and Darwinian president.” The words were:— What though I trace each herb and flower That drinks the morning dew, Unless I own Jehovah’s power, How vain were all I knew. Dr. Hooker could not sing his reply, and the Cathedral authorities thus cleverly stole a march upon him. A man cannot very well answer a clergyman in the pulpit, and to put one’s views in the form of an anthem and chant it oneself is a still greater impossibility. Dr. Hooker was silenced, if not convinced. Zechariah Buck was the master of the choristers at Norwich cathedral; the anthem is an aria from George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Solomon. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868.
CD’s annotations were notes for his letter to J. D. Hooker, [8–10 September 1868].


Bickmore, Albert S. 1868. The Ainos, or hairy men, of Saghalien and the Kurile Islands. [Read before the Boston Society of Natural History, 4 March 1868.] American Journal of Science and Arts 2d ser. 45: 361–77.

Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

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

Dupree, Anderson Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray, 1810–1888. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Foreign Office list: The Foreign Office list. London: Harrison & Sons. 1852–1965.

Hoare, J. E. 1975. Mr. Enslie’s grievances: the consul, the Ainu and the bones. [Read 17 December 1975.] Japan Society of London Bulletin 78 (March 1976): 14–19.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1868. Address of the president. Report of the thirty-eighth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Norwich, pp. lviii–lxxv.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1865. Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization. London: John Murray.


Has met A. J. Gower, Consul at Nagasaki, Japan, who knows all about the Ainus. JDH has given away all the copies of CD’s Queries about expression.

Nettled by Pall Mall Gazette review of BAAS address [see 6342].

Owen is indeed an ass. Carlyle’s comment on Owen’s smile.

The Asa Grays at Kew.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 233–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6349,” accessed on 1 April 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16