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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 January [1871]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Jan 21

My dear Hooker

If you can do come here & give us all pleasure, on Saturday 28th for the Sunday.— Winwood Reade (whom I have never seen, & who has aided me) & I hope Günther & Swinhoe are coming.—2 Will you bring, Willy3 with you, though we can give him only a dressing room.— I hope you may be able to come.— Come by train which leaves Charing Cross at 5o. 5’ & reaches Orpington at 5o. 47’, where our carriage will be.—

I finished the last proofs of my book a few days ago:4 the work half killed me & I have not the most remote idea whether the book is worth publishing,—though it seems that it will sell very well.— I shall be well abused, for as my son Frank5 says “you treat man in such a bare-faced manner.”—

All work tires me to death & idleness is twice as bad as work, so I am in a nice fix for the rest of my life. Softening of the brain wd. not be a bad ending.—

Farewell | Your affect | C. Darwin

Mivart has published what seems (I have read only a few pages) a very good book against me, accumulating all possible & some impossible objections.6 It is, however, unfortunately theological. I daresay it will tell heavily against natural selection, but not against evolution, & this is infinitely more important.—


The year is established by the reference to the completion of Descent (see n. 4, below).
Hooker, Albert Günther, William Winwood Reade, and Robert Swinhoe came to Down on 28 January and left on 30 January 1871 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). CD had corresponded with Reade while Reade was in West Africa (see Correspondence vols. 16 and 17).
According to his ‘Journal’ (Appendix II), CD finished correcting proofs of Descent on 15 January 1871.
CD refers to St George Jackson Mivart and Mivart 1871a; see letter from St G. J. Mivart, 19 January 1871 and n. 1.


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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Finished the last proofs of Descent a few days ago. "I shall be well abused."

St George Mivart’s Genesis [of species]: very good, unfortunately theological. Will tell heavily against natural selection but not against evolution, and this is "infinitely more important".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 186–7
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7448,” accessed on 15 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19