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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   4 October [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 4th

My dear Hooker

I am very sorry to hear of all your great anxieties about your mother & sister.2 God knows they are enough by themselves, without being festered by that odious wretch, Ayrton. I heard formerly about his monstrous conduct with respect to you & Mr Smith &c; & I wish I knew what he has now been doing.3 We shall meet sometime, & then you must tell me.— I most truly sympathise with you. Real sorrow & vexation with indignation & contempt make a mixture enough to harrow any man’s soul.—

With all your troubles you have written me a very pleasant letter.— I am quite delighted that you think so highly of Huxley’s article.—4 I was afraid of saying all I thought about it,—as nothing is so likely as to make anything appear flat. I thought of, & quite agreed with your former saying that Huxley makes one feel quite infantile in intellect— He always thus acts on me.— I exactly agree with what you say on the several points in the article; & I piled climax on climax of admiration in my letter to him—5 I am not so good a Christian as you think me, for I did enjoy my revenge on Mivart.— He i.e. Mivart has just written to me as cool as a cucumber, hoping my health is better &c.—6 My head, by the way, plagues me terribly, & I have it light & rocking half the day.—

Farewell dear old friend, my best of friends— I hope things will go better with you,—though I fear all that can be hoped for your mother is less suffering— | Farewell | Yours affecty | C. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to Thomas Henry Huxley’s article in the Contemporary Review (T. H. Huxley 1871b).
CD refers to Maria Hooker and Elizabeth Evans-Lombe (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 October 1871]).
In December 1870, Acton Smee Ayrton had offered John Smith, the curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the superintendence of works in Hyde Park, without consulting Hooker (see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 162; see also letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 October 1871] and n. 10).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 October 1871] and n. 2. CD refers to Huxley’s article in the Contemporary Review, ‘Mr. Darwin and his critics’ (T. H. Huxley 1871b).
CD refers to St George Jackson Mivart; see letter from St G. J. Mivart, 26 September 1871.


Sorry to hear of JDH’s troubles;

pleased he thinks so highly of Huxley’s article [see 7977].

Huxley makes CD feel infantile in intellect (as JDH once said of himself). CD is not so good a Christian as JDH thinks, for he did enjoy his revenge on Mivart.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 207–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7984,” accessed on 13 July 2020,

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