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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   16 August 1875


Aug 16/75.

Dear Darwin

I must tell you the joyful news, that we have got rid of D. Galton, who is to resign on his pension (£1000 per ann)— He was entitled to £950, & they will make it the round sum, to look handsome I suppose!.

Lord Henry is furious & would not go to the White bait (Ministerial) dinner at Greenwich and he has begun to visit it on me! so I shall have to be very careful.1 Thank goodness I have all the office & the Treasury at my back & beck.

Mr Mitford behaves remarkably well under his good fortune in getting this odious obstruction & worse out of his way: he will now make every advance to Lord Henry, who you know has never spoke a word to him since his appointment over 10 month’s ago; & I only hope that, now that my Lord will find himself unsupported, he will retire from active interference in the Office.2 Meanwhile he is moving heaven & earth with the people about the Queen to prevent the Herbarium being kept in the Queens private grounds, for a small piece of which I have asked. (as a site for the new building)   He insists on my finding a site for it in the public part of the Gardens! which I absolutely refuse to do, except the Queen refuses a corner of the Ground where the Herb. now is!3

It is a shame to worry you with these worries; but I know that you will be glad when that Galton is away.

Willy4 has just gone; I wish that he would come oftener. I am sorry that Leonard is disappointed about his station, but after getting on the Venus Expedtn. he could not expect a second stroke of luck, at his age!5 you & I might—of course.

Ever yr affec | J. D. Hooker.


Douglas Strutt Galton was director of public works and buildings in the Office of Works. Henry Gordon-Lennox, as first commissioner of works, had jurisdiction over the running of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. For Hooker’s long-running disputes with both men, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 February 1875] and nn. 11–14; see also the letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 March 1875. A dinner for cabinet ministers at which whitebait was served was held annually at Greenwich (OED).
Algernon Bertram Mitford’s appointment as secretary to the Office of Works and head of the permanent staff was confirmed in August 1874; Galton, supported by Gordon-Lennox, initially refused to accept Mitford’s authority but resigned when the cabinet confirmed it (Port 1995, pp. 69–70). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 March 1875.
The Herbarium had been housed since 1852 in Hunter House, formerly the residence of Queen Victoria’s uncle, Ernest Augustus duke of Cumberland, on the north side of Kew Green (R. Desmond 1995, pp. 198–9).
William Henslow Hooker.
Leonard Darwin, an officer in the Royal Engineers, had been posted to Malta after returning home in June 1875 from an expedition to New Zealand to observe the transit of Venus (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) and letter to C. E. Norton, 7 October 1875 and n. 6; see also Correspondence vol. 22).


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

Desmond, Ray. 1995. Kew: the history of the Royal Botanic Gardens. London: Harvill Press with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.

Port, M. H. 1995. Imperial London: civil government building in London, 1850–1915. New Haven, Conn., and London: Yale University Press.


JDH reports his battle with Lord Henry Lennox over whether to locate new Herbarium on the Queen’s or public part of Garden.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 36–7
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10120,” accessed on 3 August 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23