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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 September [1876]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sept. 17th

My dear old Friend

I thank you for your most kind & feeling letter.2 When I wrote to you at Glasgow (which letter I have heard was sent too late) I did not forget your former grief, but I did not allude to it, as I well knew that it was wrong in me to revive your former feelings, but I could not resist writing to you.—3

I never saw anyone suffer so much as poor Frank. He has gone to N. Wales to bury the body in a little church-yard amongst the mountains, & I do not know when he will return, but I will then tell him how kind you have been.4 I am glad to hear that he is determined to exert himself & work in every way. How far he will be able to keep to this wise resolve I know not. The Baby5 before long will be something. Thank Heaven he will live with us.— Poor Amy had severe convulsions due to wrong action of the kidneys; after the convulsions she sunk into a stupor from which she never rallied. It is an inexpressible comfort that she never suffered & never knew she was leaving her beloved husband for ever. It has been a most bitter blow to us all.—

Yours very affectionately | Ch. Darwin

Judging from Nature it seems to have been a good meeting at G. I hope that you & Mrs. Hooker enjoyed it.—6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 September 1876.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 September [1876]; CD had evidently expected that Hooker would still be at Glasgow, where he attended the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, which was held from 6 to 13 September 1876 (Report of the 46th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1877): lxvii). Hooker’s first wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, had died suddenly on 13 November 1874 (Allan 1967, p. 225); his daughter Maria Elizabeth Hooker had died in 1863, aged 6 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 61).
Francis Darwin’s wife, Amy Darwin, was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Corris, near Machynlleth, about five miles from her family’s home, Pantlludw.
Amy had given birth to a son, Bernard Darwin, on 7 September 1876 (ODNB).
Reports on the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science at Glasgow had appeared in Nature, 7 September 1876, pp. 393–417, and 14 September 1876, pp. 425–41. Further reports appeared in issues for 21 September 1876, pp. 451–63, and 28 September 1876, pp. 476–92. Hooker’s second wife was Hyacinth Hooker.


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


CD thanks JDH for his condolences. Amy’s baby will live with the Darwins.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 419–20
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10606,” accessed on 21 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24