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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   15 [July 1847]1

Down Farnborough Kent

Thursday 15th

My dear Hooker

I grieve to say that I cannot come & most heartily do I regret it, as I had set my heart on this lark.

My sister-in-law2 is obliged to go to London tomorrow for two or three days & if I left home my poor wife would be lying in bed two whole days with nobody to look after or amuse her;3 so, though she wants me, I will not leave home. It is very vexatious, as there is so much I want to talk over with you, & I have for years wished to see the D. of Ds. gardens.—4

If Henslow is with you, remember me most kindly to him & say how I regret my forced absence.— In the course of a fortnight or so, I will propose myself, if you will let me, to come & stay a night with you.— I am truly glad that your affairs wear a more prosperous air, & I cannot but think it must have been better for all parties, your communicating, as you first intended, with Henslow. When you have a bit of leisure, do send me ever so short a note about the conference.5 I really grieve over my disappointment in not being with you, but I am sure you will think me right.

Ever yours | C. Darwin

I am extra well & my Boils are all nearly well.—

Tell me how near does the Richmond Railway6 come to you.


‘Thursday 15th’ could have been either April or July 1847. July is the more likely since this letter ties in with the one following, in which CD regrets having missed his visit to Hooker. See also nn. 3 and 5, below.
Sarah Elizabeth (Elizabeth) Wedgwood.
Emma was recuperating following the birth of Elizabeth Darwin on 8 July.
The Duke of Devonshire’s gardens at Chiswick House, which were leased out to the Horticultural Society; William Cavendish, Duke of Devonshire, was president of the Horticultural Society, 1838–58. See Fletcher 1969, p. 79.
The reference to John Stevens Henslow and ‘the conference’ probably relates to Hooker’s wish to marry Henslow’s daughter, Frances Harriet. As the next letter makes clear, CD had received news of their engagement by 19 July.
The London and Southwestern Railway had been extended to Richmond in 1846 (Sheppard 1971, p. 131). Richmond station was nearly three miles from Hooker’s home.


Fletcher, Harold R. 1969. The story of the Royal Horticultural Society 1804–1968. London: Oxford University Press for the Royal Horticultural Society.

Sheppard, Francis Henry Wollaston. 1971. History of London: London 1808–1870: the infernal wen. London: Secker and Warburg.


Must look after his wife, so is unable to come to visit.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 101
Physical description
4pp & C

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1080,” accessed on 4 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4