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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   3 February [1850]

Down Farnborough Kent

Feb. 3d.

My dear Hooker

I hope that there cannot be a shadow of a doubt, that long before this letter gets to India, you will be a free man.— I was quite astounded a short time ago, when indolently skimming through the Paper, to see your imprisonment announced. I was at first anxious enough about your safety, so I wrote to Henslow, & this, through the very great kindness of your Father, procured me a note from him, giving me details of all that he knew, & which, I trust, shows that your case is not bad.1 Indeed if you are enabled to go on collecting it may even be a good thing. In another way, I hope it may be a good thing, for perhaps Sir William & Lady Hooker will insist on your coming home;—surely you must have reaped a noble & sufficient Botanical harvest.— For myself I have in truth no news; I have never been so much cut off from all scientific friends, for I have found that interrupting the water cure does not answer. My health has of late kept stationary, & I begin to fear I shall not derive much more benefit from W. Cure; though the amount has been more than I at first even dared to hope for.— Sharp work my Baths have been for 5 minutes with water under 40o.— I am on the Council of Royal Soc. & am ashamed to say that I have not attended once.—2

I have now for a long time been at work at the fossil cirripedes, which take up more time even than the recent;—confound & exterminate the whole tribe; I can see no end to my work.—

My wife desires her kindest remembrances to you; she has lately produced our fourth Boy & seventh child!—a precious lot of young beggars we are rearing.— I was very bold & administered myself, before the Doctor came, Chloroform to my wife with admirable success.—

I shall be anxious to hear how Falconer goes on;3 I do most sincerely trust that he may have behaved better to you: if you have any communication with him, give him my affectionate remembrances.—

Farewell, forgive this dull letter, & accept all good wishes of all kinds from your most sincere friend | C. Darwin

Perhaps you may not have seen in the papers the account of Dr Fittons eldest son with his wife & one child, having all been wrecked & drowned on their way to N. Zealand.—4


CD was elected onto the council of the Royal Society in November 1849; he attended only one council meeting on 7 February 1850 and was not re-elected (Royal Society, Minutes of Council 1846–58).
See second letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 February 1849.
The Times, 24 January 1850, p. 4, records the shipwreck of the transport ship Richard Dart on 19 June 1849. On board were a ‘Dr. and Mrs. Fitton and child’, who died in the wreck. William John Fitton was the oldest son of William Henry Fitton the geologist.


Hooker’s imprisonment.

Birth of Leonard Darwin.

Barnacles will never end; on to fossils.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 117
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1300,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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