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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [4 June 1865]1


My dear Hooker

I fully agree to every word you say on the controversy, except that Lubbock’s printed note does not seem to me insulting & is only too intelligible.2 But I should state that I read the correspondence3 only once & compared only two passages;4 for such work now upsets me. I did not sufficiently notice the passage in Lubbocks letter which in fact gives Lyell the lie.5 This I think he ought to apologize for. It has also occurred to me that Lyell’s statement that his M.S. was set up in type is in fact no valid excuse for his not having distinctly quoted Lubbock, as it is manifest he altered whole sentences in type6   Lyell’s word of course requires no corroboration but I read Morlot’s pamphlet immediately it came out,7 & I found Lyell quite au fait with his facts, which must have been before Lubbock wrote. I doubt whether you or I or any one cd do any good in healing this breach. Time alone could do it if it ever can be done.

All that you tell me about the Busk affair is very curious & pitiable in such a pair as the Lyells.8 I especially agree with what you say of the blame to Lubbock in not having quoted Lyell’s letter to him on the subject.9

Have you read the latter half of Lubbocks book?10 it seems to me admirable. Very many thanks for your letter which has greatly interested me.11 If you can do any thing to heal the breach it will be a real good service. I can hardly offer to join you just now as I am very weak after 5 weeks sickness—12

yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865]. In 1865, the Sunday following 2 June was 4 June.
CD refers to John Lubbock’s accusing Charles Lyell of plagiarism, and to Lubbock’s note in Lubbock 1865, p. x (see letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865], n. 3, for the text of the note in Lubbock 1865, and letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865], for Hooker’s impression of the controversy).
In his letter to CD of [2 June 1865], Hooker had referred to a letter from Lubbock to Lyell dated 29 May 1865 (see enclosure to letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865]). Hooker argued that Lubbock, in that letter, gave ‘Lyell’s statement, in his letter of May 25, the lie direct’; that is, accused Lyell of lying when he wrote in his letter to Lubbock of 25 May 1865, ‘there are only three passages in which I have borrowed even any expressions from you’ (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865] and nn. 12 and 13).
CD is referring to the note on page 11 of C. Lyell 1863c; see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865] and n. 7. CD apparently noticed other places in C. Lyell 1863c where Lyell had made alterations (see Bynum 1984, p. 178, for a recent assessment of Lyell’s conduct).
The reference is to Charles Adolphe Morlot and Morlot 1859. CD’s annotated copy of Morlot 1859 is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865], n. 12.
CD refers to George and Ellen Busk and their exclusion from social gatherings hosted by Charles and Mary Elizabeth Lyell; Hooker claimed that the dispute that arose between Lubbock and Lyell was at least partly due to the resentment felt by Lubbock over this treatment of the Busks by the Lyells (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865] and n. 16).
CD refers to Lubbock 1865. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and n. 14.
CD recorded in his journal that he had been ill since 22 April 1865 (see letter to John Chapman, 16 May [1865] and n. 4, and Appendix II).


Morlot, Charles Adolphe. 1859. Etudes géologico-archéologiques en Danemark et en Suisse. [Read January 1859.] Bulletin des séances. Société Vaudoise des Sciences Naturelles 6: 263–328.


Agrees with JDH on Lyell–Lubbock controversy except that Lubbock’s printed note does not seem to him insulting. Hopes JDH can heal the breach.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 270
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4852,” accessed on 19 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13