skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [20 August 1868]1


Thursday Mg

Dear old Darwin

It is all well over, though I broke down in what I least expected—voice— the place was atrocious to speak in, & the desk so badly placed, that I could with difficulty read—so about the middle I got husky but recovered towards the end & am said to have done the agony bits & the poetry very well—2 I modified 2 or 3 things, left out the allusions to Gray’s being superseded. & something else.3

All is going off well— Huxley spoke nicely after it of our seafaring life, & Tyndall warmly of you & I being types of “unconscious merit”!!!!4

Fanny is here, & wonderfully well & strong, we were up till 212 this morning correcting the address.— the Journalists worried an imperfect copy out of me at the last moment—with several hideous blunders5

I will send copy as soon as possible.6

With Wife’s love to all | Ever yours | J D Hooker

CD annotations7

Top of letter: ‘Times Bad | Tyndall | Old newspapers | splendid QQQQ | I was searching for faults | Eulogium | Photographs | Astronomy | Lyell & Wallace’ pencil


The date is established by the references to Hooker’s presidential address at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Norwich; the address was given on Wednesday 19 August 1868 (Report of the 38th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, p. lvii).
Hooker delivered his presidential address in the Drill Hall in Norwich (J. D. Hooker 1868; see n. 1, above). He concluded the address with three stanzas of a poem, ‘The reign of law’, by Francis Turner Palgrave.
In his address (J. D. Hooker 1868, p. lxiv), Hooker referred to John Edward Gray’s ‘singleness of purpose, liberality, and zeal’ in developing the Zoological Department at the British Museum. Gray had been criticised for introducing an unnecessary number of genera and species (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Fritz Müller, 23 May 1866 and nn. 9 and 11, and ODNB).
Thomas Henry Huxley gave the vote of thanks after Hooker’s address, seconded by John Tyndall (The Times, 20 August 1868, p. 6).
Hooker refers to his wife, Frances Harriet Hooker. Hooker’s address was printed in The Times, 20 August 1868, p. 6. The version in The Times contained a large number of errors, for example ‘menares’, ‘menhies’, and ‘macuhyr’ for ‘menhirs’ and ‘menhir’; ‘Amerne’ for ‘America’; ‘grapes’ for ‘grasses’; ‘geminules’ for ‘gemmules’; ‘provincial’ for ‘provisional’; ‘revolution’ for ‘evolution’; and ‘physicians’ for ‘physicists’.
There is an offprint of Hooker’s address in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL; it is postmarked on the back cover, ‘Norwich | Au 24 | 68’.
CD’s annotations are notes for his reply to Hooker of 23 August [1868].


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

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1868. Address of the president. Report of the thirty-eighth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Norwich, pp. lviii–lxxv.

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.


Reports on Norwich address [Rep. BAAS 38 (1868): lviii–lxxv]. Left out some things, i.e., Asa Gray’s being superseded.

Tyndall says CD and JDH are types of "unconscious merit".

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 227–8
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6326,” accessed on 16 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16