skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   1 September [1868]1

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sept 1.

My dear H.

In my opinion Dr Joseph Dalton Hooker need take no notice of the attack in the Athenæum in reference to Mr Charles Darwin.2

What an ass the man is to think he cuts us to the quick by giving our Christian names in full. How transparently false is the statement that my sole groundwork is from pigeons, because I state I have worked them out more fully than other beings.3 He muddles together two books of Flourens4—but he is a scamp & I begin to think a veritable ass.—

Many thanks for your splendid letter. I am so glad to hear that Mrs. Hooker enjoyed herself & did so much.5

I saw yesterday Sir John & Lady L.6 & they told me how very brilliantly everything had gone off. How you & Mrs Hooker must rejoice that all is over & so successfully.— It must have been a cruel drawback all your anxiety about your Boy.7 What a God’s blessing it is that the poor boy probably thinks a little bleeding from the chest not worse than from the nose. I am very sorry for you.

I agree with everything in your letter, especially about the Red Lion Club, which I thought a foolish, vulgar exaggerated affair even under poor Forbes.—8 I am extremely sorry about Huxley’s want of judgment: he will surely sink in public estimation & lose the power of doing good.—9

I am glad that you had a talk with Adams: I think you put the argument quite fairly about Astronomy & the Astronomers.10

I hope you saw the Morning Advertiser on your Address, it was wonderfully rich.11 The Pall Mall was not bad on “she” & “it”.—12 It is real good news about you & Mrs. Hooker coming here.13 Emma will write soon to Mrs H.

Your letter has been worth its weight in gold

Yours affect | C. Darwin

Many thanks about Rein-Deer14


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868.
A report in the Athenæum of Hooker’s address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science ([Robertson] 1868b) defended a statement in a review of Variation, also in the Athenæum, that Variation contained ‘nothing more in support of the hypothesis of origin by selection than a more detailed re-asseveration of the guesses founded upon the so-called variations of pigeons’ ([Robertson] 1868a, p. 243). Hooker had criticised this statement in his address (J. D. Hooker 1868, p. lxx).
CD evidently refers to Marie Jean Pierre Flourens’s De la longévité humaine et de la quantité de vie sur le globe (Flourens 1855) and Examen du livre de M. Darwin sur l’origine des espèces (Flourens 1864); in both the review of Variation ([Robertson] 1868a, p. 243), and in the later Athenæum article ([Robertson] 1868b, p. 270), the author referred to Flourens’s work without naming publications. Annotated copies of Flourens 1855 and 1864 are in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 234).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868. CD refers to Frances Harriet Hooker.
John and Ellen Frances Lubbock.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868. CD refers to William Henslow Hooker.
Hooker had discussed the meeting of the Red Lion Club, once presided over by Edward Forbes, at the meeting of the British Association in his letter of 30 August 1868 and n. 6.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868. CD refers to Thomas Henry Huxley.
The reference is to John Crouch Adams; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868.
The editorial in the Morning Advertiser, 20 August 1868, p. 5, commented on Hooker’s appointment as president of the British Association, ‘The managers of the British Association appear to us to proceed upon a settled plan; the animus apparent in which is, a deep-seated enmity to Revealed Religion.’ The editor noted Hooker’s debt to CD, who, according to the editor, had ‘spent his life, and his zealous and abundant labours, in combating the idea of “Creation’”. The editor went on to deprecate the suggestion that the finding of human bones in association with those of extinct animals threw doubt on the Mosaic account of creation, and asserted of the opening chapters of Genesis, ‘other history than this there cannot be’.
An article in the Pall Mall Gazette, 22 August 1868, p. 1, noted that in Hooker’s address to the British Association, religion was ‘hardly ever invested with the allegorical “she’”, natural theology was continually referred to as ‘it’, while science was ‘an undeniable female’. The author argued that personifying science and religion in this way upheld their opposition as two separate entities, when in fact they were merely different sets of opinions.


Athenæum. 1844. A few words by way of comment on Miss Martineau’s statement. No. 896 (28 December): 1198–9.

Flourens, Marie-Jean-Pierre. 1864. Examen du livre de M. Darwin sur l’origine des espèces. Paris: Garnier Frères.

Flourens, Pierre. 1855. De la longévité humaine et de la quantité de vie sur le globe. Paris: Garnier Frères.

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.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Athenæum [Owen’s?] attack on JDH [BAAS address] and CD. False statement that CD’s sole groundwork is from pigeons.

Agrees with JDH on foolishness of Red Lion Club.

Huxley’s want of judgment.

JDH’s argument about astronomy and astronomers.

Pall Mall Gazette [8 (1868): 593, 595–6] and Morning Advertiser on JDH’s address.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 89–90
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6342,” accessed on 26 July 2021,

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