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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   4 March [1874]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

March 4th/74

My dear Hooker

I am very sorry for all your troubles, all due to the errors & crimes of others. I have long been wishing to write to you, but resolved not to do so, as adding another straw to the, camel’s back. I have seen not a soul for an age & was extremely curious about the Linn. Socy., so it was very good of you to write me at such length. I guessed that Carruthers was stirred up by Owen; & what an odious man he seems to be. Little as I know what is done in London, I knew enough to feel the utmost indignation with respect to the treatment of Mr Bentham.1 Even if he had not worked as it is well known he has worked for Linn. Soc. his high services to Science ought to have prevented his being treated at any time by anyone without the highest respect.— If you can get a fitting opportunity pray tell him of my sympathy & indignation— When I received the circular about the special meeting I thought, & I have done so again today, whether I could attend & give my vote;2 but my head has been bad enough of late with rocking, pricking of fingers’ ends & other nasty symptoms, & my wife & I think I ought not to make the attempt. If I could have come & given my vote & gone away at once, or as soon as I felt my head affected, I could have managed it; but there would sure to be a long & exciting discussion.—

What a dreadful thing about Mr. Russell: I remember your speaking of him in high terms. It is sounds like madness. Good God what must be his feelings now.—3

I have nothing to tell about myself. The cursed 2d. Edit of Descent of Man & Coral Reefs, has consumed & will consume altogether months’ of time & stops me doing anything which really interests me.4 All the good from Dr Clarke’s diet has vanished:5 I fear that it was only the good of any change; but it is a great advantage to have a beneficial change to turn to.

Many thanks for A. Gray’s letter: I received an announcement to this effect the other day from Boston (I suppose from the same Soc.) & I acknowledged the honour in due form; but I now fancy it is a greater honour than I had supposed.6

Keep your spirits up my dear old friend— all troubles in this world end sooner & later, or anyhow are less bitter. What a demon on earth Owen is. I do hate him.7

Your’s affectionately & in a true Christian spirit | Ch. Darwin


For the actions of William Carruthers, who worked with Richard Owen at the British Museum, in ousting George Bentham from the presidency of the Linnean Society, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1874 and n. 2.
A circular about a special general meeting to be held on 5 March 1874 to see whether the disagreements regarding the bylaws of the society might be resolved had been drawn up by Hooker and Frederick Currey and sent to all fellows of the Linnean Society (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1874 and n. 4).
George Russell had been caught cheating at cards in his London club (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1874 and n. 6).
CD had begun preparing the second edition of Descent on 20 November 1873, and continued to work on it for the first three months of 1874 (Correspondence vol. 21, Appendix II; this volume, ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). He was also working on the second edition of Coral reefs.
Andrew Clark had begun treating CD in 1873; he was renowned for prescribing strict diets. See Correspondence vol. 21, letter from Andrew Clark, 3 September 1873.
Hooker had forwarded a letter from Asa Gray (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1874), evidently giving news of CD’s election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Gray’s letter has not been found. CD had been informed of the honour in the letter from American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 28 January 1874.
CD’s relationship with Richard Owen had begun to deteriorate following Owen’s review of Origin ([R. Owen] 1860; see Correspondence vol. 8 and ‘Recollections’, p. 402); more recently, CD had been infuriated by Owen’s comments on the question of payment to the Royal Society of London secretaries, one of whom was Thomas Henry Huxley (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 December [1873]).


Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

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

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

[Owen, Richard.] 1860b. [Review of Origin & other works.] Edinburgh Review 111: 487–532.

‘Recollections’: Recollections of the development of my mind and character. By Charles Darwin. In Evolutionary writings, edited by James A. Secord. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2008.


CD guessed Carruthers was stirred up by Owen. Disgraceful treatment of Bentham.

Work on Descent and Coral reefs stops his doing anything of real interest.

Asa Gray’s letter. CD has acknowledged the honour [honorary membership in the Boston Soc. Nat. Hist.].

"What a demon on earth Owen is. I do hate him."

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 313–16
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9333,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22