skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   16 January 1875

Jany 16/75

Dear Darwin

Galton is to go, & “my Lord” (H. Lennox) has 24 hours given him to say whether he prefers to behave himself or to go too.— I have seen the letter from the Treay. to the latter—& if he holds office after it he must be as craven a spirit as he is a false loon—1

Galton is trying hard to succeed Col. James! & the T. are inclined to the arrangement as an easy way of how to dispose of him— I have written very strongly urging them to weigh well what they are about—for that the Ordnance Survey will justly complain, at a retired Capt. R.E. who has been turned out of 3 first class posts in succession viz under B. of Trade, War office & O. of Works is put over the head not only of a Lt. Col. like Clarke (a man of first rate ability & standing) but of a body of the elite of the Army.2 I am most anxious to save the Govt such a fiasco— better to pension G. at once—

Er yr affec | J D Hooker

I called on Murray yesterday & emptied my spleen on the Quarterly   I told him that the Review was disgraced, that I should give the cold shoulder to the Editor—as well as to author & that having carefully read the whole thing I regarded the attack on George & yourself “as base as it was baseless”.3 Poor Murray shuddered again & again— I begged him to tell his Editor my opinion of his share in it—as I shall when I meet him


The specific offences committed by Douglas Strutt Galton, the director of works and public buildings at the Office of Works, and Henry Gordon-Lennox, the first commissioner of the Office of Works, are not known. The Daily News, 19 January 1875, p. 5, announced that the Treasury had appointed a committee to inquire into the respective provinces and relative authority of the secretary of the Office of Works (Algernon Bertram Mitford) and Galton, without Gordon-Lennox’s knowledge, and that this had led to an animated controversy. The disagreement may have concerned Hooker’s request for an assistant at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 January 1875). Galton retired in August 1875 (The Times, 21 August 1875, p. 9).
Galton had been an officer in the Royal Engineers, a member of the railway department of the Board of Trade, and assistant permanent under-secretary of state for war (ODNB). Henry James was director of the Ordnance Survey, which came under the supervision of the Office of Works, and resigned owing to ill health in August 1875 (ODNB). Alexander Ross Clarke was head of the trigonometrical branch of the survey. The post of director of the Ordnance Survey was taken by John Cameron, a major-general in the Royal Engineers.
In 1874, St George Jackson Mivart had made an anonymous attack on George Howard Darwin, as well as making critical remarks about CD, in the Quarterly Review ([Mivart] 1874). On Mivart’s article, see Correspondence vol. 22, Appendix V. John Murray was the publisher of the Quarterly Review. The editor of the Quarterly Review was William Smith.


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

[Mivart, St George Jackson.] 1874b. Primitive man: Tylor and Lubbock. [Essay review of the works of John Lubbock and Edward Burnett Tylor.] Quarterly Review 137 (1874): 40–77.

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.


JDH wins over Douglas Galton and Lord Henry Lennox on assistant secretary for himself.

Has called on Murray and told him Quarterly Review had disgraced itself by attacking George and CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 9–10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9820,” accessed on 16 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23