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Record number: WCP5324

Sent by:
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent to:
Joseph Dalton Hooker
23 September 1864

Sent by Charles Robert Darwin, Down, Bromley, Kent to Joseph Dalton Hooker [none given] on 23 September 1864.

Record created:
20 May 2013 by Chillingworth, Nancy


Darwin suggests that a Royal Medal might be bestowed on Wallace before too long.

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  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP5324.5868)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Cambridge University Library
Finding number:
MS DAR 115: 250, 250b, 250c
Copyright owner:
©William H. Darwin

Physical description

Transcription information




Down Bromley Kent

Sept[ember] 23d / [18]642

My dear Hooker3,

There never was such a man as you. I did not in the least expect to hear about the Brit[ish]. Assoc[iation]4., & so many things you have told me that I like to hear. What splendid news about Scott5 i.e. if he gets it6; I do not know when I have been so much pleased & I am delighted that I paid his passage & I fully believe that he will justify all your extraordinary kindness: you have just made the fortune of an able & I am convinced worthy man7. I shall be disappointed if hereafter he does not do some good work in science. [[2]] Please remember & let me hear how I must propose him as Assoc[iate]. for Linn[ean]. Soc[iety].8 -- To hear how pleasant Bath was makes me a little envious; but I must try & be contented, for I begin pretty plainly to see that the best I can hope for is not to be worse. –

I thank you sincerely for your previous letter: your openness towards me gratifies me deeply, and you must know that you have my entire sympathy9. I never remember dates for good or evil, & I do believe I have thus escaped many a bitter day. -- Do not be in a [[3]] hurry about th[e] operation; for I distinctly remember some very good authority being against it on several occasions. -- How many anxieties & sorrows there are, great & small, as life advances, & nothing to be done but bear them as well as one can, & that I cannot do at all well. --

I enclose a note for Ray Soc[iety]10. which I hope will do. -- I am prodigal of suggestions, & it has occurred to me that a Royal Medal11 might before long be well bestowed on Wallace. –

I am glad to hear that the Lyells12 are so well pleased; I think I quite agree to what [[4]] you say about his Address. I regretted most th[e] confined view which he took on change of temperature during glacial period, with out [sic] the slightest allusion to New Zealand or S[outh]. America; & he knows well that all new[?] continents are old as continents. I can never believe that change of land & water will suffice.13 --

I sent on A. Gray's14 note about orchids direct to Masters15, as I had a few monstrous plants which I thought he would like to see: he was very glad of to get Asa Gray's note. –


I hardly know what to think about Bentham's17 address. A man sometimes uses such expressions as "life without renewal or break" in some non-natural sense. I sh[oul]d. be pleased if he were to give up successive creations. How many have gone thus far within the few last years! --

Remember to give me name of th[e] climbing Nepenthes18. --

I have begun looking over my old M[anu]. S[cript].19 & it is as fresh as if I had never written it: parts are astonishingly dark, but yet worth printing I think; & other parts strike me as very good. [[6]] I am a complete millionaire in odd & curious little facts & I have been really astounded at my own industry whilst reading my chapters on Inheritance & Selection20. God knows when th[e] Book21 will ever be completed, for I find that I am very weak & on my best days cannot do more than 1 or 1½ hours work. It is a good deal harder than writing about my dear climbing plants22. GoodBye my dear old fellow & with thanks for your two charming letters, farewell; but do not write soon again

Ever yours | C. Darwin23 [signature]

[[7]]24 Do you object to my putting this sentence from old note from you.?

No Yes

"Annual plants sometimes become"

"perennial under a different"

"climate, as I hear from Dr."

"Hooker in the case with the"

"stock & mignonette in Tasmania"

(say yes or no)

I know the case is nothing wonderful, & I want only just thus to allude to it --


1. Page numbered 250 in pencil in top RH corner and the word "Tristram" is written in pencil in top LH corner of page.

2. Year deduced from birth and death dates of author.

3. Hooker, Joseph Dalton (1817-1911). British botanist and explorer, founder of geographical botany and author's closest friend. He succeeded his father William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) as Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew on his death and held the post for 20 years.

4. The British Association for the Advancement of Science (founded 1831) is a learned society promoting science, directing general attention to scientific matters and facilitating interaction between scientific workers.

5. Scott, John (1836-1880). Scottish botanist and gardener at Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, before becoming foreman of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh in 1859. He emigrated to India in 1864, with the patronage of author, becoming curator of the Calcutta Botanic Garden in 1865, where he carried out numerous botanical experiments and observations on author's behalf. He was elected a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1873.

6. Scott's possible position as curator at the Calcutta Botanic Garden (see Endnote 5).

7. Hooker had assisted Scott in making arrangements for the journey to India, and author had paid for Scott's passage (see Endnote 5).

8. A learned society founded in 1788, for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history. The president, George Bentham, (see Endnote 17) had been impressed by Scott's paper on reproduction in the Primulaceae, and proposed that he be elected an associate of the Society.

9. Author refers to the anniversary of the death of his daughter Anne Elizabeth, aged 10 years (b. 2 March 1841 d. 23 April 1851).

10. Society founded by George Johnston in 1844 to honour the name of John Ray (1628-1705), an eminent and influential naturalist. Ray published works on birds, mammals, fish, insects and plants, bringing order to the various names in use by contemporary naturalists. The Society publishes books with special reference to the flora and fauna of the British Isles.

11. Founded by King George IV in 1825. The three Royal Medals, also known as the Queen's Medals, are awarded annually by the Sovereign on the recommendation of the Council of the Royal Society for the most important contributions in the physical, biological and applied sciences.

12. Lyell, Charles (1797-1875). British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He was a close friend of the author, and contributed significantly to his thinking on the evolutionary process. He helped to arrange the simultaneous publication in 1858 of papers by the author and ARW on natural selection, despite personal religious reservations. His wife Mary Elizabeth Horner (1808-1873) a conchologist and geologist, assisted him in his scientific work.

13. In his presidential address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1864), Lyell (see Endnote 12) confined his discussion of glaciation to central Europe. Lyell first proposed that alterations in physical geography might have given rise to changes in climate. The author had long been opposed to this theory and refers to Lyell's failure to discuss glaciation in the southern hemisphere. The author examined the geological evidence of a past glacial epoch in New Zealand and South America in Origin of Species, and used the hypothesis of a simultaneous glacial period in the northern and southern hemispheres to explain the modern distribution of plant and animal species.

14. Gray, Asa (1810-1888). Professor of Botany at Harvard University, considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. His book Darwiniana was also considered an important explanation of how religion and science were not necessarily mutually exclusive.

15. Masters, Maxwell Tylden (1833-1907). English botanist and taxonomist.

16. Number "2503" written in pencil in top RH corner of page.

17. Bentham, George (1800-1884). English systematic botanist and author of the standard work Handbook of the British Flora, published in 1858.

18. A genus of carnivorous plants in the family Nepenthaceae, popularly known as tropical pitcher plants.

19. Author's manuscript of The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (see Endnote 21).

20. Draft chapter on inheritance, published as chapters 12 to 14 of The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Vol. 2 and draft chapter on selection, which became chapters 20 and 21 of the same volume (see Endnote 21).

21. Darwin, C. (1868) The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Vols. 1 and 2. London, John Murray.

22. Darwin, C. (1875) On the Movements and Habits of Climbing Plants. London, John Murray.

23. Darwin, Charles Robert (1809-1882). English naturalist and geologist, jointly with ARW originator of the theory of evolution by natural selection and author of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.

24. Number "250c" written in pencil in top RH corner of page.

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