Letter icon
Letter 3666

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

26 July [1862]

Higher resolution and downloadable images available from Cambridge Digital Library

    Summary Add

  • +

    Illness of his son [Leonard]. Has done no work for weeks.

  • +

    JDH's hybrid orchids are interesting; CD is surprised many hybrids are not produced.

  • +

    George [Darwin] caught a moth sucking Gymnadenia conopsea with a pollen-mass of Habenaria bifolia sticking to it.



July 26th

My dear Hooker

I sincerely rejoice that your tour answered so well for Mrs. Hooker, & that you have returned safe. I hope it did you good & rested you.—

We have been utterly miserable; but it over now: for now patience alone is wanted; & when he is strong enough we shall take him to the sea.— Did you ever hear of such a catalogue of evil. Scarlet fever, enlarged glands of neck, injured kidneys—recurrent scarlet fever with fresh & bad sore-throat & eruption—dredful erysipelas of the head & face—fever with typhalid petechiæ. Port-wine alone saved him.

I have not done a stroke of work for weeks & it has played old Harry with my experiments.—

Your Hybrid orchids are interesting to me, as I never heard of but one case before.

I was struck also with review of Nat. Hist R. in the Parthenon (which I take in): now you point it out that last page is astounding. I remember being surprised at ``tubular'' stems & wondering what ``squarrose cymes'' were. What an odd case that of the Calluna.— I wrote to you Poste Restante in the Swiss Valley; but there was nothing in my note worth sending.

Goodnight my dear old friend. | C. Darwin

It is surprising that many hybrids orchids are not produced, when clearly allied species grow & flower together. George caught a moth sucking G. conopsea, with the pollen-mass of a Habenaria bifolia attached to its face.—

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 3666.f1
    See letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862] and n. 1.
  • +
    f2 3666.f2
    Leonard Darwin was recovering from scarlet fever (see Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242); see also letter to Daniel Oliver, 24 July [1862], letter to M. T. Masters, 24 July [1862], letter to W. E. Darwin, [24 July 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 23[--4] July [1862]).
  • +
    f3 3666.f3
    CD may have intended to write `typhoidal' (see letter to Asa Gray, 23[--4] July [1862]); petechiae are red or purple spots on the skin that may accompany fever (OED).
  • +
    f4 3666.f4
    On CD's experiments, see, for instance, the letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 May [1862] and n. 7, and 23 June [1862] and n. 4, the letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 17 June [1862] and n. 2, and the letter to M. T. Masters, 8 July [1862] and n. 3.
  • +
    f5 3666.f5
    See letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862].
  • +
    f6 3666.f6
    CD refers to the review of the first volume of the new series of the Natural History Review published in the Parthenon 1: 373--5 (see also letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862] and n. 8).
  • +
    f7 3666.f7
    See letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862]. The reference is to the last page of the April issue of the Natural History Review, which contained numerous typographical errors.
  • +
    f8 3666.f8
    The last page of the April 1862 number of the Natural History Review concluded with an unsigned article recording the occurrence of Calluna vulgaris (misspelled `Callema' throughout) in North America; the author reported Asa Gray's opinion that this might be one of those `species of the old world so sparingly represented in the new, that they are known only at single stations' (Natural History Review n.s. 2 (1862): 346).
  • +
    f9 3666.f9
    CD's letter has not been found. The Hookers had been on holiday in Switzerland from 4 to 23 July 1862 (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1862, 10 July 1862, and [24 July 1862]).
  • +
    f10 3666.f10
    George Howard Darwin had made observations in June on the insects visiting several orchid species, including Gymnadenia conopsea (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 [June 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 1 July [1862]). In DAR 70: 30 there is a note, dated 21 June 1862, that states that George had seen the moth Plusia chrysites `with one pollinia of Butterfly! [the butterfly orchid, Habenaria bifolia]   it was settled in conopsea & sucking; but had none of conopsea attached!'
Maximized view Print letter