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Letter 4345

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

[22–3 Nov 1863]

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    Summary Add

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    Tendril-bearing plants seem to CD "higher" organised with respect to adaptive sensibility than lower animals.

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    Wishes to encourage John Scott.

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    Death of JDH's daughter makes CD cry over his own dead daughter Annie.

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    Sedgwick's scientific merit.



Sunday & Monday.

My dear old Friend—

Since writing I have had much sickness & am weak & must be brief— I have been delighted by your long letter & have had it read thrice; but in truth you must not write so much as you are so overworked.—

Pray thank Mr Gower for the excellent plants which will amuse me nicely on the table by my sofa— You have not sent Asa Gray; I must see his praise of you— It is charming your being thus converted to the Northern side. I never heard of the dear old woman with her Mesopotamia— The enclosed curious letter (please return it) is worth reading— You will agree with what he says on n. selection; I do not quite.—

I have got your note this morning— we think (& will enquire) that the Vases must have come from the Fr. Wedgwoods of Etruria.— Your Zeal has stimulated me to send some old letters to Miss Metyard for her life.— Whoever sent the vases, I do rejoice you are pleased: it cuts us both that we have nothing to give.— Thwaites letter & enclosure on Cassia not worth Linn. Soc—

If you know, sometime tell me who reviewed Lyell in Edinburgh.— I hope you can read this; I can thus write lying down.—

A German has sent me pamphet, (which I have not read) on the Darwinsche theorie applied to Language with a diagram like mine with names of Languages instead of mere letters.— The more I look at Plants the higher they rise in my mind: really the tendril-bearers are higher organised, as far as adapted sensitivity goes, than the lower animals. Does Flagellaria, (are you sure?) use leaves like Tendrils?

Excuse my jumping from subject to subject.—

I shall be curious to read Oliver's paper: I have often admired the curling of valves.— I suppose O. knows Wymans paper in (I think) Proc. Boston Soc. of bursting of gourd of Echinocystis— I suppose Oliver read Bot. Zeitung: ask him to tell me, if John Scotts paper on sterility of Orchids with own pollen is noticed that I may tell the poor fellow: I want much to encourage him. He is a splendid worker & has paper for Linn. Soc. that interests at least me greatly.—

I have been just looking again at your former letter. How well I remember your feeling when we lost Annie, that it was my greatest comfort that I had never spoken a harsh word to her. Your grief has made me shed a few tears over our poor darling; but believe me that these tears have lost that unutterable bitterness of former days.—

I have no new ideas on New Zealand.—

I agree with what you say on Sedgwick & medal: he has done good descriptive work—prepared way for Murchison & discovered, but not explained, cleavage. Hardly enough for Copley Medal. I was told, (but ought not to have heard) that I was put in opposition to poor old Sedgwick; with Owen to lead against me I shd. have no chance whatever—

I am so glad to hear about your Willie.— Henrietta is much pleased at your invitation, which I have no doubt she will gladly accept in part, but will write again.

GoodBye   I am tired. | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 4345.f1
    The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 [November 1863]; in 1863, 22 and 23 November fell on the Sunday and Monday after that date.
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    f2 4345.f2
    Letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 [November 1863]. See Emma Darwin's diary (DAR 242) for her daily record of CD's symptoms during the week after 16 November; on 22 November, CD had a `v.g. day'.
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    f3 4345.f3
    The letter from Hooker has not been found.
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    f4 4345.f4
    William Hugh Gower was a foreman at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994). In his letter to Hooker of [13 November 1863], CD had asked if he had any other tendril-bearing plants. Hooker had sent several tendril-bearing plants in July (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863] and n. 2). A note dated 19, 20, and 21 November records the movements of Hoya carnosa past objects in CD's study (see DAR 157.1: 39v.).
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    f5 4345.f5
    See enclosure to letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [November 1863]. In the enclosure Asa Gray commented on Hooker's account of Welwitschia (J. D. Hooker 1863a). A review of J. D. Hooker 1863a by Gray appeared in the November issue of the American Journal of Science and Arts (A. Gray 1863f).
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    f6 4345.f6
    CD refers to the Union side in the American Civil War, which had begun in 1861. Because of Hooker's view of the Civil War, he and Gray had stopped discussing politics in their letters (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 March 1863]). See also L. Huxley 1918, pp. 39--44.
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    f7 4345.f7
    Mesopotamia: `a word which is long, pleasant-sounding, and incomprehensible; used allusively for something which gives irrational or inexplicable comfort or satisfaction to the hearer' (OED).
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    f8 4345.f8
    This may be a reference to a letter from Patrick Matthew; the letter has not been found but see letter from Emma Darwin to Patrick Matthew, 21 November [1863] and n. 3.
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    f9 4345.f9
    The note has not been found.
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    f10 4345.f10
    See letters to J. D. Hooker, 16 [November 1863], 27 [November 1863], and 5 [December 1863]. Francis Wedgwood was CD's first cousin and brother-in-law; Etruria was the site of the Wedgwood pottery works in Staffordshire.
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    f11 4345.f11
    The writer Eliza Meteyard was working on a life of Josiah Wedgwood I (Meteyard 1865--6; DNB).
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    f12 4345.f12
    Hooker evidently wondered if information in the letter from George Henry Kendrick Thwaites, 8 June 1863, and the enclosed notes on Cassia from Samuel Owen Glenie, might be read as a paper to the Linnean Society. See also letter from G. H. K. Thwaites, 24 September 1863.
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    f13 4345.f13
    CD refers to the review of Charles Lyell's Antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863a) in the Edinburgh Review ([J. D. Forbes] 1863). The attribution to James David Forbes is confirmed by the Wellesley Index.
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    f14 4345.f14
    Schleicher 1863. There is a lightly annotated copy of August Schleicher's pamphlet in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL. CD refers to the illustration in Origin (facing p. 117) representing the divergence of forms through time.
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    f15 4345.f15
    CD discussed Flagellaria in Climbing plants, p. 46.
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    f16 4345.f16
    Daniel Oliver read a paper on the dehiscence of Pentaclethra macrophylla capsules before the Linnean Society on 19 November 1863 (Oliver 1863e). Oliver discussed this research in his letter to CD of 27 November 1863.
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    f17 4345.f17
    CD refers to Jeffries Wyman and Wyman 1854, which was published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (see letter to Daniel Oliver, [before 27 November 1863]).
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    f18 4345.f18
    CD had offered to send a copy of Scott 1863a to Friedrich Hildebrand in the hope that it would be reviewed in Botanische Zeitung, but it was not noticed or reviewed there (see letter to John Scott, 1 and 3 August [1863]).
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    f19 4345.f19
    Scott 1864a.
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    f20 4345.f20
    Letter from J. D. Hooker, 1 October 1863.
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    f21 4345.f21
    The Darwin's eldest daughter, Anne Elizabeth, died in 1851 when she was 10 years old.
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    f22 4345.f22
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 [November 1863] and n. 5.
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    f23 4345.f23
    Hooker's letter has not been found. CD was considered for the Royal Society's Copley Medal in 1863 but on 5 November, Adam Sedgwick was chosen for the award (Royal Society, Council minutes, 5 November 1863). See letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 11 November [1863].
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    f24 4345.f24
    CD evidently refers to Adam Sedgwick's stratigraphic mapping, based primarily on structural geology, which preceded Roderick Impey Murchison's emphasis on fossils, in addition to structure, for classifying strata (see Secord 1986).
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    f25 4345.f25
    See Sedgwick 1835, and Correspondence vol. 3, letter to Daniel Sharpe, [1 November 1846].
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    f26 4345.f26
    See letter from E. A. Darwin, 9 November [1863], letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 11 November [1863], and n. 23, above.
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    f27 4345.f27
    Richard Owen was a member of the Council of the Royal Society; he had opposed CD's theory since the publication of Origin (see, for example, [Owen] 1860a, and letter from Edward Sabine to John Phillips, 12 November 1863 and n. 4). See also letter from E. A. Darwin to Emma Darwin, 11 November [1863] and n. 5.
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    f28 4345.f28
    William Henslow Hooker had been suffering from scarlet fever, but was evidently recovering (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [13 November 1863] and n. 6).
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    f29 4345.f29
    The invitation to Henrietta Emma Darwin has not been traced.
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