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Letter 7200

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

25 May [1870]


Concern about futures of Willy [Hooker] and Horace [Darwin].

Henrietta [Darwin] back from Cannes.

CD has been to Cambridge to visit Frank [Darwin]. Saw Sedgwick, who took him to the [Geological] Museum and utterly exhausted him. Humiliating to be “killed by a man of 86″.

Saw Alfred Newton.

CD has been working away on man, to much greater length (as usual) than expected,

and on cross- and self-fertilisation.

Does JDH happen to have seeds of Canna warszewiczii matured in some hot country?

Sympathises with JDH on Dawson’s paper – amusing that Dawson hashes up E. D. Cope’s and L. Agassiz’s views.


Down. | Beckenham. | Kent. S.E

May 25

My dear Hooker

I have indeed had time to grow very old since we have written to eachother: never so long before.f1 I had intended more than once writing,but I heard indirectly how hard you had been pressed by work & sorefrained. I suppose thank God that your British Flora is as good asfinished.f2 Now you have rewarded my virtue by a very long & pleasantletter, telling me much that I wished to hear. I am heartily gladthat Willyf3 has come back so well & not in the least deterioratedin manners; not that I shd. have expected this from all that I haveheard of him. It will be a fearful puzzle for you what to do with himnow: God knows it is puzzle enough in every case whatever; & what ourBoy Horace is to do, I know no more than the man in the moon:he is clever enough; but so often ailing in health, that I doubtwhether he can stick to anything. About ourselves I have little news:Henriettaf4 has just returned much strengthened by her 4 months residenceat Cannes. Last Friday we all went to the Bull Hotel at Cambridgeto see the Boys & for a little rest & enjoyment.—f5 The Backs of theColleges were simply paradisical. On Monday I saw Sedgwick who wasmost cordial & kind: in the morning I thought that his mind wasenfeebled: in the evening he was brilliant & quite himself. His affection& kindness charmed us all. My visit to him was in one way unfortunate:for after a long sit he proposed to take me to the Museum;f6 & I couldnot refuse, & in consequence he utterly prostrated me; so that we leftCambridge next morning, & I have not recovered the exhaustion yet.Is it not humiliating to be thus killed by a man of 86, who evidentlynever dreamed that he was killing me.— As he said to me “Oh Iconsider you as a mere baby to me”.— I saw Newtonf7 several times,& several nice friends of Frank.— But Cambridge without dearHenslow was not itself: I tried to get to the two old Houses, butit was too far for me.—f8

As for myself I have been working away on Man, & as usual runningto much greater length than I expected. I hope to go to press thisAutumn.f9 In the plant line I have been continuing my comparison ofcrossed & self-fertilised plants, & am coming I think to some interestingresults, & some curious anomalies.— Do you happen by any strangechance to have seeds of Canna Warszewiczi matured in some hotcountry; they wd. be of great value to me— I shall, however,receive some from Italy.—f10

I truly sympathise with you about Dawson’s paper: under all thecircumstances it is quite horrid for you; but I fancy there arealways two referees, which will partly relieve the burthen.f11 Itamuses me to hear of his hashing up Cope’s unintelligible views aboutaccleration of development & Agassiz on Synthesis, in explanation ofthe origin of species, as he spoke so contemptuously on any attempt toexplain such problems, when my book first appeared. He seemed to meto be the staunchest of creationists.—f12

Will you not come here some Sunday—or any time, any day wdsuit us, & the sooner the better: you wd rejoice all our hearts.

I am delighted to hear about Charlies successf13—our son’ssuccess in life is more delightful than our own—

Yours affect. | C. Darwin

Endorsement: ‘/70’
DAR 94: 169–72



See letter from J. D. Hooker, [22 May 1870].
CD refers to The student’s flora of the British Islands (Hooker1870).
William Henslow Hooker. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [22 May 1870]and n. 2.
Henrietta Emma Darwin.
CD refers to Francis Darwin, who was a student at Trinity College,Cambridge, and to George Howard Darwin, a fellow of that college.
Adam Sedgwick and CD had visited the Woodwardian Museum, Cambridge,on 23 May 1870 (see letter to Alfred Newton [22 May 1870]).
Alfred Newton.
John Stevens Henslow had died in 1861. CD probably refers to thetwo houses where Henslow lived in Cambridge, the ‘Gothic Cottage’ inRegent Street and the house overlooking Parker’s Piece (see Waltersand Stow 2001, p. 108).
Descent went to press on 30 August 1870 (see CD’s ‘Journal’ (AppendixII)).
CD had asked Federico Delpino for seeds of Canna warszewiczii(now C. indica; see letter from Federico Delpino, 20 May 1870 andn. 3). CD has double scored both margins, as well as doubleunderlining the words ‘matured in some hot country’.
CD refers to Hooker’s critical report on John William Dawson’sBakerian lecture of 1870 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [22 May 1870]and n. 5). The other referee was Peter Martin Duncan, who gave agenerally favourable report on the paper (see Sheets-Pyenson1991, pp. 181, 184).
Dawson had discussed the evolutionary ideas of Edward DrinkerCope in his paper, ‘Modern ideas of derivation’ (Dawson 1869,pp. 134–7). CD had scored part of this section in his copy of anoffprint of the article (p. 135; p. 15 in CD’s copy, which is in theDarwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL). Cope proposed that changes inspecies were the result of acceleration or retardation duringembryogenesis of the individual, but had not explained why or how thealterations would occur, other than crediting the direct interventionof God. Dawson considered Richard Owen’s theory of evolutionary change(CD evidently referred to Louis Agassiz in error) to be a synthesisof the theories of Jean Baptiste Lamarck and CD (Dawson 1869,pp. 133–4).
CD refers to Charles Paget Hooker. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [22 May 1870].
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