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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   18 [April 1860]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

Hearty thanks about G. Chronicle.1 I return Owen’s letter:2 what a base dog he is. Some of my relations say it cannot possibly be Owen’s article, because the Reviewer speaks so very highly of Prof. Owen.3 Poor dear simple folk! My clever neighbour Mr Norman,4 says the article is so badly written with no definite object that no one will read it.—

What a narrow minded man Balfour must be to bring so poor an argument as St Peter, with so many good arguments which he might use.—5 Asa Gray has sent me an article from U. States; clever & dead against me.6 But one argument funny. The Reviewer says that if the doctrine were true, geological strata would be full of monsters “tentative attempts”, which had failed.— A very clear view this writer had of the Struggle for existence!

I am delighted to hear that you have begun experimentising    you will be glad of it hereafter & I daresay will go on largely.—

I am glad you like Adam Bede so much: I was charmed with it.—7

We think you must by mistake have taken with your own Nor of National R. my previous Number.8 I wish you would look.—

I shall be curious to see Huxley’s answer.— I could have pointed out falsifications of my writing, but am glad I did not.—9

I shd be infinitely obliged if you would look at a flower of the Goodenia, & look at my splendid diagram.10 I am confounded by it; for it seems to me that the stigmatic surface is outside indusium above the brush of Hairs on one side. Anyhow there were pollen-grains in one flower there immersed in humid secretion; but it is beyond me to know whether they then penetrate the surface. If this is stigmatic surface, what on earth is use of indusium? Do for Heaven-sake look at it.—

C. Darwin


Flower not nearly open. (Leschenaultia formosa.—)

[DIAG HERE] Section of Indusium. Brush of Hairs on this one side of Indusium 5 stamens in this position just beginning to shed pollen. (In a flower more open, the indusium was closed.—)

I must look when flowers more open & see whether pollen gets enclosed within Indusium, as seemed to be case.

My suspicion is that the closing of the indusium is merely an action to brush pollen out of anthers.—


CD had sent Hooker the draft of a letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle to see whether he thought he should send it to the journal for publication. See letters to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [13 April 1860], and to J. D. Hooker, 13 [April 1860].
The letter from Richard Owen to Hooker is also mentioned in CD’s letter to Asa Gray, 25 April [1860].
Owen reviewed Origin, Hooker 1859, and three of his own publications in the Edinburgh Review ([R. Owen] 1860a).
George Warde Norman resided at the Rookery in Bromley, Kent.
John Hutton Balfour criticised CD’s views in several later publications. Hooker knew that Balfour was strongly against Darwin’s views (see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 515).
An unsigned review of Origin appeared in the North American Review 90 (April 1860): 474–506. The author was Francis Bowen, Alvord professor of natural religion at Harvard University. CD’s copy of the review is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. See also letter to Asa Gray, 25 April [1860].
Eliot 1859. For CD’s response on reading the work, see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1859] and n. 3.
The January number of the National Review contained an unsigned review of Origin by William Benjamin Carpenter ([Carpenter] 1860a). Hooker had brought the April issue of this periodical when he visited Down (see following letter).
CD refers to Owen’s attack on Thomas Henry Huxley in [R. Owen] 1860a, pp. 522–4.
Hooker had sent specimens of Leschenaultia formosa for CD’s investigation of its pollination mechanism.


What a base dog Owen is for praising his own work in reviewing Origin [anonymously].

J. H. Balfour is narrow-minded.

CD cannot understand pollination of Goodenia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 49
Physical description
4pp diag

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2763,” accessed on 27 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8