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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 March [1871]1

Down | Beckenham | Kent

March 21st

My dear Hooker

I am going to bother you on 4 points, none of which I hope will cause much trouble.

(1) Name of enclosed Abutilon sent by Fritz Müller from S. Brazil, whether a garden or endemic plant, I know not.—2 It is absolutely sterile with own pollen, but every individual plant fertile with pollen from any other individual. So name ought to be recorded. The bush grows upright, & with large handsome leaves, loaded with flowers is very ornamental. Have you it? I can hereafter send seed or plant.— I enclose a half-grown pod.—

(2) My wife wants (I tell her she has no conscience) name, if you recognize plant without any search, of enclosed Rhododendron-like little bush, forming a beautiful sheet of flowers in the Lubbock’s hall.—3 She wants to order it.—

(3) can you raise for me 1 or 2 plants of Drosophyllum. I want a quite young, about 12 to 1 inch. high, for experiment to see if at this early age it acts like Drosera, though the old plants are such beasts that they will do nothing.—4

(4) Scott speaks of Sirdar & Dhangar coolies; the latter you explained to me— what is meant by “Sirdars”?5

I fear that you are worked half to death, & I daresay this note will make you savage. I am at work on expression, & I care for nothing in the world except. laughing. crying grinning pouting &c. &c.—6

My book on Descent of Man has been wonderfully successful, judged by the lowest standard of sale. The Edit. consisted of 4500 copies. I shd. fear to tell you what a heap of money I have realised by it.7 Do you remember when I told you what I made by the Origin, you cried out, “what an infamous shame”?— I know you have had no time to read this book, & I shd think you never would—

Farewell my dear old Friend | C. Darwin

The liberality of public has astonished me; I have not yet been at all abused.

P.S. Since the above was written, I have been delighted to get your note.—8 Good Heavens what a man you are to go wandering to the Atlas.9 Now don’t be a fool, & do take care of yourself.— I know nothing about the natives, but I am convinced that they are blood-thirsty savages.— Look for alpine insects, not that the entomologists are worthy of such treasures. By Jove the alpine plants wd probably be grand. But remember my words & don’t be a fool & risk your life.— I don’t like the thought of such a journey for a venerable rheumatic old man!—

I have been fearfully disappointed in Cunningham’s book.10 It is wonderful that any man could publish such flat entries. Murray writes today 1000 more copies must be printed making 5500—11 Is it not wonderful?

Farewell Farewell— | C. D.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 March 1871.
The specimen was evidently grown from seed sent to CD by Müller in late 1869 (see Correspondence vol. 17, letter to Fritz Müller, 1 December [1869] and n. 2).
The reference is to High Elms, the home of CD’s neighbours, John and Ellen Frances Lubbock.
CD had received specimens of Drosophyllum lusitanicum from Portugal in 1869 and had given two plants and seed to Hooker (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Inwards book, p. 197, No. 336, 29 September 1869; see also Correspondence vol. 17, letter to W. C. Tait, 27 August [1869] and n. 4). CD had studied Drosera (the genus of sundews) since 1860 (see Correspondence vol. 8).
See Correspondence vol. 17, letter from John Scott, 21 December 1869 and n. 4. The reference is to a tribal community in India, the Dhangar. No letter has been found in which Scott refers to a sirdar, that is, a headman or overseer. The occasion on which Hooker explained the meaning of Dhangar has not been identified.
Expression was published in 1872.
The Atlas mountain range in Morocco (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 March 1871 and n. 4).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Asks name of an Abutilon from Fritz Müller.

Questions about Drosophyllum for experiments;

the meaning of "Sirdar".

Wonderful success of Descent. Astonished by liberality of public. No abuse yet.

Marvels at JDH’s plans for a trip to Morocco. Asks him to look for alpine insects.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 190–192
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7607,” accessed on 18 November 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19