To J. D. Hooker   5 June [1855]

Down. Farnborough Kent

June 5th

My dear Hooker

What a remarkably nice & kind letter Dr. A. Gray has sent me in answer to my troublesome queries:5 I retained your copy of his Manual till I heard from him, & when I have answered his letter, I will return it to you.—

I thank you much for Hedysarum: I do hope it is not very precious, for as I told you it is for probably a most foolish purpose: I read somewhere that no plant closes its leaves so promptly in darkness, & I want to cover it up daily for $\frac{1}{2}$ hour, & see if I can teach it to close by itself, or more easily than at first in darkness. I am rather puzzled about its transmission: from not knowing how tender it is; if not very tender, the best way wd. be to send it, in Basket addressed simply to “C. Darwin care of G. Snow, Nag’s Head Borough” to be sent so as to arrive before 12 on Thursday, or on Wednesday Evening.6 But if tender, perhaps, it had better be sent to my Brothers “|57 Queen Queen Anne St. Cavendish Sqr. on 21st or 22d. for I hope to be up for next Club, if I am well enough, which has been far from case of late, & everything overwhelms me & I hate doing everything almost, except indeed, as you see, writing to you.—

How I do wish I cd. see you oftener, what good it wd. do me in my work. But busy as you are, I beg you with most perfect truth on no account to trouble yourself in writing often to me, because I write to you.

Good Bye | C. Darwin

I cannot make exactly out why you wd. prefer continental transmission, as I think you do, to carriage by sea: with your general views, I shd. have thought you wd. have been pleased at as many means of transmission as possible.— For my own pet theoretical notions, it is quite indifferent whether they are transmitted by sea or land, as long as some, tolerably probable way is shown. But it shocks my philosophy to create land, without some other & independent evidence. Whenever we meet, by a very few words I shd. I think more clearly understand your views.

Thank you for forwarding A. Gray.— Would his list of Habitats be of any the least use to you? if so I wd. copy it, but I suppose that there is nothing new in it to you, though very much to me.— His letter does strike me as most uncommonly kind.—

I have just made out my first Grass, hurrah! hurrah!7 I must confess that Fortune favours the bold, for as good luck wd have it, it was the easy Anthoxanthum odoratum: nevertheless it is a great discovery; I never expected to make out a grass in all my life. So Hurrah. It has done my stomach surprising good.—

Footnotes

Peter Lawson & Sons, nurserymen (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1855], n. 3).
There is a copy of Lawson’s 1851 catalogue of seeds in the Darwin Library–CUL. CD’s jocular reference is to a passage in Explanations: a sequel to ‘Vestiges of the natural history of creation’ ([Chambers 1845], p. 115): Among the questions proposed by the Academy of Sciences at Haarlem, in 1839, was one upon the following subject— “According to some botanists, Algæ of a very simple structure, placed under favourable circumstances, develop and change into different plants, belonging to genera much more elevated in the scale of organic being; …” I would ask if this is a point as yet settled in the negative. The original of our cabbage is well known to be a trailing sea-side plant, entirely different from the cabbage in appearance. Hooker’s account of the cabbage in J. D. Hooker 1844–7 had been reprinted in Chambers’s Edinburgh Journal in 1846 with similar editorial comments attached (see Correspondence vol. 3, letter from J. D. Hooker, 1 February 1846 and n. 8).
See letters to J. D. Hooker, 7 April [1855] and 13 April [1855].
Governess of the Darwin children.
Asa Gray’s letter of 22 May had been sent to Kew and forwarded to CD by Hooker (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 June [1855]).
George Snow’s carrier service between Down village and London ran only on Thursdays.
CD refers to his project to identify the different species of grass growing in the neighbourhood of Down.

Summary

Seeds: worried they will turn into another barnacle job.

Studies plants colonising abandoned field.

Experiment on plant sleep movements.

CD objects to "Atlantis" because no evidence; does not affect species theory.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-1693
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Down
Source of text
DAR 114: 135
Physical description
8pp