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Darwin Correspondence Project


To J. D. Hooker   24 September [1861]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Sept. 24th

My dear Hooker

I have kept Lindleys Orchid rather long,1 but I hope I may keep it for about a fortnight longer, as Sowerby is coming to draw & until he has finished with my specimens, as the great Plates will be useful.—2

I have been acting, I fear that you will think, like a goose & perhaps in truth I have.— When I finished a few days ago my Orchis paper, which turns out 140 folio pages!! & thought of the expence of woodcuts, I said to myself I will offer the Linn. Socy to withdraw it & publish it as pamphlet. It then flashed on me that perhaps Murray would publish it, so I gave him a cautious description & offered to share risks & profits. This morning he writes that he will publish & take all risks & share profit & pay for all illustrations.3 It is a risk & Heaven knows whether it will not be a dead failure; but I have not deceived Murray & told him that it would interest those alone who cared much for Natural History.

I hope I do not exaggerate the curiosity of the many special contrivances. It will save me a deal of trouble, as I shall send rough M.S & correct on slips. It will make a very little Book. Whenever you write please tell me Mr Fitch’s Christian name; as he is to do on wood a couple of Diagrams for my Primula paper which, thank Heavens is finished for Linn. Soc.4 It has run out pretty long; I fear I am getting terribly lengthy.

Whenever you write be sure tell me how Mrs. Hooker is, & when you start for Scotland—5 I hope it may be soon, for I am sure you must want rest & a change.— I saw your letter about Schlagenweits: what a row the affair has made.6

Farewell.— Etty goes on splendidly, & still sucks in the Oil.—7 Farewell | My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin


CD had borrowed Bauer 1830–8, to which John Lindley contributed notes and prefatory remarks on the structure of orchids. See letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 August [1861] and 6 September [1861].
George Brettingham Sowerby Jr prepared the drawings included in Orchids, many of which were copied from Bauer 1830–8.
See letter to John Murray, 21 September [1861], and letter from John Murray, 23 September 1861.
Walter Hood Fitch was the botanical artist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. CD’s paper ‘On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations’ was read to the Linnean Society on 21 November 1861 and published in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. See also Collected papers 2: 45–63. The two figures included in the paper are unattributed. They were subsequently included in CD’s fuller account of dimorphism, Forms of flowers.
Frances Harriet Hooker had not been well since the death in May 1861 of her father, John Stevens Henslow.
The reference is to a controversy in the pages of the Athenæum concerning a hostile review of Results of a scientific mission to India and High Asia, undertaken between the years 1854 and 1858, by order of the court of directors of the Honourable East India Company, by the Schlagintweit brothers, Hermann Rudolph Alfred, Adolph, and Robert. The reviewer was highly critical of the calibre of the scientific results of the Schlagintweits, whose appointment he said was ‘one of the most gigantic jobs that ever disgraced the annals of science’, and he accused the Royal Society of London of complicity in agreeing to the appointment of the Schlagintweits over more qualified English officers in India (Athenæum, 17 August 1861, p. 215). Responding to the criticism of their part in the affair, Roderick Impey Murchison and Edward Sabine of the Royal Society sent letters to the Athenæum that were printed in the 7 September 1861 issue (p. 320). Sabine stated that the Royal Society had not approved the appointment of the Schlagintweits but only formed a sub-committee (consisting of himself, Hooker, and CD) to offer suggestions concerning the proposed mission. Hooker gave his own account of the proceedings, defending the action of the Royal Society committee, in a letter printed in the 21 September 1861 issue, p. 374. Before the brothers had left on their mission in 1854, CD had asked them to make some inquiries for him in India (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 August [1857], and letter from Robert Schlagintweit, 25 September 1857).
On Hooker’s recommendation, the Darwins were rubbing cod-liver oil into Henrietta Emma Darwin’s skin in the hope that it would accelerate her convalescence from typhus fever. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 [February 1861].


CD’s orchid paper is to become orchid book [Orchids].

Primula paper is done [Collected papers 2: 45–63].

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 113
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3263,” accessed on 27 August 2016,