skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project


To J. D. Hooker   11 June [1862]


June 11th

My dear Hooker

I was glad to see your handwriting this morning.1 I am very sorry to hear an indifferent account of Mrs. Hooker:2 I heard from Miss Pugh (who is here) that she was looking not well.3 How kind Mrs. H. was to Miss Pugh, who by the way is charmed with your Charlie & has repeated to us some of his capital little speeches.4 Emma is at Southampton with Horace (who has got much good from the change) but I have sent your message about trustworthy oldish cook;5 I fear she cannot help. We might have recommended the very woman; but she is going to marry: I wish to Heaven Nat. Selection had produced “neuters”, who would not flirt or marry; I am sure that they would be as useful as neuter Bees. How the Exhibition works you!6 I have had only a glance, & I was not well, & saw nothing, & was dispirited.7 Any time that you are actually inclined to write, I shd. of course be eager to hear about Cameroons.—8

I wish you had time to discuss a little the mundane Glacial period: I still believe it will be the turning point of all recent Geographical distribution. But the case, as I have put it is infinitely weaker than if I had published all the direct evidence of glacial action.9

Did I tell you that pollen placed for 65 hours on the apparent (& I still think real) stigma of Leschenaultia had not protruded a vestige of a tube!! I won’t be beaten & will get a plant.—10

Oliver, the omniscient, has sent me a paper in Bot. Zeitung with most accurate description of all that I saw in Viola.—11

I have had long letter from Asa Gray, (with not one allusion to politicks.(!)) about my orchid book:12 he gives red-hot praise; & did I not know he would not write falsely, I shd. think he was humbugging me; but I am sure he is honest, & his kind sympathy has run away with him.—

Farewell my dear old friend. | C. D.


Letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 June 1862.
In his letter of 9 June 1862, Hooker had written of Frances Harriet Hooker: ‘My wife is very thin & watery, lacks energy, blood & muscle’.
Miss Pugh had been governess at Down House between 1857 and 1859 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)); she was currently resident in Kew (see the letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [14 May 1862], in DAR 219.1: 56) and was thus a neighbour of the Hookers. According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), ‘Miss Pugh came to Down’ on 5 June 1862.
CD also mentioned the Hookers’ kindness to ‘poor Miss Pugh’ in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862]. Charles Paget Hooker, the Hookers’ third child, was 7 years old.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 June 1862. Emma and Horace Darwin were in Southampton from 3 to 12 June 1862 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); see also letter to W. E. Darwin, [31 May 1862] and n. 4). Horace had been unwell earlier in the year (see letters to W. E. Darwin, 14 February [1862] and 26 April [1862]).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 June 1862. CD refers to the International Exhibition, which opened in South Kensington, London, on 1 May 1862. Hooker was a member of the jury for class 4, section C, ‘Vegetable substances used in manufactures, &c.’, and an associate juror for class 3, section B, ‘Drysaltery, grocery, and preparations of food as sold for consumption’ (Reports by the juries).
CD was in London from 6 to 9 May 1862 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)), and visited the International Exhibition on 8 May (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [8 May 1862]).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 June 1862 and n. 3.
CD put forward his ideas about migration during a worldwide glacial period in explanation for current patterns of geographical distribution in Origin, pp. 365–82. Henry Walter Bates’s assertion that there was no evidence for the extinction of indigenous butterfly species from the Amazon region during the glacial period, and that the differences between North and South American temperate species of some insect genera were too great to have occurred since the glacial period, had led CD to reconsider his arguments in relation to whether the glacial period had affected all parts of the globe simultaneously and whether equatorial regions had been affected at all. CD had discussed this question with Bates and Hooker when they visited Down House in April 1862 (see letter from H. W. Bates, 30 April 1862 and n. 3). However, Hooker’s work on the flora of Cameroon and the islands off the coast of West Africa provided support for CD’s view that temperate plants had migrated into tropical regions during the glacial period (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862] and n. 6).
CD refers to his investigations into fertilisation in Leschenaultia (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [18 May 1862] and n. 2). CD’s notes on the observation reported here, which are dated 2 June 1862, are preserved in DAR 265. See also ML 2: 257–63.
Müller 1857. See letter to Daniel Oliver, [before 11 June 1862].
See letter from Asa Gray, 18 May 1862. CD’s allusion to politics refers to the strained correspondence between Gray and some of his English correspondents in the wake of the so-called ‘Trent affair’ (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862], letters to J. D. Hooker, 16 January [1862] and 25 [and 26] January [1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 22 January [1862]).


Sorry to hear of Mrs Hooker’s health and domestic problems. Wishes natural selection had produced neuters who would not flirt or marry.

Will be eager to hear Cameroon results.

Wishes JDH would discuss the "mundane glacial period". Still believes it will be "the turning point of all recent geographical distribution".

Pollen placed for 65 hours on apparent (CD still thinks real) stigma of Leschenaultia has not protruded a vestige of a tube.

"Oliver the omniscient" has produced an article in Botanische Zeitung with accurate account of all CD saw in Viola.

Asa Gray’s "red-hot" praise of Orchids [Am. J. Sci. 2d ser. 34 (1862): 138–51].

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 155
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3597,” accessed on 29 July 2016,