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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 [March 1863]



My dear Hooker

Treviranus has sent me for you copies of Bot. Zeitung, forwarded by this post, for which you won’t care.—1

I shd. have thanked you sooner for Athenæum & very pleasant previous note,2 but I have been busy & not a little uncomfortable, from frequent uneasy feeling of fulness, slight pain & tickling about the heart. But as I have no other symptoms of Heart complaint, I do not suppose it is affected. Were you not similarly plagued before you went to India?—3 I was much interested by Athenæum; I was sorry that Lyell was so civil about that audacious lie of Owen’s that there was not a word in Annals on Cerebellum & Cerebrum.—4

I have had a most kind & delightfully candid letter from Lyell, who says he spoke out as far as he believes.5 I have no doubt his belief failed him as he wrote; for I feel sure that at times he no more believed in Creation than you or I.— I have grumbled a bit in answer to him, at his always classing my work as a modification of Lamarck’s, which it is no more than of any author who did not believe in immutability of Species & did believe in descent.—6 I am very sorry to hear from Lyell that Falconer is going to publish a formal reclamation of his own claims.7 Did you ever read such a wretched review as that in Athenæum of Huxley’s book?—8 Some of the pages in the book struck me as magnificent.

Propagate the wild Potatoes in poorish soil most carefully: next year, if I am then up to any work, I would give anything for some tubers to test fertility with cultivated varieties.—9

It is cruel to think of it, but we must go to Malvern in middle of April,—it is ruin to me.—10

Will you make a very trifling observation for me on early fine day on any Poplars in garden (we have not one near here); viz whether visited by bees which you will easily see, & whether slight shake sends out cloud of pollen; for in latter case & if not visited by Bees, it is almost certain to be fertilised by wind, which I am curious about in relation to willows, which are fertilised by Bees.—

Farewell | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Ludolph Christian Treviranus had sent CD two copies of the numbers of the Botanische Zeitung containing Treviranus 1863a, asking him to forward one set to Hooker (see letter from L. C. Treviranus, 12 February 1863). There are annotated copies of this work in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 March 1863]. In his letter, Hooker promised to send CD his copy of the Athenæum for 7 March 1863, if it contained, as expected, Charles Lyell’s reply to Richard Owen’s critical remarks on C. Lyell 1863a; Lyell’s letter was published on pp. 331–2.
For a discussion of Hooker’s health before and shortly after his departure in 1847 to explore the Himalayas, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 February – 16 [March] 1848 (Correspondence vol. 4).
In his letter to the Athenæum, 21 February 1863, pp. 262–3, Owen denied having discussed the relative backward extent of the cerebellum and cerebrum in Owen 1861a, as claimed in C. Lyell 1863a, p. 485. In his reply (Athenæum, 7 March 1863, pp. 331–2), Lyell quoted what Owen had written on the subject in that paper, commenting that Owen ‘must surely have forgotten his own words’. See also letter to Charles Lyell, 12–13 March [1863].
See letter from Charles Lyell, 11 March 1863.
See letter to Charles Lyell, 12–13 March [1863].
See letter from Charles Lyell, 11 March 1863 and n. 13. The reference is to Hugh Falconer.
According to the publisher’s marked copies of the journal (City University Library, London), the anonymous review of Thomas Henry Huxley’s Evidence as to man’s place in nature (T. H. Huxley 1863b) that appeared in the Athenæum, 28 February 1863, pp. 287–8, was by John R. Leifchild. There is an annotated copy of T. H. Huxley 1863b in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Hooker had asked CD what he wanted done with a number of tubers of the South American wild potato that he had obtained (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 March 1863] and n. 13). Having read a report that some varieties of potato were sterile with their own pollen, but fertile with that from other varieties, CD was keen to have further experimental proof of the case (see Correspondence vol. 10, letters to John Scott, 11 December [1862] and 19 December [1862]).
CD refers to James Manby Gully’s hydropathic establishment in Great Malvern, Worcestershire, where Anne Elizabeth Darwin, CD’s eldest daughter and favourite child, died in 1851 (see Correspondence vol. 5). CD stayed at near-by Malvern Wells with his family from 3 September to 12 or 13 October 1863 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix II)).


Lyell’s position on mutability.

Fertilisation of trees by bees.

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 186
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4039,” accessed on 22 January 2017,