skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   1 June [1865]


June 1st

My dear Hooker

I am heartily sorry to hear that you are so overworked:1 I suppose you cannot avoid it; but it really is enough to kill you.— Anyhow do not write to me; for I know better than you can tell me that you would very often write (& how often you have written) to amuse me if you were only quarter idle.—

I return Willie’s letters;2 there is something very charming in their simplicity & the Latin is splenditious;3 but I am not a “bonus latinus”.—4

I have had a shocking month with much sickness & have done nothing: I am now trying, at first with strong hope, now with weak hope, Dr. Chapman’s ice-bags along the spine, which at least is comfortable.—5

I do not quite agree about Lubbock; or at least it would have been extraordinary generous to suffer the imputation of copying whole sentences from Lyell, without any acknowlegment.—6 The passage in Lubbock, when I first read it made my blood grow cold, & I think, if I were in Lyell’s place I would not publish again: his memory must have failed him for the time.—7

I have not seen Tylor;8 but it is my great misery that I can hardly read a page without my head being affected. Some of Lubbock’s book9 has been read aloud to me & I like it very much: he writes admirably I think.

My dear old friend | Yours affect, | C. Darwin

Our children enjoyed their visit to Kew much.—10

P.S. Did you ever see a peloric Antirrhinum majus: if not, perhaps you wd. like to see enclosed. I bought a plant & fertilised it with own pollen & every seedling is peloric as enclosed one,—all with 6 sepals, 6 divisions to corolla & 6 stamens.—11 From what Lindley says on Order, it seems rather odd that they are none of them pentamerous.—12

I have received a correspondence from Lyell this morning with Lubbock.—13 It is most unfortunate. Lubbock ought, I think, to have given in full Lyell’s explanation.14 No doubt Lyell took & forgot whole sentences from Lubbock— It is horrid— It will be our turn some day—perhaps we two shall tear each other’s eyes out some day.15 I begin to think that an author had better be kicked or spat upon rather than reclaim!


See letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865].
Hooker had sent CD letters written by his son William Henslow Hooker; see letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and n. 10.
CD used the word ‘splenditious’ in two later letters to Hooker (see letters to J. D. Hooker, [22 January 1869] (Calendar no. 6568) and 7 August [1869] (Calendar no. 6855)). Henrietta Emma Darwin used a variant, ‘splendicious’, in a letter to William Erasmus Darwin dated [18 November 1862] (DAR 219.1: 67), which suggests that it may have been a family word .
Evidently CD used the phrase ‘bonus latinus’, to mean ‘a good Latinist’, but the expression has not been found elsewhere.
The reference is to John Chapman (see letter to John Chapman, 16 May [1865] and n. 3). CD began the ice treatment on 20 May 1865 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242); see also Appendix IV). Emma Darwin, in a letter to Henrietta (letter from Emma Darwin to Henrietta Emma Darwin, [1 June 1865] (DAR 219.9: 28)), wrote: Papa had a good day yesterday in & out & to the sand walk. No effect from ice. Certainly no bad effect—
CD refers to John Lubbock, Charles Lyell, and C. Lyell 1863c. A dispute arose between Lyell and Lubbock when Lubbock published a note criticising Lyell’s failure to acknowledge Lubbock’s archaeological publications properly (see n. 7, below). For Hooker’s view of the note, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and n. 15. After writing his initial assessment of Lubbock’s note, CD received a letter from Lyell enclosing some of the Lyell–Lubbock correspondence and modified his opinion of Lubbock’s actions (see the postscript and n. 14, below).
CD refers to the note at the end of the preface to Lubbock 1865. For the text of the note, see the letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865], n. 3. Because Lubbock cancelled the note in late June 1865, it does not occur in all copies of the first edition of Pre-historic times (Lubbock 1865; see letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1864] and n. 14). CD’s annotated copy of Lubbock 1865 in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 512–13) includes the note.
The reference is to Tylor 1865. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1865] and n. 13.
Lubbock 1865.
Henrietta and George Howard Darwin went to London on 25 April 1865 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Antirrhinum majus, the common snapdragon, usually bears irregular flowers, with five sepals, stamens, and petals. CD described the peloric Antirrhinum in Variation 2: 59–60. CD’s notes on the results of this artificial self-pollination, dated 20 May 1865, are in DAR 51: A23; he described the experiment in Variation 2: 70. CD’s notes on his experiments in 1863, 1864, and 1865 on peloric flowers of Antirrhinum majus are in DAR 51: B18–21 and 23. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to John Scott, 20 [June 1863]. For CD’s discussion of the results of these experiments and their bearing on prepotency, reversion, and his pangenesis theory, see Variation 2: 70–1 and 398–402.
Lindley 1853, p. 681, indicates that members of the Scrophulariaceae, including Antirrhinum, have calyxes and corollas that are pentamerous or, by abortion (that is, malformation or incompletion of a part), tetramerous. A copy of Lindley 1853 is listed in CD’s Library catalogue (DAR 240), but it has not been found in the Darwin Library–Down or the Darwin Library–CUL.
Lyell’s letter to CD has not been found, but see the letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865] and enclosures. References to specific letters in correspondence between CD and Hooker (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1865], and letter to J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1865]) indicate that Lyell sent the same enclosures to CD, probably with a similar letter.
See letter from Charles Lyell to J. D. Hooker, [31 May 1865] and n. 6.
CD sometimes expressed concern that he might inadvertently have taken ideas from Hooker, especially in 1859, when Origin was published. See, for example, Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 March [1859].


Bad month of sickness. John Chapman’s ice bag on spine.

Does not quite agree with JDH about Lubbock’s plagiarism charges. Lyell’s memory must have failed him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 269, 269b
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4846,” accessed on 17 January 2017,