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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 October [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct. 13th

My dear Hooker

I am dreadfully perplexed about the enclosed note.2 It is not at all nice in the confounded man (who has bothered me almost out of my life) to write on Nepenthes when he & all the world know that you have taken up the subject.3 What had I better do? Do for Heaven sake advise me soon through Dyer.— Am I bound to read his paper over before sending it to the Royal Soc. that is if you advise me to agree to his request? I feel that I could not judge his paper fairly.4 Forgive me for bothering you.

Yours affect | C. Darwin

P.S.— | (Ask Dyer to return the certificate for Romanes, as Huxley will be here on Sunday & I will get him to sign.—5

You know Glycerine strongly attracts water, & Frank can work the twisted seeds splendidly by putting them alternately in water & glycerine, & I think that he will thus make out mechanism.—6


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 October 1875.
CD evidently enclosed the letter from Lawson Tait, 11 October 1875, in which Tait asked CD to submit his paper on pitcher-plants to the Royal Society of London.
Tait had written several letters to CD discussing his experimental work on insectivorous plants and other subjects. In 1873, CD had asked Hooker to do some work on the tropical pitcher-plant genus, Nepenthes (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 September [1873]). Both Hooker and William Turner Thiselton-Dyer had worked periodically on the subject from that time. In his address to the department of botany and zoology at the 1874 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Hooker described his efforts to test the digestive power of Nepenthes by following the methods that CD had developed for Dionaea muscipula (Venus fly trap) and Drosera (sundew; see J. D. Hooker 1874a).
Thiselton-Dyer was assistant director at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Hooker was the director). Hooker was also president of the Royal Society.
CD had sent the form proposing George John Romanes for membership of the Linnean Society to Thiselton-Dyer for his and Hooker’s signatures (see letter to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 3 October [1875] and n. 4). Thomas Henry Huxley visited Down on 16 and 17 October 1875 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Glycerine (now often referred to as glycerol) absorbs water from air. Francis Darwin’s paper ‘On the hygroscopic mechanism by which certain seeds are enabled to bury themselves in the ground’ appeared in 1876 (F. Darwin 1876c).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


R. L. Tait has requested CD send his [Tait’s] paper on Nepenthes to Royal Society. CD considers this a nuisance.

Certificate for G. J. Romanes.

Francis’ experiments on mechanism of twisted seeds.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 392–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10193,” accessed on 15 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23