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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   28 January 1876

Royal Gardens Kew

Jany 28/76

Dear Darwin

Shall you be able to come up & vote for Lankester?— We cannot make out the tactics of the opposition— they were canvassing hard for black balls last week—but it is reported that they are going to withdraw opposition & we cannot afford to run any risk.1

I should ere this have written to you about L. Tait’s paper, which I think is not worthy of being read ever: his morphological part is trash— fancy his giving new names to common hairs, epidermis, & stomata, calling the first buds, the 2d epithelium, & the third Rhines. Then too he figures badly tissue & structure that have been admirably figured over & over again, some of them 20 years ago, & ignores all previous writers on the subject.—2

I have had to send Harriet3 to St Leonards for her cough— she returns today, & we go to Barton tomorrow for 2 days, returning on Tuesday.

Ever affec yrs | J D Hooker

Have you heard of Tyndalls engagement? to a dau of Lord Claude Hamilton— the Spottiswodes say that she is very nice & well suited.4 I once saw her & I liked her.


Edwin Ray Lankester had been proposed for fellowship of the Linnean Society of London, but was blackballed at a meeting on 2 December 1875 because of opposition to a council proposal to remit his fees. CD seconded a new proposal on 16 December 1875 and Lankester was elected on 3 February 1876 (Correspondence vol. 23, letter to J. J. Weir, 18 December [1875], and Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (1875–6): iii). Among those believed to have blackballed the original proposal were Arthur Gardiner Butler and James Murie (Correspondence vol. 23, letters to W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 December [1875] and [19 December 1875]).
CD had asked Hooker for his opinion of a paper by Lawson Tait on the digestive powers of Nepenthes (the genus of tropical pitcher-plants); Tait had asked CD to forward it to the Royal Society of London (see Correspondence vol. 23, letters to J. D. Hooker, 15 October [1875] and 1 December [1875], and letter to Lawson Tait, 27 November [1875]). In his own study of digestion in Nepenthes (Hooker 1874), Hooker referred to the work of Augustus Voelcker; among other earlier writers on the subject were Pieter Willem Korthals and William Griffith (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 October 1873 and n. 2, and this volume, letter to Lawson Tait, 24 April 1876). Tait’s paper was rejected by the Royal Society (letter from G. G. Stokes, 14 April 1876). In his later publications on Nepenthes (L. Tait 1879–80, pp. 7–8, 58–62) Tait continued to use the terms ‘epithelium’ and ‘multifid bud’, but used ‘stomata’ rather than ‘rhines’ to refer to the minute breathing pores of the pitchers. ‘Rhines’ is derived from the Greek word for ‘nose’.
Louisa Charlotte Hamilton, daughter of Claude Hamilton, married John Tyndall on 29 February 1876. William Spottiswoode and his wife, Eliza Taylor Spottiswoode, hosted scientific gatherings. (ODNB s.v. Tyndall, John, and Spottiswoode, William.)


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Tait, Lawson. 1879–80. Notes on the structures of pitcher plants. Midland Naturalist 2 (1879): 265–8, 295–7; 3 (1880): 5–8, 58–62.


Asks CD to come up to vote for Lankester.

Severely critical of R. L. Tait’s paper on Nepenthes communicated to the Royal Society.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 51–2
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10371,” accessed on 23 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24