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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   6 November [1877]1

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

Nov. 6th

My dear Hooker

Neptunia will be very valuable to me if seeds germinate & even more so if plants will grow.— I shall be very glad of seeds of 1 or 2 kinds of Cassia, & especially of Mimosa pudica & Desmodium gyrans.—2 Lastly have you seeds of any one species of Cycadeae?3 Good Heavens how grand it wd. be to observe cotyledons of Welwitschia, but this I know is impossible.4 Hearty thanks for all your help.

We have just had telegram that Litchfield has reached Bâle safely, & we expect him here with much anxiety on Thursday on a stretcher.—5 On Friday we expect Sara & Theodora Sedgwick & William, so our house will be full for some little time.— They are to be married on the 28th.—6

I am longing to see you, & we do hope that in latter part of month, you may be able together with Lady Hooker7 to come here for a Sunday. I want much to hear news of all your adventures,8 & I also want advice about our work on cotyledons &c.—

I hope you are beginning to see daylight through the accumulation of your work.

Ever yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the reference to William Erasmus Darwin’s wedding (see n. 6, below).
On Cassia, Mimosa pudica, and Desmodium gyrans, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 October 1877]. Earlier in the year, William Turner Thiselton-Dyer had written that seeds of Neptunia at Kew had failed to germinate, and that he was writing to Australia for a fresh supply (letter from W. T. Thiselton-Dyer, 16 July 1877). CD mentioned Neptunia oleracea (water mimosa or sensitive neptunia), and the other plants, in Movement in plants.
CD discussed Cycas pectinata in Movement in plants; the family is now known as the Cycadaceae. CD was interested in the movement of the cotyledons and other parts of plants.
For Hooker’s work on Welwitschia, see J. D. Hooker 1862 and Correspondence vol. 10.
CD’s son-in-law, Richard Buckley Litchfield, had been taken ill with appendicitis in Switzerland in September 1877 (letter from Emma Darwin to H. E. Litchfield, [13 September 1877] (DAR 219.9: 155); Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 227). According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), he and his wife, Henrietta Emma Litchfield, arrived at Down on Thursday 8 November.
William married Sara Sedgwick on 29 (not 28) November (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)); he had originally given the date as 28 November (letter from W. E. Darwin to Emma Darwin, [21 October 1877] (DAR 210.5: 22)). Theodora was Sara’s sister.
Hooker visited the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Utah in 1877 (ODNB).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.

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.


Requests seeds for study of movement in cotyledons. Would love to study Welwitschia cotyledons.

Son William is to be married 28 November.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 459–60
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11226,” accessed on 27 May 2022,