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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 November 1877

Royal Gardens Kew

Nov 13/77

Dear Darwin

I am vexed that I can neither go to Cambridge on Saturday to “assist.” at your Doctoration, nor to you on Saturday week.1 I have “the” “Address” & the Kew estimates on hand, & loads of unattacked arrears—which have obliged me to refuse all engagements for this month.2

Smith is at a loss to think how the seeds of Mimosa pudica got astray.3 He says he saw them put in the envelope himself. A few more went yesterday to your address with I hope better success.

The Neptunia seeds I sent germinate in warm mud & the plant floats,— it’s leaves are very sensitive.4

I wonder what is the object of some Conifers being polycotyledonous— have you watched any in germination?

Did you ever hear of Apes bathing? a trustworthy friend of mine watched a group of them on a ledge of rock overhanging a pool at Chumba (near Kash[mir]) sunning themselves in the heat on the rock; & one after another deliberately go to the edge of the ledge & take a header, into the water & return to dry itself on the rock!5

Have you read Marsh’s wonderful Address to the American Association at Nashville?6 Is he not rash in supposing that all vertebrate types originated in America;7 it appears to me that he makes no allowance for the fact that the turn out of fossils in America is so enormously greater than Europe.— From what he told me & what I saw, some of the Miocene & Cretaceous beds would yield in a day more fossil genera species & specimens than our’s have yielded since they were explored!8—& that he does not consider the “imperfection of the European Geolog.l Record” as compared with the N American. It is a splendid Essay however.

Ever affy yrs | Jos D. Hooker.


CD was granted an honorary LLD degree at the University of Cambridge on Saturday 17 November 1877.
Hooker gave his presidential address to the Royal Society of London on 30 November 1877 (J. D. Hooker 1877a). As director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Hooker had to submit estimates for expenses annually to the Board of Works.
In his letter to Hooker of 8 November [1877], CD mentioned that some seeds of Mimosa pudica (sensitive plant) that Hooker had sent him had not arrived. John Smith was the curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The friend has not been identified. The report presumably came from Chamba, in Himalchal Pradesh, India; Chamba is south of Kashmir. The ‘ape’ was probably Semnopithecus ajax (the Kashmir gray langur or Chamba sacred langur), which is now found only in the Chamba valley (, accessed 31 October 2016).
On 30 August 1877, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Othniel Charles Marsh delivered an address on the introduction and succession of vertebrate life in America (Marsh 1877). Hooker cited it favourably in his address to the Royal Society (J. D. Hooker 1877a, pp. 441–2).
See Marsh 1877, pp. 230, 251–4; his argument applied to many, but not all, mammals.
Hooker visited the Rocky Mountains in the United States earlier in 1877 (Allan 1967, p. 232).


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Marsh, Othniel Charles. 1877. Address. Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science 26 (1878): 211–58.


JDH cannot attend at the bestowal of CD’s honorary doctorate at Cambridge.

O. C. Marsh is rash to suggest all vertebrate types originated in America.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 99–100
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11234,” accessed on 21 June 2021,