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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   15 June 1881

Glenrhydding House | Patterdale, Penrith.

June 15th 1881

My dear Hooker

It was real pleasure to me to see once again your well-known hand-writing on the outside of your note. I do not know how long you have returned from Italy, but I am very sorry that you are so bothered already with work & visits.—1 I cannot but think that you are too kind & civil to visitors, & too conscientious about your official work. But a man cannot cure his virtues anymore than his vices, after early youth, so you must bear your burthen. It is, however, a great misfortune for science that you have so very little spare time for the Genera.— I can well believe what an awful job the Palms must be.2 Even their size must be very inconvenient. You & Bentham must hate the monocotyledons, for what work the orchideæ must have been & Gramineæ & Cyperaceæ will be.—3 I am rather despondent about myself, & my troubles are of an exactly opposite nature to yours, for idleness is downright misery to me, as I find here, as I cannot forget my discomfort for an hour. I have not the heart or strength at my age to begin any investigation, lasting years, which is the only thing, which I enjoy, & I have no little jobs which I can do.— So I must look forward to Down grave-yard, as the sweetest place on this earth.—

This place is magnificently beautiful & I enjoy the scenery, thoug weary of it; & the weather has been very cold & almost always hazy. I am so glad that your tour has answered for Lady Hooker. I doubt whether Knockholt wd. be a pleasant place; it is about 800 ft high & much exposed to all the winds of Heaven.4 We return home in the first week of July & shd be truly glad to aid Lady Hooker in any possible manner which she will suggest.—

I have written to my gardener to send you plants, of Oxalis corniculata (& seeds if possible): I shd think so common a weed was never asked for before, & what a poor return for the hundreds of plants which I have received from Kew!—5 I hope that I have not bothered you by writing so long a note; & I did not intend to do so. If. Asa Gray has returned with you, please give him my kindest remembrances.—6

Frank is working under De Bary, whom he likes very much, at Strasburg & seems pretty happy.7

Your old friend | Charles Darwin


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 June 1881. The Hookers had visited Italy with Asa and Jane Loring Gray, from early March until 12 May 1881 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 251).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 June 1881 and n. 3. Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83) was a systematic work undertaken by Hooker and George Bentham in 1860 (see Stearn 1956). Hooker was working on palms (Palmae, a synonym of Arecaceae).
Monocotyledones was the heading of the final part of Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 3 (2): 448). The Orchideae (a synonym of Orchidaceae, orchids) was a large section completed by Bentham in August 1880, after which he worked on the Cyperaceae (sedges), finished in October 1880; the Gramineae (a synonym of Poaceae, grasses) formed the last section, which Bentham finished in late 1881 (Stearn 1956, p. 130; Bentham 1881).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 June 1881 and n. 4. Hyacinth Hooker was thinking of taking the Hooker children to Knockholt in Kent in the autumn.
CD’s gardener was Henry Lettington. Hooker had asked CD to send plants of Oxalis corniculata (creeping wood sorrel; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 June 1881 and n. 1). It is an invasive species with worldwide distribution.
Following the visit to Italy, the Grays went to France, Switzerland, and Germany in May and June 1881 (J. L. Gray ed. 1893, 2: 720–1).
Francis Darwin was working in the laboratory of Anton de Bary in Straßburg (Strasbourg).


Bentham, George. 1881b. Notes on Gramineæ. [Read 3 November 1881.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 19: 14–134.

Bentham, George and Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1862–83. Genera plantarum. Ad exemplaria imprimis in herbariis Kewensibus servata definita. 3 vols. in 7. London: A. Black [and others].

Gray, Jane Loring, ed. 1893. Letters of Asa Gray. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1918. Life and letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, OM, GCSI. Based on materials collected and arranged by Lady Hooker. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Stearn, William T. 1956. Bentham and Hooker’s Genera plantarum: its history and dates of publication. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 3 (1953–60): 127–32.


CD complains of discomfort, but has not the strength for a project that would let him forget it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 513–15
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13207,” accessed on 20 April 2024,