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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 January [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

Jan. 17th

My dear Hooker

I saw Dr. Daniell on Friday morning & told him there were general difficulties & he agreed to be guided by my advice as far as Royal Soc. was concerned.2 And I pledged myself to act for him, as I would for myself, ie. give him the best advice I could whether or not to apply to Royal Soc. for grant &c. He expressed great zeal, & did not pretend that he had ever tryed to collect anything besides plants of economical value.—3 I then went to Benett4 & in confidence told him what you thought, & he agreed with your opinion to a large extent, but yet seemed to think that Daniell would work pretty well.— It seems R. Brown5 had at once made same suggestion as you about sending out a collector with him; but Bennett agreed with me that it wd. probably be death to him.6 Dr. D. said he had not smallest objection to collector being sent out & said he wd. nurse & look after him, but it would be in his opinion death to him.— I most entirely agree with you that if you decide that Dr. D. would not do a fair amount of work, it wd. be very wrong in us to send him out in this way.— On other hand it seems to me no reason not to send him out, under the very special circumstance, because he is not a first rate man.—7 I shall be guided by you, after you have consulted others.

Yours affecty | C. Darwin


It is probable that some of the endorsements recording the years of CD’s letters were made by Hooker long after the date of receipt (see J. Browne 1978). The editors provide corroborative evidence for dates when possible. This letter is dated by the reference to the meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society that CD attended (see n. 2, below).
At a meeting of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society held on 15 January 1857, CD had asked whether a sum from the government grant to the Royal Society could be given to William Freeman Daniell for exploration of the mountains of Cameroun (Royal Society Philosophical Club minutes).
Daniell had, since the 1840s, regularly contributed notices of African plants of potential economic or medicinal use to various London journals. His specimens were given to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
John Joseph Bennett was secretary of the Linnean Society and assistant to Robert Brown in the botany department of the British Museum. Bennett had described several of the specimens that Daniell had collected in Sierra Leone.
Robert Brown.
West Africa was the deadliest malarial environment in the world (see Brockway 1979, pp. 127–33).
CD refers to the private opinion of the Hookers that Daniell was not a particularly good collector, borne out by the difficulty of a later expedition to the River Niger to procure specimens because ‘Dr. Daniel’s localities did not afford us the plants he attributed to them.’ (Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany 9 (1857): 250).


Brockway, Lucile H. 1979. Science and colonial expansion. The role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens. New York: Academic Press.

Browne, Janet. 1978. The Charles Darwin–Joseph Hooker correspondence: an analysis of manuscript resources and their use in biography. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 8: 351–66.


CD will advise W. F. Daniell on collecting.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 188
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2040,” accessed on 17 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6