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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [10 August 1858]1

Norfolk House | Shanklin | I. of Wight


My dear Hooker

I write merely to say that the M.S came safely two or three days ago.—2 I am much obliged for the corrections of style:3 I find it unutterably difficult to write clearly. When we meet I must talk over a few points on the subject.—

You speak of going to sea-side somewhere: we think this the nicest sea-side place, which we have ever seen & we like Shanklin better than other spots on S. coast of the Island, though many are charming & prettier, so that I could suggest your thinking of this place. We are on the actual coast: but tastes differ so much about places.—

If you go to Broadstairs, when there is strong wind from coast of France & fine dry warm weather, look out & you will probably(!) see thistleseeds blown across the channel. The other day, I saw one blown right inland, & then in a few minute a second & then a third; so I said to myself God bless me how many thistles there must be in France; & I wrote a letter in imagination to you.— But I then looked at low clouds & noticed that they were not coming inland, so I feared a screw was loose, I then walked beyond a headland & found the wind parallel to coast, & on this very headland a noble bed of thistles, which by very wide eddy were blown far out to sea & then came right in at right angle to shore! One day such a number of insects were washed up by tide, & I brought to life 13 species of Coleoptera; not that I suppose these came from France.—4 But do you watch for thistle seed, as you saunter along the coast.—

What a dreadful case that of Mrs. Forbes.—5 I did not like what little I saw of her; but never said a word, so I was amused & I confess rather pleased at your outburst of “cold, unsympathetic &c”.—

Farewell | My dear Hooker | C. Darwin


Dated by the relationship to the preceding letter. CD returned to Down on 13 August 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
CD’s manuscript on large and small genera (see the preceding letter and letter to J. D. Hooker, 6 May [1858]).
The manuscript (DAR 15.1 (ser. 2)) has corrections in Hooker’s hand. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 13–15 July 1858.
CD’s notes on these beetles, headed ‘Shanklin. Aug 1st. 58.’, are in DAR 205.2: 168.
Emily Marianne Forbes, the widow of CD’s and Hooker’s friend Edward Forbes, had married William Charles Yelverton, a captain in the Royal Artillery, on 26 June 1858. In marrying Emily Forbes, Yelverton committed bigamy. His first wife, Maria Theresa Yelverton, whom he had married in Ireland in 1857, brought a legal action against him in Edinburgh on 7 August. For an account of the ensuing scandal and trial, see Annual Register 1861. The House of Lords finally ruled that Yelverton’s first marriage was invalid (Complete Peerage 1: 363 n.). See also Browne 1981,pp. 208–9, and Crow 1966.


Browne, Janet. 1981. The making of the Memoir of Edward Forbes, F.R.S. Archives of Natural History 10: 205–19.

Crow, Duncan. 1966. Theresa: the story of the Yelverton case. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.


Thanks JDH for stylistic corrections on MS of large and small genera.

Observations, while walking along headlands, on thistle-down blown out to sea and then blown inland.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 245
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2318,” accessed on 18 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7