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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   22 June [1861]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 22d

My dear Hooker

Your note told me a wonderful lot of news, & gives excellent advice about William;1 but upon my life I am sorry I wrote to you, for how overworked & out of spirits you must be. I never in my life I heard so many calamaties in one letter.— I do not know what “eczema” is; but I hope it is nothing very serious from which your Father is suffering.—2 Poor Harvey & so recently married!3 And poor Sinclair, whom I saw at your House.—4

If you think of it, pray tell Oliver how sorry I am he is unwell. He must work too hard: I thought so before from his mass of knowledge.—5 And then Mrs. Huxley, of whom I had not heard for a long time.—6 You give a poor account of Mrs. Hooker.7 My God what a world it is.

Farewell, Your affect. | C. Darwin

Give my kind remembrances to Thomson: I did not know that he was coming home.—8 There are lots of things I should like to write about, but won’t bother you.—

Pray do not write a word more about Willy: you have said plenty to keep him going.—

P.S. I have just received your second note. I thank you heartily, but it is too bad that you shd. waste your time.— If you remember it return sometime Journ of Horticulture9


Hooker’s letter has not been found. The advice probably pertained to William Erasmus Darwin’s interest in botany. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861].
William Jackson Hooker was severely troubled by eczema in the last years of his life and was particularly ill in the summer of 1861 (Allan 1967, pp. 207, 208).
William Henry Harvey, professor of botany at Trinity College, Dublin, had married in April 1861. According to his biographer, he soon afterwards suffered a misfortune: ‘While lecturing at Glasnevin, the first symptoms of hæmorrhage from the lungs appeared, and were succeeded by a severe attack, from the effects of which he never entirely recovered.’ (Anon. 1869, p. 340).
Andrew Sinclair, formerly colonial secretary in New Zealand, had drowned in a river in New Zealand (DNB). CD had met him in 1858 when Sinclair was visiting England (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 January 1858).
Daniel Oliver was Hooker’s assistant in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. CD had solicited Oliver’s advice and assistance many times over the past year, first through Hooker and then directly (see Correspondence vol. 8, and this volume, letters to Daniel Oliver, 26 February [1861] and 1 May [1861]). Oliver had recently been appointed professor of botany at University College London.
Henrietta Anne Huxley was recuperating slowly following the birth of Leonard Huxley in December 1860 and the death of the Huxleys’ first-born child, Noel, in September 1860. Henrietta had visited Down earlier in the year (see letter to T. H. Huxley, 22 February [1861]).
Frances Harriet Hooker was grieving over the death of her father, John Stevens Henslow, who died in May 1861 (see Allan 1967, p. 208).
Thomas Thomson, a close friend of Hooker’s, was professor of botany and superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden. He had travelled with Hooker during his visit to India in the late 1840s and was co-author with Hooker of a volume on the flora of India (Hooker and Thomson 1855). Because of ill health, Thomson returned to Britain in 1861 (DNB).
CD sent Hooker a copy of the 18 June 1861 issue of the Journal of Horticulture, which contained CD’s letter describing a number of observations concerning laws of variation. See letters to Journal of Horticulture, [before 18 June 1861], and to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861].


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

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.


Many mutual acquaintances are ill.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 84
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3192,” accessed on 3 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9