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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 [July 1861]

2. Hesketh Crescent | Torquay


My dear Hooker

Hearty thanks for your invitation for Willy, who would have deeply enjoyed it & longs for the wonderful good it would have done him;1 but his time draws near to go to Southampton; if that ever takes place, for there are 2 or 3 sudden hitches in our negotiations.—2

I was really ashamed to bother you about Catasetum; I have now written to Parker & Williams for chance.3

I shd be very glad of a Catleya or Epidendron,4 & specially (from what A. Gray writes) for an Arethusa or one of that section.—5 Have you Mormodes; [HAND] with some buds that would complete my desiderata for comparison.6 If the racemes were cut off & packed in tin-cannister with little slightly damp moss, they might be sent by Post, & I would pay postage: possibly Arethusa might come in pot, as that seems most important for me.— We shall be nearly 5 weeks more   I really think that my paper will be a curious one, though not of much importance.—

I am sorry to hear that Henslow did not leave more property: in old days he spoke to me, as if he expected in after days to be well off.—7

What a bad job this loss of your Examination fees, now that your family increasing in expence, & expences will increase.—8

I hope you will not work too hard, for you have very much on your shoulders.— Farewell. Did you read Asa Gray’s letter to me.—9 The P.S. (need not be returned) is worth reading—

Yours affect | C. Darwin

Etty is going on well & continues to absorb Cod-liver oil— we think this best advice of yours of any we have had.10


Hooker may have invited William Erasmus Darwin to join him on a botanical excursion. CD had sought Hooker’s advice on how best to foster William’s current interest in botany (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861], 22 June [1861], and 13 July [1861]).
The contractual arrangements for William’s partnership in a Southampton bank had encountered a number of problems. See letters to John Lubbock, 10 July [1861] and 14 July [1861].
See letters to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861] and [6 July 1861].
CD had received a letter from Asa Gray in which he discussed the pollination mechanisms of various orchids. Gray’s letter has not been found, but see the letter to Asa Gray, 21 July [1861].
CD was interested in examining several different species of the sub-tribe Catasetidae to compare their pollination mechanisms. Called by CD ‘the most remarkable of all Orchids’ (Orchids, p. 211), the Catasetidae eject their pollinia, which often become attached to the bodies of visiting insects (ibid., p. 212).
Hooker’s father-in-law John Stevens Henslow had died on 16 May 1861. Henslow’s benefice at Hitcham, Suffolk, had been worth £1179 per annum (Journal of Horticulture n.s. 1 (1861): 138). His natural history collection was sold at auction shortly after his death (see Field 18 (1861): 159).
The reference to examination fees has not been identified. At the time, Hooker was an examiner in botany for the East India Company medical board, a twelve-year appointment that had begun in 1854 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 385). He was an examiner for the Apothecaries’ Company Medal (ibid., 385) and also for the London University, a position he held until 1864 (ibid., 537).
See n. 5, above.
Hooker had recommended that Henrietta Emma Darwin be rubbed several times a day with cod-liver oil in an attempt to improve her appetite and promote her recovery from the after-effects of what was thought to be typhus fever (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 [February 1861]).


Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.


Orchids from Kew.

JDH’s income problems.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 106
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3210,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

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