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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 [August 1861]

2. Hesketh Crescent | Torquay


My dear Hooker

I write merely to thank you for your note.1 I really will give no more trouble for you must be sadly overworked. I am glad you will have a trip in Scotland.—

You give a very poor account of Mrs. Hooker & I grieve to hear it. I had hoped the sea would have invigorated her.2 The sea has certainly done Etty great good; but I still pin my faith to your oil, which is never neglected3

Many thanks for telling me about Epithecia.4 What a curious account you give of Owen.5

Farewell my dear old friend. I hope your Health will not fail. | Yours affect | C. Darwin

I really think William will make a Botanist & it pleases me much.—6 If you were to ask Crocker(?) would he not send me a Vanilla & so you have no more thought or trouble on subject7


Hooker’s letter has not been found. It was a response to the letter to J. D. Hooker, [11 August 1861].
Frances Harriet Hooker had been unwell since the death in May of her father, John Stevens Henslow (see Allan 1967, p. 208). The Hookers had visited the seaside at Worthing, Sussex, in the hope of facilitating Frances Hooker’s recovery (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 July [1861]).
CD refers to cod-liver oil, which Hooker had suggested might help Henrietta Emma Darwin recuperate from the after-effects of what was thought to be typhus fever. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 [February 1861].
The reference to Richard Owen has not been traced. Owen had recently published a three-part series in the Athenæum ‘On the scope and appliances of a national museum of natural history’ (Owen 1861b), which outlined his views on the separation of the natural history collections from the British Museum. CD, Hooker, and others opposed Owen’s plans. See Correspondence vol. 7, Appendix VI, and Rupke 1988.
William Erasmus Darwin was keenly interested in botanical dissection. See letters to J. D. Hooker, 19 June [1861], 22 June [1861], and 13 July [1861].
Charles William Crocker was foreman of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Since first telling Hooker that he much wished ‘to see one of the Arethuseæ’, which included the genus Vanilla, CD had repeatedly been told that this was not possible (see letters to J. D. Hooker, [6 July 1861], 17 [July 1861], and 27 July [1861]). This tribe of orchids was the only one out of seven that CD had not yet studied.


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

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Rupke, Nicolaas A. 1988. The road to Albertopolis: Richard Owen (1804-92) and the founding of the British Museum of Natural History. In Science, politics and the public good: essays in honour of Margaret Gowing, edited by Nicolaas A. Rupke. Basingstoke and London: Macmillan Press.


Personal regards.

William Darwin will make a botanist.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 110
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3231,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

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