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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [25 January 1862]1



Dear Darwin

I write chiefly to say that we have an Arethusoid coming into flower, & that I hope next week to send 1 flower—& if all goes well with the plant some more afterwards.2

I have always forgotten to mention if amongst your dimorphous orders.—You have Malpighiaceæ. Leguminosæ, Oxalideæ, Caryophyllaceæ, Balsaminæ (of course) Campanulaceæ—& do you want a bit of all I can get?3

I fear you have no better report to give of your own & families health—

Falconer I hear snubs & pooh poohs & contradicts all the Sumatra + Ceylon Elephant story. & he is so accurate that I suppose he must be believed4

Ev Yrs affec | J D Hooker

Plants have come all right.5

Lyells dined here last Monday, & are as rabid as ever for America—that I do not care about—but I cannot stand her abuse of our conduct.6

Busk has broken his arm above wrist both bones.— —fell down on Monday night coming from Burlington House.7


Dated by the reference to the Lyells’ having dined with the Hookers (see n. 6, below) and by the reference to George Busk’s accident (see n. 7, below, and letter from J. E. Gray, 29 January 1862). In 1862, 25 January fell on a Saturday.
CD had long been anxious to examine a specimen of John Lindley’s ‘great Division’ of Arethuseae, as described in Lindley 1853 (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 July – 10 August 1861]), and had repeatedly requested specimens from Hooker and from other botanical acquaintances (see Correspondence vol. 9). However, in Orchids, p. 269, CD wrote that he had ‘not seen any living flowers’ of the Arethuseae.
Following the publication of ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, CD was investigating the occurrence of dimorphism in other plant families (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 9, letter from Asa Gray, 31 December 1861, and this volume, letter to Asa Gray, 22 January [1862]).
An article on the elephants of Sumatra and Ceylon, by the German naturalist Hermann Schlegel, appeared in the January issue of the Natural History Review (Schlegel 1862). Schlegel claimed that these elephants constituted a species distinct from that found in mainland India. Hugh Falconer, an authority on fossil and living elephants, subsequently published his objections to Schlegel’s claim (Falconer 1863, pp. 81–96).
CD had returned the Catasetum plants he borrowed from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 January [1862]).
Charles and Mary Elizabeth Lyell were supporters of the Union cause in the American Civil War and intimates of Charles Francis Adams, the United States’ minister in London (H. Adams 1918). The Lyells dined with the Hookers on 20 January 1862 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862]).
George Busk was the zoological secretary of the Linnean Society of London. The society maintained offices and held its meetings at Burlington House, Piccadilly.


Adams, Henry. 1918. The education of Henry Adams. An autobiography. Massachusetts: Massachusetts Historical Society.

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

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

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.

Schlegel, Hermann. 1862. The Sumatran elephant. Natural History Review n.s. 2: 72–8.


Will send an Arethusa; offers other specimens.


Falconer contradicts Sumatra and Ceylon elephant story.

Lyell as rabid as ever about America.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 6–7
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3394,” accessed on 7 October 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10