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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [5 May 1862]1



Dear Darwin

I have not a Leschenaultia to examine, so pray send me some flowers. I should like to dissect them—2

We have had a regular kick up, & been in a troublous state for some time. We have had all our spoons forks &c to the tune of 80 pieces of silver walked off with; by a nice young man who introduced himself to our maids, & was made so much of that he could not make enough of us without & I have had tears, groans, hysterics, Police inspectors & all the other evidences of civilization in the house. It is all our own faults, wholly & entirely, for not looking better after our servts, doors & establishment. I don’t care a brass farthing for the silver, which I have replaced already (with electro-plate!) but I must confess to a feeling of shame at finding out that my establishment has for some months had the reputation of being not a little disreputable

Oddly enough, your lovely Teapot, 2 solid silver Candlesticks (which I have long wanted my wife to sell) & various other very expensive articles were left standing by the plate-basket which was emptied. I am disgusted at their not taking the candlesticks, which are of no use to me a bit, & at their assuming your tea-pot to be plated!—or they surely would have taken it.— So “there is no pleasing some people” you will say

The Cameroons’ plants are most interesting, lots of temperate forms descending to 4000 feet, for your private satisfaction— I am drawing up an account of them for Lin Journal.—3 More temperate Abyssinian species than ever.4

The upper region of Cameroons 7–13000 ft, consists of Volcanic cones, exactly like Auvergne according to the sketches our collector has sent home:5 he has sent a fair Journal too— he spent some weeks at 7000 feet.

I had hoped to have had your Willy up ere this, but have been put out by this ugly affair: please tell him I will write very soon.6

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

0.3 Dear … say 3.6] crossed ink !alignleft!6.1 I had … soon. 6.2] crossed ink
7.1 Ever … Hooker] ‘May 6th 1862’ added in margin, ink
Top of first page: ‘Corrections | Orchid Book’ ink; ‘Miss Pugh7 pencil


Dated by reference to CD’s endorsement (see annotations), presumably recording the date of the letter’s arrival; 5 May was a Monday.
Hooker read a paper entitled ‘On the vegetation of the Cameroons’ at a meeting of the Linnean Society of London on 5 June 1862 (Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 6 (1862): cvi). This paper was not published by the society; a further paper by Hooker on the topic was read the following year and published in 1864 (J. D. Hooker 1863c).
In a paper read to the Linnean Society in 1861 (J. D. Hooker 1862b), Hooker had highlighted the affinity of the vegetation of Clarence Peak, Fernando Po, off the coast of West Africa, with that of Abyssinia 1800 miles distant on the other side of Africa, and of islands east of Africa. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862] and n. 6.
Hooker’s work on the West African flora was based on botanical collections made by Gustav Mann (see J. D. Hooker 1862b and 1863b).
Hooker had been helping CD to foster the botanical interest of his eldest son William Erasmus Darwin (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1861] and 17 [July 1861]). William had moved to Southampton in 1861 to begin a banking career (see Correspondence vol. 9).


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


Household problems – stolen silver, maids. His house for some months has had reputation for being not a little disreputable.

On Cameroon plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 33, 134a
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3537,” accessed on 21 February 2024,

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