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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   19 [June 1862]1

Royal Gardens Kew | Kew


Dr Drn.

Your Rhododendron is R. glaucum— it has a very peculiar scent.—2 this was sent me by you a month ago under some other name.

I saw Lubbock yesterday who tells me that you were in bed last Sunday & that one of your boys has come home ill from school with Scarlet fever3   I am truly sorry to hear of all this.

We are in statu quo—no Cook yet, though we hope we have heard of one who will suit— We have also I hope found the right sort of person for Nursery Governess—4 Meanwhile we are carrying on the war as best we can & have a party of 12 persons chiefly Italian Botanists coming to a Tea dinner tomorrow. How glad we shall be to have Willy tomorrow to meet them—5 one is Mr. Watson Taylor of Monte Cristo notoriety & his wife.6 Leonard Henslow my eldest brother in law is engaged to a very nice girl who has been here today, a Miss Wall, niece of Dean Pellew.7 apparently a very nice girl indeed with a little money— she is only 19. very large, quite plain, but most amiable & pleasing-looking. we are rejoicing at it. Leonard Jenyns is to be married next week8

My Jury work is nearly over & a pretty time I have had of it!9

My wife is a trifle better I think, but very pale and bloodless & cannot sleep at night—10 I wish I could take her to Switzerland

On Monday I go down to Ross’ place to look over some of his things previous to the sale—11 Sabine goes after some Meteorological &c books of observation—12 I for a whole lot of things chiefly glacial & Kerguelens Land that I never could find in the British Museum.

This is a weary life, I am daily expecting to hear of the death of a dear little niece, 8 years old, at school at Bury, of inflammation of lungs,—a daughter of my eldest sister Mrs McGilvray.13

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘London Review | Orchids’14 pencil


Dated by the reference to Leonard Jenyns’s impending marriage to Sarah Hawthorn (see n. 8, below).
Hooker refers to John Lubbock. Leonard Darwin was sent home from school with scarlet fever on 12 June 1862 (see letter to W. E. Darwin, 13 [June 1862]).
The governess has not been identified. For Hooker’s concern about the state of his household, see the letters from J. D. Hooker, [5 May 1862] and 9 June 1862.
Hooker had been helping CD to foster William Erasmus Darwin’s interest in botany (see Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1861] and 17 [July 1861]). Hooker had been planning for some time to have William, who lived in Southampton, visit Kew (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [5 May 1862], letter to W. E. Darwin, [8 May 1862], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862]).
George Graeme Watson-Taylor was a British subject who owned the Mediterranean island of Monte Cristo. The island came under Sardinian control after the Italian War of 1859, and in 1860 Watson-Taylor and his wife, Victorine, were charged with sedition following altercations with the troops stationed there. Escaping to Britain, they were found guilty in absentia, but were granted remission of their penalties by the Sardinian king, Victor Emmanuel II. In their absence from Monte Cristo the island was sacked by members of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s volunteer army, the ‘Red shirts’, who had commandeered a British steamer, the Orwell, in pursuance of their military campaign for a united Italy under the rule of the Sardinian king. In 1861, Watson-Taylor unsuccessfully sought compensation for the damage to his property from the new Italian government of Victor Emmanuel. The case attracted much publicity in Britain, and on 13 June 1862 it was the subject of a lengthy debate in the House of Commons (EB, Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates 3d ser. 167: 545–608).
Frances Harriet Hooker’s eldest brother, Leonard Ramsay Henslow, married Susan Wall on 9 September 1862 (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 13 (1862): 489). George Pellew was dean of Norwich.
Leonard Jenyns married Sarah Hawthorn of Stapleford, Cambridgeshire, on 24 June 1862 (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 13 (1862): 222).
The polar explorer, James Clark Ross, died in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on 3 April 1862; Hooker had been assistant surgeon on Ross’s Antarctic expedition of 1839–43 (DNB).
Edward Sabine, president of the Royal Society and a major-general in the Royal Artillery, had been for many years a friend and colleague of Ross’s. The two had sailed together on the 1818 Arctic expedition in search of a North-west Passage, commanded by Ross’s uncle, John Ross. During the 1830s, J. C. Ross had assisted Sabine in the first systematic magnetic survey of the British Isles, and Ross’s Antarctic expedition of 1839–43 was organised largely to make magnetic observations for Sabine’s work on the subject (Cawood 1979, DNB).
Anne McGilvray, daughter of Maria McGilvray, died on 15 August 1862 (see ‘Hooker pedigree’ in Allan 1967).
For CD’s comments on Miles Joseph Berkeley’s review of Orchids for the London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Arts and Science ([Berkeley] 1862), see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 June [1862].


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

[Berkeley, Miles Joseph.] 1862. Fertilization of orchids. London Review and Weekly Journal of Politics, Arts and Sciences 4: 553–4.

Cawood, John. 1979. The magnetic crusade: science and politics in early Victorian Britain. Isis 70: 493–518.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 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.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

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.


Household problems: wife’s health, visitors to Kew.

Will go to sale of J. C. Ross’s effects looking for glacial and Kerguelen Land works not at British Museum.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 38–9
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3611,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

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