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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   28 June 1862

Royal Gardens Kew

June 28/62

My dear Darwin

I am distressed indeed to hear of your suffering. & can only hope it may be transient, & long of returning.1

Berkeley was author of the London Review article, I thought it very well done indeed.2 I have read a good deal of the Orchid book & echoe all he says: you are out of sight the best Physiological observer & experimenter that Botany ever saw. & I do sometimes feel most confoundedly humiliated when I think how much I missed when doing the Listera— But for your loving praise of that paper I should wish it withdrawn—3 you do warm the cockles of one’s heart.

I am still in perplexity— We have found no cook yet at all to suit us & I have determined to send the children to Worthing with the Governess, who seems a capital person,4 & if possible take my wife to Switzerland for a fortnight— She seems to go down hill steadily, & complains of shortness of breathing & palpitation of heart— Whether it is all weakness (as the Doctors say) or symptoms of the affliction her father died of, God only knows, & I dare not ask myself—5 I must get her away but my Father is again laid up with Eczema on the legs,6 & I do not see how I am to go.

Switzerland is the only place she has the smallest fancy for, I talk of going next Friday or Saturday & joining Lubbock,7 but I never felt less disposed or able to go anywhere than now, when Gen. Plant. Part. I—is all but, but not quite, through the press & I must leave it at the last sheets—8 I wish I knew of any one with whom I could send my wife.

More plants from Fernando Po & more Europæans!9 Sibthorpia Europæa, Bromus giganteus, & Myosotis arvensis, or one of its vars (stricta of authors)

My Jury work is over, & I am comparatively free.10

Ever yours affec | Jos D Hooker

CD annotations

3.1 I am … heart— 3.5] crossed pencil !alignleft!Top of letter: ‘Masdevallia | Bonatea’ pencil; ‘Naudin 11 | complexion Queries’12 ink


J. D. Hooker 1854a. In Orchids, p. 139, at the beginning of his discussion of Listera ovata, CD mentioned Hooker’s ‘highly remarkable’ study of the structure of the rostellum, but noted that Hooker had not attended to the role that insects play in the fertilisation of this flower. Hooker’s name is on CD’s presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
The governess has not been identified; she had only recently been appointed (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 [June 1862]).
Frances Harriet Hooker’s father, John Stevens Henslow, died in May 1861 as the result of long-standing heart disease, aggravated by bronchitis and ‘congestion of the lungs’ (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 60).
John Lubbock visited Switzerland in the summer of 1862 in order to examine the sites of prehistoric lake-dwellings, the recent discovery and examination of which he had described in a paper for the January number of the Natural History Review (Lubbock 1862b; see also Lubbock 1862a). See Hutchinson 1914, 1: 56, John Lubbock’s diary (British Museum, Add. Ms. 62679: 64 r.), and letter from John Lubbock, 23 August 1862).
The first part of Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83) was published on 7 August 1862 (Stearn 1956, p. 130).
In a paper read before the Linnean Society of London in 1861 (J. D. Hooker 1862b), Hooker had described the plants sent by Gustav Mann from the mountainous interior of the West African island of Fernando Po, noting that of the forty-eight temperate genera represented, only twelve were not European, and that nine of the species were European. This provided CD with further evidence for his claim, made in Origin, pp. 365–82, that during the glacial period the whole world, or large parts of it, had been simultaneously much colder than at present, allowing northern temperate species to migrate into tropical regions. CD added Hooker’s evidence from Fernando Po to his discussion of this topic in the fourth edition of Origin (p. 445). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 May [1862] and n. 6.
At the International Exhibition of 1862, Hooker was a member of the jury for class 4, section C, ‘Vegetable substances used in manufactures, &c.’, and an associate juror for class 3, section B, ‘Drysaltery, grocery, and preparations of food as sold for consumption’ (Reports by the juries).


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

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

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

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.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Reports by the juries: International Exhibition, 1862. Reports by the juries on the subjects in the thirty-six classes into which the exhibition was divided. London. 1863.

Stearn, William T. 1956. Bentham and Hooker’s Genera plantarum: its history and dates of publication. Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 3 (1953–60): 127–32.


M. J. Berkeley wrote London Review & Wkly J. Polit. article.

CD is "out of sight the best physiological observer and experimenter that Botany ever saw".

Laments how much he [JDH] missed when doing the Listera ["Functions and structure of the rostellum of Listera ovata", Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. 144 (1854): 259–64].

Illness of wife and father.

"More plants from Fernando Po and more European".

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 42–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3624,” accessed on 12 June 2024,

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