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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 July [1862]


July 26th

My dear Hooker

I sincerely rejoice that your tour answered so well for Mrs. Hooker, & that you have returned safe. I hope it did you good & rested you.—1

We have been utterly miserable; but it over now: for now patience alone is wanted; & when he is strong enough we shall take him to the sea.—2 Did you ever hear of such a catalogue of evil. Scarlet fever, enlarged glands of neck, injured kidneys—recurrent scarlet fever with fresh & bad sore-throat & eruption—dredful erysipelas of the head & face—fever with typhalid petechiæ.3 Port-wine alone saved him.

I have not done a stroke of work for weeks & it has played old Harry with my experiments.—4

Your Hybrid orchids are interesting to me, as I never heard of but one case before.5

I was struck also with review of Nat. Hist R. in the Parthenon (which I take in):6 now you point it out that last page is astounding.7 I remember being surprised at “tubular” stems & wondering what “squarrose cymes” were. What an odd case that of the Calluna.—8 I wrote to you Poste Restante in the Swiss Valley;9 but there was nothing in my note worth sending.

Goodnight my dear old friend. | C. Darwin

It is surprising that many hybrids orchids are not produced, when clearly allied species grow & flower together. George caught a moth sucking G. conopsea, with the pollen-mass of a Habenaria bifolia attached to its face.—10


CD may have intended to write ‘typhoidal’ (see letter to Asa Gray, 23[–4] July [1862]); petechiae are red or purple spots on the skin that may accompany fever (OED).
On CD’s experiments, see, for instance, the letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 May [1862] and n. 7, and 23 June [1862] and n. 4, the letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 17 June [1862] and n. 2, and the letter to M. T. Masters, 8 July [1862] and n. 3.
CD refers to the review of the first volume of the new series of the Natural History Review published in the Parthenon 1: 373–5 (see also letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862] and n. 8).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862]. The reference is to the last page of the April issue of the Natural History Review, which contained numerous typographical errors.
The last page of the April 1862 number of the Natural History Review concluded with an unsigned article recording the occurrence of Calluna vulgaris (misspelled ‘Callema’ throughout) in North America; the author reported Asa Gray’s opinion that this might be one of those ‘species of the old world so sparingly represented in the new, that they are known only at single stations’ (Natural History Review n.s. 2 (1862): 346).
CD’s letter has not been found. The Hookers had been on holiday in Switzerland from 4 to 23 July 1862 (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1862, 10 July 1862, and [24 July 1862]).
George Howard Darwin had made observations in June on the insects visiting several orchid species, including Gymnadenia conopsea (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 [June 1862], and letter to Asa Gray, 1 July [1862]). In DAR 70: 30 there is a note, dated 21 June 1862, that states that George had seen the moth Plusia chrysitis (a synonym of Diachrysia chrysitis, the burnished brass) ‘with one pollinia of Butterfly! [the butterfly orchid, Habenaria bifolia]   it was settled in conopsea & sucking; but had none of conopsea attached!’ Habenaria bifolia is a synonym of Platanthera bifolia, the lessser butterfly orchid.


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Illness of his son [Leonard]. Has done no work for weeks.

JDH’s hybrid orchids are interesting; CD is surprised many hybrids are not produced.

George [Darwin] caught a moth sucking Gymnadenia conopsea with a pollen-mass of Habenaria bifolia sticking to it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 159
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3666,” accessed on 30 November 2023,

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