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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   22 [August 1862]

1. Carlton Terrace | Southampton


My dear Hooker.

Hearty thanks for your note just received.1 I am very glad Mrs. Hooker feels so well & that you are off to Scotland so soon.2 I can give a good account of my patients.3 Poor Leonards kidneys are certainly in some degree organically injured; & it will be months before he will be strong. I hope we shall get to Bournemouth, where we must take separate House in 10 days or fortnight.— We are staying here at William’s house.—4

My chief object in writing is to ask for Mr Mann’s address.—5 My Bee friend, Mr Woodbury—a good man in his way, wants to offer him £8 or £10 to bring home live Bees, sending him instructions.6 It is quite hopeless. But I suppose there wd. be no impropriety in making Mr Mann the offer.? Please answer this, as soon as you are established in Scotland.— Is Oliver at Kew?7 when I am established at Bournemouth; I am completely mad to examine any fresh flowers of any Lythraceous plant & I would write & ask him if any are in bloom. Hardly any case has interested me so much as Lythrum salicaria.—8 You must let me some time examine this wonderful Vanda.9 Good Heavens what work you have had over Wellwitschia!10 How mortal man can work 5 hours with high power passes my understanding. By the way, perhaps you did not know the fact, but a young man at Ross’ told me that no one can dissect with a 110 th inch focal glass!!11 I saw your microscope, & was a little disappointed at it for zoological purposes.12 It seems to me an easily remedied, but great fault that the wheel for bringing lens nearer & further is on the cheek-side.— diagram Ross does not give a huge weak doublet, which, I find, almost the most useful glass. With all necessary apparatus Smith & Beck charge 11£ for my microscope!!13

But they are going to improve & I daresay spoil it. I find that slips of glass held by spring on stage of simple microscope, invaluable for quick transference of dissected object to compound. You see, God help you, by my scribbling that I am idle & am amusing myself; as my patients want nothing.—

One other question.— Can you think of plants, which have differently coloured anthers or pollen in same flowers, as in Melastomas or on same & in different plants as in Lythrum. It would be safe guide to dimorphism.—14 Do just think of this.—

Did I tell you of one curious observation which I have made on action of pollen in Linum grandiflorum: the long-styled form is sterile with its own pollen & by Jove the pollen does not even emit tubes:15 it is very curious to put pollen of long-styled & of short-styled on separate divisions of same stigma of long-styled, & after about 10 hours, to mark the wonderful difference both in state of pollen & stigma. In function, but not in appearance, the pollen of these two forms, as tested by their action may be said to be generically distinct.16

Now I have driven all care for half-an-hour out of my head; so farewell my dear old friend.— Yours affect | C. Darwin

I heartily hope that Huxley’s book will be very successful; he will be well abused.—17


Having recently returned from a holiday in Switzerland, intended to improve Frances Harriet Hooker’s health, the Hookers were planning to leave for a three-week trip to Scotland on 23 August 1862 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862).
Emma and Leonard Darwin were both recovering from scarlet fever (see letter to John Lubbock, 21 August [1862]).
While travelling to Bournemouth for a holiday, CD, Emma, and Leonard had been obliged to remain at William Erasmus Darwin’s house in Southampton, following the onset of Emma’s scarlet fever (see letter to John Lubbock, 21 August [1862]). They did not continue their journey until 1 September (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix II)).
Gustav Mann was botanical collector for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, on the Niger expedition led by William Balfour Baikie (see R. Desmond 1995, p. 433).
CD refers to the establishment of the optical instrument maker, Thomas Ross, at 2 and 3 Featherstone Buildings, High Holborn, London (Post Office London directory 1861).
In the letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 [May 1862], CD asked for details of ‘the simple microscope made by Ross’ that Hooker recommended for young surgeons. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [17 May 1862].
CD refers to Smith, Beck & Beck, instrument makers of 6 Coleman Street and Pear Tree Cottage, Holloway Road, London. In 1847, the company (then trading as Smith & Beck) had built for CD a simple microscope to his own design. They subsequently sold copies of the original model under the name ‘Darwin’s Single Microscope’ (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Richard Owen, [26 March 1848] and n. 2). A full description of the microscope is given in Beck 1865, pp. 102–4.
In October 1861, CD had begun to investigate the occurrence of what he considered might be a novel form of dimorphism in the Melastomataceae, the structure and colour of the stamens facing the petals differing from that of the stamens facing the sepals in the same flower (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 November [1861], and this volume, letter to George Bentham, 3 February [1862]). In Lythrum salicaria, the filaments and anthers of the long-styled form are different in colour from those in the other two forms (see letter to W. E. Darwin, [2–3 August 1862]). In Forms of flowers, p. 244, CD noted that he had been ‘often deceived’ by judging the occurrence of heterostyly on the basis of the length of stamens and pistils alone, and had decided that ‘the more prudent course’ was not to rank any species as heterostyled unless there was ‘evidence of more important differences between the forms’. He concluded that ‘absolutely conclusive evidence’ of heterostyly could only be derived from experiments demonstrating differences in fertility (p. 245).
CD had told Hooker that the long-styled pollen of Linum grandiflorum was sterile with its own stigma, in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 28 September [1861] (Correspondence vol. 9). See also ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, p. 96 (Collected papers 2: 63). CD also mentioned his more recent observations on the failure of the pollen to emit pollen-tubes, in the letters to Asa Gray, 14 July [1862] and 28 July [1862]. He described these observations in detail in ‘Two forms in species of Linum, pp. 73–5 (Collected papers 2: 96–8).
In ‘Two forms in species of Linum, p. 75 (Collected papers 2: 98), CD stated: Taking fertility as the criterion of distinctness, it is no exaggeration to say that the pollen of the long-styled Linum grandiflorum (and conversely of the other form) has been differentiated, with respect to the stigmas of all the flowers of the same form, to a degree correspending with that of distinct species of the same genus, or even of species of distinct genera. For CD’s interest in this question, see also the letter to Asa Gray, 9 August [1862] and n. 13, the letter to Asa Gray, 21 August [1862] and n. 5, and Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix VI.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862. The reference is to T. H. Huxley 1863a.


Beck, Richard. 1865. A treatise on the construction, proper use, and capabilities of Smith, Beck, and Beck’s achromatic microscopes. London: John Van Voorst.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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

Desmond, Ray. 1995. Kew: the history of the Royal Botanic Gardens. London: Harvill Press with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

‘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.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Lythrum. Wants to examine fresh flowers of Lythraceae. Lythrum salicaria has interested him very much.


Asks whether JDH can think of plants that have different coloured anthers or pollen in same flowers (as in Melastoma) or on same and in different plants as in Lythrum. Would be a safe guide to dimorphism.

Observation of action of pollen in Linum grandiflorum.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 162
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3696,” accessed on 19 May 2024,

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