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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   16 September 1862


Sept. 16/62.

My dear Darwin

We returned this morning to Kew all well,1 I do not think that the damp relaxing air of W. Scotland did my wife either harm or good, she is remarkably well for her, though she still has occasional attacks of palpitation.2 I was delighted with Staffa.3 I saw a good deal of the D. of Argyll who has been pottering over the Orchid book, to small purpose, though he evidently tries hard to understand it.4 He & the Ds.5 are great Northerns, in Yankee matters6   I was wonderfully struck with the humidity of Inverary, the cryptogamic vegetation was like Fuegia for rank luxuriance.7

I am rejoiced to hear such good news of your party— what a trial you have had of it.!8

Thank you 1000 times for the Cruciferous diagram,9 which I shall ponder over, my impression always was that the arrangement of the parts was quaternary arguing however only from appearances & from analogy with Papaveraceæ & Capparideæ—for I have never gone into the thing. Asa Gray is my opponent in this & in dieclytra which I wish very much you could find time to examine.10 The 4 bundles to the pistil is anomalous   I should have expected that each bundle sent to replum was a double one.— I have no objection to offer to the quaternary composition of the pistil in Cruciferæ except the simply bilobed of the stigma, & that in Tetrapoma   in others that have 4 valves the repla are identical with those that have only two.

I am staggered with the intricacy of Welwitschia, Oliver (who is a real blessing) has been examining the tissues, where I left off on going to Scotland & I have a pretty job before me. he has made me some charming drawings that will save me a world of trouble.11

The marriage went off well & has pleased us all.12 We had rather bad weather all along, but I enjoyed visiting old faces & places.13

I hope to go to Cambridge for a day to show Welwitschia—14 my wife will stay with Mr & Mrs Liveing Prof. of Chemistry.15

A torrent of visitors hangs over us.

I saw Huxley on Loch Fyne with the Herring Fishery Commissioners, entre nous I doubt their inspiring much confidence, & I find every man’s verdict is against their bias, which is in favor of trawling.16

Write to me when you have nothing better to do.

Ever Yours affec | J D Hooker

How are the Lyells?17


The Hookers had left Kew for Scotland on 23 August 1862 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [26–31 August 1862]).
Staffa is an uninhabited island, in the Inner Hebrides, renowned for its basaltic caverns, the principal of which is Fingal’s Cave (J. Bartholomew n.d.).
The eighth duke of Argyll, George Douglas Campbell, reviewed Orchids, together with five other books, in an article entitled ‘The supernatural’ that appeared in the Edinburgh Review for October 1862 ([G. D. Campbell] 1862). There is a copy of Argyll’s review in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Argyll’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Orchids (see Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix IV).
The duchess of Argyll, Elizabeth Georgiana Campbell.
Hooker refers to the Union states in the American Civil War.
The duke of Argyll’s family seat (Inveraray Castle) was located at Inveraray, the county town of Argyllshire, located on Loch Fyne (J. Bartholomew n.d.). Both CD and Hooker had visited Tierra del Fuego, CD during the Beagle voyage, and Hooker while on board HMS Erebus.
The reference has not been traced.
Hooker was preparing a monograph on the Angolan plant Welwitschia mirabilis (J. D. Hooker 1863a; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862). Daniel Oliver was an assistant in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. See also letter from Daniel Oliver, 4 September 1862.
Hooker refers to the wedding of his niece, Willielma Hooker, to James Campbell, in Glasgow on 4 September 1862 (Gentleman’s Magazine n.s. 13 (1862): 488).
Hooker spent most of his childhood in Glasgow, where from 1820, his father was professor of botany at the university (Allan 1967). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [26–31 August 1862].
In 1862, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting in Cambridge during the first week of October; Hooker did not attend the meeting (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [12 October 1862]).
Thomas Henry Huxley was in Scotland between 8 August and 16 September 1862, in his capacity as a member of the Royal Commission on the Operation of the Acts relating to Trawling for Herring on the Coasts of Scotland (L. Huxley ed. 1900, 1: 234). Since the 1840s a number of fishermen on the west coast of Scotland had been using trawl nets for herring fishing, instead of the traditional drift nets, as the former generally required lower capital investment and smaller boats. Trawl nets were rendered illegal by acts of Parliament of 1851, 1860, and 1861, the last two acts suppressing trawling almost entirely (Report of the Royal Commission on Herring, p. 145). In their report of 1862, the commissioners rejected the claims advanced by the drift-net fishermen, and stated that fish stocks were not damaged by the trawlers’ practices, that trawling acted as ‘an important means of cheapening fish to the consumer’, and that the legislation already introduced was ‘repressive’ and ‘altogether unnecessary’, constituting ‘Acts for protecting class interest’, and serving only to interfere with ‘the invention and application of new and more productive forms of industry’ (Report of the Royal Commission on Herring, pp. 167–70).


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

[Campbell, George Douglas.] 1862. [Review of Orchids and other works.] Edinburgh Review 116: 378–97.

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

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.

Report of the Royal Commission on Herring: Report of the Royal Commission on the Operation of the Acts Relating to Trawling for Herring on the Coasts of Scotland. [House of Commons Parliamentary papers, Session 1863, 28: 139–74.]


Wife’s health better.

Visited Duke of Argyll.

Thanks CD for Cruciferae diagram; will ponder it.

Staggered by complexity of Welwitschia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 56–7
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3725,” accessed on 20 March 2023,

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