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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   24 December [1862]

Down Bromley Kent

Dec. 24th.—

My dear Hooker

Many thanks for sight of Dawson’s letter:1 he does not show cockishness towards you. I shd like to hear what evidence he could advance that when the country was first upheaved after his later submergence that climate was not glacial.2 He is contradictory about me; for if I make others study the limits of species it is enough.—

We shd. indeed rejoice to see you here, whenever you can come; but you would find it dull, for I must talk but little,—yet that little would be a real enjoyment to me.—3 I am glad to hear of your Paris scheme; for it will be enjoyable.—4 As I suppose you will see Naudin I will enclose a memorandum of enquiry:5 I have been for some time wishing to write to him; but scrupled. Can you put this memorandum with any other papers, so as not to forget it; you would do me great service, if you would master the question & interest Naudin.—

Please send comb & Bees as proposed. What shall I do about paying Mann??6

If you think of it ask the Australian Traveller whether he ever came across savages starving, & ever knew of their trying various plans to make vegetables eatible.7 Ask him whether the Australians blush (Oh oh I forgot that they were black); it is an odd theory I have never met in notice by anyone of Expression in Savages; expression is one of my hobby-horses; I have got some funny notions on subject.—8 3d. ask him whether they take any pain in breeding dogs or get them crossed with European Dogs.—9

And now I am going to tell you a most important piece of news!! I have almost resolved to build a small hot-house: my neighbours really first-rate gardener has suggested it & offered to make me plans & see that it is well done, & he is a really a clever fellow, who wins lots of prizes & is very observant.10 He believes that we shd succeed with a little patience; it will be grand amusement for me to experiment with plants.—

I like to hear your notions about America; I think Asa Gray would consider them two or three degrees more atrocious than mine.11 Slavery draws me one day one way & another day another way. But certainly the Yankees are utterly detestable towards us.— What a new idea of Struggle for existence being necessary to try & purge a government! I daresay it is very true.

By Jove you must write your book on Aristocracy—12 I read De Tocqueville some years ago with great interest.13 Your boy must give you much anxiety for the future:14 but how good it is that he has conscientiousness; this is a whole volume to itself. What an extraordinary combination of character he has. I shd. think he would certainly alter. As for musical ear Emma declares it sometimes comes late; our Willy15 had none, now he has a good one!

Yours affectionly | C. Darwin


With his letter to CD of [21 December 1862], Hooker had enclosed a letter, now missing, that he had received from John William Dawson.
Neither CD’s ‘memorandum’ nor Charles Victor Naudin’s reply have been found. However, a number of letters from CD to Naudin are referred to in Blaringhem 1913, p. 94 n.; one of the letters is described as being accompanied by an explanatory note in the hand of George Bentham (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1863), and may be the missing memorandum. CD had probably written to Naudin concerning the latter’s work on plant hybridisation (see letter from C. V. Naudin, 26 June 1862). See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to C. V. Naudin, 7 February 1863.
CD’s work on the expression of emotions in man and animals (Expression) was not published until 1872; it included a discussion of ‘Blushing in the various races of man’ (pp. 316–22).
Oldfield’s written answers to CD’s queries were enclosed with Hooker’s letter to CD of [27 or 28 December 1862], but have not been found. However, in Variation 2: 215, CD wrote: Mr. Oldfield, who has seen so much of the aborigines of Australia, informs me that “they are all very glad to get a European kangaroo dog, and several instances have been known of the father killing his own infant that the mother might suckle the much-prized puppy.”
The reference is to John Horwood, gardener to CD’s neighbour George Henry Turnbull, who superintended the building of the hot-house in late January and early February 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters to J. D. Hooker, 13 January [1862] and 15 February [1863], and letter to George Henry Turnbull, [16? February 1863]). CD had recently attempted, unsuccessfully, to grow plants for experimental purposes in a heated glass case (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [21 December 1862] and n. 2).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 December 1862]. Hooker and Asa Gray held radically different views on the American Civil War, and had tacitly agreed not to discuss the matter in their letters (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862], and letter from Asa Gray, 18 February 1862).
CD refers to Hooker’s whimsical suggestion that he would write a book arguing that aristocracy was the result of natural selection (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [23 March 1862], [15 and] 20 November [1862], and 26 November 1862).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 December 1862]. CD read Tocqueville 1836 in February 1849 (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 119: 22b).


Blaringhem, Louis. 1913. La notion d’espèce et la disjonction des hybrides, d’après Charles Naudin (1852–1875). Progressus rei botanicæ 4: 27–108.

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

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Tocqueville, Charles Alexis Henri Maurice Clérel de. 1836. De la démocratie en Amérique. 4th edition. 2 vols. in 1. Paris: Charles Gosselin.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Thanks for Dawson’s letter. Doubts his evidence that climate of land was not glacial when upheaved after submergence.

Encloses memorandum of questions for C. V. Naudin.

Expression of the emotions.

Is building a hothouse for plant experimenting.

JDH’s ideas on America are more atrocious than his. What a new idea that struggle for existence is necessary to try to purge a government! Probably true. Slavery draws him one way one day, another the next. Yankees are "detestable toward us". Tocqueville.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 177
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3875,” accessed on 23 July 2024,

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