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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   24 January 1863


Jany 24/63

Dr Darwin

I gave your letter to Naudin,1 who toute suite brought it back, 1 to be deciphered, 2 to be put into English 3d to be translated. however thanks to Bentham that did not take long,2 & so he took it home for his private eating, & will I hope give me an answer to take back to you—3 N. being stone deaf, I cannot do much business with him— I have had a long talk on tablets with him however,4 & with Decaisne too,5 both have much curious matter, but neither appreciate your book as they should, & will when they read it in its french garb I hope.6

Decaisne is writing a paper for the Institute on fruit trees, which will I doubt not contain much curious matter.7 Naudin says that he has discovered the physiological cause of change becoming specific; ie of vars. no longer breeding together.—8 good if true.— Decaisnes observations upon the absolute hereditary transmission of minute characters in some garden varieties of Lettuces &c are most curious— he has also good matter about permanence of types of fruits.9

Every thing here is quiet—gay & beautiful to the eye, industry activity & propriety meet the eye every where to an extraordinary degree where the vice, misery, & poverty of every large town are no where appears— you see more in half an hour of the best part of London than in the back slums of all Paris.

How dreadful the New York papers are, we see them here, & I read & moralize over them by the hour— I believe that a Republican is the worst form of govt. that can be given to a people, but perhaps the best they can make for themselves   the mistake is to suppose that the Americans made it for themselves—they never did so; they accepted it from the hands of the few great men of that day, & so long as there was no struggle for existence it was never put to the test— when the struggle came they found out that what they accepted for a working theory, had not taken root enough in the hearts of the people to be upheld at any price.10 Lincoln’s Emancipation proclamation is the most damnable thing ever done.11 Really there is no bright spot in this sad sad world but in shops that sell Wedgewood ware, which I have been haunting with some success.12 As I know that you will listen to nothing from me after this I will shut up

Ever dear Darwin | Yrs affec | J D Hooker

I shall return in a day or two.

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘[‘Na’ del] Decaisne on Lettuce & Fruit trees’ ink
Verso of last page: ‘Victoria Lily’13 brown crayon; ‘Cape orchids’14 ink; ‘Bates’15 pencil


In his letter to Hooker of 24 December [1862] (Correspondence vol. 10), CD enclosed a ‘memorandum of enquiry’ for Charles Victor Naudin, whom Hooker planned to meet during a visit to Paris. The memorandum has not been found.
Hooker and George Bentham left together for a ten-day trip to Paris on 17 January 1863 to work on the second volume of Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83; Jackson 1906, p. 193). Bentham read botanical literature in fourteen modern European languages; he was fluent in French, having lived in France as a young man from 1814 to 1827 (DNB).
Naudin’s response to CD’s inquiries has not been found. However, see the letter to Isaac Anderson-Henry, 2 February [1863], and the letter to C. V. Naudin, 7 February 1863.
Tablets: ‘sometimes … applied vaguely to a note-book’ (OED).
Joseph Decaisne was professor of plant cultivation at the Jardin des Plantes, Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris (DBF).
A French edition of Origin, translated by Clémence Auguste Royer, was published in May 1862 (Royer trans. 1862; J. Harvey 1997). For CD’s earlier discussions of Naudin’s theory of transmutation, see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Charles Lyell, 22 [December 1859] and nn. 6 and 7, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [December 1859], and Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 [January 1860] and n. 2, and Appendix IV.
Hooker may be referring to Decaisne 1863, a paper on the pear trees of the Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle, or to portions of Decaisne 1858–75, which was published in 129 parts before being collected in nine volumes.
Naudin discussed his research on hybridity in Naudin 1862 and 1863. There are annotated copies of these works in the Darwin Library–CUL. Naudin 1862 was also published later as part of Naudin 1865, an annotated copy of which is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 638–9). CD cited Naudin extensively on hybridity in Variation. See also letter from C. V. Naudin, 26 June 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10).
See n. 7, above. CD cited Decaisne’s work on fruit (Decaisne 1863) in Variation 1: 350.
Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation, which freed slaves in all territories still in rebellion against the United States government, took effect from 1 January 1863 (Denney 1992, pp. 248, 251).
Hooker had started to collect Wedgwood ware (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [27 or 28 December 1862], and this volume, letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 January 1863).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

DBF: Dictionnaire de biographie Française. Under the direction of J. Balteau et al. 21 vols. and 4 fascicules of vol. 22 (A–Leyris d’Espochès) to date. Paris: Librairie Letouzey & Ané. 1933–.

Decaisne, Joseph. 1858–75. Le jardin fruitier du Muséum ou iconographie de toutes les espèces et variétés d’arbres fruitiers cultivés dans cet établissement avec leur description, leur histoire, leur synonymie, etc. 9 vols. in 5. Paris: Firmin Didot Frères, fils & Cie.

Decaisne, Joseph. 1863. De la variabilité dans l’espèce du poirier; résultat d’expériences faites au Muséum d’histoire naturelle de 1853 à 1862 inclusivement. Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences 57: 6–17. [Reprinted in Annales des sciences naturelles (botanique) 4th ser. 20: 188–200.]

Denney, Robert E. 1992. The civil war years: a day-by-day chronicle of the life of a nation. New York: Sterling Publishing.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Jackson, Benjamin Daydon. 1906. George Bentham. London: J. M. Dent. New York: E. P. Dutton.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1862. Cucurbitacées cultivées au Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle en 1862. Description d’espèces nouvelles et de quelques formes hybrides obtenues de plantes de cette famille. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 4th ser. 18: 159–208.

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.

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.

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


JDH delivers CD’s letter to C. V. Naudin.

Neither Naudin nor Decaisne appreciates Origin.

Discusses Naudin on physiological causes of species formation;

Decaisne on plant heredity.

JDH on Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 99–100
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3940,” accessed on 19 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11