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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [17 April 1863]


Friday Night

My dear Hooker

I have heard from Oliver that you will be now at Kew, & so I am going to amuse myself by scribbling a bit.1 I hope you have thoroughily enjoyed your tour: I never in my life saw anything like the Spring flowers this year.— What a lot of interesting things have been lately published. I liked extremely your review of Decandolle—2 What an awfully severe article that by Falconer on Lyell:3 I am very sorry for it: I think Falconer on his side does not do justice to old Perthes & Schmerling.4 This must have been far more odious to Lyell than Owen’s article:5 I shall be very curious to see how he answers it tomorrow (I have been compelled to take in Athenæum for a while.)6 I am very sorry that Falconer shd. have written so spitefully, even if there is some truth in his accusations.7 I was rather disappointed in Carpenter’s letter:8 no one could have given a better answer. But the chief object of his letter seems to me to be to show that though he has touched pitch he is no defiled.9 No one would suppose he went so far as to believe all Birds came from one progenitor.10 I have written a letter to Athenæum (the first & last time I shall take such a step) to say, under the cloak of attacking Heterogeny, a word in my own defence.11 My letter is to appear next week, so Editor says;12 & I mean to send new addition & quote Lyell’s sentence in his 2d. Edit; on the principle if one puffs oneself, one had better puff handsomely.13 I have read 1st. vol. of Bates’ book;14 it is capital, & I think the best Nat. Hist. Travels ever published in England. He is bold about Species, & that d——d Athenæum coolly says he “bends his facts” for this purpose.—15

What an astounding production that of Owen’s!16 it was rather silly in Carpenter to be vexed, as he clearly was, at Owen calling me his Master,17 & how like Owen’s clever malignity.— I fancy Bentham is going to discuss species; for he has asked me about Reviews of Origin, & I have sent him a bundle.—18

I stumbled on reference yesterday, “Gard. Chron. 1861. p. 74; Benguela mixture of Tropical & Temperate forms”—19 I daresay you know what it is; I forget; but no harm in reminding you—

Now for one or two questions.—

(1) Can you tell me Planchon’s address?20

(2) Remember Orchis pods.—21

(3) You sent me a pale pink Oxalis,22 which can be known by crescentic purple mark on leaves, just as in Dutch Clover; it was called O. Bowii, but is quite different from plant sold under that name. Do you know whether this name is correct?23 I rather want to know, as I find leaves are sensitive to touch; as they are I find in nearly all species of Oxalis, (whose leaves go to sleep) in a very slight degree, but plainer in this species.24

GoodNight— Tell me where you have been— goodnight | C. Darwin


Hooker had been on a trip to Jersey and Guernsey from 2 to 17 April 1863 (see letter from Daniel Oliver, 14 April 1863, and letters from J. D. Hooker, [28 March 1863] and 20 April 1863). Daniel Oliver assisted Hooker in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994).
[J. D. Hooker] 1863c. Hooker was evidently the author of the review of A. de Candolle 1862a that appeared in the April 1863 number of the Natural History Review. CD’s copies of the Natural History Review are in the Darwin Library–CUL; the review of A. de Candolle 1862a is annotated.
Hugh Falconer’s letter in the Athenæum, 4 April 1863, pp. 459–60, accused Charles Lyell of giving insufficient credit to him and to the geologist Joseph Prestwich in the discussion of fossil human relics in C. Lyell 1863a (Athenæum, 4 April 1863, p. 460). See also letter from John Lubbock, 7 April 1863 and n. 6.
Jacques Boucher de Perthes was a French archaeologist; Philippe Charles Schmerling was a palaeontologist who described fossil human bones from Belgium in the 1830s (BNB).
Richard Owen’s letter criticising C. Lyell 1863a appeared in the Athenæum, 21 February 1863, pp. 262–3.
CD refers to Lyell’s letter in the Athenæum, 18 April 1863, pp. 523–5, which was written in response to Falconer’s letter (see n. 3, above). See letter from W. H. Dixon, 16 April 1863. CD did not usually subscribe to the Athenæum (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [29 March 1863]), but had recently become interested in the coverage of controversies between scientists (see, for example, letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 [March 1863]).
See n. 3, above.
In the issue of the Athenæum for 4 April 1863, p. 461, William Benjamin Carpenter responded to Owen’s anonymous review of his Introduction to the study of the Foraminifera (Carpenter 1862), which appeared in the Athenæum, 28 March 1863, pp. 417–19 (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix VII).
In his letter in the Athenæum, 4 April 1863, p. 461, Carpenter defended himself against the charge that he had accepted CD as his master and CD’s hypothesis as his guide (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix VII). See letter from John Lubbock, 7 April 1863 and nn. 7 and 8.
In his anonymous review in the Athenæum, 28 March 1863, p. 418, Owen had accused Carpenter of arguing that all Foraminifera descended from one prototype. Carpenter replied (Athenæum, 4 April 1863, p. 461): After quoting my general conclusions as to the probable derivation of all the divergent forms of Foraminifera from a few family types, and the possible derivation even of these from a common original, your reviewer remarks: ‘We here discern the influence of Mr. Darwin’s volume on the mind of the writer’. See Appendix VII. However, Owen had previously stated that he believed all birds had descended from one prototype (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to Asa Gray, 23[–4] July [1862] and n. 18).
See letter to Athenæum, 18 April [1863].
See letter from W. H. Dixon, 16 April 1863. CD’s letter appeared in the Athenæum, 25 April 1863, pp. 554–5.
C. Lyell 1863b. See letter to Athenæum, 18 April [1863] and n. 11.
Bates 1863 was reviewed in the Athenæum, 11 April 1863, pp. 488–9. The anonymous review concluded: We have already stated that one of the principal objects of Mr. Bates’s explorations was to gather facts ‘towards solving the problem of the origin of species.’ He thinks he has found such a solution in adopting Mr. Darwin’s theory and making many of his facts bend to it. In the publisher’s marked copy of the Athenæum (City University Library, London), the review appears to be attributed to ‘Seemann’, probably the botanist Berthold Carl Seemann.
See n. 9, above, and Appendix VII.
See letter from George Bentham, [c. 14 April 1863], and letter to George Bentham, 15 April [1863]. CD had long been interested in George Bentham’s reaction to Origin (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter from J. D. Hooker, [20 December 1859] and n. 3, and Correspondence vol. 8, letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 March [1860]).
The reference is to Welwitsch 1861, which was quoted in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 26 January 1861, pp. 74–5; this account described the botany of Benguela (Angola) and other parts of west Africa. For CD’s and Hooker’s recent correspondence on the subject of migration during a global cold period, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 March [1863] and n. 17. CD had urged Hooker not to believe that ‘any one continent could have remained a hot refuge for all tropical productions of world’ (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1863]). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 March 1863], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [March 1863]).
Jules Emile Planchon had assisted in the herbarium of William Jackson Hooker, J. D. Hooker’s father, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew from 1844 to 1848 (R. Desmond 1994). CD intended to send him a presentation copy of ‘Two forms in species of Linum (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix IV).
This plant probably arrived with the shipment of plants sent to CD from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in February 1863, to stock CD’s new hothouse. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [21 February 1863], and Appendix VI.
CD mentioned heterostyly in ‘Oxalis Bowei’, a wood sorrel, in his letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 11 August 1866, p. 756 (Collected papers 2: 132). In Forms of flowers, p. 179, CD used the spelling O. Bowei (the modern spelling is O. bowiei).
This appears to be CD’s first indication of an interest in nyctitropic movements (where particular positions in plant parts are assumed at night). Movements of the leaves in a number of species of Oxalis are discussed in Movement in plants, but Oxalis bowiei is not mentioned. There are experimental notes on the power of movement in Oxalis, dated 31 March – 9 April 1863, in DAR 66: 1 and 2.


Bates, Henry Walter. 1863. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

BNB: Biographie nationale publiée par l’académie royale des sciences, des lettres et des beaux-arts de Belgique. 44 vols., including 16 supplements. Brussels: H. Thiry-Van Buggenhoudt [and others]. 1866–1986.

Carpenter, William Benjamin. 1862. Introduction to the study of the Foraminifera. Assisted by W. K. Parker and T. R. Jones. London: Ray Society.

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. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

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

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.

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.

‘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.]

Welwitsch, Friedrich. 1861. Extract from a letter, addressed to Sir William J. Hooker, on the botany of Benguela, Mossamedes, &c., in Western Africa. [Read 17 January 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 5: 182–7.


Likes JDH’s review of Alphonse de Candolle [Mémoires et souvenirs de A. P. de Candolle (1862)].

Falconer’s article on Lyell ["Primitive man. What led to the question?", Athenæum 4 Apr 1863, pp. 459–60] too severe.

CD has written a letter to the Athenæum "to say, under the cloak of attacking Heterogeny, a word in my own defence" [Collected papers 2: 78–80].

Bates’s Travels [Naturalist on the river Amazons (1863)] are excellent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 190
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4103,” accessed on 19 June 2024,

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