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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [21 July 1863]1



Dear Darwin

Your observations on Tendrils &c are most curious & novel, & I am delighted that you are going on with them— you are “facile princeps” of observers.2

I am looking out some climbers that may serve your purpose & hope to send you





& perhaps others3

I owe you for 2 letters, & shall pay off soon, havi⁠⟨⁠ng⁠⟩⁠ a lot of gossip for you.4 I am most anxious to get down for a Sunday, & shall do so by the earliest opportunity5   My Father has been a month away, which has kept me very busy,—6 London Society has been worse & really it demands serious consideration.7 I cannot see my way to any mean course between dining out every-where & no where, without a system of prevarication that would be intolerable, & ⁠⟨⁠now⁠⟩⁠ that my Father never goes out I have double duty that way.— I must now get on with the N Z. Flora.8

Black (our Herb Curator)9 is gone away on 6 months leave in very bad health—lungs affected—which throws an immense lot of work on me— happily Thomson is living at Kew & works all day at Herb. for love of the thing.10 he says you should take note that in Cucurb. the tendril is a modified leaf, in Vines a shoot, (i.e. axis of growth.)

I will send Gray’s letter to me tomorrow, he has come in to £2000 by death a relative of wifes.11

Ev yrs aff | J D Hooker

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Oliver | Limnothemium Indicusink 12


The date is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 July [1863], and the following letter; the intervening Tuesday was 21 July.
Facile princeps: ‘obviously pre-eminent’ (Chambers). See letters to J. D. Hooker, 25 [June 1863], 1 July [1863], and 14 July [1863].
Letters to J. D. Hooker, 1 July [1863] and 14 July [1863].
Hooker was assistant director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where his father, William Jackson Hooker, was director (R. Desmond 1994).
J. D. Hooker 1864–7. Hooker had been engaged by the colonial government of New Zealand to prepare a flora (J. D. Hooker 1864–7, p. 7*).
Allan A. Black was curator of the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994).
Thomas Thomson had recently retired as superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden and professor of botany at the Calcutta medical college (DNB). Hooker refers to the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
See following letter. The reference is to Daniel Oliver.


Chambers: The Chambers dictionary. Edinburgh: Chambers Harrap Publishers. 1998.

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.

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.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1864–7. Handbook of the New Zealand flora: a systematic description of the native plants of New Zealand and the Chatham, Kermadec’s, Lord Auckland’s, Campbell’s, and MacQuarrie’s Islands. 2 vols. London: Lovell Reeve & Co.


Encourages CD to continue observations on tendrils.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 152–3
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4225,” accessed on 28 October 2021,

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