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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 [July 1863]1



My dear Hooker

Many thanks about Limnanthemium.2

What pleasant letters Asa Gray writes.3 One might as well write to a madman as to him about the war.4 It is a holy war & everything shd. be sacrificed to it.— I never thought of Jesus & absence of family affection:— I hear Rénan has discussed this;—5

I see Henslow says tendrils of Cucurbitaceæ are stipules;6 Gray branches,7 & Thomson leaves—:8 what is a poor devil to believe?

Have you by any chance seed of Lathyrus aphaca: it would be good for my purpose.—9

I am tired so good night— | C. D.

Remember “hot-house Lythrum-like flower.”—10 I am daily crossing my flowers of L. salicaria, & this reminds me.11


The month is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 July [1863]; Hooker evidently endorsed the letter ‘Augt.’ in error.
In his letter to Hooker of 22 July [1863], CD asked for advice about sowing seeds of Limnanthemum indicum; Hooker’s reply has not been found.
In his letter, Hooker had apparently discussed CD’s comments on Gray’s attitude to the American Civil War (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 July [1863]).
Renan 1863, p. 42.
J. S. Henslow 1837, p. 72. There is an annotated copy of this work in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 369–71).
A. Gray 1857, pp. 38–9. There is an annotated copy of this work in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 347).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [21 July 1863]. The reference is to Thomas Thomson.
In the climbing plant, Lathyrus aphaca, the leaves generally develop into tendrils, their typical function being performed instead by large stipules; the plant is described in J. S. Henslow 1837, p. 72 (see n. 6, above). There are notes on this species, dated 19–29 October 1863, in DAR 157.2: 21; see also ‘Climbing plants’, p. 67.
The reference is to Lagerstroemia, a member of the Lythraceae. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 and 22 May [1863], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 May 1863].
In 1862, CD carried out ninety-four crosses between the three forms of flower in Lythrum salicaria, but decided that he needed to carry out further crosses in 1863 in order to be sure of his results (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [October 1862]). See the experimental notes in DAR 27.2: B39, B41, B43, and ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, pp. 180–4 (Collected papers 2: 115–18). In addition, CD carried out experiments in August 1863 using plants raised from the homomorphic crosses of the previous year (see DAR 109: B36–41, and ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, pp. 394–410).


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

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.

Renan, Ernest. 1863. Vie de Jésus. Paris: Michel Lévy Frères.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


Asa Gray writes as if Civil War were a holy war.

J. E. Renan on Jesus [Vie de Jésus (1863)].

Literature on tendrils of Cucurbita is contradictory.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 203
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4254,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

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