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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 [August 1863]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I have made up my mind to go on Thursday week with all our household for a month to Malvern.2 I have had a deal of sickness of late; every morning for a fortnight. I have been in communication with Prof. Goodsir of Edinburgh, as I find what I suppose are vegetable cells in the limpid fluid which I throw up, & on my return I must consult someone skilled in such cases.—3 Goodsir thinks this is not cause, but consequence of enfeebled stomach.

Whenever you write please tell me the Vol. Title of Journal, Year, & page of your paper on the “Climate &c” of the Himalaya.4 And I ask you, whether you ought not to be crucified alive for sending out a valuable pamphlet with no means of giving a reference? Though Dutrochet has published the cream of my work, I have been going on at Tendrils &c; for the subject has interested me much, & Dutrochet left something undone.5 So do not forget me, if you notice at Kew any plant with odd tendrils. Those of Bignonia unguis are very peculiar; as are those of Smilax aspera, which latter have quite stumped me.—6

I had the other day a little note from Lyell, who has found Trimmers arctic shells on Moel Tryfan.—7 He goes to Newcastle;8 I suppose you will not have time. I have heard from no one else.—

I suppose I told you that my sister Catherine was going to marry our brother- in-law, Langton;9 well only a few days before, she caught the Scarlet-Fever so badly that she has been in some risk of her life.—

When we return from Malvern you must try & spare a Sunday; it is so very long since I have seen you.10 Do not write till you have something approaching to leisure.

Goodnight my dear old friend | C. Darwin


The date is established by CD’s reference to his planned visit to Malvern. CD travelled to Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, on 3 September 1863 (see Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242) and n. 2, below).
CD stayed at Malvern Wells, Worcestershire, for six weeks beginning 3 September 1863, returning to Down on 14 October 1863. Emma Darwin travelled there in advance, arriving on 1 September 1863 to secure lodgings for the family (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). During his stay, CD underwent treatment at James Smith Ayerst’s hydropathic establishment at Old Well House, Malvern Wells (see letter to W. D. Fox, 4 [September 1863]).
John Goodsir was professor of anatomy at the University of Edinburgh. See letter from John Goodsir, 21 August [1863].
CD refers to ‘On the climate and vegetation of the temperate and cold regions of East Nepal and the Sikkim-Himalaya Mountains’, published in the Journal of the Horticultural Society (J. D. Hooker 1852); there is a presentation copy of the pamphlet in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
The reference is to the French plant physiologist René Joachim Henri Dutrochet and to Dutrochet 1843 and 1844 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12–13 August [1863]). CD had begun making observations on climbing plants in June 1863 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 [June 1863], and letter to Asa Gray, 26 June [1863]). Hooker sent living specimens of climbing plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, at the end of July 1863 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 July 1863]).
CD’s observational notes on Bignonia unguis (a synonym of Dolichandra unguis-cati), dated between 23 and 31 August 1863, are in DAR 157.1: 118, 120. CD’s observations on the tendrils of B. unguis were later published in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 50–1; Smilax aspera var. maculata is discussed on pp. 68–70.
The references are to Charles Lyell and Joshua Trimmer. The letter from Lyell has not been found; however, see the letter to Charles Lyell, 14 August [1863].
In 1863, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting in Newcastle-upon-Tyne between 26 August and 2 September (Annual register 1863 (pt 2), pp. 131–9).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 12–13 August [1863]. Emily Catherine Darwin and Charles Langton were married on 8 October 1863 (Emma Darwin (1915), 2: 180–1).
There is no evidence that Hooker visited CD later in 1863.


Annual register: The annual register. A view of the history and politics of the year. 1838–62. The annual register. A review of public events at home and abroad. N.s. 1863–1946. London: Longman & Co. [and others].

‘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.

Dutrochet, René Joachim Henri. 1843. Des mouvements révolutifs spontanés qui s’observent chez les végétaux. [Read 6 November 1843.] Comptes rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des Sciences 17: 989–1008.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1852. On the climate and vegetation of the temperate and cold regions of East Nepal and the Sikkim Himalaya Mountains. Journal of the Horticultural Society of London 7: 69–131.


CD’s illness: he is vomiting "vegetable" cells.

Dutrochet has published the best of CD’s observations on tendrils [see Climbing plants, p. 1 n.].

Lyell has found Joshua Trimmer’s Arctic shells on Moel Tryfan.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 204
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4274,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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