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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   27 [November 1863]



My dear Hooker

I grieve to hear about the Scarlet-Fever:1 my poor dear old friend you are most unfortunate. The tide must turn soon.— Be careful about secondary symptoms & do not expose your Boy to a chill. We think Leonard’s fearful illness was thus caused, last summer.—2

I write now chiefly to say vases did not come from Etruria & therefore must from my elder sister Susan.3 The day after she must have sent them, she was struck down with fever, believed to be Scarlet & communicated apparently by a shawl sent by my sister Catherine4 & worn once by her.—

Susan is now very ill; when better I will enquire, & forward your note in which you seem so pleased by Vases,5 & this will be best thanks you can send.—

I return Asa Gray’s letter & have been very glad to see it.6 It makes me, however, rather envious that I have not myself knowledge enough to thoroughily appreciate your grand paper.—7

Farewell my good fellow: I shall be glad to hear sometime about your Boy, whom you love so.— Much love much trial, but what an utter desert is life without love.

God Bless you | C. D.


Cambridge. Oct. 25: 1863 My Dear Hooker,

A letter from Boott to his sister (in Boott’s own handwriting which I was so glad to see again)8 which was sent to me yesterday, told us—before we saw the Gard. Chronicle, of your and Mrs. Hooker’s great and sudden sorrow, and deeply do we sympathise with you both in your affliction.9 I suppose the departed one was named both after your mother and your sisters.10 All your children have been born since I saw you,11 but your accounts of them, from time to time, have kept up our interest in them.

Your photograph is before me, and reproaches me with not having thanked you for the gift.—if indeed it be, as I fear, that I have not replied to yours of Aug. 26–Sept. 4th. At first I was not well satisfied with the photographer’s work. He has allowed your head to take a position which brings out a furrow on your cheek which is yet out of place, I presume, in the original. But, through longer familiarity I am getting to like the picture better. Many thanks for it.

We are delighted to know that dear Boott is really convalescent and gaining strength steadily, if slowly.

I must have written to you early in Sept. to say how much my wife had gained by our holiday.12 The gain she held well until 3 weeks ago—when a piece of overdoing—caused, I fear by a rather unexpected houseful of visitors, has put her down again as bad as ever.—confined to her room for the present, and with the prospect of being an invalid all winter!13 Her illness, though not very serious, perhaps, has damped our spirits, and has kept me from doing very much.

I am well in the midst of a study of the Astragali of N. Amer.,14 and before I print the results of my revision of the materials which our herbaria furnish, I may ask a question or two, as to those of Hook. Fl. Bor—Am.15

At present I am at a total loss only in regard to A. diaphanus, Dougl. in Hook. Fl. Bor. Am.16

It is in none of our herbaria—(i.e. Douglas’s specimens),17 nor have we anything I can identify with it. It is hardly likely you can help me to know it.

I must hereafter look over your remarks about Compositæ in your last letter. I shall be pleased if you can keep up my Mniopsis, which when I gave the name I thought a famous good genus. But, as you say, the Gnaphaliad genera must be done all over before we can get satisfaction—probably small satisfaction then.18

If I were younger—or even as I am, if I had not a weary load of work upon my shoulders I would “come over, and work up Compositæ” for your Gen. Pl.19 Some parts of the job I think I could do fairly well.

I had been told I could have little room in Nov. no. of Sill. Jour. and so had not attacked Welwitschia. But being lately told I could fill 4 pages I wrote and sent on a notice of your memoir20—I trust an appreciating one, though hasty and imperfect.

I consider the memoir grand—and that it does you very great credit. The clearness with which you have put every thing is unrivalled, perhaps even by any thing you ever did before. I do not believe that there is any monograph which exceeds it. You had a first rate opportunity, and I think you have improved it.

I lately find that Seemann had taken it into his head to reprint my review of DC. Memoirs et Souvenirs in his Journal.—21 That, as he likes, But he has cut out here and there as he liked.— which he was also welcome to do if he indicated the lacunæ,—as he did not.

But what vexes and astonishes me is that he had the impudence to assert that it was communicated with corrections by the author.—which surely is not true in any sense.22 I must rap his knuckles for that piece of impudence.23 Then he will probably leave me alone, which is all I want.

Ever, dear friend, Your affectionate and sympathising   A. Gray


The letter from Hooker has not been found. William Henslow Hooker had contracted scarlet fever in October but had been recovering (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 23 October 1863 and letter to J. D. Hooker, [22–3 November 1863]). William may have suffered a relapse as CD’s son Leonard had the previous summer (see n. 2, below).
Leonard Darwin had been ill with scarlet fever during the summer of 1862, suffering two relapses (see Correspondence vol. 10, letters from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862] and n. 11, and letter to A. R. Wallace, 20 August [1862]).
See letters to J. D. Hooker, 16 [November 1863] and 5 [December 1863]. The reference is to Susan Elizabeth Darwin.
Hooker’s note has not been found.
See enclosure. Gray’s letter, requested in the letter to J. D. Hooker, [22–3 November 1863], must have been sent to CD with Hooker’s missing letter (see n. 1, above).
CD refers to Hooker’s study of Welwitschia (J. D. Hooker 1863a).
Gray refers to Francis Boott, who was dying of lung disease (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 August 1863). Boott’s sister has not been identified.
Maria Elizabeth, the six-year-old daughter of Hooker and his wife, Frances Harriet, died on 28 September 1863 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 September 1863]). A notice of her death in the Gardeners’ Chronicle has not been found.
Hooker’s mother was named Maria. Gray also refers to Hooker’s sisters, Maria McGilvray and Elizabeth Lombe.
Hooker’s eldest child, William Henslow Hooker, was born in 1853, two years after Gray had last been in England (Dupree 1959). The Hookers had since had four more children: Harriet Anne, Charles Paget, Maria Elizabeth, and Brian Harvey Hodgson.
Gray and his wife, Jane Loring Gray, had been on holiday in New York State (see letter from Asa Gray, 1 September 1863 and n. 2).
In the 1850s and 1860s, Jane Loring Gray suffered chronic ill health (Dupree 1959, p. 182).
Gray refers to his paper published in the 11 November 1863 issue of the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences entitled ‘Revision and arrangement (mainly by the fruit) of the North American species of Astragalus and Oxytropis’ (A. Gray 1863h).
Gray refers to William Jackson Hooker’s Flora Boreali-Americana; or the botany of the northern parts of British America (W. J. Hooker 1840).
Astragalus diaphanus was described in W. J. Hooker 1840, 1: 151.
Gray refers to the plant collector David Douglas.
Gray probably meant to write Mniodes, rather than Mniopsis. He had listed Mniodes, pp. 138–9, as a section of the genus Antennaria in the Gnaphaliad alliance of the family Compositae (A. Gray 1861b). Hooker and George Bentham raised Mniodes to the generic level in Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 2: 301.
Gray refers to George Bentham’s and Hooker’s Genera Plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83). See n. 18, above.
Gray’s review of Hooker’s monograph on Welwitschia (J. D. Hooker 1863a) was published in the American Journal of Science and Arts (A. Gray 1863f). This was commonly known as ‘Silliman’s Journal’, after its founder Benjamin Silliman.
Gray’s review of Alphonse de Candolle’s Mémoires et souvenirs (A. de Candolle 1862c) originally appeared in the January 1863 issue of the American Journal of Science and Arts (A. Gray 1863g). Berthold Carl Seemann began editing the Journal of Botany, British and Foreign in 1863; the first volume reprinted Gray’s review, in part, on pp. 107–120. See also n. 22, below. There is a copy of A. de Candolle 1862c in the Darwin Library–Down.
The version of A. Gray 1863g that appeared in Seemann’s Journal of Botany, British and Foreign 1 (1863): 107–120, was followed on p. 120 by the statement: ‘Abridged from the American Journal of Science and Art, Second Series, with corrections by the Author’.
Gray expressed his objection to Seemann’s reprint of Gray 1863g in a note in the November 1863 issue of the American Journal of Science and Arts (2d ser. vol. 36), p. 434.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dupree, Anderson Hunter. 1959. Asa Gray, 1810–1888. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Hooker, William Jackson. 1840. Flora Boreali-Americana; or the botany of the northern parts of British America: compiled principally from the plants collected by Dr Richardson & Mr Drummond on the late northern expeditions, under command of Captain Sir John Franklin RN. To which are added … those of Mr Douglas, from north-west America, and of other naturalists. 2 vols. London: Henry G. Bohn.


On Wedgwood vases for JDH.

Willy Hooker’s scarlet fever.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 212; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Asa Gray correspondence: 333)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4348,” accessed on 27 March 2023,

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