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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   9 [March] 18641


Feby 9th/64

Dear Old Darwin

I am worthy of death, for so long delaying to answer your capital long letter,2 which I shall now proceed to categorically.

If H. C. Watson does publish I shall surely let you know, but if he has any sense of shame, he can only do it by taking up the subject; & that I do wish he would, & treat me as he thinks fit in the course of it—3 he will no more make me angry than Owen did.4

Scott’s paper is ordered for printing in Linnæan Journal.5 I have not seen it, but Thomson, who heard it, thought it most valuable.6 I think Thomson is beginning to nibble at Darwinism— Bentham is in for it, but will not own it.—7

I wrote that little notice of Boott for Gardeners Chronicle & 3 others—all different,—for the Medical papers,—8 I never was so put to in my life, but what could I do, when the Ladies9 asked me? There were absolutely no data of any consequence, & I had heard that he had some bitter feuds, of which I truly knew nothing—so I bargained that they must give me all the heads of topics & ratify all I said—but I never was so put to to cook them up. I absolutely refused to go into his religious character.10

On the other hand I felt & feel, that I could not do too much for dear old Boott’s memory—if only there was any-thing to do!

You surely can recognize that old frump Phillips hand in the Quarterly Review of Lyell.11

I was very near printing an exposé of Franklands glacial theory, which cost me a sleepless night, to concoct, but F. begged me to wait till he published at length.12 I never read anything so wrong, geologically & meteorologically, nor more contradicted by Existing facts in Physical Geography.

I have not seen ADCs. pamphlet on sexes.13

Falconer is no nearer the Lake origin than Ramsay,14—but my objection to the whole argument is, that we have no data— we do not know the rock outline of any lake bottom—nor whether its longitudinal section is a rock basin, or a rock canal blocked up at the lower end by detritus or sediment or moraine   till we know that what is the use of speculating?

Crugers letter excited great interest the other night— Oliver read it & demonstrated with chalk sketches on board.15

There was an old story that plants in S. Hemisphere twined the opposite way, but it was exploded long ago.16

I can send you Norantea from Kew, without waiting for Crugers, & will with some other climbers.17 We have never succeeded in flowering it. I hope you may   It is wonderful how many twining plants there are: & I do not doubt the truth of your remark as to potentiality of climbing power throughout V.K.—18 There is no true climbing Umbellifer known to me.— a New Zealand Angelica may be so— I think a Chilian genus of Cruciferæ (Cremolobus Gen. Pl. 90) twines or approaches that condition   I know no Labiate that climbs.19

Get Lapageria rosea,20 from Hendersons, Wellington Road, St. John’s wood—21 they have lots of it— our plants are exhausted by constant subdivision.

How does Nepenthes climb?22

I wish Huxley would not go out of his way to pick quarrels with such cattle as Carter Blake & Hunt.—who he thus magnifies greatly.23

I spent last Sunday with my wife at Lubbocks,24 & I yearned to go over & see Mrs Darwin, but it would have been too great a punishment to both of us (you & me). I cannot tell which I crave for most, another little girl,25 or for you to get well— Poor dear little Charlie,26 I have just heard this evening that he has ring-worm (caught at school) & must be removed— do you know any thing of that complaint?— I have told my wife to ask Paget tomorrow what we had best do.27 I should like to have him home and keep him apart here. A hospital for contagious diseases amongst the upper classes is greatly wanted. Harriette is growing up nicely, & dear old Willy seems to be in “statu quo” in point of progress.28 Brian29 is a powerful urchin, mentally & bodily—

Ever yr. affec | J. D. Hooker


Hooker wrote February in error; this letter is a response to CD’s letter of [20–]22 February [1864].
CD had inquired in his letter to Hooker of [20–]22 February [1864] about Hewett Cottrell Watson and his proposed publication criticising Hooker’s Arctic essay (J. D. Hooker 1860). For Hooker’s earlier discussion of his problems with Watson, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 February 1864 and nn. 14–16; for Watson’s eventual publication, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 February 1864, n. 17.
Richard Owen reviewed Hooker’s On the flora of Australia (J. D. Hooker 1859) in the same article that included his review of Origin ([R. Owen] 1860). There is an annotated copy of [R. Owen] 1860 in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Thomas Thomson heard Scott 1864a when it was read on 4 February 1864 at the Linnean Society.
CD had long been interested in George Bentham’s views on species (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [April 1861] and n. 9, and Correspondence vol. 11, letter to George Bentham, 19 June [1863]). For Hooker’s perception of Bentham’s endorsement of Darwinism, see the letters from J. D. Hooker, 16 September 1864 and n. 18, and 20 May 1868 (Calendar no. 6189); see also the letter from George Bentham, [before 22 April 1868] (Calendar no. 6134).
Hooker’s obituary notice of Francis Boott appeared in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 16 January 1864, pp. 51–2. Hooker probably also wrote the obituary notices in the Medical Times and Gazette, 16 January 1864, p. 77, the Lancet, 23 January 1864, p. 113, and the British Medical Journal, 23 January 1864, pp. 102–3.
The reference is presumably to Boott’s wife, Mary Boott, and one or more of Boott’s daughters, who have not been identified.
In his letter of 29 February 1860 (Correspondence vol. 8), Boott wrote: ‘I cannot attain to the belief in the Divinity of Christ, his resurrection—the miracles or the Apostolic succession or the verbal inspiration— … While I see much in the instinctive religion which nature plants in the mind, I separate myself the more & more from the church—’.
CD had asked about the unsigned review of Charles Lyell’s Antiquity of man in the Quarterly Review (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864] and n. 9); the reviewer was John Phillips.
Edward Frankland published a longer version of Frankland 1864a in the Philosophical Magazine, under the title ‘On the physical cause of the glacial epoch’ (Frankland 1864b). No review by Hooker of Frankland 1864b has been found. For CD’s and Hooker’s earlier discussions of Frankland’s theory, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 10, and letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864] and nn. 10 and 11. There is a copy of Frankland 1864b, inscribed by the author, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Alphonse de Candolle had sent CD a paper by Marc Thury (Thury 1863) on the production of sexes in animals; Hooker had mistaken the author of the paper (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 12, and letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864] and n. 15).
Hooker refers to Hugh Falconer’s recent speech on the role of glaciers in lake formation (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 11) and to Andrew Crombie Ramsay’s hypothesis about the glacial origin of lakes expressed in Ramsay 1862. Joseph Beete Jukes had contrasted Ramsay’s and Falconer’s arguments in his letter to the Reader, 6 February 1864, pp. 173–4, and Falconer responded to Jukes’s criticism in the Reader, 5 March 1864, pp. 301–3. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864]. See also Davies 1969, pp. 303–9.
Hermann Crüger’s paper ‘On the fecundation of orchids’ (Crüger 1864) was originally sent to CD (see letter from Hermann Crüger, 21 January 1864), who communicated it to the Linnean Society (see letter to Daniel Oliver, 17 February [1864], and letter from Daniel Oliver, 18 February 1864); it was read on 3 March 1864 at the Linnean Society by Daniel Oliver. Oliver may have sketched the drawings that appeared in Crüger 1864, plate 9, figures 1–3, of a humble-bee pollinating a Catasetum in a way that verified CD’s speculation in Orchids, pp. 211–13 (see Crüger 1864, pp. 128–30, letter from Hermann Crüger, 21 January 1864 and n. 8, and letter to Daniel Oliver, 17 February [1864] and n. 9).
CD had commented on the number of orders, now recognised as families, that include climbing plants (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [20–]22 February [1864] and n. 22). ‘V.K.’ is the vegetable kingdom.
In his letter of [20–]22 February [1864], CD had asked if there were any climbing plants in the families Umbelliferae, Cruciferae, and Labiatae. Hooker refers to the description of Cremolobus in Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 1: 90.
CD evidently already had a specimen of the twining plant Lapageria rosea; his experimental notes record its movements beginning on 7 March 1864 (see DAR 157.1: 22). CD recorded these movements in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 15, calling the genus Lapagerea.
Edward George Henderson & Son, nurserymen, 1B Wellington Road, St John’s Wood (Post Office London directory 1864).
Hooker later answered his own question about the climbing of the pitcher plant Nepenthes (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4–]6 August 1864; see also letter from Daniel Oliver, 21 July 1864). CD had been anxious to procure specimens when he built his hothouse in 1863, but he had trouble maintaining those that Hooker had sent him from Kew (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 January [1863] and 5 March [1863], and Appendix VI, and this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 April [1864]). CD asked Hooker several times to check on the climbing of his specimens (see letters to J. D. Hooker, 26[–7] March [1864], 5 April [1864], and 31 [May 1864]). CD later ordered new plants (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 June [1864]). His observations of Nepenthes species are recorded in his notes in DAR 157.1: 111–12 and DAR 187: 1; see also ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 46–7.
James Hunt was the president and Charles Carter Blake an honorary secretary of the Anthropological Society of London, which sought a scientific basis for the justification of slavery. For the growing controversy at this time between the Anthropological Society and the Ethnological Society of London, presided over by John Lubbock, see Stocking 1971, Stocking 1987, pp. 248–54, E. Richards 1989, and Barton 1998, pp. 411, 437–9; see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 and 22 May [1863] and n. 12, and letter from T. H. Huxley, 2 July 1863, and A. Desmond 1994–7, 1: 320–1, 325–6. Hooker refers to Thomas Henry Huxley’s criticism at the close of the ninth of his Hunterian Lectures of a recent paper of Hunt’s entitled ‘On the negro’s place in nature’. (The lectures were on the structure and classification of the mammalia, and were delivered on 20 February 1864 at the Royal College of Surgeons; see the Reader, 27 February 1864, pp. 266–8, for a report on Huxley’s seventh, eighth, and ninth lectures). Hunt’s paper argued that ‘the Negro’ was not the same species as the white European (Hunt 1863a and 1863b; see also Journal of the Anthropological Society of London 2 (1864): xv–lvi, for a summary of Hunt’s paper and ensuing discussions at the Anthropological Society on 17 November 1863). Huxley also criticised a reference of Hunt’s to Blake’s conclusion regarding the comparative structure of a molar in different human races (Reader, 27 February 1864, pp. 267–8, and Hunt 1863a, p. 19). The leading article of the next issue of the Reader, 5 March 1864, pp. 287–8, extolled Huxley’s recent lecture on ‘the Negro-question’, and included a response by Hunt to Huxley’s criticisms, followed by a letter of defence from Blake (pp. 303–4).
John Lubbock’s family lived at Chislehurst, Kent, about five miles north of Down, but they may have been entertaining at High Elms, the family seat, a short walk from Down House (Post Office directory of the six home counties 1862).
Hooker’s daughter Maria Elizabeth died on 28 September 1863, aged 6 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 September 1863]).
Charles Paget Hooker, aged 8, was the Hookers’ third child and second son (Allan 1967).
Hooker refers to his wife, Frances Harriet, and presumably to the surgeon James Paget, who was a friend of Hooker’s (Allan 1967, p. 93).
Hooker refers to Harriet Anne Hooker, aged 10, and William Henslow Hooker, aged 11. For Hooker’s recent discussion of his son William, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [before 9 February 1864].


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

‘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.

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

Crüger, Hermann. 1864. A few notes on the fecundation of orchids and their morphology. [Read 3 March 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 127–35.

Desmond, Adrian. 1994–7. Huxley. 2 vols. London: Michael Joseph.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1859. On the flora of Australia, its origin, affinities, and distribution; being an introductory essay to the flora of Tasmania. London: Lovell Reeve.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

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.

[Owen, Richard.] 1860b. [Review of Origin & other works.] Edinburgh Review 111: 487–532.

Post Office directory of the six home counties: Post Office directory of the six home counties, viz., Essex, Herts, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey and Sussex. London: W. Kelly & Co. 1845–78.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.

Richards, Evelleen. 1989. The ‘moral anatomy’ of Robert Knox: the interplay between biological and social thought in Victorian scientific naturalism. Journal of the History of Biology 22: 373–436.

Stocking, George W., Jr. 1971. What’s in a name? The origins of the Royal Anthropological Institute (1837–71). Man n.s. 6: 369–90.

Stocking, George W., Jr. 1987. Victorian anthropology. New York: The Free Press. London: Collier Macmillan.

Thury, Marc Antoine. 1863. Mémoire sur la loi de production des sexes chez les plantes les animaux et l’homme. 2d edition. Geneva and Paris: Joël Cherbuliez.


Reception of Scott’s paper.

Difficulty of writing Boott’s obituary.

Critical of Edward Frankland’s glacial theory.

Falconer’s and Ramsay’s views on Himalayan lakes lack support of basic evidence.

Taxonomic distribution of climbing plants.

Huxley picks quarrels with minor figures and thus magnifies them.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 189–92
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4404,” accessed on 4 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12