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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   5 April [1864]1

Down Bromley | Kent.

Ap. 5

My dear Hooker

I see my scheme for Scott has invincible difficulties & I am very much obliged to you for explaining them at such length.2 If ever I get decently well & Scott is free & willing I will have him here for a couple of years to work out several problems which otherwise will never be done. I cannot see what will become of the poor fellow. I enclose a little pamphlet from him3 which I suppose is not of much scientific value, but is surprizing as the work of a gardener   if you have time do just glance over it. I never heard any thing so extraordinary as what you say about poisoning plants &c.4

Very many thanks for the glacial discussion, which I shall preserve.5 I thot Frankland was infinitely in his assertions6   Will you give Oliver my particular thanks for all his references about tendrils &c—7 It gives me the horrors to see how much I ought to read on the subject

I can never admit Lyell’s view on glacial climate & to make all fit you will have to out do the great master of wriggling.8

The post has just come in   yr. interest about Scott is extraordinarily kind & I thank you cordially.9 It seems absurd to say so, but I suspect that Balfour is prejudiced against Scott because he partially supports my views.10 We will let Godfrey Wedgwood know that you wd like to see him & I am sure he wd enjoy coming out to Kew to you when next in London.11 It pleases me much that you wish to come here to see me but at present my health is so doubtful that it really wd not be worth while unless you were staying at the Lubbocks12—for, on many days I cd only shake hands with you, & on my better days, cd only talk ten minutes— you may be sure I will let you know when I get really at all better.

Apropos to glacial action I can remember no instance of fiords except in the North or South—13 I agree to what you say about Prestwich.14

Please look to climbing of Nepenthes. I am the more curious because I remember that the tips of the leaves of N. ampullacea (which I bought) were hooked— The 2 little plants which you gave me, tho’ treated with maternal care, both died.15

You must not trust my former letter about Clematis   I worked on too old a plant & blundered.16 I have now gone over the work again   It is really curious that the stiff peduncles are acted on by a bit of thread weighing .062 of a grain.17

Clematis glandulosa was a valuable present to me.18 My gardener shewed it to me & said this is what they call a Clematis evidently disbelieving it.19 So I put a little twig to the peduncle & the next day my gardener said “you see it is a Clem. for it feels”   That’s the way we make out plants at Down—20

yours affectionately | C Darwin

My dear old friend | God Bless you.—

Have you read the article on History of Heat in Reader: it is interesting.21

I have got new nor of N. Hist. Review.— I have not had it read, but I see much honour is done me, I suppose by Oliver—22

We have laughed over your astonishing injustice to the I. of Wight.!23

How curious all that you tell me about Veitch.24 What interesting letters you write.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, [1 April 1864].
In his letter of [2 April 1864], Hooker discussed the problems that would be involved in employing John Scott, formerly foreman of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
CD probably refers to the paper that Scott read to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on 10 March 1864 (Scott 1864c; see letters from John Scott, 12 [February 1864] and nn. 10 and 11, and 19 March 1864 and n. 9).
CD and Hooker had been discussing Edward Frankland’s lecture ‘On the glacial epoch’ (Frankland 1864a), delivered at the Royal Institution in January (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864, 9 [March] 1864, and [2 April 1864]). CD omitted a word after ‘infinitely’, but his letters to Hooker of [20–]22 February [1864] and 26[–7] March 1864 express his dissatisfaction with Frankland’s assertions.
See letters from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864] and [1 April 1864].
Hooker had indicated that he agreed with Charles Lyell’s argument regarding the primary cause of the glacial period, granted some ‘judicious wriggling’ (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 April 1864] and n. 17). CD’s ‘wriggling’ out of theoretical difficulties had become a joke between the two friends over a number of years (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 and 22 May [1863] and n. 5). On CD’s disagreement with Lyell’s view, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 September [1864] and n.10.
In May 1863 Scott had expressed views favourable to CD’s transmutation theory in a paper read to the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (Scott 1863a); in his letter to CD of [3 June 1863] (Correspondence vol. 11), Scott mentioned the unpopularity in Edinburgh of CD’s views. John Hutton Balfour’s particular opposition to CD’s views was noted by Hooker in his letter of 10 June 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11), and in this volume, in Scott’s letters to CD of 7 January [1864] and 12 [February 1864].
After CD struck an optimistic note regarding his health in his letter to Hooker of 26[–7] March [1864], Hooker expressed his hope of soon visiting CD at Down (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 March 1864). CD probably refers to John Lubbock and his family, (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 [March] 1864, n.24).
The reference to fiords has not been found; however, see nn. 5, 6, and 8, above. CD and Hooker had been discussing Frankland’s paper on the glacial epoch (Frankland 1864a; see nn. 5 and 6, above); for Frankland’s references to Norwegian fiords, see Frankland 1864a, pp. 167, 168, and 172. For CD’s earlier reference to fiords in regard to the differing theories of Andrew Crombie Ramsay and Charles Lyell on the origin of the glacial epoch, see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to A. C. Ramsay, 5 September [1862].
Hooker discussed Joseph Prestwich in his letter of 29 March 1864.
CD is probably referring to observations on the sensitivity of Clematis flammula petioles (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [8 February 1864], and n. 17, below).
CD refers to observations of Clematis flammula made on 2 April 1864, when he tied pieces of thread to the petioles in order to test their sensitivity (see note in DAR 157.1: 73); in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 33–4, CD mentioned that, considering the thickness and stiffness of the petioles and the small size and weight of the cotton thread, the flexure of the petiole was ‘remarkable’. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, [8 February 1864] and n. 4, the letter to George Howard Darwin, [after 5 April 1864?], and letter from G. H. Darwin, [after 6 April 1864?].
Hooker may have sent Clematis glandulosa with the plants he sent to CD on 16 March (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 March 1864).
CD probably refers to his under-gardener, Henry Lettington, who helped him with experiments, rather than to William Brooks (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 [April 1864] and n. 4); Brooks, listed as gardener in the 1861 Census returns (Public Record Office RG9/462: 74), was a general outdoor servant. When Lettington began working at Down in 1854, CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS) listed Brooks under ‘Manservants’ and Lettington under ‘Garden’.
CD described the plant’s movement in relation to the twig in an experimental note in DAR 157.1: 62, and in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 26–7.
CD refers to the article ‘The form of heat; being a history of the kinetic theory of heat from 1620 to 1862’, in the Reader, 2 April 1864, pp. 428–30. The article, signed ‘C. K. A.’, was the first in a five-part series concluding on 30 April 1864. The author was Károly Akin, a Hungarian physicist (Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon).
CD refers to the April issue of the Natural History Review. This issue contained an anonymous article by a botany editor, Daniel Oliver ([Oliver] 1864a), reviewing works on dimorphism by Hugo von Mohl, Ludolph Christian Treviranus, Friedrich Christoph Wilhelm Alefeld, John Scott, Friedrich Hildebrand, Asa Gray and Henry Trimen (Mohl 1863, Treviranus 1863a and 1863c, Alefeld 1863, Scott 1863a, Hildebrand 1863a, Gray 1863c, Trimen 1863). Oliver noted that the papers reviewed were ‘suggested by the researches of Mr. Darwin’ ([Oliver] 1864, p. 243 n.). There is an unbound copy of the Natural History Review, April 1864, in the Darwin Library–CUL; [Oliver] 1864a (pp. 243–8) is annotated. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Daniel Oliver, 27 November 1863 and nn. 6–8, and 10.
The reference is to the nurseryman James Veitch (1815–69) (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 March 1864 and nn. 24–7).


Alefeld, Friedrich. 1863. Ueber Linum. Botanische Zeitung, 18 September 1863, pp. 281–2.

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

Magyar Életrajzi Lexikon. Edited by Ágnes Kenyeres. 3 vols. and supplement. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. 1967–94.

Mohl, Hugo von. 1863. Einige Beobachtungen über dimorphe Blüthen. Botanische Zeitung 21: 309–15, 321–8.

[Oliver, Daniel.] 1864a. Dimorphic flowers. Natural History Review n.s. 4: 243–8.

Trimen, Roland. 1863. On the fertilization of Disa grandiflora, Linn.... drawn up from notes and drawings sent to C. Darwin, Esq., FLS, &c. [Read 4 June 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 144–7.


Sees difficulty of placing Scott at Kew. Suspects Balfour is prejudiced because Scott is a Darwinian.

CD’s former letter on Clematis [4403] blundered; work now being revised.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 227a–c
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4450,” accessed on 23 October 2021,

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