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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   19 May 1864


May 19th/64.

Dear Darwin

I have been thinking a great deal about Scott,1 & have quite come to the conclusion that India would be the place for him. Anderson of Calcutta writes me word that the Govt. are about to settle the Forest management for Bengal; & this will afford plenty of opportunity for good men to get on.2 Indeed what with Tea Cinchona & Indigo & Coffee, a man of proved probity can have no difficulty in getting on; such positions offer abundant means of following any pursuit, & Scotts temper would be no objection.3 He would of course want assistance to get out to India for it is a mere chance that such places are advertized for in this country & passage out paid.— but once out there, with good introductions, & I am sure such a man should do well. I can, if you like, write out to Anderson at Calcutta, to Cleghorn Inspector of Forests of N.W. India4 & Beddome, ditto of Madras,5 & Scott might go out to Calcutta with all the further introductions he could get. I am sure that Anderson would give or find him inexpensive quarters at the Bot. Gardens for some weeks. India is now the place of all others for active & energetic men.

I saw Herbert Spencer two days ago   he tells me that he has been reading Zoonomia, & intends to give all the credit hitherto awarded Lamarck to your Grdfather—6 by the way I saw a very good portrait of the old gentleman at the Lichfield Museum.—7 I have your Medallion to return.—8

Hector has sent me photographs of fossil plants from N. Zealand, including an Araucaria very like the Chilian & Queensland (Australian) one in foliage.9

Bentham is at his annual address, & on the subject of hybridism;—10 I am not at all up in it, but remember that you differed fundamentally on some point from Naudin.11 Bentham is dealing largely with both you & Naudin, & I should like to tell him what the divergence is.

I wish you would soon publish a note on tendrils &c, or you will certainly be cut out by some foreigner:— A few lines to the Gard Chronicle would suffice12   I am delighted to hear that you are at Lythrum.13

Do not bother to answer this   only one line about Naudin if you can.

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 I have … energetic men. 1.15] enclosed in square brackets, pencil
1.2 Anderson] after ‘Dr.’ added pencil
1.2 of Calcutta] after ‘Director of Bot. Garden’ interl pencil
1.6 & Scotts … objection. 1.7] del pencil
1.9 & I] ‘I’ added over, pencil


Hooker refers to John Scott, who had been without employment since leaving his position as foreman of the propagating department at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, in March 1864 (see letter from John Scott, 10 March 1864). See Hooker’s extended correspondence with CD about Scott between 26 March and 25 April 1864.
The reference is to Thomas Anderson, superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden, and, from September 1864, conservator of forests of Bengal and Assam (Stebbing 1922–6, 1: 515, DSB). The setting up of forest departments under the Indian Forest Act of 1862 was part of a series of administrative reforms in land-management that followed in the wake of the Indian Mutiny in 1857, after which responsibility for land-use passed from the East India Company to the Civil Service. Post-Mutiny reconstruction stimulated an increased demand for timber (Dawkins and Philip 1998, pp. 39, 52–5). See also Stebbing 1922–6.
For an overview of the development of Cinchona, tea, and indigo plantations in British India during this period, see Markham 1880 and Brockway 1979. For a general discussion of the impact of Kew and the colonial botanic gardens in spreading the cultivation of these crops, see McCracken 1997, pp. 132–46. For Hooker’s assessment of Scott’s temperament, see letters from J. D. Hooker, 6 April 1864 and 20 April 1864.
Hooker refers to Hugh Francis Clarke Cleghorn, conservator of forests in the Madras Presidency; in 1864, Cleghorn was engaged in advising the government of India on the general organisation of forest administration and was based in Punjab (Stebbing 1922–6, 1: 301, 324).
The reference is to Richard Henry Beddome, officiating conservator of forests in the Madras Presidency (Stebbing 1922–6, 2: 90).
Erasmus Darwin, author of Zoonomia (E. Darwin 1794–6), had published evolutionary ideas anticipating those of Jean Baptiste de Lamarck. Herbert Spencer was working on Principles of biology (Spencer 1864–7), which was being published in instalments; he discussed Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck in Spencer 1864–7, 1: 402–10, in an instalment issued in October 1864, giving both credit for their contributions to evolutionary theory. See also letter from A. R. Wallace, 2 January 1864 and nn. 20 and 21. CD gave a brief assessment of the significance of Erasmus Darwin and Lamarck in the historical sketch in Origin 3d ed., pp. xiii–xiv. Although CD referred to Zoonomia and Lamarck 1809 while he was compiling his transmutation notebooks (Notebooks), in his correspondence he was dismissive of both (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters to Charles Lyell, 12–13 March [1863] and 17 March [1863]). See also Autobiography, p. 49, and Glick and Kohn eds. 1996, p. 216.
Hooker visited Francis Wedgwood at Barlaston, Staffordshire, on 7 May 1864, and evidently travelled to nearby Lichfield, Staffordshire (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [26 or 27 April 1864] and n. 15). The only museum in Lichfield in 1864 was the museum and free library in Bird Street (Post Office directory of Birmingham 1864). The portrait was a ‘copy after Joseph Wright of Derby’ by an unnamed artist, dating from the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century; it is now part of the collections of the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield. For a discussion of the numerous other extant portraits of Erasmus Darwin, including the work of Wright, see Milo Keynes 1994. Erasmus Darwin had practised medicine at Lichfield from 1756 to 1781 (DNB, King-Hele 1999).
Hooker had borrowed a Wedgwood portrait medallion of Erasmus Darwin from CD in 1863 so that a copy could be made for the museum at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 March 1863], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [March 1863]).
These photographs are referred to in the letter from J. D. Hooker to James Hector, 19 May 1864, in the Museum of New Zealand Archives; the letter is reproduced in Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, pp. 48–9. James Hector was geologist to the provincial government of Otago, New Zealand. For Hooker’s earlier discussions of the geographical distribution of living and fossil species of the coniferous tree genus Araucaria, see Correspondence vol. 3, letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 April 1844, and Correspondence vol. 7, letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 December 1858. CD discovered a fossil tree allied to Araucaria on Chiloe Island, Chile, during his Beagle voyage (see Journal and remarks, p. 406, and South America, pp. 121, 202).
George Bentham was president of the Linnean Society; he delivered the anniversary address on 24 May 1864 (Bentham 1864a; hybridism is discussed on pp. x–xvii).
Hooker refers to Charles Victor Naudin. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 [May 1864]. For Bentham’s interest in assessing CD’s work in the light of French and German work on hybridism in his anniversary address, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from George Bentham, [c. 14 April 1863], and this volume, letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 3.
CD began observations on tendrils in the summer of 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11), and had largely finished writing the draft of ‘Climbing plants’ on 13 September 1864 after four months’ work (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II)). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 July [1864] and n. 9. For an indication of the French and German research on climbing plants, see the letters from Daniel Oliver, [before 31 March 1864] and [1 April 1864] and n. 7, and the sources cited in ‘Climbing plants’. Hooker refers to the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Brockway, Lucile H. 1979. Science and colonial expansion. The role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens. New York: Academic Press.

‘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–.

Darwin, Erasmus. 1794–6. Zoonomia; or, the laws of organic life. 2 vols. London: J. Johnson.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

DSB: Dictionary of scientific biography. Edited by Charles Coulston Gillispie and Frederic L. Holmes. 18 vols. including index and supplements. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1970–90.

Journal and remarks: Journal and remarks. 1832–1836. By Charles Darwin. Vol. 3 of Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle between the years 1826 and 1836, describing their examination of the southern shores of South America, and the Beagle’s circumnavigation of the globe. London: Henry Colburn. 1839. [Separately published as Journal of researches.]

Keynes, Milo. 1994. Portraits of Dr Erasmus Darwin, F.R.S., by Joseph Wright, James Rawlinson and William Coffee. Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 48: 69–84.

King-Hele, Desmond. 1999. Erasmus Darwin. A life of unequalled achievement. London: Giles de la Mare Publishers.

Lamarck, Jean-Baptiste-Pierre-Antoine. 1809. Philosophie zoologique; ou exposition des considérations relatives à l’histoire naturelle des animaux; à la diversité de leur organisation … et les autres l’intelligence de ceux qui en sont doués. 2 vols. Paris: Dentu; the author.

McCracken, Donal P. 1997. Gardens of empire: botanical institutions of the Victorian British empire. London and Washington: Leicester University Press.

Markham, Clements Robert. 1880. Peruvian bark. A popular account of the introduction of chinchona cultivation into British India. London: John Murray.

Notebooks: Charles Darwin’s notebooks, 1836–1844. Geology, transmutation of species, metaphysical enquiries. Transcribed and edited by Paul H. Barrett et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press for the British Museum (Natural History). 1987.

Origin 3d ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 3d edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1861.

Post Office directory of Birmingham: Post Office directory of Birmingham, Warwickshire, and part of Staffordshire. Kelly’s directory of Birmingham, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. London: W. Kelly; Kelly & Co. 1845–1928.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Spencer, Herbert. 1864–7. The principles of biology. 2 vols. London: Williams & Norgate.

Stebbing, E. P. 1922–6. The forests of India. 3 vols. London: John Lane, The Bodley Head.


JDH suggests Scott go to India; he will write letters of introduction.

Conversation with Herbert Spencer.

George Bentham would like to know how CD’s view of hybridism diverges from Charles Naudin’s.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 220–1
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4501,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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