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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [1 September 1864]1


Thursday Evening

My dear Hooker.

Thanks for Quits2 & the N. Zealand Plate.—3 Here we are again. I found I could do nothing. Everything knocked me up,, so we came away.4 I shd. so have liked to have seen you at Kew.— One word more about that troublesome Bignonia—5 The B. unguis, with which I compared the other sp. came from Kew, so I suppose can be trusted. But now, by Jove, my trouble is added to, for I have got another species, in appearance still closer to B. unguis, & which Veitch calls B. Tweediana!6 I have, also, got from him a Mutisia with tendrils7 & now I must & will stop looking at fresh things.—

Have you read “Beppo”8—it is a most jolly novel.—

I am truly thankful for advice about Kölliker,9 which shall be followed & I have no doubt is good advice. But I cannot say that I think the dignity of the proceeding signifies at all.— I am glad to have got it off my mind.—

Both Lyell & Falconer10 called on me & I was very glad to see them. F. brought me the wonderful Gibralter skull.—11

Farewell. Ever Yours | C. Darwin


The date is established by CD’s return to Down (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II)), and by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1864. In 1864, 1 September was a Thursday.
Quits was the title of a novel (Tautphoeus 1857). See letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 August 1864.
The plate has not been identified.
CD visited his cousin and sister-in-law Sarah Elizabeth Wedgwood at 4 Chester Place, London, from 25 August to 1 September 1864 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II)).
CD refers to a Bignonia specimen on which he had been experimenting; he believed it to be a species allied to B. unguis, though Hooker initially thought that it was identical with B. unguis. See letters to J. D. Hooker, 11 August [1864] and n. 4, 17 August [1864], and 28 August [1864], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 August 1864, and letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1864. CD described the specimen in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 49–50.
The reference is to James Veitch (1815–69), the proprietor of a London nursery from whom CD bought seeds and plants. CD’s notes on Bignonia tweedyana, dated between 21 September and 7 November 1864, are in DAR 157.1: 117 and 124. CD’s published observations on this species are in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 51.
CD refers to Mutisia clematis; his notes on this species, dated between 6 and 15 September [1864] are in DAR 157.2: 23–4. Mutisia was one of the genera suggested by Hooker when CD began his research on climbing plants in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 July [1863] and n. 2). In ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 67–8, CD noted that Mutisia was of interest as the only tendril-bearing genus in the family Compositae.
CD refers to Thomas Adolphus Trollope’s novel, Beppo the conscript (Trollope 1864).
Charles Lyell and Hugh Falconer.
CD refers to a fragment of human skull recovered from a cavern on Windmill Hill, Gibraltar. George Busk had argued that the find was of immense significance because the cranium resembled the disputed Neanderthal skull specimen found in 1856 in a cave above the Neander river, near Düsseldorf, Germany. In his view the Gibraltar specimen both lent greater authenticity to the first Neanderthal specimen and suggested the existence of a Neanderthal race extending across Europe (see Busk’s report in the Reader, 23 July 1864, pp. 109–10). For discussions of the Neanderthal specimens see Grayson 1983, pp. 212–3, and Trinkaus and Shipman 1993, pp. 62 and 81–90. For a contemporary appraisal of the characteristics of the Gibraltar specimen see Busk 1864. The Gibraltar skull formed part of a series of fossil human and animal remains recovered from the Windmill Hill cavern since 1862 and examined by Busk and Falconer (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 March 1864 and n. 18). In September 1864 the British Association for the Advancement of Science awarded Busk and Falconer a grant of £150 to further their researches on the remains (see Falconer 1868, 2: 554 n.).


CD continues to have trouble reconciling the Veitch’s names for Bignonia plants and Kew names.

Lyell and Falconer called on CD in London.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 248
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4605,” accessed on 13 November 2018,

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