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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [23 November 1864]1

Royal Gardens Kew


My dear Darwin

I examined the Dicentra on arrival or soon after, as did Oliver & Thomson, & we independently concluded that the tendrils were foliar.2

I well remember examining the plant with you at Down & finding no evidence of the tendrils there being other than axial: the probable explanation is that the axis or branch was arrested—& left no trace (observed by us) of its existence. Of course the thing must be looked at again next spring—but meanwhile the tendrils in question are foliar & nothing else.

I had no idea that you were waiting an answer, there was nothing to hinder my answering long ago.

I have just seen the proof of your Lythrum paper & am going to complain of delay in bringing out journal ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ & am determined to have it appear at fixed times & ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ punctually.3 Your Lythrum paper is an extraordinary ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ I had no idea how full of matter it was. There are many points I should like to talk to you about but never shall.

Shall you come up on the 30th.?4 if you do I think I should go to R.S. Anniversary to catch a glimpse of you. I have not got over the shock of your getting the Copley— I had so made up my mind that you were too far ahead of your day to be appreciated, that I was ⁠⟨⁠  ⁠⟩⁠ted,— I thought it took ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ like me & Huxley & Lubbock5 ⁠⟨⁠to⁠⟩⁠ see so far ahead as you are ⁠⟨⁠of⁠⟩⁠ the ruck of candidates who the Council bring forward for ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ medals.—6 However it is best as it is!!! & I am resigned to the feeling, that if they could not appreciate you, they could appreciate (or fear) the opinions of those who brought you forward. I am curious to see the Presidents address.7

Tyndalls child-like delight with his award is charming.8 I sometimes think him the vainest man I ever met & at others the very simplest—& on the same grounds!

I saw J E Gray9 yesterday   he has disease of prostate— he ignores it, says he supposes it is stone but will not be sounded—because he does not want to know that he has stone10 What a queer illogical process some fellows derive comfort from. I could not help thinking, when he told me all this; this is just the way you treat yourself in the matter of your Genera &c

Carpenter11 has been dangerously ill of renal disease, but is much better. Mrs Boott12 too has been in bed for a month with Bronchitis— I have engaged to complete her husbands work on Carices which is left half finished—& have just arranged the materials for doing so. The last volume with 189 plates has to be brought out,—of which about 150 coppers are engraved & the mss nearly complete— It will cost me about £300 & I must force a sale to cover it— Boott intended to have left funds to cover all expences, but the American war has left Mrs Boott but poorly off.13 Apropos of what you once asked me about, Mrs Boott told me the ⁠⟨⁠other⁠⟩⁠ day that Dr Darwin supervi⁠⟨⁠sed⁠⟩⁠ her mothers (Mrs Hardcastles⁠⟨⁠)⁠⟩⁠ Education, & M H. also expressed deep gratitude ⁠⟨⁠to⁠⟩⁠ him for the direction given to her mind, especially in a love for Nat Hist. Now she is ill & her features shrunk I can fancy I see a strong likeness in brow, superciliary arches & lips to the likenesses of Dr Darwin.14

I became a Great Uncle the other day—and am all the younger for it.15

Ev yr affectionate | J D Hooker

⁠⟨⁠I have⁠⟩⁠ been re-reading McLeays ⁠⟨⁠    ⁠⟩⁠ Entomologicæ, with immense ⁠⟨⁠in⁠⟩⁠terest & pleasure.16

The Clematis Bentham says is probably rightly named, & is what B. has called C. microphylla var. leptophylla.17

CD annotations

4.3 Lythrum] underl blue crayon
5.1 Shall … 30th.?] underl blue crayon; cross in margin, red crayon
7.1 he ignores … stone 7.2] cross in margin, red crayon
12.1 The Clematis … leptophylla. 12.2] cross in margin, red crayon


The date is established by the reference to the birth of William Jackson Hooker Campbell (see n. 15, below). The Wednesday following 17 November was 23 November.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 November [1864] and nn. 4 and 5. Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver and Thomas Thomson.
CD’s paper ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria was read at the Linnean Society on 14 June 1864. It was published in the 12 December 1864 issue of the Journal of the Linnean Society of London. For Hooker’s role in reforming the Linnean Society’s publications, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864 and n. 12.
The award of the Copley Medal to CD was announced at the anniversary meeting of the Royal Society of London on 30 November 1864. Because of concern about his health, CD did not attend the meeting (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1864]).
Hooker refers to Thomas Henry Huxley and John Lubbock.
Four medals were awarded annually by the Royal Society. Candidates were nominated for the medals by members of the Council of the Royal Society (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 26[–8] October 1864 and n. 24, and Record of the Royal Society of London, pp. 112–17).
For a discussion of the different published versions of the anniversary address of Edward Sabine, the president of the Royal Society, see Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix IV. For Hooker’s reaction to the portions of Sabine’s address in the Reader, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 December 1864] and nn. 7–9.
On 3 November 1864, the Council of the Royal Society voted to award John Tyndall the Rumford Medal (Royal Society, Council minutes). The Rumford Medal was awarded for the most important discovery or useful improvement in the theory or use of heat or light made during the previous two years (Record of the Royal Society of London, p. 115). Tyndall received the award at the anniversary meeting of the Society (see Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 13 (1864): 515–17).
Stones in the bladder were detected by the use of a probe, or sound (see Copland 1866, p. 1427).
Francis Boott died on 25 December 1863 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [10 and 12 January 1864] and n. 3). The fourth part of his monograph on the sedge genus Carex (plural Carices) was published in 1867 (Boott 1858–67). In the preface, Hooker stated that his editorial work consisted in superintending the engravings and printed descriptions, and that the publication was ‘wholly due to the munificence of Mrs. Boott’, who issued it as ‘a tribute to the memory of her late husband’. Francis Boott had emigrated to England from America. Drawing upon his inheritance, he published the first three parts of his monograph on Carex at his own expense (Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London 8 (1865): xxv). In his letter of 27 January 1862 (Correspondence vol. 10), Boott expressed concern that his wealth would be exhausted by the American Civil War. On the depreciation of American currency during the war, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Asa Gray, 19 January 1863 and n. 18; see also Poulson 1981, pp. 352–7, and McPherson 1988, pp. 442–50.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, [10 and 12 January 1864] and n. 5. CD had suggested that Mary Boott’s mother, Lucy Hardcastle, was an illegitimate daughter of Erasmus Darwin, CD’s grandfather. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1864.
William Jackson Hooker Campbell, the grandson of J. D. Hooker’s elder brother, William Dawson Hooker, was born on 17 November 1864 (Allan 1967).
The reference is to William Sharp Macleay’s Horæ entomologicæ (Macleay 1819–21). CD read Macleay’s work in 1838; the copy he consulted is in the Rare Books Room–CUL. His notes on Macleay 1819–21 are in DAR 71: 128–38. See Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Susan Darwin, [15 May 1838], n. 2.
CD’s query about Clematis has not been found. George Bentham had described C. microphylla var. leptophylla in Flora Australiensis (Bentham 1863–78, 1: 7–8). CD discussed the species in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 29–30. For CD’s interest in Clematis, see letters to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and n. 22, [8 February 1864], and 5 April [1864]. CD’s notes on C. microphylla are in DAR 157.1: 66–9.


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

Bentham, George and Mueller, Ferdinand von. 1863–78. Flora Australiensis: a description of the plants of the Australian territory. 7 vols. London: Lovell Reeve and Company.

Boott, Francis. 1858–67. Illustrations of the genus Carex. 4 pts. London: William Pamplin (pts 1, 2, and 3), L. Reeve & Co. (pt 4).

‘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.

Copland, James. 1866. A dictionary of practical medicine. London: Longmans, Green, and Co.

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

Macleay, William Sharp. 1819–21. Horæ entomologicæ: or essays on the annulose animals. 2 pts. London: S. Bagster.

McPherson, James M. 1988. Battle cry of freedom: the Civil War era. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Poulson, Barry W. 1981. Economic history of the United States. New York: Macmillan. London: Collier Macmillan.

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


JDH’s "shock" that CD was awarded the Copley Medal.

Oliver, Thomson and JDH independently concur mature tendrils of Dicentra are foliar, though JDH remembers they were axial in the spring. Expects he and CD were fooled, but will have to look again next spring.

Praises CD’s Lythrum paper [Collected papers 2: 106–31].

JDH completing F. Boott’s work on Carex [Illustrations of the genus Carex].

JDH now does suspect Mrs Boott is illegitimate daughter of Dr Erasmus Darwin [see 4389].

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 254–7
Physical description
ALS 8pp damaged †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4667,” accessed on 7 October 2022,

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