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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [26 or 27 February 1866]1

Dear Darwin

You may care to see the last paragraph of enclosed from John Scott— I hope he has repaid you your money loan.2

I had a long talk with Lyell3 on Sunday— he wants to see my last to you—4 I fear I made some allusion to Busks that may not be showable5—not that there was anything in the letter otherwise worth his seeing. His head is full of Summer apogees, & winter perigees & precession of the Equinoxes & God knows what all. By way of making matters worse, I gave him a dose of radiant-heat, humidity & absorption of Caloric, which will muddle the effect of his astronomical causes of heat & cold on the Globe.6

Poor Harvey is very ill indeed of hæmorrhage from the lungs & I fear we shall lose him.7

I am still very busy in the Garden & hardly ever stir from Kew.8

Ever Yr affte | J D Hooker


Royal Botanic Gardens | Calcutta 22d January 1866


Dr. Anderson who, I regret to say, has been suffering much of late from attacks of inflammation in the liver with fever, desired me previous to his leaving for Moulmein—where he has been advised to go for a few weeks—to advise you of the despatch of a dry box of plants containing the enclosed enumeration.9

Coelogyne Hookeriana we had sent us only a few weeks ago from Sikkim, and have only retained a few pseudo-bulbs for trial here, as I think there are small hopes of us succeeding in keeping them through our hot season.10 Even now they are impatient to the heat,—a good omen to the cool culturist at home—showing an inaptitude to climate, by a premature disposition to flower and the withering and dropping of these without opening.

I have sent you a few of the Bengal terrestrial orchids11—all my present stock in potsQQQQ—having only lately commenced collecting these with a view to the establishment of an indigenous and exotic herbaceous garden, which Dr. Anderson has long wished to have… In one of the small tins enclosed are seeds of two species of Calami—12 those in the upper portion are C. Jenkinsianus Griff. collected this season by Dr. Anderson in the Terai—13 in the lower portion you have seeds from an unnamed species in our gardens. It seems to approach very closely to, if not identical with C. Lewisianus Griff.—a truly magnificent species though perhaps requiring a little more room than you can well spare. I have already succeeded in raising plants from the same produce as seeds sent you, and am much interested with them under the impression that they are in all probability hybrids—the seeds being produced in a plant with which a male plant of another noble and distinct species, C. angustifolius Griff., is entangled and both of which flowered at the same time,—and likewise at some distance from any others.

I have sent you three young plants of Nipa, along with the ungerminated seed. I wished to have sent you more in the latter state, but as I had only your list of desiderata on the day of packing, there was little time to search for them, and my collectors said that they could find no others ungerminated. I with some hesitation enclosed you three of the youngest in slightly moistened charcoal, trusting that they are sufficiently secured to prevent communicating damp to the other contents. It will be well therefore to get the box secured as early as possible after the arrival of the mail in case of injury by frost.

I would now only express my sincere thanks for the very excellent appointment which through your recommendation has been made me,14 and should further feel obliged by your remembering me at your convenience, to my esteemed benefactor, Mr. Darwin, whom—from the press of incumbent duties, and a consequent want of time to pursue those experimental enquiries in which he takes such a lively interest, I have not lately had the pleasure of communicating with.15

I remain | Sir | Yours respectfully | J Scott

J. D. Hooker Esq. M.D.


The date range is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 February 1866, the letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 February 1866], and the letter from Charles Lyell, 1 March 1866. This letter indicates that Charles Lyell had asked to see Hooker’s letter to CD of 21 February 1866 on Sunday 25 February; he had received it by Thursday 1 March (see letter from Charles Lyell, 1 March 1866). CD wrote to Hooker on the Wednesday of that week confirming that he had sent Hooker’s letter of 21 February on to Lyell (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 February 1866]). This letter must therefore have been written on Monday 26 or Tuesday 27 February.
Hooker had expressed concern about John Scott’s repayment of money given to him by CD (Correspondence vol. 13, letter from J. D. Hooker, [23] December 1865 and n. 12). CD had advanced funds to Scott in 1864 so that Scott could travel to India to seek employment (see Correspondence vol. 12, letter to John Scott, 21 May [1864], and letters from John Scott, 10 June [1864] (second letter) and 2 August 1864). CD gave Scott £25 on 10 June 1864 and £10 on 31 July 1864 (CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)). CD entered the amounts under ‘Gifts [and] Annual Subscriptions.’ In August 1864, CD gave Scott a further £80 (CD’s Account books–cash account (Down House MS)).
Charles Lyell.
Hooker refers to George and Ellen Busk; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 February 1866.
CD and Hooker had been arguing about the causes and extent of the glacial period (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 21 February 1866; see also letter from Charles Lyell, 1 March 1866). Lyell too was interested in the subject, and incorporated new information upon it into the tenth edition of his Principles of geology (C. Lyell 1867–8, vol. 1, chapter 10 et seq.). For background on contemporary geological, astronomical, and physical theories of changes in climate, and Lyell’s position with regard to them, see Fleming 1998.
William Henry Harvey died of pulmonary consumption on 15 May 1866 (DNB).
Following the death of his father, William Jackson Hooker, in 1865, J. D. Hooker had been appointed director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from J. D. Hooker, [3 November 1865] and n. 3).
Thomas Anderson was superintendent of the Calcutta botanic gardens; he appointed Scott as curator in 1865 (Correspondence vol. 13, letter from J. D. Hooker, [23] December 1865 and n. 11). Moulmein (now Mawlamyine) was the chief town of British Burma (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
Sikkim is a mountainous state in the Himalayas, in north-eastern India, bordering Nepal and Tibet (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
What Scott refers to as Bengal is an area that now includes Bangladesh and the Indian state of western Bengal (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
Scott refers to the genus of climbing palms, Calamus (OED).
The Terai is a region of marshy land in southern Nepal and northern India, lying between the lower foothills of the Himalayas and the plains (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
On Hooker’s recommendations of Scott for a post in India, see Correspondence vol. 13.
For CD’s financial assistance to Scott, see n. 3, above. For Scott’s assistance to CD on botanical experiments, see Correspondence vols. 10–13.


Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

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.

Fleming, James Rodger. 1998. Charles Lyell and climatic change: speculation and certainty. In Lyell: the past is the key to the present, edited by Derek J. Blundell and Andrew C. Scott. London: Geological Society.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Lyell wants to see JDH’s last letter [the part on glacial periods]. Lyell full of concern about astronomical causes of heat and cold on the globe.

Encloses letter from John Scott.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 65–6; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, DC vol. 156 doc. 1048
Physical description
3pp encl 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5017,” accessed on 20 October 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14