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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 May 1866


May 13/66.

My dear Darwin

This may interest you.1 I can talk with A. Gray now calmly & dispassionately, which I could not do during the war, holding as I then did, that whatever the rights of the N. may have been, they had no right to resort to bloodshed to procure their ends—2

I am longing to know how you go on, after the startling apparition of your face at R.S. Soirèe—which I dreamed of 2 nights running.3 Tyndall came up to me in raptures at seeing you—& told me to worship Bence Jones in future—4

Tylor was here & spent the day last week, I like him much & have persuaded him to draw up questions to be sent to Consuls & especially missionaries, through whose wives a lot of most curious information could be obtained—5 Tying the umbilical cord has always appeared to me to be the greatest mystery of humanity— how ever did such a custom originate & spread— it is to me an unanswerable argument in favor of unity of species of man.6

What shocking twaddle is old Crawfurds paper on cultivated plants!.7

A fine Surveying ship is going to survey Magellans straits & I am doing my utmost to get a good Naturalist with Zoological acquirements especially to be sent out.8 Capt Mayne (son of Head Beak) & who wrote a fair book on Brit Columbia, is going out—a nice fellow.9 What a nuisance this “international” week will be10

Mrs Oliver has been very ill indeed—but is better I hope though still confined to bed— She has had a little daughter, prematurely—but her complaint is of the throat & mucous membranes.11

Lowe (Revd.) of Madeira is here— he has had a second winter in Cape de Verde with Wollaston, both in a Mr Gray’s Yacht,12 He describes the interior as most beautiful & most wild & picturesque. He has got a good many of the Cameroons plants on the high Mts. which you will be glad to know of—13 I must get a list for you.14

I hope these commercial failures have not affected you or your’s.15 my balance being on the wrong side at my Bankers is a comfort!

Has Woolner begun your bust?16 Huxley has a 7th. daughter!17

I hear the Miss Horners are in a state of frantic excitement about Katy—18 I have often thought what a picturesque Joan of Arc Susan would make.—19 N.B. my ideas of J. A. are wholly derived from Etty’s & Millais’ pictures:20 I do not know even in whose reign she lived, if in any;21 and as I have no Wedgwood Medallion of her I have no means of knowing.22 By the way my pursuit of that blue art is over, & the crockery shops know me no more. I have never time to go to London now, and hope never to have again.— I do hope to have time to get to Down with my wife this summer if Mrs Darwin will take F. in & let me go up & down— What are your plans for June or July?23

What news of Etty?24

If you could run up to Town to take one peep of this Hort show on 22d. it would repay you I am sure & I would meet you there.25 I expect it will recall the Tropics— we are sending 8 Van loads of Palms &c

Wallace is married you see—a daughter of Mr Mitten a very acute cryptogamic Botanist of Hurst Pier point26

Ever Yours affec | J D Hooker


The enclosure, a letter from Asa Gray to J. D. Hooker (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 May [1866]) has not been found.
Hooker and Asa Gray had disagreed sharply over the American Civil War, and by December 1861 had ceased to discuss it in their letters (see Correspondence vol. 9, letter from J. D. Hooker, [29 December 1861], and Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Asa Gray, 18 February 1862). CD sometimes shared letters from Gray that contained comments on the war with Hooker (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862], and Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 March 1863]).
CD had attended a reception at the Royal Society of London on 28 April 1866 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)). The event is described in the Athenæum, 5 May 1866, pp. 597–8. According to Emma Darwin, many of CD’s old friends did not recognise him because of the beard that he had grown: ‘He was obliged to name himself to almost all of them, as his beard alters him so’ (Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 185).
Hooker refers to John Tyndall and to the physician Henry Bence Jones. CD began to consult Jones in the summer of 1865 (see letter to H. B. Jones, 3 January [1866] and n. 2; see also letter to H. B. Jones, [23 April 1866?]).
CD had read Edward Burnett Tylor’s book The early history of mankind (Tylor 1865) in 1865 and had asked Hooker whether he knew the author (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker, [10 July 1865], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 13 July 1865). CD cited Tylor 1865 in Descent 1: 232 on the close similarity in the customs and habits of different human races.
For CD’s views on whether humans had descended from a single ancestral stock, see Descent 2: 385–405, and Correspondence vol. 13, letter from F. W. Farrar, 6 November 1865, n. 3.
Hooker refers to John Crawfurd’s paper ‘On the migration of cultivated plants in reference to ethnology’ (Crawfurd 1866). The paper asserted that the migration of cultivated plants was ‘wholly the work of man’ (ibid., p. 317), and discussed the migration through human agency of plants used as foodstuffs. CD had read Crawfurd’s ethnological works on India and China (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV). Crawfurd had written a critical review of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to Charles Lyell, 2 December [1859]).
HMS Nassau surveyed the Straits of Magellan from 1866 to 1869; the naturalist on the voyage was Robert Oliver Cunningham. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1866 and n. 4.
Richard Charles Mayne was the commander of HMS Nassau, and the author of Four years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island (Mayne 1862). Mayne had served on an expedition to British Columbia from 1857 to 1861 (Modern English biography). His father, Richard Mayne, was the commissioner of London police. ‘Beak’ refers to a magistrate.
The International Horticultural Exhibition and Botanical Congress was held in South Kensington, London, from 22 to 31 May 1866.
Hooker refers to Hannah Hobson Oliver, the wife of Daniel Oliver. Their daughter was Winifred Oliver.
Richard Thomas Lowe and Thomas Vernon Wollaston visited the Cape Verde Islands, off the west coast of Africa, in 1866 on a yacht owned by John Gray, to collect plants, insects, and molluscs (Cook 1995). Gray, a friend of Wollaston’s, has not been further identified.
In a paper on the flora of the Cameroon Mountains, Hooker had noted that temperate plants that were common in Europe were present in the higher elevations of this equatorial region of Africa (J. D. Hooker 1863). That these same species had been found in the Cape Verde Islands, located some 1000 miles to the west of the Cameroon Mountains, provided further evidence for CD’s argument, first presented in Origin, pp. 377–8, that temperate species had migrated into tropical regions during a Pleistocene glacial period. CD added information on the Cameroon and Cape Verde vegetation in his discussion of the topic in Origin 4th ed., p. 445. For more on the Cameroon flora, see Correspondence vols. 10 and 11.
No such list has been found.
On 11 May 1866, the closure of a large lending firm, Overend, Gurney & Co., a joint-stock company with limited liability, led to a commercial panic in London and other financial centres, with a number of banks closing doors and other firms temporarily suspending payments (Annual Register (1866), pp. 44–5).
Hooker had suggested in 1863 and 1864 that CD sit for the sculptor Thomas Woolner (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 26 December [1863], and Correspondence vol. 12, letters from J. D. Hooker, 24 January 1864 and 26 August 1864). CD did not sit for Woolner until 1868 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1868] (Calendar no. 6476)).
Ethel Gladys Huxley was the seventh child, and fifth daughter, of Thomas Henry Huxley and his wife Henrietta (R. W. Clark 1968).
Ann Susan and Joanna Horner were the daughters of Leonard and Anne Susan Horner; their sister, Katharine Murray Horner, was married to Henry Lyell, Charles Lyell’s younger brother (Freeman 1978).
Hooker refers to Ann Susan Horner.
Hooker refers to William Etty and John Everett Millais. Etty’s triptych of Joan of Arc was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1847 (ODNB; Millais’s painting ‘Joan of Arc’ was exhibited there in 1865 (Graves 1905–6, 5: 245).
Joan of Arc was instrumental in placing Charles VII on the throne of France in 1429 (EB).
Hooker had been an avid collector of Wedgwood ware, and was particularly interested in medallions (see Correspondence vols. 11 and 12, and this volume, letter from J. D. Hooker, [22 November 1866]).
Hooker visited Down from 23 to 25 June 1866; his wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, visited from 23 to 29 June (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Henrietta Emma Darwin was in France (see letter from H. E. Darwin, [c. 10 May 1866] and n. 2).
See n. 10, above. CD did not attend the congress (see letter from Robert Caspary, 7 May 1866 and n. 4).
Alfred Russel Wallace had married Annie Mitten, the daughter of William Mitten, in April 1866 (see Raby 2001, p. 187).


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

Clark, Ronald W. 1968. The Huxleys. London: Heinemann.

Cook, L. M. 1995. T. Vernon Wollaston and the ‘monstrous doctrine’. Archives of Natural History 22: 333–48.

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

Crawfurd, John. 1866. On the migration of cultivated plants in reference to ethnology. Journal of Botany 4: 317–32.

Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1978. Charles Darwin: a companion. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Graves, Algernon. 1905–6. The Royal Academy of Arts. A complete dictionary of contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904. 8 vols. London: Henry Graves and Co.; George Bell and Sons.

Mayne, Richard Charles. 1862. Four years in British Columbia and Vancouver Island. London: John Murray.

Modern English biography: Modern English biography, containing many thousand concise memoirs of persons who have died since the year 1850. By Frederick Boase. 3 vols. and supplement (3 vols.). Truro, Cornwall: the author. 1892–1921.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Raby, Peter. 2001. Alfred Russel Wallace: a life. London: Chatto & Windus.

Tylor, Edward Burnett. 1865. Researches into the early history of mankind and the development of civilization. London: John Murray.


Refers to enclosure from Asa Gray

with whom he can talk calmly now that war is over. North had no right to resort to bloodshed.

Startled by CD’s attendance at Royal Society soirée.

Has asked E. B. Tylor to make up questions for consuls and missionaries, through whose wives a lot of most curious information [for Descent?] could be obtained.

Tying umbilical cord has always been a mystery to JDH.

John Crawfurd’s paper on cultivated plants is shocking twaddle ["On the migration of cultivated plants in reference to ethnology", J. Bot. Br. & Foreign 4 (1866): 317–32].

R. T. Lowe back from Madeira.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 71–4
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5089,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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