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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   2 October [1866]1


Oct 2d Tuesday | Evening

My dear Hooker

I thank you heartily for the two plants which arrived safe on Saturday.2 The Drosera is extraordinary & I hope when vigorous will behave in an extraordinary manner.

The Acropera shall be returned tomorrow by Rail; carr: paid to London by Carrier: I have succeeded with it only moderately well.—3

I supposed it possible but did not believe that you wrote the review of Murray: all my surprise at its being so well done has disappeared.—4 I cannot help feeling that Gardeners’ Chronicle is not good or permanent enough a place for your Lecture: few will ever be able to refer to it: think of this.—5

I have sent Photograph to Göppert.—6

As you did not read last Gardeners’ Chronicle, you will not have read an article by a Mr. T. Laxton (I wonder who he is, he is a gentleman, but not scientific) on direct action of pollen of peas on the seed & pod:7 I wrote to him & he sent me the specimens & they are wonderful & not to be mistaken.8 This is a grand physiological fact & delightful for my pangenesis.—9

I went this afternoon to the Lubbocks to have an interview with Herbert Spencer, & enjoyed my talk much, though he does use awesomely long words. I plainly made out that Lady L. thinks him, like you do, not a small bore.10 It is worth going to High Elms to see such lovely children.—11

My poor sister has rallied a little & is still alive & does not suffer, or but in a small degree; but her improvement is only temporary & we must soon hear of the end of a most sweet & loving character.12

Farewell dear old friend | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866.
CD refers to specimens of Drosera binata and Erica massoni (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866 and n. 1).
CD had been trying to artificially pollinate an Acropera sent to him by Hooker in August (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 September 1866] and n. 13).
The reference is to an unsigned review of Andrew Murray’s study of the geographical distribution of mammals (Murray 1866) in the 22 September 1866 issue of Gardeners’ Chronicle (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September [1866] and n. 8).
Hooker had told CD that he planned to publish his lecture on insular floras in Gardeners’ Chronicle, provided the magazine used a large enough type-face (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866 and n. 5).
Heinrich Robert Göppert had sent Hooker a photograph to be forwarded to CD and had requested CD’s photograph in return (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866 and n. 15).
In the 22 September 1866 issue of Gardeners’ Chronicle, pp. 900–1, Thomas Laxton, a nurseryman from Stamford, reported that both pods and seeds of crosses made with sugar peas and purple-pod peas showed characteristics of both parents. His report was a response to CD’s second letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [before 11 August 1866]. CD’s copy of the article has not been found; it was cut out of his copy of Gardeners’ Chronicle (Cory Library, Cambridge University Botanic Garden). CD cited Laxton’s findings in Variation 1: 397–8, in a section headed ‘On the direct or immediate action of the Male Element on the Mother Form’. See also ibid., pp. 401–3, and letter to Asa Gray, 16 April [1866] and n. 13.
The letters have not been found, but see the letter to Thomas Laxton, 31 October [1866].
In Variation 2: 387–8, CD suggested that gemmules within the pollen that were derived from parts near the reproductive organs might sometimes affect the same parts in the mother-plant, including the seeds and seed-coats, while they were still developing. For more on CD’s theory of pangenesis and the operation of gemmules, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 April [1866] and nn. 5–10.
Spencer was a guest of CD’s neighbours, John and Ellen Frances Lubbock, at their house, High Elms (see letter from E. F. Lubbock, [1 October 1866]). For CD and Hooker’s earlier discussions of Spencer and his publications, see Correspondence vols. 12 and 13.
The Lubbocks had six children (see Hutchinson 1914, 1: facing p. 1).
Susan Elizabeth Darwin had been seriously ill for some time (see letter to Charles Lyell, 8[–9] September [1866] and n. 3).


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

Hutchinson, Horace Gordon. 1914. Life of Sir John Lubbock, Lord Avebury. 2 vols. London: Macmillan.

Murray, Andrew. 1866. The geographical distribution of mammals. London: Day and Son.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Did not think JDH had written Murray review [see 5217].

Does not think Gardeners’ Chronicle best for publication of "Insular floras" [Gard. Chron. (1867): 6–7, 27, 50–1, 75–6].

T. Laxton’s article, on direct action of pollen of peas on seed and pod, a grand physiological fact and "delightful" for Pangenesis.

Interview with Herbert Spencer.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 301
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5227,” accessed on 16 May 2021,

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