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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   3 November 1866

Pembroke Dock

Nov 3/66.

Dear Darwin

I am here on a short visit to my old Antarctic companion Dr Lyall, who is married & settled here—1 I return to Kew on Tuesday—

My wife tells me that Mr Haeckel called in my absence, I am sorry for it, as I should have much liked to make his acquaintance.2

I left such stringent written orders about the Euryale seeds that I cannot but hope they are carried out faithfully & will see when I get back:3 but the labor & difficulty I experience in getting anything scientifically done by practical men is untold.

I called yesterday on Mr Henry Wedgwood, but found him ill in bed I am sorry to say— I had the pleasure of seeing Mrs Wedgwood & her daus.4 They have a lovely view from their windows: the only pretty one I have seen in this neighbourhood

How odd Huxley joining the Eyre prosecution fund— I suppose you approve—5 I have no notion of kicking a poor devil when he is down, & as to principles they are fiddle sticks under such circumstances of mismanagement. The nation tacitly submits to have Governors made of heaven born politicians; Geograph. Soc: Lions,6 & nine days wonders, & when the poor devils make a mess of it (which they are sure to do when difficulty arises) we persecute them on principle.—

Euryale germinates promptly in a pan of mud placed in a warm place, inside your Nepenthes-hutch should suit it I would say.7

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

I think I told you that the Treasury have agreed to put in a vote next year for purchase of my fathers Herbm. books, mss, portraits &c &c—£7000 in all.8

CD annotations

5.1 How odd … fund—] scored pencil
6.1 Euryale … would say. 6.2] ‘Drosera’9 added pencil
End of letter: ‘Pangenesis’10 pencil


The reference is to David Lyall (see letter from Frances Harriet Hooker, 1 November [1866] and n. 6).
Hooker refers to Ernst Haeckel (see letter from Frances Harriet Hooker, 1 November [1866] and n. 7).
CD had asked Hooker for pods of Euryale or any waterlily for his experiments on cross and self-pollination (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 1 November [1866] and n. 2).
Jessie and Henry Allen Wedgwood had three daughters, Louisa Frances, Caroline, and Anne Jane (Freeman 1978).
Thomas Henry Huxley was a member of the Jamaica Committee, which sought to have Edward John Eyre prosecuted for his role in the suppression of an uprising of the ex-slave population (see letter from Herbert Spencer, 2 November 1866 and n. 1; for more on Huxley’s participation, see A. Desmond 1994–7, 1: 351–4).
Eyre was elected a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1857 (Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 27 (1857): xii). On Hooker’s dislike of the practice of societies like the Geographical of ‘lionising’ individuals, see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 405–7.
CD had experimented with Nepenthes, a tropical genus of pitcher plant, for ‘Climbing plants’. He initially had trouble growing the specimens (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 March [1863]) and may have set aside a special area in his hothouse, but no other reference to a ‘Nepenthes hutch’ has been found.
Hooker had recently sent a specimen of Drosera binata to CD (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866, n. 1). The annotation may refer to the location in CD’s hothouse where he planned to put the Euryale, since the plants required similar conditions.
CD and Hooker had corresponded on the topic of pangenesis earlier in the year (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 April [1866], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 April 1866] and nn. 4 and 5).


‘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.

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

Desmond, Adrian. 1994–7. Huxley. 2 vols. London: Michael Joseph.

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


Left strict orders about Euryale seeds but "labour, difficulty and expense of getting anything done scientifically by practical men is untold".

The E. J. Eyre controversy [Jamaica uprising]. Odd that Huxley joins the "persecution fund". The principles involved are fiddlesticks.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Pembroke Dock
Source of text
DAR 102: 110–11
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5266,” accessed on 16 May 2021,

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