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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   20 November [1866]1


Nov 20

My dear Hooker

Thanks for your Pembroke note.2

We are coming up to 6 Q. Anne St on Wed. ie. tomorrow3   Now if I am supernatural & the weather decent I shd like very much to drive down soon after breakfast & have an hour’s walk with you about the garden, & I think this wd not put you out much as I believe you go to the garden in the morning.

Emma will like to come with me to see Mrs Hooker.4 I know you will ask us to lunch but it will be more prudent in me to leave you sooner— Let me have a line in answer at Q. A. St  

When with you I can hear about the seeds of Euryale.5

And now I want to beg for something else viz. for roots of two species of Mirabilis, not M. jalapa which I have as I want to try a curious ex. in crossing them,6 but I dont know whether you have other species; if you have & can spare roots I can take them away with me.

Your Drosera is unfolding new leaves beautifully.7 You will shriek at me when you hear that I have just subscribed to the Jamaica committee.8 For the more I hear about it the more atrocious the case appears—

Ever yours affecttely | Ch. Darwin

Impudence is a noble quality

Saxifraga Fortunei (on account of nectary) wd be gratefully received.9


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 November 1866.
Hooker had written to CD while on a visit to Pembroke Dock in south-west Wales (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 November 1866).
Six Queen Anne Street was the address of CD’s brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin, with whom CD usually stayed on visits to London (Freeman 1978). According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), the Darwins went to London on 22 November 1866 and CD and Henrietta returned on 29 November.
CD refers to Emma Darwin and Frances Harriet Hooker.
Hooker planned to supply CD with seeds of the waterlily Euryale ferox and had already advised him on the best place for them to be planted to ensure germination (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 November 1866).
In Variation 2: 88, during his discussion of the absorption of one species by another after repeated crosses, CD referred to crossing experiments made by Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter between Mirabilis vulgaris (probably M. jalapa) and M. longiflora. In Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 298, 377, CD referred to experiments with Mirabilis that concerned the number of pollen-grains needed to fertilise an ovule.
Hooker had sent CD a specimen of Drosera binata (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866).
The Jamaica Committee sought to prosecute Edward John Eyre, the former governor of Jamaica, 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, letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 November 1866, and letter from T. H. Huxley, 11 November 1866 and n. 5). CD recorded a payment of £10 under the heading ‘Jamaica’ for 19 November 1866 in his Account books–cash account (Down House MS).
CD was investigating insectivorous plants. He had obtained a specimen of Erica massoni in order to compare the glandular hairs of the nectary with those of the insectivorous plant Drosera (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 September [1866], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 September 1866). He probably requested a specimen of Saxifraga fortunei for similar observations (see Insectivorous plants, pp. 345–8, for his discussion of two other species of Saxifraga).


Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

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

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

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


Requests roots of two species of Mirabilis for "a curious experiment in crossing".

Has subscribed £10 to Jamaica committee to prosecute Governor Eyre.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 305
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5281,” accessed on 17 May 2021,

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