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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   14 March 1867


March 14/67.

Dear Darwin

Hurra, I am right again; it was not A Gray that wrote the article on Agassiz— how glorious a discovery that there is another man in the world who could write such an article: by Jove it does warm the cockles of one’s heart.1

Per contra I am in a state of deep dejection, having been persuaded by all the Botanists I respect to accept the nomination for election to the Presidentship of Brit Assn. in 1868 at Norwich.2 You may well pity me. However in for a penny in for a pound & if I am in good health & keep at the time I will do my very best.

What have you been about since I last saw you in Queen Anne St.?3 I have been plodding at Gen. Plant.4

Here is a wonderful discovery, Naudin has sent me seeds of Chamærops humilis fertilized by the Date Palm & by Jove they are altogether unlike Chamerops seeds in shape texture size & consistency & exactly half way to Dates!5 Young plants have been raised & these appear intermediate.


Is this not a wonderful experiment & results.?

Ever yrs aff | J D Hooker

I go to Paris end of month for Jury work at Exhibn.—6

CD annotations

1.1 Hurra, … Gen. Plant. 3.2] crossed red crayon
End of letter: ‘G. Chronicle 67 p. 264 M. Denis speaks of the fruit of the Hybrid [interl] palm as intermediate & not as result of direct action of fertilisation.’7 ink


CD suspected that Asa Gray had written an article, ‘Popularizing science’, that was critical of Louis Agassiz (Anon. 1867; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1867 and n. 2, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February [1867]).
Earlier, Hooker told CD he had declined the invitation to be president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1867).
CD had visited London from 13 to 21 February 1867 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II)), staying at the house of his brother, Erasmus Alvey Darwin, at 6 Queen Anne Street.
Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83) was published in seven parts. The second part appeared in 1865, the third in 1867.
Hooker refers to Charles Victor Naudin. Chamaerops humilis (the Mediterranean fan palm) and Phoenix dactylifera (the date palm) are both members of the subfamily Coryphoideae of the family Arecaceae (Palmae). CD reported this case in Variation 1: 399, but removed it as erroneous in the second edition.
Hooker was going to Paris to attend the International Horticultural Exhibition (part of the Exposition universelle held from 1 April to 31 October 1867) as a juror for seeds and saplings of forest trees (Gardeners’ Chronicle, 6 April 1867, p. 348).
CD’s annotation refers to a notice in the 16 March 1867 issue of Gardeners’ Chronicle, p. 264, reporting that fruits of the hybrid palm grown at Hyères (a town near Marseilles, France) by M. Denis (Alphonse Amaranthe Dugomier Denis) were to be exhibited at a meeting of the Linnean Society. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867] and n. 2.


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

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


Has been persuaded to accept BAAS Presidency.

On Charles Naudin’s discovery of seeds of Chamaerops fertilised by the date-palm.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 145–6
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5441,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15