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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   4 April [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

April 4th

My dear Hooker

We both heartily rejoice that Mrs Hooker & your anxieties about your poor Baby are over.— It must have been very distressing. I never heard of anything like such convulsions. Thank you much for your two letters.—1

We have had a little uneasiness, now quite over, about Horace who came from School with intermittent fever, which lasted a fortnight & has made him very thin & has brought back his indigestion & we shall have to keep him here for a month more at least.2

You have done me a very great service in sending me the page of “The Farmer”: I do not know whether you wish it returned; but I will keep it unless I hear that you want it. Old I. Anderson-Henry passes a magnificent but rather absurd eulogium on me, but the point of such extreme value in my eyes is Mr Traill’s statement that he made a mottled mongrel, by cutting eyes through & joining two kinds of potatoes: I have written to him for full information & then I will set to work on a similar trial.3 It would prove, I think, to demonstration that propagation by buds & by the sexual elements are essentially the same process, as Pangenesis in the most solemn manner declares to be the case.—4

I do hope that you will have no return of anxiety.—

My dear old Friend | Yours affectly | C. Darwin


Hooker refers to Frances Harriet Hooker and Reginald Hawthorn Hooker. Reginald had been ill in late March but had recovered; Hooker wrote news of him in his letters to CD of 31 March 1867 and 3 April 1867.
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Horace Darwin, their youngest son, returned to Down from school on 16 March 1867 with a fever, and began taking quinine on 1 April. He was attending Clapham Grammar School (CD’s Classed account books (Down House MS)). There is no record of when he went back to school.
The page of the Farmer that Hooker sent to CD evidently contained a report of the meeting or part of the meeting of the Botanical Society of Edinburgh on 14 March 1867. The page has not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL. Isaac Anderson-Henry sent an offprint of the whole proceedings reprinted from the Farmer, 20 and 27 March, but it does not include Robert Trail’s remarks. CD’s letters to Anderson-Henry and Trail have not been found, but see the letter from Isaac Anderson-Henry, 3 April 1867, and the letter from Robert Trail, 5 April 1867. CD mentioned Trail’s information in Variation 1: 395–6; he said he had repeated Trail’s experiments without success.
CD published his ‘Provisional hypothesis of pangenesis’ in chapter 12 of Variation (Variation 2: 357–404); he had discussed it with Hooker in 1866 and during March 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 April [1866?], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [6? April 1866], and this volume, letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 March 1867, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 March [1867]). CD thought pangenesis could explain both sexual and asexual reproduction, as well as reversion and the regrowth of body parts (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to T. H. Huxley, 27 May [1865], n. 7).


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.


Rejoices over baby’s improvement.

Horace Darwin has intermittent fever.

Thanks JDH for page of the Farmer, a great service.

R. Trail’s potato grafting case would be of extreme value for demonstrating Pangenesis. [See Variation 1: 395.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 19–20
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5485,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

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