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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   14 [January] 18691

Royal Gardens Kew

Dec 14/69

Dear Darwin

I have been 10 days in Country & find on my return that Oliver has your letter but overlooked your request about Rutaceous flowers. We fail to find the reference in St. Hilaire, but Payer points out that the variations displayed by the uppermost flower, are by no means confined to it.2 Please let me know more precisely the point anent ovules you want illustrations of— is it

1 of ovules of different position in same cell (as Sabia)

2 of ovules differing in position in different cells of same ovary (as Linnæa & Diervilla).

3. of ovules differing in position in different flowers of same plant.

My wife was staying with some wealthy well educated (soi disant) people in Suffolk who never heard of Darwin or Darwinism.— she describes them as “etiolated.” except one who took you for your grandfather.3

Babington is “very much surprized at Dr Hooker’s advocacy of Darwinian views at Norwich, & observes that it has greatly disappointed many of Dr Hooker’s friends & well-wishers”.4 I feel like the Parrot which was in the habit of saying in a tone of great contempt, after the family-prayers were over, “My God”. Or like the Turk in Hogarth’s picture, calmly smoking his pipe as he gazes in through the window of a Church when the congregation are in a state of religious excitement.—5

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

I was at Hardwick & Barton & heard such loud praises of your boy.6

CD annotations

4.1 3.... plant.] scored blue crayon
Top of first page: ‘Spanish chesnut | Vaucher [illeg] | Rue generally | ovules differing in position as in different [illeg] of same plant | Is agreement good for [2 words illeg]’ pencil, underl and del pencil; ‘Viola nanapencil 7


Hooker evidently wrote December in error. The month is established by the relationship between this letter, the letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 December 1868 (Correspondence vol. 16), and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 January [1869].
In his letter to Hooker of 25 December [1868] (Correspondence vol. 16), CD had asked about morphological differences in the flowers of rue and had commented ‘Aug. St Hilaire insists on the locularity of the ovarium varying on the same plant in some of the rutaceæ.’ For Auguste de Sainte-Hilaire’s remarks on locules of the ovarium, see Sainte-Hilaire 1841, pp. 477, 481–7, and 550–8. No comment by Sainte-Hilaire on some members of the family Rutaceae having ovaria with varying numbers of locules on the same plant has been found. Jean Baptiste Payer discussed variation in flowers of rue in Payer 1857, pp. 73–6 (the comment cited is on p. 73).
Hooker refers to Frances Harriet Hooker and Erasmus Darwin.
The references are to Charles Cardale Babington and to the presidential address Hooker gave on 19 August 1868 at the meeting of British Association for the Advancement of Science in Norwich.
William Hogarth’s 1762 engraving is entitled ‘Credulity, superstition, and fanaticism’.
Charles James Fox Bunbury lived at Barton Hall, Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk (Post Office directory of Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suffolk 1865). According to Bunbury’s journal, on 7 January 1869, he and Hooker were guests at Hardwick House, near Bury St Edmunds (F. J. Bunbury ed. 1891–3, Later life 2: 4, 6). George Howard Darwin had recently been made a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from E. A. Darwin, [11 October 1868] and n. 2).
CD’s annotations are for his letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 January [1869].


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

Payer, Jean-Baptiste. 1857. Traité d’organogénie comparée de la fleur. 1 vol. and atlas. Paris: Masson.

Post Office directory of Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suffolk: Post Office directory of Cambridge, Norfolk, and Suffolk. Kelly’s directory of Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. London: W. Kelly; Kelly & Co. 1853–1900.


Oliver overlooked CD’s request about rutaceous flowers. Of precisely which points about the ovules does CD want illustrations?

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 48: A78, DAR 103: 3
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5729,” accessed on 26 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17