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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 February 1868


Feby 13/68.

Dear old Darwin

I am indeed rejoiced at the sale of the green book— do I read correct 2500 copies? surely not, the figure is a little dubious—1 I have read no more myself, but shall set to immediately   The Pall-Mall review is no doubt by Lewis, I thought it very good, & oddly enough just what I should myself said, but said in far inferior style—2 I think I should have said much more however if I had read more of this second book, for after all the notice was of the Origin not of the Domestics.3

I was sorry that I could not get to Lubbocks, but I had not a chance4   We had a pleasant dinner at Lyells on Tuesday   Dean Stanley & wife, Tyndall, Tayler & dau (the Unitarians)—Tyndall—Frances Power Cobbe, a disenchanting mountain of flesh.—5 After dinner I asked Stanley whether we might have a monument to Faraday in W. A.   he said he would be delighted & had hoped he would have been asked for a burial place— is not this grand for Science.6

Percival Wright is back from Seychelles & has collected well flowering plants; but the group evidently wants the chief characteristics of an Insular group.7 The Crocodile is a Lizard, now extinct—8 He found a Shark 60 ft long! that feeds on vegetable matter!!! is this possible?—9

The Ophrys insectifera you gave me are doing nicely & one is in excellent flower & the others following—10 I am getting very proud of the Gardens, in which I really have worked tremendously hard for now 2 years.11

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Athenaeum | Owen | Mr C. Darwin | Pouchet— Plants ignored will not do great Harm—’12 pencil


See letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 February [1868]; CD had written that 1500 copies of Variation had been sold. Murray announced his intention to issue a second printing of 1250 copies in his letter of 6 February [1868].
The first part of George Henry Lewes’s anonymous review of Variation appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette for 10 February 1868; two further parts were published ([Lewes] 1868a).
The first part of Lewes’s review was a general discussion of CD’s theory of the origin of species, and described in detail only the first chapters of Variation (see [Lewes] 1868a).
High Elms, the home of John and Ellen Frances Lubbock, was a mile and a half from Down House. CD had visited Lubbock on 9 February (see letter from John Lubbock, 12 February [1868].
Michael Faraday had died in August 1867 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. A subscription fund was established in 1869 for a marble statue commemorating Faraday to be erected in Westminster Abbey, where Stanley was dean; however the statue was instead put up in the Royal Institution, where Faraday had worked for most of his career. A memorial tablet was placed in Westminster Abbey in 1931, the centenary of his discovery of electromagnetism. See Cantor 1991, pp. 82–5.
Edward Perceval Wright visited the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, for six months in 1867 (ODNB). Hooker had delivered an address on insular floras and had discussed this subject extensively with CD (see J. D. Hooker 1867 and Correspondence vol. 14).
On the Seychelles crocodile, see the enclosure to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 October 1868.
Hooker may refer to the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), the largest known fish. It feeds chiefly on plankton, and is found in tropical oceans worldwide (A. Wheeler 1985).
CD had been interested in John Traherne Moggridge’s work on Ophrys insectifera (the fly orchid) and related forms. See Correspondence vols. 12 and 13, ‘Fertilization of orchids’, p. 145 (Collected papers 2: 142), and Orchids 2d ed., pp. 58–9.
Hooker had been director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, since 1865.
CD’s annotations are for his letter to Hooker of 23 February [1868].


Cantor, Geoffrey. 1991. Michael Faraday: Sandemanian and scientist. A study of science and religion in the nineteenth century. Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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

‘Fertilization of orchids’: Notes on the fertilization of orchids. By Charles Darwin. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 4th ser. 4 (1869): 141–59. [Collected papers 2: 138–56.]

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

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

Wheeler, Alwyne. 1985. The world encyclopedia of fishes. New edition. London and Sydney: Macdonald.


Rejoices over news of Variation sales.

Pall Mall Gazette review [7 (1868): 555, 636, 652] is undoubtedly by G. H. Lewes [see 5951].

Dinner at Lyells’.

Dean Stanley favours a monument to Faraday in Westminster Abbey.

Perceval Wright is back from Seychelles and reports on plants he collected.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 198–9
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5874,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16