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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   26 March 1871

Royal Gardens Kew

March 26/71

Dear Darwin

The Hibiscus is probably quite new—a grand plant, & referable to Abutilon, it is closely allied to A. virens, & may indeed be a var of that plant1

Can you send me or Oliver a good flowering specimen, in a tin box, for figuring in the Bot. Mag.2

We have dried specimens from Fritz Mueller also.3

The Azalea of which Mrs Darwin is enamoured is A. amœna of China;4 I have ordered a plant to be sent to you— unluckily we have no young plants, so that which goes is rather old: & possibly may not live— plant it in peat & put leaf mould or dead leaves over the soil. All that class have very fine subsurface rootlets that easily perish through evaporation of surface soil.

I will see to Drosophyllum5   A Sirdar is a head man overseer or such like, & may be of any nation: it is I think a persian word.6

The success of your book delights me to hear of— 5500 copies!— it is tremendous. I grudge John Murray his share.7 I hear that Ladies think it delightful reading, but that it does not do to talk about it, which no doubt promotes the sale— the only way to get it being to order it on the sly!— I dined out three days last week, & at every table heard Evolution talked of as an accepted fact— & the descent of man with calmness. I take it to read in P. & O. in intervals of Sea Sickness.8

Cunningham is here, I am sore put to, to talk about his book— it is melancholy9

A man called yesterday who had been up to my most distant passes in the Himalaya—the first man to do it since 1848! a Mr. Elwes,—formerly I believe a Guardsman,10 who has taken enthusiastically to Ornithology— one of the Blandford’s accompanied him— I must be vain enough to tell you that he found my book a “miracle of accuracy” & that he could find nothing I had not taken note of. Of course he is not much of an observer himself, & I dare say that Blandford will tell a different story!—11 “sufficient for the day is the ϰυδος thereof”12

I sail on 1st by P & O to Gibraltar—& shall take good care of myself— As to the interior or the Atlas, I cannot go without the Sultan’s firman, which is absolute protection— & I must confess that, despite of Ld Granville’s efforts & Drummond Hay’s influence, I am not sanguin of obtaining it—13 still the climate of Tangiers (if I get no further) is capital & the Botany admirable. I shall think wofully of you when away.

John Ball & G. Maw14 are both safe men, & will be accomplished companions, & I do feel that I want a thorough change. What with my ordinary duties, & the life that that insensate brute & fool Ayrton has led me last winter,15 I shall be glad enough to get away— I shall leave my wife & family well, Willy doing as well as possible with his private tutor, & Charlie at Springrove—& Harriette at Bury.16

I fear for Huxley who, (his wife tells me), is running a fearful rig of work— & the School of mines is naturally enough complaining—17 What I most dislike is, this unsettlement for any future scientific or self sustaining work: his love of exercising his marvellous intellectual power over men is leading him on—& on—& on—God knows to where— here he is now, at Owen’s College Manchester on Friday & lecturing again to working men at Liverpool yesterday, & to be back in London tonight!

Love to you all | Ever yours | Jos D Hooker


In his letter to Hooker of 21 March [1871], CD had enclosed a specimen of Abutilon sent to him from Brazil by Fritz Müller. Abutilon virens is a Brazilian species.
Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver. The new plant was described by Hooker in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine as Abutilon darwinii (Hooker 1871).
The herbarium at Kew had received dried specimens of Abutilon darwinii from Müller in 1869 (see Hooker 1871).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 March [1871]. Azalea amoena is a synonym of Rhododendron obtusum.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 March [1871]. Hooker refers to Descent.
Hooker refers to his planned trip to Morocco. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 March 1871 and n. 4.
Henry John Elwes had been in the Scots Guards.
Hooker refers to his Himalayan journals (Hooker 1854). Elwes’s travelling companion was William Thomas Blanford. They had travelled to Sikkim and into Tibet between August and October 1870 (Elwes 1930, pp. 55–7).
Hooker adapts the Biblical quotation ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’ (Matthew 6: 34). ϰῦδος: kudos.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 March 1871 and nn. 3 and 4. Hooker refers to Sultan Muhammad IV of Morocco, Granville George Leveson-Gower, and John Hay Drummond-Hay.
Hooker refers to his disagreements with Acton Smee Ayrton, who was Commissioner of Works, and thus Hooker’s superior (see Nature, 11 July 1872, pp. 211–16; L. Huxley ed. 1918, 159–77; MacLeod 1974).
Hooker refers to Frances Harriet Hooker. William Henslow Hooker’s tutor was James Digues La Touche. Charles Paget Hooker was a student at the London College of the International Education Society, also known as the Spring Grove School (L. Huxley 1918, 2: 182). The circumstances of Harriet Anne Hooker’s stay in Bury St Edmund’s are not known.
Thomas Henry Huxley was professor of natural history at the Royal School of Mines, London.


Cunningham, Robert Oliver. 1871. Notes on the natural history of the Strait of Magellan and west coast of Patagonia, made during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Nassau’ in the years 1866, 67, 68, & 69. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.

Elwes, Henry John. 1930. Memoirs of travel, sport, and natural history. Edited by Edward G. Hawke; with an introduction by the Right Hon. Sir Herbert Maxwell; and a chapter on gardening by E.A. Bowles. London: Ernest Benn.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1871. Abutilon Darwinii. Native of south Brazil. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 3d ser. 27: tab. 5917.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1918. Life and letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, OM, GCSI. Based on materials collected and arranged by Lady Hooker. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

MacLeod, Roy M. 1974. The Ayrton incident: a commentary on the relations of science and government in England, 1870–1873. In Science and values: patterns of tradition and change, edited by Arnold Thackray and Everett Mendelsohn. New York: Humanities Press.


Answers CD’s questions.

Reception of Descent. Evolution accepted everywhere; descent of man accepted calmly.

Morocco plans.

Fears for Huxley, who is overworked.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 65–8
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7627,” accessed on 29 January 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19