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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   4 October [1872]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct. 4th

My dear Hooker

George1 will take up to London tomorrow morning & despatch by Rail the 2 Droseras. D. filiformis after being in very good health has suddenly failed. Perhaps it dies down in winter. D. Capensis has improved wonderfully, & now seems to require more warmth than a cool greenhouse.—2

I return also by Book-Post, the curious Kerguelen book, which Leonard & I have both read.3 Leonard has heard nothing as yet about his expedition.4 Drosera has almost been the death of me: indeed all work of all sorts now-a-days half kills me, but idleness kills me still more cruelly. But rest, my head must have; so that we have taken a house for 3 weeks near Sevenoaks, & are off early tomorrow morning.5

I hope the world goes on smoothly with you, & that the accursed man does not give you any more trouble.—6

Ever yours affectly | C. Darwin


CD had obtained the specimens of Drosera filiformis (the threadleaf sundew, a native of North America) and D. capensis (the Cape sundew, a native to the Cape in South Africa) for his experimental work on insectivorous plants. Drosera filiformis dies back during winter. He resumed his work on Drosera in August 1872 after a break (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II) and letter from W. W. Baxter, [after 23 August 1872?], n. 1). For more on his recent experiments with D. filiformis, see letter to Asa Gray, 22 October 1872.
Hooker mentioned John Nunn’s Narrative of the wreck of the ‘Favorite’ on the island of Desolation (Nunn 1850) in a letter to CD of 20 January 1867 (Correspondence vol. 15). Desolation or Kerguelen Island (which is in fact an archipelago) is now part of French territory.
Leonard Darwin had applied to be one of the observers of the transit of Venus (see letter to Hubert Airy, 24 August [1872] and n. 1).
CD stayed at Miss Ann Woodington’s, the Common, Sevenoaks, from 5 to 26 October 1872 (see ‘Journal’ (Appendix II) and letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 October [1872]).
For Hooker’s ongoing dispute with Acton Smee Ayrton, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 1 January 1872 and n. 1.


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

Nunn, John. 1850. Narrative of the wreck of the ‘Favorite’ on the island of Desolation: detailing the adventures, sufferings, and privations of John Nunn. Edited by W. B. Clarke. London: William Edward Painter.


Is sending Drosera back

and "the curious Kerguelen book".

"Drosera has almost been the death of me."

Hopes the accursed man [Ayrton] does not give JDH any more trouble.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 229–30
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8542,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20