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Darwin Correspondence Project

From JDHooker   8 November 1872


Novr 8th/72

Dear Darwin

I am asked to take shares in the Artizans &c Dwelling Cy, Limited—, in which you are a shareholder.1 I do not care about the profits, but if it is really a project for public good, I would be glad to have my name associated with it.

I am trying hard to bear myself after my favorite Motto of “Servate animam aequam”.2 I have heard of Owen’s last, but have not looked at it, though Mr Bennett, the subeditor of “Nature” came to me last night, & put a copy in my hands, expressing his profound regret that the Editor had admitted such an article into the paper, & his assurances that he was no party to it.3 I say I have not looked at it, because I have been for some time suffering from sleeplessness, palpitations & pain under the left clavicle—a return of old ailments that I thought I had got rid of for ever, many years ago.4 As it is, I suppose I must now answer Owen—which I am led to believe requires nothing but to show the falsity of his assertions.5 Is it not strange that an officer in my position, should serve under a Govt., which (through its’ own Minister, Ayrton) hounds on a man (Owen) as to attack a subordinate official character & labors, such is literally the fact—6

I have not yet thanked you for your book, nor I regret to say have I opened it.— Harriette is deep in it— Berkely was also charmed with it.7

Please do not allude to my pains (corporal) in writing to me— they will all pass off I doubt not. I am otherwise robust.

We had a long letter from Tyndall, read at the x. last night, he writes in great spirits & very picturesquely—delighted with the country, views & people.—8 I hear that an American paper describing his Lecture says that “he speaks with a slight English accent”— I think this is charming—9

Ever yr affect | J. D. Hooker

With regard to Dionæa, I would keep it cool—& damp—during the winter, that is if you do not want to examine it at once—if you do, give it very gentle heat, (green house) & cover it, with a bell glass with a hole in the top, allowing plenty of air to get under the glass & out of the top, & raise it close up to the glass of your green house.10


CD annotations

1.1 shares] cross in margin blue crayon
2.8 I suppose] cross in margin blue crayon
7.1 With … house. 7.4] ‘(Payment)’11 blue crayon


CD became a shareholder in the Artizans, Labourers, and General Dwellings Company in 1871 (see letter from J. R. Martin, 27 March 1872 and n. 4). The company was founded in 1867 to build affordable housing for the working classes (Artizans’ & General Properties Company Ltd [1967], pp. 6–7).
Hooker refers to a letter by Richard Owen, headed ‘The national herbarium’, in Nature, 7 November 1872, pp. 5–7. Owen argued that staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, were neglecting the experimental work they should be doing because of their ‘low ambition’ of maintaining their own herbarium, rather than using one kept at the British Museum of Natural History. For more on the dispute between Owen and Hooker on the ideal location of the national herbarium, see the letter to JDHooker, 27 October [1872] and nn. 3 and 4. Alfred William Bennett was the subeditor of Nature; the editor was Norman Lockyer.
Hooker had suffered from rheumatic fever in 1839 and 1864 (Allan 1967, pp. 115, 209).
Hooker replied in Nature, 21 November 1872, pp. 45–6.
Acton Smee Ayrton, first commissioner of the office of works, under whose supervision came the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, had undermined Hooker’s authority at Kew (see letter from JDHooker, 1 January 1872 and n. 1).
Hooker’s name appears on CD’s presentation list for Expression (see Correspondence vol. 20, Appendix V). Harriet Anne Hooker was Hooker’s daughter; Miles Joseph Berkeley was a botanist and expert in fungi who had collaborated with Hooker on his publications.
John Tyndall was lecturing on light in the United States in the winter of 1872 and 1873; his lectures were published in Tyndall 1873. Hooker and Tyndall were both members of the X Club, a dining club of scientific men founded in 1864 (see Barton 1998).
The Boston Globe, 16 October 1872, p. 8, commented of Tyndall: ‘He has just a little of the English accent, which is forgotten after he is speaking a short time.’ Tyndall lived in Ireland until he was 22 (ODNB), and probably had an Irish accent, at least to English ears.
Hooker had sent CD specimens of Dionaea muscipula (Venus fly trap) for his work on insectivorous plants (see letter to JDHooker, 31 October [1872]).
CD’s annotation is a note for his letter to Hooker of 9 November [1872].


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

Artizans’ & General Properties Company Ltd. [1967.] Artizans Centenary: 1867–1967. [London]: Artizans’ & General Properties Company Ltd.

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

Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

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.

Tyndall, John. 1873. Six lectures on light delivered in America in 1872–1873. London: Longmans, Green and Co.


Has been asked to take shares in the Artizans’ Dwellings Co., in which CD is a shareholder. If it is really a project for public good, he would be glad to be associated.

Owen has answered his letter in Nature [7 (1872): 5–7].

A letter from Tyndall [from America] was read at the X Club.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 130–2
Physical description
ALS 5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8609,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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