skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   12 January 1873


Jany 12/73.

Dear Darwin

A strong plant of Drosophyllum is coming from Dublin & I will forward it on arrival.1 Pray work your wicked will on it—root leaf & branch!— it is quite at your service. We have no difficulty in getting flowering seeding & raising it again   it is the keeping of it when full grown & after flowering & seeding that beats us— possibly it is a short-lived species at the best.

It is Sachs not Schacht that Dyer is translating— (no doubt I wrote Schacht by stupidity.)— or rather A. W. Bennett is translating it, & Dyer will revise & add notes—2 he is putting on paper a few matters for your attention. He agrees with me that glands & hairs are held to be excreting only.3

I quite agree as to the awful honor of P.R.S.— & its inestimable value to me in my position, & under existing circumstances— but my dear fellow I don’t want to be crowned head of science.4 I dread it— “Uneasy is the head &c”5—& then my beloved Gen. Plant. will be grievously impeded.6 The dream of my later days is to be let alone, where I am & as I am— I want no higher position, no dignities, nor honors. I cannot undertake to represent science officially, & refuse the inevitables that flow from it or come with it, & stick to you for the rest of your life. This may be all very selfish— but so it is. I would fain die as I now live.

By the way have you seen the lovely compliment that R. Strachey pays us, at the end of his paper on the Scope of Scientific Geography,— in the last number of Geog. Soc. Proc. p 450.— has he not “pointed his moral & adorned his tail” with our names!7 I was & am astonished indeed. I hope Owen will see it.—8

I sent Gladstone a Wedgwood Medallion of my father’s, & he writes so nice & characteristic a letter that I must enclose it for your perusal.9

Ever dear old fellow | Yours | J D Hooker


See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January 1873 and n. 6. Hooker refers to Hermann Schacht, Julius Sachs, Alfred William Bennett, and William Turner Thiselton-Dyer; the translation of Sachs’s Lehrbuch der Botanik (Textbook of botany) was Sachs 1875.
CD had discovered that the glandular hairs of some plants could absorb as well as excrete. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 January [1873].
Hooker had been invited to stand for election as president of the Royal Society of London (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 January 1873 and n. 15).
‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’: Shakespeare, Henry IV part 2, 3. 1.
Hooker refers to his joint work with George Bentham, Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83).
Richard Strachey’s paper was read before the Geographical Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1872 and published in the December issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society (Strachey 1872). Near the end of the paper, Strachey wrote, ‘The labours of our illustrious countrymen Darwin and Joseph Hooker, who stand at the head of the scientific travellers of this, or perhaps of any time, and who have, I suppose, done more for the advancement of scientific geography than almost any men living, will serve as an example to show how great is the value to science, in all its branches, of the observations and explorations of travellers endowed with more than the ordinary share of scientific instruction.’ Hooker quotes from Samuel Johnson’s poem ‘The vanity of human wishes’: ‘He left the Name, at which the World grew pale, | To point a Moral, or adorn a Tale’ (Johnson 1971, p. 88).
Hooker refers to William Ewart Gladstone and William Jackson Hooker. Gladstone and J. D. Hooker were both collectors of Wedgwood ware (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 79). Gladstone’s letter to Hooker has not been found.


Johnson, Samuel. 1971. The complete English poems. Edited by J. D. Fleeman. Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin Books.

Strachey, Richard. 1872. On the scope of scientific geography. [Read before the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Geographical Section, August 1872.] Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 16 (1871–2): 443–50.


Drosophyllum is coming from Dublin. Will ship it to Down when it arrives.

The awful honour of Presidency of Royal Society; his aversion to dignities and honours.

R. Strachey [Proc. R. Geogr. Soc. (1873): 450] has paid him and CD a compliment.

Letter from Gladstone.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 146–7
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8732,” accessed on 29 May 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21