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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   12 September [1873]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Sept. 12th

My dear Hooker

I am infinitely obliged for all the great trouble which you & Mr Dyer have taken for me.—1 All the information is most useful & interesting to me.— I have only two remarks to make: the specimen of Marjoram which you took with you was the cultivated & not the wild Marjoram; but if you made out that it was Origanum vulgare, that is enough for me. If I do not hear I will understand that it is O. vulgare.—2

Secondly I am astonished at what you say about Mimosa albida not being sensitive to drops of water.3 Would you try once again, on a warm or hot day, (when plant is sensitive) with a fine syringe as as to imitate a real shower of rain, or put it actually in the rain, if not too cold. If leaflets should shut, does peduncle lower itself?? Or, if this would be less trouble & the plant is small, could you lend it me for a few days, & I would return it.— If sent, address it to Orpington Stn4 & send me a card. I am rather sorry to have thrown away so much time over this confounded plant.— By the way I well remember in Brazil walking through a great bed of Mimosa sensitiva, & leaving a track as if an elephant had passed that way. The plant has interested me ever since.—

After you were here, I was very bad, with much loss of memory & severe shocks continually passing through my brain: Dr Andrew Clarke came to see me & is convinced that the brain was affected only secondarily, for which thank God, as I could far sooner die than lose my mind. Clarke is doing me good by an abominable diet.5

Farewell my dear old friend. Again & again I thank you for all the great trouble which you have taken.

Yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin

My digestion experiments with Drosera have been going on splendidly; I can accelerate or retard the external digestive process with certainty6

Farewell | C. D

Thank Mrs Hooker for Charlie’s note: he looks at madmen with quite a gusto.—7


The marjoram was one of three plants from Down that Hooker had identified (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1873 and n. 1).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1873. CD was carrying out a series of experiments on the effects of water on mimosa (see letter to Francis Darwin, 15 August [1873] and n. 10).
Orpington Station was the nearest railway station to Down.
Hooker had visited Down on 23 August 1873, and CD had fallen ill on 26 August 1873 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
Charles Paget Hooker’s note, forwarded by Frances Harriet Hooker, has not been found.


Thanks JDH and Thiselton-Dyer for useful information.

Is surprised Mimosa albida is not sensitive to water. Asks that they try again, or lend it to him.

Remembers a walk in Brazil in great bed of Mimosa.

After JDH left, CD was very bad, with much loss of memory and severe shocks continually passing through his brain.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 274–6
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9052,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

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