skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   20 August 1874

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. [Bassett, Southampton.]

Aug. 20 1874

My dear Hooker

I was very glad to get yr letter, & it is really splendid how Nepenthes has been behaving.1 Poor Drosera & Dionæa cut quite an insignificant figure, as a cube of cartilage of 110 inch is almost beyond their digestive power—2 I take rather a malicious pleasure in yr failure about Cephalotus, as a match to mine with Utricularia. My failure is chiefly due to the absorbent glands or hairs being apparently affected by impure water, & the plants themselves dying in quite pure water. But I will have another battle with them.3

We return home next Monday after a month’s visit at Abinger & here (Bassett Southampton) & instead of finding my holiday an intolerable bore, I have enjoyed it much from having been very well.4

It is very good news to hear that you will come soon to Down—

I look forward with great interest to reading yr address & Tyndall’s & Lubbocks—5 The latter is rather a bold man to select a subject at which he has not worked much; but he is so sharp that I dare say he will do it excellently. We do not know what you refer to about yr little girl being out of bed; & fear that she must have had some illness, but any how it is well over—6

Ever yours affectly | Ch. Darwin


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 August 1874. Hooker had reported on the ‘prodigious’ appetite of Nepenthes (the tropical pitcher-plant) for cartilage.
CD discussed the digestion of cartilage by Drosera rotundifolia (the common or round-leaved sundew) in Insectivorous plants, pp. 103–4, and by Drosophyllum lusitanicum (the Portuguese sundew or dewy pine) in ibid., p. 334.
CD discussed Utricularia (bladderwort) in Insectivorous plants, pp. 395–453. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 July 1874.
CD stayed with Thomas Henry Farrer at Abinger, Surrey, from 25 to 30 July 1874, and with his son William Erasmus Darwin in Southampton from 30 July to 24 August 1874 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
John Tyndall gave the presidential address at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (Tyndall 1874). John Lubbock gave an evening lecture on common flowers in relation to insects. It was reported in The Times, 24 August 1874, pp. 6–7; Lubbock published a small book on the same subject in 1875 (Lubbock 1875b).


Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.


It is splendid how Nepenthes is behaving. Drosera and Dionaea are insignificant by comparison.

Takes rather a malicious pleasure in JDH’s failure with Cephalotus as a match to his with Utricularia.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 332–3
Physical description
LS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9604,” accessed on 12 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22