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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   11 October 1874

Alderley Grange | Wotton under Edge

Oct 11/74.

Dear Darwin

We are staying for a few days with my old friend Hodgson of Darjeeling—1 whither your letter followed me   I have sent it to Oliver & asked him to forward to you a sheet of Byblis & one of Roridula.2 (I forget what I did with Sondera in Gen. Plant:—)3 pray cut them about as you please.— Aldrovanda was found in Bengal half a century ago—close to Calcutta by Roxburgh, but eluded all search till Thomson refound it again some 10 years ago!4 I have never compared the species, but will direct Oliver to do so at once5

What do you think of old Pritchard’s discourse? it struck me as very able, but I do not see how it affects your position, or evolution at all— it does affect the rather unprofitable doctrine of materialism—6

I am busy with my address for the R. S., which I am advised to make a purely business one; & confine it to the operations of the Society; it’s Committees— Funds— labours under Government & private affairs, about which it appears that the Fellows in general are absolutely ignorant. They know nothing of the Donation fund, Govt. Grant; Sc. Relief fund, & the dozen or so committees, many of them Standing Committees, that involve an amount of work on the part of the Officers that not only justifies paying the Secretaries but make it expedient for the Society to do, so & necessary to support themselves.7

I got over my Lubbock difficulty most amiably. & am going in with the sheets but between ourselves I do not much like it.8

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

We leave this on Monday Mrs Hooker for Cheltenham, I for Maw’s place at Brosely to see his garden &c9


See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 October 1874 and n. 1. Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver and herbarium sheets.
Hooker described Sondera (a synonym of Drosera, the sundew) within the genus Drosera in Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 1: 663).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 October 1874 and nn. 2 and 6. Hooker refers to Aldrovanda vesiculosa (the waterwheel plant), William Roxburgh, and Thomas Thomson. Aldrovanda vesiculosa was described as A. verticillata in Roxburgh 1832, 2: 113.
In Insectivorous plants, p. 325, CD noted receiving plants in October. In ibid., p. 328, he referred to receiving from Oliver a herbarium specimen of an Australian plant, which he described as Aldrovanda vesiculosa var. australis. He received another dried specimen from India, which he described as Aldrovanda vesiculosa var. verticillata (Insectivorous plants, p. 329).
Charles Pritchard’s Modern science and natural religion (Pritchard 1874) summarised well-known criticisms of Darwinian evolution, including, on page 14, Alfred Russel Wallace’s argument that the evolution of humans required the intervention of an external will. Pritchard concluded (ibid., pp. 30–1): the course of scientific discovery has led to the certainty that the universe at large, our own physical frames, and our mental and moral constitution, are arranged on a much more mechanical principle than had hitherto been conceived. The Christian student and the philosophical divine will be wise to expect a still further development of knowledge in the same direction. On the other side, we have at length been brought, by philosophical conclusions, from the most advanced scientific knowledge of the day, to the philosophical certainty that matter is not eternal, but that from the beginning of Nature it was endued with very wonderful properties by some Intelligent Will.
Hooker’s presidential address to the Royal Society of London was given on 30 November 1874, and printed in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (J. D. Hooker 1874). On pp. 61–2, Hooker discussed the donation fund set up on the death of William Hyde Wollaston in 1828 to promote and reward experimental research, the government grant of £1000 per annum, and the scientific relief-fund for individuals and families.
Hooker probably refers to the proof-sheets of John Lubbock’s book On British wild flowers considered in relation to insects (Lubbock 1875b). In the preface (dated September 1874), Lubbock wrote, ‘I have to thank various friends who have been good enough to assist me, but especially Dr. Hooker and Mr. Busk, who have been so very kind as to look through my proofs’ (p. viii).
Hooker refers to Frances Harriet Hooker and to George Maw, who established a garden at Benthall Hall, Broseley, Shropshire (Gardeners’ Chronicle, 12 February 1881, pp. 205–6).


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

Pritchard, Charles. 1874. Modern science and natural religion: an essay read before the Church Congress at Brighton, and now submitted to the members of the British Association who listened to the presidential address at Belfast. New Edition. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.

Roxburgh, William. 1832. Flora Indica; or descriptions of Indian plants. 3 vols. Serampore: W. Thacker and Co., Calcutta. Parbury, Allen and Co., London.


Oliver will attend to his letter.

Tells of discovery and rediscovery of Aldrovanda.

Asks what CD thinks of "old Pritchard’s discourse" [C. Pritchard, Natural science and natural religion (1874)]. Does not affect evolution at all. It does affect the rather unprofitable doctrine of materialism.

His plans for the Royal Society Presidential Address.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 226–7
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9673,” accessed on 30 May 2023,

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