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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   20 [October 1858]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

Many thanks for mucuna; it clearly is not one of my cases.2 But from what I have seen in Broom & some other Leguminosæ, I must think that on a very hot day in its own country, the keel would suddenly split open, & then the flower would be in regard to insects in the class of open flowers with pistil bent into line of gangway towards nectary. It is very curious how long some flowers remain open & do not secrete honey till suddenly every flower of the same species throughout a whole district begins to secrete honey, & is incessantly visited by Bees.—

I have written my paper for Gardeners Chronicle on fertilisation of Leguminous plants, & shall send it in a week or two; if Lindley does not like it I will send it to Linnean.3 I shd. very much like to hear what impression the facts make on you.—

I have been a little vexed at myself at having asked you not “to pronounce too strongly against nat. selection”.4 I am sorry to have bothered you, though I have been much interested by your note in answer. I wrote the sentence without reflexion. But the truth is that I have so accustomed myself, partly from being quizzed by my non-naturalist relations, to expect opposition & even contempt, that I forgot for the moment that you are the one living soul from whom I have constantly received sympathy. Believe that I never forget for even a minute how much assistance I have received from you.— You are quite correct that I never even suspected that my speculations were a “jam-pot” to you: indeed I thought, until quite lately, that my M.S. had produced no effect on you & this has often staggered me. Nor did I know that you had spoken in general terms about my work to our friends, excepting to dear old Falconer, who some few years ago once told me that I should do more mischief than any ten other naturalists would do good, & that I had half-spoiled you already!5 All this is stupid egotistical stuff, & I write it only because you may think me ungrateful for not having valued & understood your sympathy; which God knows is not the case.—

It is an accursed evil to a man to become so absorbed in any subject as I am in mine.

I was in London yesterday for a few hours with Falconer, & he gave me a magnificent lecture on age of man. We are not upstarts; we can boast of a pedigree going far back in time coeval with extinct species.6 He has grand fact of some, large molar tooth in Trias.—7

I am quite knocked up & am going next Monday to revive under water-cure at Moor Park.

My dear Hooker | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin

I have received a long list of British perennial plants which seed near Sydney, from Mr Moore. I got them from him, (using your name as introduction) in relation to such plants having struggled through Tropics during glacial period. Would you like to see the list & letter?8 I would of course instantly send them; & do not now enclose them simply from not knowing whether you would care to see them.


The letter was endorsed ‘Sept/58’, then changed to read ‘Oct/58’. The latter date is confirmed by CD’s reference to his forthcoming trip to Moor Park hydropathic establishment. CD went to Moor Park on 25 October 1858 (‘Journal’; Appendix II).
See letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [before 13 November 1858]. John Lindley was the editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle.
See also Correspondence vol. 6, letter to Asa Gray, 5 September [1857], in which CD told Gray about Hugh Falconer’s remark.
The find was reported in a note appended to C. Moore 1858, p. 94: ‘Since reading the above paper, it has been the author’s good fortune to discover three unmistakeable mammalian teeth identical with the Microlestes antiquus of the Upper Trias of Wirtemberg, being the earliest evidence of mammalian remains yet found in this country.’ Charles Moore’s paper was read at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Leeds. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Charles Lyell,[16 January 1857], for a discussion of Microlestes and its implications for the fossil record.
Letter from Charles Moore, 11 August 1858. The letter and the list are in DAR 171.2: 232.


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

Moore, Charles. 1858. On Triassic beds near Frome, and their organic remains. Report of the 28th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Leeds, Transactions of the sections, pp. 93–4. [Vols. 7,8]


Fertilisation of papilionaceous flowers [Collected papers 2: 19–25].

JDH’s reactions to CD’s theory.

Discussed human fossil evidence with Hugh Falconer.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 250
Physical description
ALS 7pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2345,” accessed on 7 October 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7