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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [20 April 1860]1



Dr. Darwin

I have no National Review but my own No. sc XX which I had at Down.2 I will look at Goodenia flowers the first spare moment.3 I think you will find a similar viscid? surface above the hairs in Lobelia & Campanula, where also the pollen sticks abundantly, but never penetrates.

Bell told me yesterday that Owen avows the Review,4 I can hardly believe it.

Your observation about curvature of style reads good, I will bear it in mind— There must of course be a morphological rationale of the coincidence— Curved styles generally imply oblique flowers.— Oblique flowers have generally unilateral nectaries— Unilateral nectaries are usually posticous (or anticous by torsion of pedicel)— From æquilateral flowers with curved styles nothing can be deduced    E.G. Rhododendron, for there is no side more advantageous for passage of insect than another as far as form of Corolla is concerned. The curvature is I think in all flowers?? always towards axis

[DIAG HERE] Rhodod 5 symmetr. nects. axis Melianthus axis one unilat. nectary I must clarify my ideas on the subject, which are muddled— It is in leaving the flower that the insect does the trick.— Perhaps I do not quite understand you.

I go to Cambridge tomorrow for 2 days.— I have had an awfully narrow escape lately. HRH. wanted me to lecture the young Rl. family on Botany—at Bm. Palace.5 I have effected a compromise by shoving the lectures off on Henslow,6 & saving my credit by offering to teach the children a little practical Botany afterwards. I hope Henslow will not repudiate    Owen is lecturing them on Zoology7 but I cannot endure the thoughts of getting up Lectures.— I shudder at even teaching them with specimens, but think I could scrape through that— To refuse is of course impossible in an Assist: Director of Kew! & I am only too thankful to have jockeyed out of the Lectures. Pray say nothing of all this beyond your own house

Ever Yrs affy | Jos D Hooker

I wonder who wrote article on Testimony of Geology in National    I like it very much.8

CD annotations

1.1 I have … mind— 3.1] crossed ink
5.1 I go … could 5.7] crossed ink
Top of first page: ‘Ch. 3’9 brown crayon, underl brown crayon; ‘April 20 1860’ ink


The date is given by CD’s annotation.
See preceding letter.
There is a diagram drawn by Hooker of the stigma and style of Leschenaultia formosa, with a few accompanying annotations, in CD’s Experimental book (DAR 157a). The diagram, dated 19 April 1860, was presumably drawn after Hooker received CD’s queries contained in the preceding letter and was possibly sent to CD enclosed with Hooker’s letter.
Thomas Bell was president of the Linnean Society. The reference is to Richard Owen’s review of Origin ([R. Owen] 1860a).
Prince Albert arranged for the royal children to be taught scientific subjects by London experts during the late 1850s. The lecture was to take place at Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria’s London residence.
John Stevens Henslow delivered the botany lecture at Buckingham Palace in June (letter from J. S. Henslow to J. D. Hooker, 5 May 1860, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Archive).
Richard Owen gave lectures on natural history to the royal children in April 1860 (R. S. Owen ed. 1894, 2: 98–100).
The article, entitled ‘The testimony of geology to the age of the human race’, appeared in the National Review 10: 279–312. This was the April number that Hooker had taken to Down with him (see preceding letter). The Wellesley index does not list the author of the article.
CD’s annotation refers to chapter 3 of his ‘big book’ on species, ‘On the possibility of all organic beings crossing’ (Natural selection, pp. 33–91).


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


CD’s observations on curved styles read well. JDH seeks morphological rationale of curvature in the position of nectaries.

He has avoided lecturing to Royal Family’s children at Buckingham Palace.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 139–40
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2764,” accessed on 5 August 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8