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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   18 [May 1861]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.


My dear Hooker

I was very glad to hear that poor dear Henslow is at rest.1 I fully believe a better man never walked this earth. What a loss he will be to his parish! I can well believe how you will miss him. I well remember his saying before you married that if he could have picked out anyone for his son-in-law, it would have been you.— How kind he was to me as an undergraduate constantly asking me to his House & taking me long walks. I am thankful to think that at the time I fully enjoyed & appreciated his kindness. I suppose Babington will be Professor at Cambridge.2 What a contrast!

Give our kindest remembrances to Mrs. Hooker.3 My wife admired from her heart poor dear Henslow

Farewell my dear Friend | Your affect— | C. Darwin

By the way, thanks about Beaton: I have now read more of his writings & one answer to me in C. Gardener;4 & I can plainly see that he is not to be trusted. He does not well know his own subject of crossing. He has learnt largely from Herbert, but exaggerates all Herberts opinions grossly.5 Says not one plant in a thousand is ever fertilised by its own pollen! gives some exceptions & these are false & so on.— Coolly assumes that all Botanists have blundered & that it is an entire mistake that pollen-grains emit a tube which penetrates the stigma!!!—6

I like London R. so much better than Athenæum, that I will take it in. Will you send me only one more. But would it be worth while to take it in jointly?7 I do not care about having it first— Perhaps not worth while.—

P.S. | I do not know what is the matter with Lyell,—8 I suspect something surgical or unmentionable.— He has been confined to bed for some time & has required incessant nursing. Lady L. is in very good heart about him; but I heard that Doctor said he did not make so quick process as he liked, & this I did not much like.— A longish confinement & not rapid progress does not sound well; but I hope there is no risk.— I wish I knew what was matter. Emma saw Lady Lyell a few days ago.—9


John Stevens Henslow died on 16 May 1861.
Charles Cardale Babington succeeded Henslow as professor of botany at Cambridge University. For CD’s and Hooker’s poor opinion of Babington’s botanical work, see Correspondence vol. 7, letters to J. D. Hooker, 21 July [1858] and 30 [July 1858].
Frances Harriet Hooker was Henslow’s daughter.
See letter to Journal of Horticulture, [before 14 May 1861]. Donald Beaton’s response was published immediately following the letter.
William Herbert, the dean of Manchester, was a great authority on hybridisation.
CD refers to Beaton’s article in the Cottage Gardener, 24 July 1860, pp. 254–5, in which Beaton described experiments on crossing geraniums and concluded that his results proved the ‘impossibility of the pollen passing in grains in tubes of extreme tenuity to the embryo seed, which is the way it is explained by scientific men.’
See second letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [April 1861].
Charles Lyell had fallen ill late in April following an excursion to Bedford to examine flint implements recently discovered in a gravel pit. In June, he travelled to Kissingen, Bavaria, to convalesce. See K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 343, 344.
According to her diary, Emma Darwin visited Mary Elizabeth Lyell on 13 May 1861 during her stay in London.


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


Henslow’s death.

What a contrast C. C. Babington will be as Professor of Botany at Cambridge.

Beaton not to be trusted.

CD may switch from Athenæum to London Review & Wkly J. Polit.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 100
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3152,” accessed on 18 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9