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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [20–]22 February [1864]1



My dear Hooker

I have two letters from you full of interesting news to me.—2 In your former one you tell me about H. C. Watson: I never heard anything like it; why the man must be insane with ill-humour.—3 Pray tell me when the article appears, for it will be a literary curiosity.4

I know nothing of Scott’s fitness for your most arduous post of head-man;5 what a responsibility you must feel on subject.— If you read Scot’s paper & can say a word of praise or criticism do let me hear, for I am sure he wd. value your praise especially.—6 I am delighted about making him an associate;7 I have no doubt it will stimulate him to good work.—

I shd. like to know, if you can remember, who wrote in G. Chron. the nice notice of poor Boott.—8 Who reviewed Lyell in Quarterly;9 I ask the latter out of mere idle curiosity.—

In your last you allude to Frankland’s paper on Glaciers; I had intended exploding on same subject: it is absurd & I am the more bound to say so, as a former warm sea would never suit the Algæ, Crustacean & Fish common to the N. & S.10 It amused me to see how coolly he assumed that whole world was cooler during glacial period. I wish I had published my evidence in full on this head.—11

I have sent you scraps, asking about seeds of climbing Fumariæ &c12 I wish I could get seed of such Fumariæ.— I fear you greatly overrate the interest of my facts on climbing. Pray thank Bentham sincerely for wishing to notice anything of mine; but I could not draw up a paper to save my life.—13 You ask about my sickness—it rarely comes on till 2–3 hours after eating, so that I seldom throw up food, only acid & morbid secretion; otherwise I shd. have been dead, for during more than a month I vomited after every meal & several times most nights.—14 On my well days I am certainly stronger— You may know how often I feel well, for I always then give myself the treat of writing to you.—

A. DeCandolle sent me the pamphlet on sexes, which stretches my belief to cracking point.—15 I do not believe in Falconer’s lakes.—16 Crügers letter has stirred me up about Orchids, & I skimmed over my Chaptr. on Catesidæ, & I can now look impartially at the case, & I declare the structure & action of Catasetum, is, as it seems to me, about the oddest case in vegetable Kingdom.—17 If Cryptopodium ever flowers at Kew, I shd. much like to see it; I have 2 plants, but they will not flower; I have seen all other genera of Catasetidæ.— I enclose scraps,18 which will not cause much trouble to answer, about climbers, & a few more requests; pray observe you owe this to yourself, as your interest on subject has stimulated me.—19

Since first part of letter was written, I have received seeds of Corydalis &c—20 Most cordial thanks.— I am tired.—

Yours affectionately | C. Darwin

Feb. 22d


P.S. Queries

I have been looking through Loudon’s Encyclop.21 & am astonished to see how many Orders twining & climbing plants belong. This is interesting as it shows to my mind that there is potentiality of spontaneous movement in every plant if of use to it—22 But I can find no climbing plants in Umbellifers, Crucifers or Labiatæ: From memory can you tell me how this is?

I am making out Gloriosa, so do not care so much for oldish plant of Flagellaria23

Have you ever met a statement that plants twine generally in reversed directions in N. & S. Hemispheres? I think I have, & that from some cause I disbelieved statement?—24

Dr. Crüger will send to Kew (I suppose with other plants) a Narantia for me “to claim”—25 I much wish for it, as I believe its fertilisation depends on insect sucking the tubular Bracts.—


The year is confirmed by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864. In 1864, 22 February was a Monday; the preceding Saturday was 20 February.
See letters from J. D. Hooker, 5 February 1864 and 16 February 1864.
For Hooker’s problems with Hewett Cottrell Watson, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 February 1864 and nn. 14–17.
Hooker had inquired about the suitability of John Scott as a replacement for his curator, John Smith (1798–1888) (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 5 February 1864 and n. 7, and 16 February 1864 and n. 21).
CD had been urging Hooker for some time to send encouragement to Scott regarding Scott 1864a (see letters to J. D. Hooker, [10 and 12 January 1864] and [25 January 1864]). In his letter of 5 February 1864, Hooker had said he would ask for Scott’s paper to be referred to him; however, see letters from J. D. Hooker, 9 [March] 1864 and nn. 5 and 6, and 16 September 1864.
CD refers to the proposed election of John Scott as an associate of the Linnean Society (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [before 9 February 1864] and nn. 2 and 3, and letter from Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 15 February [1864]).
The obituary for Francis Boott appeared in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 16 January 1864, pp. 51–2 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 [March] 1864 and n. 8).
The second edition of Charles Lyell’s Antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863b) was reviewed by John Phillips in the Quarterly Review ([J. Phillips] 1863).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 10. The relevance of the glacial period to the geographical distribution of plants and animals and CD’s theory of transmutation is explained in Origin, pp. 365–82.
For CD’s view on the question of the global uniformity of the glacial period, see Origin, pp. 373–4, 376–8. For CD’s discussion of the glacial period resulting from observations made on the Beagle voyage, see Journal of researches, pp. 275–98; see also Origin, pp. 365–82. A longer discussion of the glacial period that he did not publish, but from which pp. 365–83 of Origin were extracted, is in Natural selection, pp. 535–66 and 577–81; CD’s notes for these pages are in DAR 14. CD had continued to ponder the nature of global cooling since the publication of Origin (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 9, letters to J. D. Hooker, 18 March [1861] and 27 [March 1861]).
Hooker had already sent CD seeds of species of Fumariaceae (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [20 February 1864] and nn. 2 and 3).
Hooker had mentioned that George Bentham was keen to refer to CD’s new work when he gave his anniversary address as president of the Linnean Society (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 3, and Bentham 1864a). For the publication of CD’s work on climbing plants, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864, n. 6.
Hooker had inquired about CD’s vomiting in his letter of 5 February 1864. CD had been ill during the latter half of 1863 (see letter to John Lubbock, [1 January 1864] and n. 2), and in early January 1864; since 3 February he had been feeling ill again (see letter from Emma Darwin to J. D. Hooker, 15 February [1864] and n. 5, Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), and CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II)).
Hooker had offered to send a copy of Thury 1863 to CD (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 February 1864 and n. 12). For additional discussion of Marc Thury and his work, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 September 1864 and n. 22, and letter to W. R. Greg, 21 March [1871?], Calendar no. 7609.
See enclosure. The ‘scraps’, though written on one piece of paper, are divided by horizontal lines across the paper above the paragraph on Gloriosa and the paragraph on Crüger.
For Hooker’s interest in CD’s work on climbing plants, see his letter of 16 February 1864. For Hooker’s answers to CD’s queries, see his letter of 9 [March] 1864.
Loudon 1841; there is an annotated copy in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 504–6).
CD discussed this point at the end of ‘Climbing plants’ (p. 117), referring to Lindley 1853, rather than to Loudon 1841. For an early draft of this discussion in ‘Climbing plants’, see DAR 157.2: 90.
In a section on spirally twining plants in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 19–21, CD discussed the direction of twining, but not in relation to the northern and southern hemispheres.


Calendar: A calendar of the correspondence of Charles Darwin, 1821–1882. With supplement. 2d edition. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1994.

‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

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

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

Loudon, John Claudius. 1841. An encyclopædia of plants. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

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.

[Phillips, John.] 1863. [Review of Antiquity of man, by Charles Lyell.] Quarterly Review 114: 368–417.

‘Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum’: On the three remarkable sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum, an orchid in the possession of the Linnean Society. By Charles Darwin. [Read 3 April 1862.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 151–7. [Collected papers 2: 63–70.]

Thury, Marc Antoine. 1863. Mémoire sur la loi de production des sexes chez les plantes les animaux et l’homme. 2d edition. Geneva and Paris: Joël Cherbuliez.


Does not know Scott’s qualifications to be curator at Kew.

Frankland’s theory of glaciers is absurd.

Has JDH heard claim that plants in Northern and Southern Hemispheres turn in opposite directions?

Are there plant families with no twining and climbing plants?

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 221a–c
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4412,” accessed on 24 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12