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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   22 [May 1864]



My dear Hooker

What a good kind heart you have got.— You cannot tell how your letter has pleased me.— I will write to Scott & ask him, if he chooses to go out & risk getting employment—1 If he will not, he must want all energy. He says himself he wants stoicism; & is too sensitive;2 I hope he may not want courage.— I feel sure he is a remarkable man with much good in him, but no doubt many errors & blemishes— I can vouch for his high intellect (in my judgment he is the best observer I ever came across); for his modesty, at least in correspondence; & there is something high-minded in his determination not to receive money from me.—3 I shall ask him whether he can get good character for probity & sobriety.—& whether he can get aid from his relations for his voyage out— I will help, & if necessary pay the whole voyage & give him enough to support him for some weeks at Calcutta.4 I will write when I hear,—from him— God Bless you,—you, who are so overworked, are most generous to take so much trouble about a man you have had nothing to do with—

I have about a cubic yard of books & pamphlets unread, & amongst them Naudins late papers;5 so I can say little—all that I remember was feeling greatest doubts about rapidity & universality of Hybrids reverting to either parent-type—6 neither Gärtner nor Kölreuter found this so general & G. reared 8 or 10 successive generations of Hybrid Dianthus & found them uniform in character—7 What made me doubt was that Naudin rather sneers at precautions necessary against insects, & he does not state that neither parent–species grew in gardens—8 I know that the first year all Gärtner’s experiments were acknowledged by him to be worthless from underrating insect-agency.—9

I have now read Wallace’s paper on Man, & think it most striking & original & forcible;10 I wish he had written Lyell’s chapter on Man.11 I quite agree about his high-mindiness, & have long thought so; but in this case it is too far & I shall tell him so.—12 I am not sure that I fully agree with his views about man; but there is no doubt, in my opinion, on the remarkable genius shown by the paper.— I agree, however, to the main new leading idea.—13

You quite overrate my tendril work & there is no occasion to plague myself about priority.14 By the way I observed yesterday an odd little fact, that in the vine the Flower buds are borne on a true tendril, for the whole mass of flowers steadily revolves in 2°. 15.—15 I have almost finished my Lythrum paper: I fear it can be copied & sent only just before close of Session of Linn. Soc. & that the title alone will be read.—16 It really is a wondrous case; by far oddest case I have ever observed.

My dear old fellow Yours affect. | C. Darwin


CD was pleased with Hooker’s letter of 19 May 1864, in which he suggested that John Scott would probably find employment if he travelled to India; Hooker offered to give him letters of introduction to his botanical contacts. CD had already written to Scott with this information (see letter to John Scott, 21 May [1864]).
CD may refer to Scott’s remarks in his letter of [13 January 1864], and possibly to some remarks in his letters of 5 May [1864] and 16 May [1864].
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 May 1864 and nn. 10 and 11. CD is referring to Naudin 1863, and possibly to Naudin 1862; annotated copies of both are in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. However, CD’s letter to C. V. Naudin, 7 February 1863, indicates that he may already have read Naudin 1862.
For CD’s reading of earlier papers by Charles Victor Naudin dealing with hybridisation, including Naudin 1852, 1856, and 1858, see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from C. V. Naudin, 26 June 1862 and n. 3, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 [June 1862] and n. 11. For CD’s reading of Naudin 1859a and possibly Naudin 1862, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to C. V. Naudin, 7 February 1863. For CD’s concerns about the universality of hybrid reversion, see n. 8, below. See also J. Harvey 1997b.
CD refers to the work of Karl Friedrich von Gärtner and Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter in Gärtner 1849 and Kölreuter 1761–6. In Variation 2: 98, CD cited Gärtner 1849, p. 553, and referred to Gärtner’s crosses of Dianthus armeria and D. deltoides, which remained uniform to the tenth generation. In his letter to Asa Gray of 1 July [1862] (Correspondence vol. 10), CD also expressed his suspicion that Naudin had not read Gärtner’s or Kölreuter’s work regarding hybrid sterility.
After reading Naudin 1858, CD noted that if Naudin had not protected his plants adequately from insects that could pollinate the hybrids with pollen from the parent species, he might have mistaken this cross-pollination with reversion to the parent type (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 [June 1862] and n. 11). For comments of CD’s regarding Naudin’s projected work on hybrid sterility and his poor opinion of Origin, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 January [1863].
Gärtner published the results of these experiments in Gärtner 1826, and then admitted his error in Gärtner 1827, pp. 74–5; for CD’s report of Gärtner’s mistake and acknowledgment of the error, see his letter to the Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener, [before 3 February 1863] (Correspondence vol. 11). For CD’s views on Gärtner’s, Kölreuter’s, and Naudin’s work on hybrid reversion, see Origin 4th ed., pp. 331–5, Variation 1: 392 and 2: 36, 49–50. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 September [1864] and nn. 4 and 6; Olby 1985, pp. 1–71; and Mayr 1986.
The last five chapters of Charles Lyell’s Antiquity of man discussed topics covered in Wallace 1864b (see C. Lyell 1863a, pp. 385–506). For CD’s disappointment with C. Lyell 1863a, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 24[–5] February [1863], and letters to Charles Lyell, 6 March [1863] and 12–13 March [1863]. See also Van Riper 1993, pp. 139–43, and Bynum 1984.
For CD’s praise and criticism of Wallace 1864b, see letter to A. R. Wallace, 28 [May 1864].
CD included a drawing in ‘Climbing plants’, p. 81, of what he called the ‘common peduncle’, the ‘flower-tendril’, and the ‘sub-peduncle’, or the stalk, of an inflorescence of Vitis vinifera, the common vine (ibid., p. 80). He wrote that the whole peduncle moved spontaneously, but to a lesser degree than a true vine tendril (without the flowers). He described the true tendril as making ‘two elliptical revolutions at an average rate of 2 h. 15 m.’ (ibid., p. 80; see also p. 98). CD’s note describing the peduncle’s structure and movement is in DAR 157.2: 58. For CD’s investigations into whether some tendrils were derived from flower peduncles, see the letters to Daniel Oliver, 11 March [1864] and nn. 6–9, and 31 March [1864] and n. 3; see also ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 112–14.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1864]. ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria was the second paper read at the meeting of 16 June 1864; this was the last meeting before the summer recess. CD had sent the paper to the Linnean Society by 10 June 1864 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 June [1864]).


‘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.

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

Gärtner, Karl Friedrich von. 1826. Nachricht über Versuche, die Befruchtung einiger Gewächse betreffend. Naturwissenschaftliche Abhandlungen. Herausgegeben von eine gesellschaft in Würtemberg 1: 35–66.

Gärtner, Karl Friedrich von. 1827. Correspondenz. Flora 10: 74–80.

Gärtner, Karl Friedrich von. 1849. Versuche und Beobachtungen über die Bastarderzeugung im Pflanzenreich. Mit Hinweisung auf die ähnlichen Erscheinungen im Thierreiche, ganz umgearbeitete und sehr vermehrte Ausgabe der von der Königlich holländischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Stuttgart: E. Schweizerbart.

Kölreuter, Joseph Gottlieb. 1761–6. Vorläufige Nachricht von einigen das Geschlecht der Pflanzen betreffenden Versuchen und Beobachtungen. Leipzig: Gleditschischen Handlung.

Mayr, Ernst. 1986. Joseph Gottlieb Kölreuter’s contributions to biology. Osiris 2d ser. 2: 135–76.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1852. Considérations philosophiques sur l’espèce et la variété. Revue Horticole 4th ser. 1: 102–9.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1858. Observations concernant quelques plantes hybrides qui ont été cultivées au Muséum. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 4th ser. 9: 257–78.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1862. Cucurbitacées cultivées au Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle en 1862. Description d’espèces nouvelles et de quelques formes hybrides obtenues de plantes de cette famille. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 4th ser. 18: 159–208.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1863. Nouvelles recherches sur l’hybridité dans les végétaux. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 4th ser. 19: 180–203.

Olby, Robert. 1985. Origins of Mendelism. 2d edition. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

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.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

Van Riper, A. Bowdoin. 1993. Men among the mammoths: Victorian science and the discovery of human prehistory. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


CD’s pleasure at JDH’s willingness to help Scott find a position in India.

Naudin underrates contamination of his experiments by insects. Thus CD doubts Naudin’s results on rapidity and universality of reversion in hybrids.

Wallace’s paper on man [see 4494] reflects his genius, although CD does not fully agree with it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 236
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4506,” accessed on 23 February 2024,

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