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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [15 August 1864]1



Dear Darwin

Hanburya climbs by tendrils, which fork, one branch is spiral, the other straight— It takes lots of heat.2

Send me a leaf of Bignonia buxifolia,3 I can find the name no-where—also of Jasminum parviflorum or paucifolium, as we have, or had, 2 of that name—one Indian, one African.4

Scott arrived on Friday— I saw him on Saturday, a thoroughly respectable & intelligent looking man— I sent him to agent & ships, & he finds that the best plan will be a passage in the “Renown” sailing ship on 26th.—5 it must be I suspect a first-class passage, & he is so superior a looking man that I should think this was the right thing—

When shall he go to see you,—if at all— he is anxious to, but fears to intrude.6

Our Curator, Smith,7 knows of him & his temper, or rather his misanthropic disposition, both from his (Scotts) superiors & inferiors: but says that he could not have been worse placed than in Edinburgh for having the worst made of these8

I had an awful week of it last week. I could not get off the Army examination, which I had thrown up.—Natural History being there made optional to the Asst Surgeons, & I had more than twice the average number of candidates!9 I had got through a London University Examnt. the previous week & had an Apothecary Hall Gold medal in Botany to decide on, on Tuesday besides.10 My Father returns today—but—at his age this makes work.—11 Oliver is still in France.12

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 August [1864]. In 1864, the first Monday after 11 August was 15 August.
See memorandum to J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1864?] and n. 5.
Hooker and CD had been helping John Scott to obtain a passage to Calcutta (see letter from John Scott, 29 July [1864] and nn. 3–7). The shipping agent was Henry Taylor (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [29 July 1864] and n. 2).
Scott probably visited Down on 18 August 1864 (see letters to J. D. Hooker, [16 August 1864] and n. 2, and [23 August 1864]).
John Smith (1821–88) had recently been appointed curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994).
Scott had complained to CD on a number of occasions about the difficulties he experienced as an employee at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 11, letter from John Scott, [3 June 1863], and this volume, letter from John Scott, 28 May [1864]). CD and Hooker had suspected that John Hutton Balfour, regius keeper of the garden, was prejudiced against Scott because of Scott’s support for CD’s theory of natural selection (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 10 June 1863, and this volume, letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 April [1864]). For Balfour’s assessment of Scott, see the enclosure to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 April 1864.
See letters from J. D. Hooker, 5 July 1864 and n. 7, and [4–]6 August 1864.
Hooker was an examiner in botany at the University of London; he was also an examiner for the Society of Apothecaries of London (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 385, 537). The Society met in Apothecaries’ Hall, Water Lane, Blackfriars, and awarded medals annually in botany and materia medica (Post Office London directory 1865, Copeman 1967, p. 66).
William Jackson Hooker, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, was 79 years old (DNB).
Daniel Oliver had gone to the south of France (see letter from Daniel Oliver, 21 July 1864).


Copeman, W. S. C. 1967. The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London. A history, 1617–1967. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Post Office London directory: Post-Office annual directory. … A list of the principal merchants, traders of eminence, &c. in the cities of London and Westminster, the borough of Southwark, and parts adjacent … general and special information relating to the Post Office. Post Office London directory. London: His Majesty’s Postmaster-General [and others]. 1802–1967.


Replies to queries on climbing plants.

JDH meets Scott and finds him an intelligent and superior-looking man. Scott wishes to come to Down before leaving England.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 232–3
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4590,” accessed on 21 April 2021,

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