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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   4 February 1866


Feby 4 /66.

Dear Darwin

I hear nothing of your sister having hardly time to look at the papers.1

I now write in the vainest chance of you being able to help me to a medicine that may check vomiting— we have a most dear friend—at death’s door from not being able to keep any food on the stomach. This is a daughter of my Indian friend Campbell, a young lady of some 20–22 who was for 8 years under my charge when her parents were in India.2 She has been out of health for 4 or 5 years; lost her voice & otherwise suffered in chest & stomach— Some 6 months ago she had an eruption in fauces & mouth & now her stomach seems so affected that no food whatever lies on it; & she is we fear dying from exhaustion. Ice did good for a time, under Chapman,3 & of course all the usual remedies have been tried— You may know of some unusual ones; if so—please write to

Dr. Campbell

104 Lansdowne Road

Notting Hill


if not do not trouble.

I have no news except that D. of Somerset will send 2 large ships one to survey Corea, & the other Straits of Magellan, & asks me to look out for 2 naturalists, who shall be “high class men”—4 This looks promising— I wish I could go! Do you know of any one?

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 I hear] cross in margin, pencil
3.2 Straits of Magellan] cross in margin, pencil
Top of letter: ‘Report’ pencil


CD wrote of the serious illness of his sister, Emily Catherine Langton, in his letter to Hooker of 21 [January 1866]. Notice of her death was printed in The Times, 6 February 1866, p. 1. The date of death is registered in Shrewsbury as 1 February 1866, although it was given as 2 February in The Times, and the Darwin pedigree, p. 11.
Archibald Campbell was superintendent of Darjeeling for the East India Company from 1840 until 1862 (Buchanan 1908, pp. 441–2). Campbell accompanied Hooker on his second Himalayan journey and was imprisoned with him by the Sikkim rajah in 1849 (J. D. Hooker 1854, 2: 202–38). Hooker apparently refers to Campbell’s eldest daughter, Helen Maria, born at Darjeeling in 1842 (D. Campbell comp. 1925, p. 36).
The physician John Chapman advocated the application of ice to the spine especially for the treatment of seasickness and cholera (DNB). In 1865 Chapman had treated CD, whose symptoms included vomiting (see Correspondence vol. 13, letters to John Chapman, 16 May [1865] and 7 June 1865, and Appendix IV).
Edward Adolphus Seymour Seymour, twelfth duke of Somerset, was first lord of the Admiralty (DNB). It is likely that the proposed expedition to Korea was that on which Cuthbert Collingwood served as naturalist (see letter from Cuthbert Collingwood, 15 February 1866). That expedition covered many areas of the China Sea during 1866 and 1867, but did not ultimately reach Korea (see Collingwood 1868 and Day 1967, p. 84). On Hooker’s recommendation, Robert Oliver Cunningham was appointed naturalist to the expedition in HMS Nassau to the Straits of Magellan, under the command of Richard Charles Mayne (Day 1967, p. 84). An account of the natural history of the voyage is given in Cunningham 1871. The printed dedications to Hooker in Collingwood 1868 and Cunningham 1871 express thanks for his assistance in facilitating the authors’ voyages.


Buchanan, W. J. 1908. Notes on old Darjeeling. Bengal Past and Present 2: 439–58.

Collingwood, Cuthbert. 1868. Rambles of a naturalist on the shores and waters of the China Sea: being observations in natural history during a voyage to China, Formosa, Borneo, Singapore, etc., made in Her Majesty’s vessels in 1866 and 1867. London: John Murray.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Cunningham, Robert Oliver. 1871. Notes on the natural history of the Strait of Magellan and west coast of Patagonia, made during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Nassau’ in the years 1866, 67, 68, & 69. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.

Darwin pedigree: Pedigree of the family of Darwin. Compiled by H. Farnham Burke. N.p.: privately printed. 1888. [Reprinted in facsimile in Darwin pedigrees, by Richard Broke Freeman. London: printed for the author. 1984.]

Day, Archibald. 1967. The admiralty hydrographic service, 1795–1919. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

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.


Asks CD whether he knows of a medicine to check vomiting – for a friend dying from starvation as a result.

Duke of Somerset is looking for two naturalists for survey ship to Korea and Strait of Magellan.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 57–8
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4996,” accessed on 25 June 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14