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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   16 September 1873

Royal Gardens Kew

Sept 16/73.

My dear Darwin

The Mimosa is so exhausted & brown, that it is not worth sending till it has made new growths—1 its movements are very sluggish at the best of times, & you could hardly have made a marked track through a field of this species albida, as with the true Sensitiva, for which I am writing to Brazil

Your Marjoram is not the pot herb, but the common vulgare.

Probably my drops were too fine for the Mimosa   I administered them with a hair-brush, which sent a very fine spray over the leaf. Dyer & I both flicked water in vain with the finger,— but really the plant is a very insensible one. You shall have it when recovered.2

I am glad to hear that you have A. Clarke. What a wonderful case your’s is!—3

I am horribly angry at that vile letter of Taits in Nature, angry at Tait (of whom I know nothing) & at Nature for putting in such abominable letters attributing motives & everything that is vile. Tyndall has written me a splendid letter. He says “I am strong my boy, & the next number of Nature will prove it to you”—4

G Henslow & wife are here, he is marvellously better & can stand with 2 sticks; but is carried from room to room—5

We go to Bradford tomorrow morning—for which I have no stomach at all—but wife likes it—6

I rejoice to hear of your success with Drosera & long to hear more of the acid reaction & the retardation of the external digestive process.7 I long to be at Nepenthes— the specimens are splendid & most inviting but neither I nor Dyer have had time—8

I have a splendid Xanthorrhoea (Australian Grass tree) coming into flower.

Ever yours affec | Jos D Hooker

Address Brit: Assoc Bradford if I can do anything.

What is the name & American address of the Norton’s, any or all!—9

CD annotations

2.1 Your … vulgare.] scribbled over pencil
4.1 I … vile. 5.3] crossed ink


CD had asked Hooker to lend him a Mimosa albida plant from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 September [1873]).
For Hooker’s identification of CD’s specimen of marjoram, and for Hooker and William Turner Thiselton-Dyer’s experiments with the effects of water on Mimosa albida, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1873.
CD was receiving medical treatment from Andrew Clark (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 September [1873]).
A letter from Peter Guthrie Tait had appeared in Nature, 11 September 1873, pp. 381–2, complaining about John Tyndall’s insinuation that James David Forbes had plagiarised Louis Rendu’s work on the movement of glaciers. Tyndall had long been a critic of Forbes’s glacial studies. See Rowlinson 1971. Tyndall’s response to Tait was published in Nature, 18 September 1873, p. 399.
Hooker had described George Henslow’s illness in his letter of 11 April 1873. He also refers to Georgina Brook Henslow.
Hooker and Frances Harriet Hooker attended the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Bradford, Yorkshire, from 17 to 24 September 1873.
Thiselton-Dyer was employed part-time at Kew, editing Hooker’s Flora of British India (Hooker 1875–97; DNB). Hooker did not start experimenting on Nepenthes, the tropical pitcher-plant, until October (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 October 1873 and n. 2).
Charles Eliot Norton and his family had returned to Massachusetts in May 1873 after a four-year visit to Europe (ANB). Norton and one of his unmarried sisters had been invited to visit the Darwins in January (see letter to M. D. Conway, 11 January [1873] and n. 4).


ANB: American national biography. Edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes. 24 vols. and supplement. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1999–2002.

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.

Rowlinson, J. S. 1971. The theory of glaciers. Notes and records of the Royal Society of London 26: 189–204.


Mimosa too far gone to send now.

CD’s marjoram is the common [Origanum] vulgare, not the pot herb.

On the water injury, Thiselton-Dyer and he may have used too fine a spray, but plant is insensitive.

Horribly angry at P. G. Tait’s letter in Nature [8 (1873): 381–2].

Tyndall writes that he is strong – the next number of Nature will prove it.

G. Henslow is much better.

JDH leaves for Bradford [BAAS meeting] tomorrow.

Rejoices at CD’s success with Drosera; longs to be at Nepenthes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 162–5
Physical description
8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9057,” accessed on 23 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21