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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   15 June 1864

Royal Gardens Kew

June 15/64.

Dear Darwin

I have seen to be put up for you— 1. Nepenthes (—our stock is reduced to 6, of young plants, through death & neglect)—1 2. cutting of Vanilla.2 we have no young plants   3. Combretum—3 4 Hanburya a fine climber.4 5. some Commelynas.5 6, Lygodium—6 We have not Adlumia I am sorry to say—7 1–4 are tender tropical things, & I fear difficult of cultivation   You had better get some advice about them from your tropical-house friend.8

We are very hard at work drilling our new man9 & reforming the details of the whole establishment, accounts, cultivation & superintendence indoor & out, & in a couple of years if all is well, I shall hope to have a Botanical Garden worth looking at in a scientific point of view.

I have a curious notice from Haast, which I am sending to N.H Review, of the bluffs of W. coast of M. Island being all moraines against which the waves beat.—& a glacier of Mt Cook descends to 500 ft. only 8 miles from coast—also of Moa-bones in Moraines!—10

We dined with Huxley11 on Monday & he with us yesterday, we had not met for a long time— he is remarkably well, & entre nous, about to fall foul of Falconer for his insane unfair and utterly foolish going on against Lyell—12 F. will catch it hot & strong if H. falls foul of him. It is incomprehensible how F. can be so childish.

I have heard of a post vacant that may suit Scott, in a Coffee plantation in a most healthy part of Nilgherries—13 I am enquiring about it.

We got a new governess & packed her off in 2 days.— my wife14 is most unfortunate, but I do not think she has any idea of the trouble it takes to get a really good person. I want extremely to take her to the country, but do not see my way to it.

Harveys Dandelion case seems curious,15 but really my brains are quite addled, & I cannot think of these things. I wish I could get into an ocean-steamer & be off for 6 months— Meanwhile I hope to see you first! about end of month I hope.

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker


On CD’s interest in Nepenthes, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 [March] 1864, n. 22. Hooker described the recent loss of plants at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in his letter of [4 June 1864].
CD had requested specimens of Vanilla from the nursery of James Veitch (1815–69) in Chelsea, but doubted that he would be able to supply them (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 June [1864]). For CD’s interest in Vanilla, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26[–7] March [1864] and n. 9.
CD had requested specimens of Combretum in his letter to Hooker of 2 June [1864].
Hanburya mexicana. See memorandum to J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1864?] and n. 4.
Hooker probably refers to John Horwood, a gardener who had superintended the building of CD’s hothouse in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter to J. D. Hooker, 24 December [1862] and n. 10, and Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix VI).
Hooker refers to John Smith (1821–88), the new curator of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 March 1864 and n. 4).
Hooker refers to the communication by Julius von Haast on the glacial deposits in New Zealand, which appeared, together with a brief notice by Hooker, in the July 1864 issue of Natural History Review, pp. 474–6. CD annotated the communication in his unbound copy of the July 1864 issue in the Darwin Library–CUL. Haast’s communication was based on the geological survey by Arthur Dudley Dobson, surveyor for the provincial government of Canterbury. According to Dobson’s report, fifty miles of the western coast of the Middle Island (now called South Island) consisted of terminal moraines of former glaciers; large quantities of bones of Dinornis, an extinct land-bird commonly known as the moa, were found in one of the moraines. Haast remarked that the discovery of moa bones supported CD’s views on the imperfection of the geological record (see Origin, pp. 279–311). He added that the occurrence of glaciers at low altitude in a warm, wet climate supported the views of CD and Hooker on the importance of precipitation, in addition to temperature, in determining the elevation of perpetual snow and extension of glaciers (see Journal of researches, p. 278 n., and J. D. Hooker 1854, 2: 128–9 n. and 394–6; see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 26[–7] March [1864] and n. 15). Hooker commented that the report also lent support to Charles Lyell’s hypothesis concerning the effect of changes in the relationship of sea to land on the southern extension of an arctic climate in Europe (see C. Lyell 1853, pp. 102–12, letter from J. D. Hooker, [2 April 1864] and n. 17, and letters to J. D. Hooker, 5 April [1864] and 23 September [1864] and n. 10). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 December 1864 and n. 28.
Thomas Henry Huxley.
Hugh Falconer had criticised Lyell for not giving him and Joseph Prestwich due credit for their investigations into human antiquity in Antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863a). See letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 March 1864 and n. 11. No criticism by Huxley of Falconer on this issue has been found.
Hooker was making enquiries about a prospective employer for John Scott in India (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [4 June 1864]). Coffee was widely grown on private plantations in the Nilgiri Hills in south-west India (see Markham 1880, p. 334). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 May 1864 and n. 3.
Frances Harriet Hooker.
Hooker refers to William Henry Harvey and an account in his letter to CD of 19 May 1864 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 June [1864] and nn. 5 and 12).


JDH busy reforming Kew’s operations.

Falconer may "fall foul" of Huxley’s anger over his attacks on Lyell.

Has heard of a coffee plantation post for Scott.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 227–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4537,” accessed on 16 February 2019,

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