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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 November [1864]


Saturday. 26th Nov.

My dear Hooker

Thanks to you about Dicentra1 & to Bentham about Clematis.—2

You do not know how pleased I am that you have read my Lythrum paper;3 I thought you would not have time, & I have for long years looked at you as my Public & care more for your opinion than that of all the rest of the world. I have done nothing which has interested me so much as Lythrum since making out the Complemental males of Cirripedes.4 I fear that I have dragged in too much miscellaneous matter into the paper.

I shall not attend on 30th for medal as Emma quite agrees with me that it would probably make me very ill.5 How kind you have been about this medal: indeed I am blessed with many good friends, & I have received 4 or 5 notes which have warmed my heart.6 I often wonder that so old a worn-out dog as I am is not quite forgotten. Talking of medals; has Falconer had Royal: he surely ought to have it, as ought John Lubbock.—7 By the way the latter tells me that some old members of Royal are quite shocked at my having the Copley: do you know who?8 I forgot to ask Lubbock.—

Thanks for all your news on many points: I am sorry to hear of the several illnesses.—9

What you tell me about Carex seems to me bad news: will it not lose much time & money? Poor dear old Boott gave me, in very useless manner, 2 gigantic vols’. Of course I will take the 3d. as you will want subscribers.10 Will you let me aid you with money if required? But I am sorry that your great kindness has led you to this work.—

I get letters occasionally which show me that Nat. Selection is making great progress in Germany & some amongst the young in France.11 I have just received pamphlet from Germany with the complimentary Title of “Darwinsche Arten-Entstehung—Humbug”!12

Farewell, my best of old Friends. | C. Darwin

P.S. I am low at thinking that I shall have nothing to observe in Hot-house, now Climbers are done.13 Therefore can you give me any stove or Greenhouse Droseras, especially D. dichotoma, that is if easily propagated about which I know nothing.—14

You ought to get from Portugal a bush Drosera, I forget name—15

P.S. 2d Answer this only if by chance you can so surely that I may give it on your authority.— Can any spirally twining plant, (not having tendrils) twine round a tree or post one foot or upwards in diameter? Our temperate climbers cannot, from a peculiarity in their movements, twine round a post even six inches in diameter.16 I suspect some of the Tropical Twiners can manage a much greater diameter.—

Are there thick columns in the Houses at Kew.—


See letters from J. D. Hooker, 3 November [1864] and nn. 4 and 5, and [23 November 1864].
CD refers to George Bentham. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [23 November 1864] and n. 18.
Hooker commented on CD’s paper ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’ in his letter of [23 November 1864].
In his letter to Hooker of 10 May 1848 (Correspondence vol. 4), CD first described his discovery of minute males complementary to, and parasitic on, hermaphrodites in species of the barnacle genus Scalpellum. The history of CD’s discovery of complementary males is given in Living Cirripedia (1851), pp. 231–2. For a discussion of the discovery in relation to CD’s theory of the development of separate sexes, see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix II, pp. 399–400.
The Copley Medal was to be presented to CD at the anniversary meeting of the Royal Society of London on 30 November 1864.
See letter from Hugh Falconer, 3 November 186[4], letter from John Lubbock, 3 November 1864, letter from Henry Holland, 4 November [1864], letter from T. H. Huxley, 4 November 1864, and letter from Charles Lyell, 4 November 1864.
Neither Hugh Falconer nor John Lubbock ever received the Royal Medal of the Royal Society. The Royal Medals were founded in 1825 by George IV. In 1850, the Council of the Royal Society resolved that the medals were to be awarded annually ‘for the two most important contributions to the advancement of Natural Knowledge, published originally in Her Majesty’s dominions within a period of not more than ten years, and not less than one year of the date of the award’; one medal was to be given each year ‘to each of the two great divisions of Natural Knowledge’ (Record of the Royal Society of London, pp. 116–17). For a list of the recipients, see ibid., pp. 349–52.
See letter from Charles Lyell, 4 November 1864 and n. 3. Hooker was a member of the Council of the Royal Society, which voted on the award of medals.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [23 November 1864] and n. 13. Hooker had agreed to complete the fourth part of Francis Boott’s monograph on the genus Carex (Boott 1858–67). Copies of parts 1 and 2 of the work, published in 1858 and 1860, are in the Darwin Library–Down. The fourth volume was financed not by subscriptions, but by Boott’s widow, Mary. See also Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Francis Boott, 27 January 1862.
On the reception of CD’s theory in Germany, see the letters from Hermann Kindt, 5 September 1864 and 16 September 1864, and the letters from Ernst Haeckel, 9 [July 1864] and n. 6, and 26 October 1864; on CD’s theory in France, see the letter from Hugh Falconer, 3 November 186[4] and n. 8.
The reference is to Herr Schleiden und der Darwin’sche Arten-Entstehungs-Humbug (‘Mr Schleiden and the Darwinian origin-of-species humbug’; Löwenthal 1864). A copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 12, Appendix II) records that he finished ‘Climbing plants’ on 13 September, ‘but afterwards had about a fortnight for additions’. CD was still making observations and adding to the paper in December (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 December [1864] and n. 6). The paper was sent to the Linnean Society on 18 January 1865 (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to J. D. Hooker, 19 January [1865]), and was read on 2 February 1865. See also letter to Asa Gray, 29 October [1864] and n. 12.
CD had carried out observations of the common sun-dew, Drosera rotundifolia, between 1860 and 1862 (see Correspondence vols. 8–10). He later published on different species of Drosera in Insectivorous plants and Movement in plants. CD’s notes on Drosera are in DAR 54–7, 59, and 60. Drosera binata (also called D. dichotoma) is discussed in Insectivorous plants, pp. 281–4. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and n. 9.
CD probably refers to Drosera lusitanica (also called Drosophyllum lusitanicum), a rare species found mainly in Portugal. The species is discussed in Insectivorous plants, pp. 332–42.
CD recorded his observations of the upward movements of spirally twining plants in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 13–14; he noted the failure of Wistaria (also called Wisteria) shoots to twine around a post five or six inches in diameter. See letters from J. D. Hooker, 29 November 1864, and 2 December 1864 and n. 10.


CD’s Lythrum paper has given him as much satisfaction as working out complemental males in cirripedes.

Response to award of Copley Medal.

Letters from Germany and France support natural selection.

Now that climbing plants are done, CD asks for Drosera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 254a–c
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4682,” accessed on 19 February 2019,

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