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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 January [1877]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan. 25th

My dear Hooker

I have just read with great interest your R. Soc. address, for it told me much that was new, & how wonderfully active the Soc. is.2 I cannot think what will be done in the future, the work augments so much that it can hardly be done by volunteers. As Owen sneered, I think hereafter the Pres. will have to be a paid officer, & then it will be frightfully difficult to get a good one!3

You were a good man to write to me the other day & to tell me about the seeds exposed to intense cold.4 By an odd chance I had been speculating a few days before whether any degree of cold would kill the germs of Bacteria & such like, & had supposed it wd. not; though there cannot be many such germs in Esquimauxs’ dens, otherwise all the inhabitants would perish.

You ask what I & we all are about, & I have nothing to say, as I am only working up & adding to old matter about Dimorphic & Trimorphic plants.5 In about a month’s time I shall ask you to let Frank to come to Kew to examine the dried specimens of certain genera, about which I know of indications of dimorphism; & to beg, if you have sufficient specimens, to give me a flower of each form; for I will rank no plant as dimorphic without comparing pollen-grains & stigmas. Frank has nearly finished his paper on the protrusion of Protoplasmic filaments from the glands of Dipsacus, & the discovery seems to me a very remarkable one.6 I know that it will make you savage, but I think the great honour of its being printed in the R. Soc. Transactions, (shd. the referees so order) would stimulate his zeal & make him think better of his work, so that I have resolved to communicate it to Socy.7

Ever yours affectionately | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 18 January 1877.
Hooker had delivered the president’s address to the Royal Society of London on 30 November 1876 (J. D. Hooker 1876).
CD alludes to Richard Owen’s address on 3 December 1873 to the fellows of the Royal Society on the questions of income, elections, presidents, and payment of secretaries (R. Owen 1873). Owen had hinted that Hooker, who was elected president on 1 December 1873 (The Times, 2 December 1873, p. 7), would accept payment as president of the Royal Society (see Correspondence vol. 21, letter to J. D. Hooker, 20 December [1873]).
Much of the material from CD’s earlier papers, ‘Dimorphic condition in Primula, ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria, and ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’, was reworked in Forms of flowers, which was published on 9 July 1877 (Freeman 1977).
Francis Darwin had discovered protoplasmic filaments protruding from the glandular hairs of leaves of common or fuller’s teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris, a synonym of D. fullonum; see Correspondence vol. 24, letter from Francis Darwin, [28 May 1876]). In the published paper (F. Darwin 1877b, p. 272), he hypothesised that the protrusion of the filaments in some way corresponded to the process of aggregation seen in insectivorous plants like those of the genus Drosera (sundews).
CD communicated Francis’s paper to the society and it was read on 1 March 1877; an abstract of it was published in Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (F. Darwin 1877a). The Council of the Royal Society later decided not to print the full paper (see letter to G. J. Romanes, 23 May 1877). The full paper was published in the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, July 1877 (F. Darwin 1877b).


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

‘Dimorphic condition in Primula’: On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. By Charles Darwin. [Read 21 November 1861.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6 (1862): 77–96. [Collected papers 2: 45–63.]

Forms of flowers: The different forms of flowers on plants of the same species. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1877.

Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

Owen, Richard. 1873. [Address to the fellows of the Royal Society on the questions of income, elections, presidents, and payment of secretaries.] London: privately printed.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]


CD notes growth of Royal Society may force it to hire officers.

Speculates on cold resistance of bacterial germs.

Will communicate to Royal Society Frank’s paper on the ingestion of solid particles by the protoplasmic protrusions of Dipsacus glands.

CD working on plant dimorphism.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 430–1
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10814,” accessed on 23 September 2021,