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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [2 March 1877]1


Friday Mg

(To be returned)

Dear old Darwin,

I cannot tell you with what pride & satisfaction I heard Frank deliver his communication last night.—2 He spoke slowly, clearly, & at ease, & was perfectly heard & understood—by all but Huxley!—3 I suppose that “Homer nodded”4 for he understood Frank to say that the filaments had no motion except under stimulus, whereas nothing could be clearer, fuller or more explicit than Frank’s description of the various spontaneous movements. I could not help wishing that Mrs Darwin had been there to see her son’s debût before the R.S.

Tell Frank that Mr Huxley had been up all the previous night, having travelled from Edinburgh by night train,—that he had sat with me at the R.S. Govt. Grant Committee5 from 3 till 612—& that I suspect he slept through a good part of the paper! It must have been rather droll for the Fellows to hear me first liken the motion to Amœba & the protoplasmic masses of the Myxomycetes;6 & then to hear Huxley get up & point out the difference between Dipsacoid & Amoeboid substance to consist in the former not having spontaneous motion!!!

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

I hope you have received Moseleys Photographs &c which he asked me to send on to you7


The date is established by the reference to Francis Darwin’s reading of his teasel paper (see n. 2, below).
Francis read his paper ‘On the protrusion of protoplasmic filaments from the glandular hairs of the common teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris)’ (F. Darwin 1877a) at the Royal Society of London on 1 March 1877.
Thomas Henry Huxley.
Homer nods: even the best, or cleverest, of people have lapses (Oxford dictionary of English idioms).
The Royal Society Government Grant Committee had been set up in 1850 to administer applications for funds given to the society by the British Government (see MacLeod 1971).
Myxomycetes are plasmodial slime moulds, which have a phase that displays amoeboid movement.
The photographs from Henry Nottidge Moseley have not been identified; they probably related to the HMS Challenger expedition or to facial expression, as Moseley had sent CD a photograph and books relating to these topics in November 1876 (see Correspondence vol. 24, letters from H. N. Moseley, 3 November 1876 and [after 17 November 1876]).


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


JDH reports on Frank’s reading of his Dipsacus paper at the Royal Society. Huxley slept through much of it, but JDH is well pleased with it.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 93–4
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10873,” accessed on 6 December 2021,