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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   19 October 1877


Octr. 19/77.

Dear Darwin

I have just got back to Kew & the 2d letter I opened was from your Willy giving me the joyful news of his engagement.1 I am indeed glad of it & congratulate you & him & all of you most warmly. I met Miss Sedgwicks sister (I believe) at Cambridge Massts on the penultimate evening of my being in America & can well imagine how nice any sister of her’s may be. I saw a good deal of Mr Norton too—who is in much better health & sent affectionate remembrances, many & warm, to all at Down2

I have indeed had a splendid journey; & thanks to A. Gray a most profitable one.— nothing could or can ever reach his unwearied exertions to make me master of all I saw throughout the breadth & not a little of the length of the U. States. The Geog. distrib of the Flora is wonderfully interesting & its very outlines are not yet drawn. We have materials for a most interesting Essay. I have brought home upwards of 1000 species of dried specimens for comparison of the Rocky mts & Sierra Nevada & Coast range Floras.—an investigation of which should give the key to the American Flora migrations.3

I heard a Report at Boston of Mr Litchfield being very ill abroad, but know no more & William says nothing of it.4

As usual with me when at Sea I caught the Equinoctials & we had the longest Eastward Voyage that the Captn. had ever known! 13 days of heavy contrary gales & a high sea continuously, from Boston Harbor to Cork!

Dyer has done uncommonly well in my absence.—& goes for the last 3 quarters of his honeymoon on Monday.5 Crowds of people asked for you in America:—so pray accept the national greetings through me for I can’t individualize.

Ever affy yrs | J D Hooker


Hooker had been on a three-month botanical trip in America (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 204–17). William Erasmus Darwin was engaged to Sara Sedgwick at the end of September (see letter to Sara Sedgwick, 29 September [1877]).
Probably Sara Sedgwick’s sister Theodora. Charles Eliot Norton had been married to Susan Ridley Sedgwick; the Nortons had visited Down several times in 1868 and 1869 (see letter to C. E. Norton, 16 March 1877 and nn. 3 and 4).
Hooker had travelled with Asa Gray in July and August 1877, studying North American plant distribution (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 205–15). The results of their botanical investigations were published in J. D. Hooker and Gray 1880.
Richard Buckley Litchfield had developed acute appendicitis while travelling in Switzerland in September 1877 (see letter to H. E. Litchfield, 4 October [1877] and n. 2); Hooker may have learned of Litchfield’s illness from Norton or Theodora Sedgwick (see n. 2, above), who could have heard the news from Sara Sedgwick or William.
William Turner Thiselton-Dyer had married Hooker’s daughter Harriet Anne on 23 June 1877; they had only one week of honeymoon before having to return to Kew so that Thiselton-Dyer could oversee the botanic gardens during Hooker’s trip to America (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 206).


JDH has just returned from U. S., where he worked on N. American geographical distribution with Asa Gray.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 95–6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11190,” accessed on 20 September 2021,