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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   24 April [1855]


Ap 24th

My dear Hooker

Please to give my very sincere thanks to Sir William: I truly hope the gift will not inconvenience him, for the loan would have done very well, though assuredly not nearly so well as his very kind present.1 I feared my request might have sounded like begging but I really did not know any other conceivable channel of borrowing.

I thank you much for all that you have done for me: I wish I could ever do any troublesome job for you & I would do it with heart & soul.—

On account of coldness of ground I shall not begin my salting for about 14 days, which will have extra advantage of finishing off my present tentative attempts. In answer to your question,2 all seeds sink after the first few hours except Beet from its spongy envelope: I shake the seeds well to favour the sinking.—

You are a good man to confess that you expected the crop wd be killed in a week, for this gives me a nice little triumph. The children at first were tremendously eager & asked me often “whether I shd beat Dr. Hooker?”!!

The cress & Lettuce has just vegetated well after 21 days immersion.— But I will write no more, which is a great virtue in me for it is to me a very great pleasure telling you everything I do.—

Adios | C. Darwin

You will have heard all about Royal from Bell.—

If you knew some of the experiments (if they may be so called) which I am trying, you would have a good right to sneer for they are so absurd even in my opinion that I dare not tell you.3

Have not some men a nice notion of experimentising? I have had a letter telling me that seeds must have great power of resisting salt-water, for otherwise how could they get to islands?4 This is the true way to a solve a problem!


William Jackson Hooker had apparently presented CD with a copy of Lawson and Lawson 1852 after CD had asked to borrow it (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 April [1855]).
On a list of experiments on seeds dated 13 April (DAR 27.1 (ser. 7): 7), CD noted: ‘Hooker asks whether float or sink, all except Beet, sink.— I agitate well.—’
CD’s record of his experiments is in DAR 27.1 (ser.7): 1–23.
This was probably a response to CD’s letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 11 April [1855], published on 14 April 1855.


Lawson, Peter and Lawson, Charles. 1852. The Lawsonian collection. Synopsis of the vegetable products of Scotland in the Museum of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew. 5 vols. in 1 and appendix. Edinburgh.


More on seed-salting. JDH’s admission that he expected seeds to die in a week gives CD "a nice little triumph".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 130
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1671,” accessed on 18 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5