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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   26 August 1863


Aug 26th /63.

Dear Darwin.

I address this on the bare chance of your being alive, for it is a good epoch since I have heard of you; all my own fault. as I owe you two—1

I had a good fortnights very hard work at examinations,2 & have been enlivening my dull life by picking up Wedgewoods again with redoubled vigor3—& doggedly plodding on at the New Zealand Flora,4 what will I hope yield some very curious results in distribution about which we will have many a yarn yet. Black my Herbarium factotum is away ill in Scotland,5 & Oliver away for his holiday too,6 which throws a deal of work on my narrowing shoulders. Then my wife has been much away nursing her Aunt at Cheltenham who is dying by inches precisely as Henslow did, & at the same age! (62)—or very near it:7 & I daily expect to be called down to the funeral.

Your Medallion of Dr. D. is all safe, I will send it you as soon as I get it back, Woolner has had some casts of it taken for me, it is still with him.8

Planchon writes in extraordinary excitement about your Linum experiments, & wants to devote his life to such researches; but of course will do nothing of the sort.9

Boott is better, but not out of his room, he has grown morbid & unreasonable & will not take any advice from Drs or aught else, poor Mrs & Miss Boott are at their wits ends about him.10

How go on the tendrils,?11 I wish I had some such engrossing pursuit & leisure to follow it up.

I am sure I do not know when I shall get down to Down, at present I see no prospect of it for some weeks;12 I expect I shall have to go & visit Chatsworth & some other Great Gardens apropos of our cultivation here.13 Haast has sent a nice map of part of the Glacial ranges of N. Zeald14   shall I send it on to you?

I have read Jamesons paper with great pleasure.15 I am sure most of my terraces in Himalaya are cuttings away of the vast flowing of glacial ? detritus that once filled the valleys 800 feet deep, & still fills the valleys of the drier country of Tibet.16 Others are however glacial-lacustrine as I have hinted & as Jameson holds for Glen Roy

Ev Yrs affec | J D Hooker


Hooker refers to CD’s letters to him of 3 August [1863] and 12–13 August [1863].
Hooker probably refers to examinations at the University of London, where he was examiner in botany (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1862] and n. 4). He was also examiner for the Society of Apothecaries’ prize in botany, and a botanical examiner for medical officers in the armed services and the East India Company (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 385–7 and 537).
Hooker was an avid collector of Wedgwood ware (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, [27 or 28 December 1862], and this volume, letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 January 1863).
Allan A. Black was curator of the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994).
Daniel Oliver was assistant in the herbarium and librarian at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (R. Desmond 1994, List of the Linnean Society of London).
The references are to Hooker’s wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, her aunt, Anne Frances Henslow, and her father, John Stevens Henslow. Anne Henslow died in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in September 1863 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 September 1863).
Hooker had borrowed a Wedgwood portrait medallion of Erasmus Darwin (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12–13 August [1863]). Thomas Woolner was a sculptor (DNB).
Jules Emile Planchon was professor of botany at the University of Montpellier; he had been an assistant in the herbarium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, between 1844 and 1848 (R. Desmond 1994). Hooker refers to the letter from Planchon to Hooker of 20 August 1863 (Director’s correspondence, vol. 131, doc. 1482, Library and Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).
The reference is to the physician and botanist Francis Boott, who was dying of lung disease (DNB), and to his wife Mary Boott. Boott had four daughters (Census returns 1841 (Public Record Office HO 107/673/14)); the particular daughter has not been identified.
CD had written of his interest in the movements of tendrils in climbing plants in the letters to J. D. Hooker, 3 August [1863] and 12–13 August [1863].
Hooker visited CD at Down on 22 March 1863 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 March 1863]); there is no evidence that he did so again in 1863.
Chatsworth in Derbyshire was the estate of William Cavendish, the seventh duke of Devonshire (DNB, EB). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 August 1863], n. 9.
Julius von Haast had sent Hooker a map entitled: ‘The Southern Alps of the Middle Island of New Zealand’. The map, drawn by Haast, is in the general collections of the library and archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The reference is to Thomas Francis Jamieson’s paper on the geology of Glen Roy in Lochaber, Scotland (Jamieson 1863). Jamieson believed that during a great ‘Ice Age’, ice-flows trapped a series of lakes in the glen and that the ‘parallel roads’ or terraces of Glen Roy represented the shorelines of three of these former lakes (see also, letter from T. F. Jamieson, 28 January 1863 and n. 1, and Correspondence vol. 9, Appendix IX).
Hooker described terrace formation, including glacial-lacustrine terraces, in his Himalayan journals (J. D. Hooker 1854b, 1: 234–5, 242–3, 269–70, and 2: 119).


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

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

EB: The Encyclopædia Britannica. A dictionary of arts, sciences, literature and general information. 11th edition. 29 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1910–11.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1864–7. Handbook of the New Zealand flora: a systematic description of the native plants of New Zealand and the Chatham, Kermadec’s, Lord Auckland’s, Campbell’s, and MacQuarrie’s Islands. 2 vols. London: Lovell Reeve & Co.

Jamieson, Thomas Francis. 1863. On the parallel roads of Glen Roy, and their place in the history of the glacial period. [Read 21 January 1863.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 19: 235–59.

List of the Linnean Society of London. London: [Linnean Society of London]. 1805–1939.


JDH working on the New Zealand flora.

Jules Planchon excited about CD’s Linum experiments.

T. F. Jamieson’s paper on glaciers gives great pleasure.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 157–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4275,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11