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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   3 April 1867


April 3d/67.

Dear Darwin

We have had a terrible fight with the grim destroyer, but I do hope that we have pulled baby out of his clutches for the present.1 Up to the present hour (10 am) he has had no fits for 12 hours—& is taking his Asses milk freely & looking brighter. I quite suppose it was a case of defective nutrition, the nervous system especially not being nourished—since he was weaned, though the child looked so well & plump, & took its food so freely, that no one guessed that anything could be the matter— I kept at him day & night, craming in nutrient by oil rubbing, keeping a lump of bacon in his mouth during the fits, which lasted 5, 8, & in one case nearly 10 hours, without intermission, & during which he took no other food. The affection was confined to nerves of motion— the last was on Monday, when he lay 5 hours, violently jerked twice every second, with perfect rhythmic regularity, each jump sufficient to have tossed him up in the air: the muscles all clenched as if with strychnine, except those of the face, which were all in motion—& the pulse at 156— No doctor had seen anything like it & I have had 5 at him—& I am sure that Sibson2 was right, & that it is a mere case of defective nutrition.—that his blood is, like his mother’s, deficient in red globules, or quality of these.

Mrs Hooker is all right again.3

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker


Hooker’s youngest child, Reginald Hawthorn Hooker, who had been born on 12 January 1867, had been ill at the end of March (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 26 [and 27] March 1867 and 31 March 1867).
Francis Sibson.
In his letter of 31 March 1867, Hooker wrote that his wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, was ‘pretty well’, but staying in bed.


Begins to hope baby may survive; description of symptoms.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 157–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5483,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15