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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 November [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 25th

My dear Hooker

I was heartily glad to get your letter, & to hear of your doings, which are so multifarious as to stun one: so many jobs on hand would fairly distract me.—1

We go to London to Erasmus’es (6. Q. Anne St) on the 28th & return home on Decr. 7th.—2 Woolner comes here, I believe, on Dec. 9th & I suppose & fear will be above a week about his work; so, if you possibly can, do pray come here any time after the 9th.—3 I thought that you had given up all idea about my bust—4 —pray excuse plain language, but you cannot be such an ass as to think of a marble bust.— I shall be proud & glad to give you a cast, & surely that will do.5 The bust is making for Erasmus; & we are fighting here, for Emma votes for a marble copy & I maintain it is absurd, & plaister of paris just as good, or any good enough.—

I am very sorry to hear about poor Smith’s health; for I took a great fancy for him, the day we walked round the gardens: it must be a fearful evil for you.—6

That is a very curious fact which you mention about the St. Helena Umbellifer; but can the “palm-like” growth be due to similar conditions? ought it not rather to be said that there is something in the constitution of the whole order, which leads them to take this form of growth, when the conditions favour their growth to a great size; for I presume they do grow very big?—7

I knew about the Brambles; & they excited in me a few years ago much just indignation; for when I found that stems, placed obliquely in a glass of water, bent upwards in absolute darkness, apparently guided in opposition to the force of gravity, I felt convinced that the ends of Bramble-shoots would bend downwards; but they bent neither up nor down; their flexibility & weight apparently guiding them to the ground.8 I have often seen grey roots protruding before the end of the shoots had reached the ground.—

My dear old friend | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


See also CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II). Erasmus Alvey Darwin, CD’s brother, lived at 6 Queen Anne Street, London.
Hooker had expressed his wish to visit Down in December 1867 while Thomas Woolner was making CD’s bust (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 November 1867).
Cast: i.e. copy.
John Smith was curator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He had been suffering from heart problems since July (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 November 1867).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 November 1867 and n. 16. Sium helenianum attains between eight and twelve feet in height (Hemsley 1885, 2: 68–9). The herbaceous family Umbelliferae (now Apiaceae) includes a number of other tall species (Mabberley 1997).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 November 1867. In his undated notes on movement in bramble stems in DAR 157.2: 87, 88, CD recorded that oblique bramble stems in water turned upwards in darkness, while strawberry stolons turned downwards. In a note dated 21 February 1864 (DAR 157.1: 59), CD concluded that bramble stems did not have the power of movement possessed by some climbing plants. CD’s conclusions about the influences of contact, light, water vapour, and gravity on the movement of stems were later published in Movement in plants, but with no reference to brambles (Rubus sp.).


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

Hemsley, William Botting. 1885. Report on the botany of the Bermudas and various other islands of the Atlantic and southern oceans. 2 vols. Part of The report of the scientific results of the voyage of H.M.S. Challenger during the years 1873–76. London: HMSO.

Mabberley, David J. 1997. The plant-book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Movement in plants: The power of movement in plants. By Charles Darwin. Assisted by Francis Darwin. London: John Murray. 1880.


Woolner’s bust.

Smith’s health.

St Helena Umbelliferae.


Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 37–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5696,” accessed on 20 January 2022,

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