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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   24 June 1869

Royal Gardens Kew

June 24 /69.

Dear Darwin

A few lines just to say that we are back—as yesterday—having come round by Stockholm, Upsala, Copenhagen, Hamburgh, Hanover Utrecht, Amsterdam, Hague, Leyden & Rotterdam, inspecting the Bot. Gardens & their museums throughout—1 I got very tired of it—thought it was excessively interesting—but the constant packing & moving got odious. Such lots of people asked for you— Even at the Hague I found a young Frenchman busy making notes on the Pictures, so I pointed out the Dodo to him & he immediately asked me whether it was alluded to in Darwins last book on Animals & Plants, which he had read.2 Miquel we staid 2 days with, in his House—so nice & pleasant: he has 4 very fine daughters such fine pleasant English like girls—3 two of them will visit us in September— M. is quite a convert;—he is a very intelligent man, but in poor health. Œrsted4 at Copenhagen also talked heaps about you— he too is a very able man, & good naturalist.

We have good news of Willy, who has been up to near the scene of the late murders in a Govt. steamer with Capt. Haultaine, the Defence Minister—5 Hector6 is looking out for a settlement for him— he is perfectly well & of course happy— I do hope he will take to a settler’s life— I am so sure it is the only thing that can suit him for the next 5 years— Hector truly says that he is many years younger than his age— Everyone is charmed with his manner & general conduct—

Miquel has been telling me how the Flora of Sumatra & Borneo are identical, & of Java quite different—just as Wallace shows for the Animals.7

How I wish I could join you in Wales, but it is impossible   I have a pile of letters that appalls myself, & I am not easily frightened—plus a large unopened box of documents & pamphlets accumulated during my absence   I too sometimes wish myself in a tomb—though I hold that the balance of life is always on the side of enjoyment, & that the bitterness of the bitterest loss is an insufficient measure of the enjoyment we had in the object lost.—

I am always rejoiced when you like Benthams addresses—8

I read it all in mss, & modified some very heterodox passages about Insularity & its effects— you have hit—the flaw in the address— Indeed I do wish I could write another Essay on Islands,9 & do not give up the hope— I think if Bentham had read Wallace’s volumes he would have been more cautious—but he had no time— he however modified extensively what he had written on the strength of what I told him—that is to say he struck out several passages & put others more guardedly.—

Your offer to aid Andersson is a noble one:—I too have often gazed at the Cocos & Revillagigedos & others more isolated still—there away—10 if Andersson gets a schooner he could do all.

I am woefulley disappointed to hear of your health— is it the sequelle of your fall that you now suffer from?—11

Now as to Beards, we never forget them & began to count—in Russia, but soon gave it up, as there was no exception to the rule of the Beard Moustachies & Whiskers being paler than the hair, usually ruddier also.12

The Copenhagen & Stockholm Prehistoric Museums are perfectly wonderful, we have nothing at all like them for richness of material & admirable instructive arrangement.— The Danish one is en suite with an Ethnographical Museum of the very highest value, extent, & beauty, which is now under rearrangement, & that again graduates into an illustration of Danish Arts & customs, carried down to the present century. The Dutch Ethnographical & Antiquities collections are very far behind hand indeed—in every respect.

I was charmed to find my former visit to Leyden in 1845.! well remembered by Schlegel & the 2 or 3 survivors of the 10–12 naturalists I then knew there—but what an old man it made of me!13

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

9.1 Now as to Beards,] after opening square bracket pencil
10.4 & that … 1845.! 11.1] crossed pencil


Hooker and his wife, Frances Harriet, were returning from a horticultural congress in St Petersburg (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 6 June 1869, and L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 85–9). Upsala and Leyden are now spelled Uppsala and Leiden, respectively.
Hooker refers to Variation. The dodo is not mentioned in it. The picture that Hooker pointed out to the Frenchman, who has not been identified, was probably a painting by Roelandt Savery of the animals, including a dodo, listening to Orpheus; it is now in the Mauritshuis, The Hague (s Gravenhage).
Hooker refers to Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel; his daughters have not been identified.
Hans Christian Oersted.
William Henslow Hooker had been sent to New Zealand; in February 1869, he went in the government steamer Sturt to Wanganui, and then Taranaki, where they had heard that some settlers had been killed by Maoris (Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, p. 212). The event had been reported in The Times, 17 May 1869, p. 10. Hooker also refers to Theodore Minet Haultain.
James Hector.
Hooker refers to Alfred Russel Wallace and Wallace 1869a, 1: 227–30.
Hooker refers to George Bentham and Bentham 1869b. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1869].
Hooker 1866a.
Hooker refers to Nils Johann Andersson. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 June [1869] and nn. 10 and 11.
CD cited Hooker for this information in Descent 2: 319.
Hooker refers to Hermann Schlegel; he had visited botanists in Europe in early 1845 (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 177–89).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.


Recounts the trip back from St Petersburg – visits to botanic gardens and museums throughout Western Europe.

Pleased that CD admired Bentham’s address [see 6793]. JDH had read it in MS and modified some very heterodox passages about insularity. CD has hit the flaw in it.

F. A. W. Miquel is a convert.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 18–21
Physical description
8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6800,” accessed on 4 August 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17