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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   19 March 1871

Royal Gardens Kew

March 19/71

Dear Darwin

I am off for Marocco on the 1st. & shall be glad of any commands from you. I go partly to try & bake out my rheumatism, partly in faint hope of connecting the Atlantic Flora with the African,1 & (perhaps most of all) to taste the delights of savagery again. I have for some time projected such a trip with G. Maw, who is intelligent, pleasant, a capital plant hunter & grower, & fair Geologist— lately J. Ball has all but thrust himself into our party, & though I had rather have been alone with Maw, still Ball is so old a friend, & so good a man, that we shall take him with pleasure.2

Lord Granville has applied to the Sultan for permission & escorts for self & Maw to visit the highest peaks S. of the city of Marocco—but this permit is not yet arrived, & probably will not be granted.3 We take P. & O. to Gibraltar, thence cross to Tangiers & botanize there as far as we can go with safety under the ægis of Sir J. D. Hay—(the Minister), our future movements will depend on circumstances: if there is a chance of the Greater Atlas we shall take the steamer to Mogador & thence head Eastwards—4 We shall not be gone many weeks, & as the success of the whole project is dubious, I do not care to have much talked about it. I expect Alpine Maroccan Botany to be the most novel & interesting of any W. of Central Asia in the Old World. Of course we take Tents Saddles & such like, Soups, Tea, old watches, musical boxes &c—no end of paper for drying plants & so forth.5

I am busy clearing off arrears & prospective work,—& have not read your book yet—very much because every one asks me & worries me about it—& it is safest to say I have not even looked into it— I shall take it with me.6

Have you seen Cunninghams volume,?— it seems very dreary to me, but I have only read some 100 pages.7

I am very sorry to hear that Henrietta is not strong yet.8

Ever yr affly | J D Hooker


For Hooker’s earlier work on the geographical distribution of plants on islands in the Atlantic Ocean, see Hooker 1866. Marocco is an alternative spelling of Morocco.
Hooker refers to George Maw and John Ball.
Hooker refers to the foreign secretary, Granville George Leveson-Gower and to Sultan Muhammad IV of Morocco.
Hooker refers to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and to John Hay Drummond-Hay, minister resident in Morocco. Hooker travelled on the P & O vessel Massilia, departing 1 April 1871 from Southampton; the permission to visit the Great Atlas mountain range was granted through Hay’s influence (see Hooker and Ball 1878, pp. 1 and 9). Mogador, a port city in southern Morocco, is now called Essaouira.
The watches and other articles were intended as presents to be given away on the journey (see Hooker and Ball 1878, p. 148).
The reference is to Descent.
Hooker refers to Robert Oliver Cunningham and his Notes on the natural history of the Strait of Magellan and west coast of Patagonia (Cunningham 1871).
According to Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242), Henrietta Emma Darwin was ill with measles from 4 to 25 January 1871.


Cunningham, Robert Oliver. 1871. Notes on the natural history of the Strait of Magellan and west coast of Patagonia, made during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Nassau’ in the years 1866, 67, 68, & 69. Edinburgh: Edmonston and Douglas.

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


Describes plans for travel in Morocco with George Maw and John Ball.

Has not yet read Descent.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 63–4
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7600,” accessed on 25 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19