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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   3 July 1871

Royal Gardens Kew

July 3/71

Dear Darwin

Have you got Zizania aquatica—1 we have lost ours through keeping it too warm during the winter.

I was indeed vexed to find that you were in London when I was at Lyells yesterday week—2 Lyell never told me of it till we had got down to Wilton place on my way home, & my wife did not tell me that she had seen your’s at the H Lyells the previous night.3

Well, here I am back, as usual, like a bad shilling! after a very pleasant cruise— I must get up a readable account of it in a small volume, & shall publish The Bot Geog. in Linn Soc., I hope with Ball. The results are mainly negative, the Atlas being the dying out of the European Flora—4

I tried hard for Beetles above 8000 ft & got but 2 or 3—which I shall take to Bates—5

I have really very little to say about the country— it is the most difficult to get reliable information about that I ever travelled in, & the travelling itself in this case took up so much time that little was left for other work but collecting plants. Still I am happier for knowing what Marocco is & what the Atlas is not. Botanically I mean.

The total absence of Canarian specialities was rather a disappointment: it adds antiquity to the latter however   You will be interested however to know that an ocean current from the N. runs perennially along the Marocco coast, & that it sometimes reaches Madeira & I believe the Canaries— this would help the immigration of Spanish & Portuguese & the Marocco seeds into those Islands.— if I remember aught, both winds & currents are quoted as opposed to peopling. Mad. & Can. from the European continent.

I shall assuredly run down to see you the very first opportunity but I doubt if that can be before you go North.6

I am much puzzled with Lyells state, & cling to the hope that it is a mere muscular affection of the jaws produced by the Neuralgia; but it is awfully like the speech of incipient paralysis.! & made me very unhappy to hear   He went with me in a cab to Wilton Place, & we walked a little in the Park7 after that, & I must say I could detect no unfavorable symptom in mind or in muscular powers— he proceeded to walk home alone, all the way from where I left him.— I do not quite like his going so far from home & travelling in his present state, but did not like to alarm them by hinting at caution—

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker

When you write—if you have any opinion as to Lyells case different from mine, please tell me the symptoms. I hope he is not under the homeopathists, I dreaded to ask.—8

CD annotations

5.1 I have … N. 6.3] crossed pencil
6.4 this would help … North. 7.2] scored blue crayon; ‘Hooker G. Distribution’ blue crayon
7.1 I shall … state, 8.1] crossed blue crayon
End of letter: ‘

(Quoted you about Atlas | (Origin   left expression   queries | (Orchids— Bee large brace at left in MS;

Gazania | Lyell— Lady L. watched him— mind   face drawn on one side | you promise visit’9 ink


Zizania aquatica is annual wild rice.
CD had visited London from 24 to 30 June 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)). Hooker presumably visited Charles Lyell at his London address, 73 Harley Street.
Twenty-five Wilton Place was the address of George Bentham. Hooker refers to Frances Harriet Hooker and to Henry and Katharine Murray Lyell, Charles Lyell’s younger brother and his wife.
Hooker had made an expedition to Morocco with John Ball and George Maw between April and June 1871 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 March 1871; L. Huxley ed. 1918, 2: 90–7; R. Desmond 1999, pp. 222–40). Hooker’s book about his journey was not published until 1878, and included botanical appendixes (Hooker and Ball 1878). Hooker did not publish the botanical geography in the Journal of the Linnean Society of London.
No publication by Henry Walter Bates on Hooker’s Moroccan beetles has been found.
Hooker may have meant to write ‘before we go North’: the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science was held in Edinburgh from 2 to 9 August 1871 (Report of the 41st meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1871): lxxxiii).
Regent’s Park is near Wilton Place.
On hostility to homoeopathy in the second half of the nineteenth century, see Nicholls 1988, pp. 133–64.
CD’s annotations are notes for his letter to Hooker of 5 July [1871]. He refers to Mary Elizabeth Lyell.


Desmond, Ray. 1999. Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, traveller and plant collector. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Nicholls, Phillip A. 1988. Homoeopathy and the medical profession. London: Croom Helm.


Plans to write an account of his trip to Morocco and, with John Ball, the botanical geography, for Linnean Society.

Results mainly negative; the Atlas exhibits "the dying out of European flora".

Only two or three beetles above 8000ft.

Disappointed that Canary Island species are absent from Atlas mountains; but an ocean current along Moroccan coast should help migration of Spanish, Portuguese, and Moroccan seeds to Canaries and Madeira.

Describes Lyell’s poor physical condition. Asks CD for his observations of symptoms.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 69–70, DAR 205.2 (Letters): 240
Physical description
6pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7848,” accessed on 28 November 2021,

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