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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   23 July [1871]

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

July 23

My dear Hooker

I am glad to hear the Abutilon is a new species, & I am honoured by its name. I do not know its habitat, but strongly suspect that it must be St. Catharina.1 The plant flourished & flowered profusely in my cool hot-house.— It seems to like heat. It offers an instance, of which I have known others, of being during the early part of the flowering season quite sterile with pollen from the same plant, though fertile with the pollen of any other plant, though later in the season it becomes capable of self-fertilisation.—2

On the 26th or 27th we go to a house which we have taken for a month on Albury Heath; as I am in much want of complete rest & a change.3 It is great news about Henrietta’s marriage: somehow I never expected her to marry, & her loss will be so terrible to us all, that I am so selfish I cannot rejoice properly over her great happiness.—4

Ever dear old friend | yours C. Darwin

P.S. Have you seen the last Quarterly: I am cut up into mince-meat, evidently by Mivart.5

P.S. Henslow used to keep tame field-mice, & I distinctly remember his telling me that they used their tails as prehensile organs, when climbing up a branched stick in their place of confinement.— Will you ask Mrs. Hooker whether she remembers them? I want to know what species of mouse they were? & especially whether Henslow published in any of the popular Journals an account of their habits.6 I shd. be greatly obliged for any information on this head.—


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 July 1871 and n. 1. CD refers to Abutilon darwinii.
CD discussed this feature of Abutilon darwinii in Cross and self fertilisation, pp. 333–5. In Brazil, the plant was completely self-sterile.
The Darwins stayed at a house called Haredene, in Albury, Surrey, from 28 July to 25 August 1871 (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Henrietta Emma Darwin was engaged to marry Richard Buckley Litchfield (see Emma Darwin (1915) 2: 204).
St George Jackson Mivart’s anonymous review of Descent appeared in the Quarterly Review for July 1871 ([Mivart] 1871c).
For John Stevens Henslow’s account of the activities of his pet harvest mouse (Mus messorius, now Micromys minutus), see Correspondence vol. 2, letter from J. S. Henslow, 19 April 1841. CD mentioned Henslow’s observations in Origin 6th ed., p. 189, in response to a supporter of Mivart who argued that an incipient tendency to grasp could not be of advantage to an organism. Frances Harriet Hooker was Henslow’s daughter.


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

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

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

Emma Darwin (1915): Emma Darwin: a century of family letters, 1792–1896. Edited by Henrietta Litchfield. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1915.

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Honoured by Abutilon name; describes observations on its fertilisation.

Henrietta’s marriage a great loss to him.

Latest Quarterly Review has article, "evidently by Mivart", that cuts CD into mincemeat.

Asks for name of species of mouse J. S. Henslow used to keep [see 598].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 199–200
Physical description
4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7878,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

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