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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   9 January 1873

Down,| Beckenham, Kent.

Jan 9. 1873

My dear Hooker,

First for business.— It wd. be an immense assistance to me if you cd. anyhow get me a plant of Drosophyllum, for it makes me miserable to leave the problem of its structure quite unsolved.1 When I had the plants I cd. see no other experiments to try, but now it is different. Whoever lends me a plant, must permit me to cut off a leaf or two. If you can procure one I think I had better have it soon. With respect to plants with glandular hairs, if you can lend me one with unusually large globular heads, I shd. very much like to experiment on it; but I must remember that I am growing old, otherwise I shd. go on forever with Drosera as I did with barnacles.2

Your letter has been a splendid one & has told me much. You were very good to write at such length. I earnestly hope that you may be elected Pres. of R. S, as it will be a grand answer to Ayrton & Owen; the latter being in my opinion 10 times worse than the former.3 I know it will be a great evil to you, but surely so high an honour will be worth your bearing. In having a Duke4 for an antagonist, your chance of gaining is I shd. think doubtful. If I am alive I will have the satisfaction of giving you my vote. I am particularly obliged for your remarks about the ‘Enigmas of Life’,5 on which subject I was very curious to hear your opinion, & I agree with what you say. It is good news to me that Dyer is going to translate Schacht;6 not that I know the book, but it will be a great advantage to read late German views. I have just received Sachs’ Lehr-buch der Botanik from the author & the 3rd. edit.7 I have looked at parts about wh. I knew something, & it seems admirably done. What confounded fellows those Germans are for producing admirable treatises. If you think Mr. Greg wd. like to come down here some Sunday with you as my protector, we shd. uncommonly like to see him; & we shd. thus catch you in the same net.8

I shall be very glad if you will ask Dyer about absorption by the glandular hairs.— I tried a sol. of Carbonate of Potash, but this produced no effect like C. of Ammonia.—9

Again I thank you for your splendid letter. | Ever yours affecty | C. Darwin

I believe the power of C. of Ammonia on blood of persons bitten by snakes has not been confirmed in India.10

Remember for any parcel my address is

Orpington Station

S.E. Railway

I shd. be informed when parcel sent, that I may send to Station.—


See letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 January 1873. CD worked on barnacles between 1846 and 1854. See Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix II.
Hooker had been invited to become a candidate for the presidency of the Royal Society of London (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 January 1873 and n. 15). CD alludes to Hooker’s disputes with Acton Smee Ayrton over the governance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and with Richard Owen over the location of the national herbarium (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 5 January [1873] and n. 6, and letter from J. D Hooker, 7 January 1873 and n. 8). CD had enjoyed apparently cordial relations with Owen, who described fossil mammal specimens from the Beagle voyage, until Owen published a hostile review of Origin in the Edinburgh Review ([Owen] 1860; see Correspondence vol. 8 and ODNB s.v. Owen, Sir Richard).
William Cavendish, seventh duke of Devonshire.
CD refers to William Turner Thiselton-Dyer; he misread Sachs (Julius Sachs) as Schacht (Hermann Schacht, also a botanist) in Hooker’s letter of 7 January 1873.
CD’s annotated copy of the third edition of Sach’s Lehrbuch der Botanik (Sachs 1873) is in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 727–30).
There is no record of William Rathbone Greg’s visiting Down; Hooker visited on 19 April 1873 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).


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

Greg, William Rathbone. 1872. Enigmas of life. London: Trübner.

Insectivorous plants. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1875.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

[Owen, Richard.] 1860b. [Review of Origin & other works.] Edinburgh Review 111: 487–532.


Explains why he wants Drosophyllum.

Hopes JDH will be elected President of Royal Society.

Agrees with JDH on Greg’s Enigmas.

Would like Greg to visit Down if JDH comes as CD’s "protector".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 248–50
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8729,” accessed on 2 December 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21