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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   18 July 1874

Royal Gardens Kew

July 18/74

Dear Darwin

2 Nepenthes have devoured 2 pieces of fibrin of this size in 3 days.


I have made the first sowing of Peas today.— (one [lump] of fibrin was in an unopened pitcher)1

Have you any objection to my giving an outline what is published of your Drosera observations at the Belfast meeting   I have to give an address, & would like to make a resume of the Pitcher plant—results the back-bone of it— stating that they were wholly undertaken under your auspices & apropos of your Drosera experiments.2

If you have the smallest objection to either Nepenthes or Drosera being described, pray say so— As I would rather send you all Nepenthes matter for you to append or incorporate, than appear to filch.

We had such a night at the Mozart festival at Covent Garden. I was carried away with Albani’s “Dove sono” & felt it up & down my back as when we were at New College Chapel Oxford in 1847.3 I could not help my eyes watering   I thought I had never heard anything so beautiful since Malibran in 1837.4

Patti5 I cannot get up sympathy or enthusiasm for— she fails to satisfy me.

Ever yours affec | J. D Hooker

Thanks for your’s.


Hooker began his experiments with fibrin and seeds following advice from CD (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [before 15 July 1874], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 July 1874, and n. 4). CD was interested in the digestive ability of the tropical pitcher-plant, Nepenthes, and wanted to determine whether the fluid removed from an unopened pitcher had any effect (see Insectivorous plants, p. 97).
Hooker reported his findings in his address to the department of botany and zoology at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in August 1874 (J. D. Hooker 1874a and 1874b).
The Mozart Festival was a concert that took place on 16 July 1874, to raise funds for the Mozart Institution in Salzburg (Theatrical Observer and Musical Review, 20 July 1874). Emma Albani sang ‘Dove sono’, an aria from the Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Both CD and Hooker had attended the meeting of the British Association in Oxford, 23 to 30 June 1847 (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 May 1847]). They may have attended a concert at New College at that time, but no record has been found of the event. See Correspondence vol. 16, letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 June 1868 and n. 5.
The soprano Maria Felicia Malibran had appeared at the Manchester festival to great acclaim in September 1836, but died on 23 September 1836 (ODNB).
Adelina Patti also performed at the Mozart Festival (Theatrical Observer and Musical Review, 20 July 1874).


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

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

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.


Two Nepenthes have devoured two pieces of fibrin [sketch shows size] in three days.

Has CD any objection to JDH’s giving an account of CD’s Drosera observations at Belfast [BAAS meeting] in a résumé of pitcher-plant results ["Address to the department of botany and zoology", Rep. BAAS 44 (1874): 102–16]?

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 208–9
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9553,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22