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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   17 February 1875


Feby 17/75.

Dear Darwin

I write chiefly to say that I called at the Lyell’s last Saturday, but that Sir. Chas. was too unwell to see me— I had a talk with Miss L. who told me that he had been poorly for some days, weaker & that his mind was confused, so that he could not even have Miss Buckley with him for long.1 I am awfully sorry to hear of the fate of the Drosophyllum, & wish I had let it go straight to you from Edinburgh— Smith told me that on its arrival here he did not unpack it, but as a precaution he added another wrap to it.—2

I have not seen Mivart, except at the R. S. twice— he left both times before the meeting was over   I wish he was at Jehanum3

The Huxleys spent Monday eveng with us— he looks worn again & lacking in energy— I am sure that he is not taking care enough of himself:4

Of course I must not turn up my nose at the Glaucium story, nor at anything that DeCandolle believes as to new varieties of Glaucium, (of which no two specimens are alike)—5

We are all much the same: Harriet is quite poorly, & I hope to send her abroad next month— I shall not get to Algeria except I get a secretary—6 Lord Henry has not put the necessary sum in the Estimates—has in fact burked my application without saying a word to me about it— I must wait to see what the Govt. intend to do with that contemptible idiot. The row in the Office between him & the Treasury is disgraceful.— He has cut his 1st. Secretary dead. they have no personal communication—& the official business is conducted through the 2d Secretary, who is forbidden to mention the 1st. Seys name in his presence!— His brother the D. of Richmond is a very different cut of man. & declines I hear to support him.7 Ayrton enjoys it all & laughs in his sleeve—at the mischief he has made.—8 The whole thing is contemptible.

Ever yr affec | J D Hooker


Hooker refers to Charles Lyell, his sister Marianne Lyell, and his secretary Arabella Burton Buckley.
Hooker had forwarded a plant of Drosophyllum lusitanicum (Portuguese sundew or dewy pine) from the Edinburgh botanic garden, but it was damaged in transit and died (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 February [1875] and n. 5). John Smith was curator at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 February [1875] and n. 9. St George Jackson Mivart was a fellow of the Royal Society of London; Hooker was president of the society. Jehanum (now transliterated from Arabic as Jahannam): Islamic equivalent of hell (Encyclopaedia Britannica,, accessed 8 August 2014).
Thomas Henry Huxley had suffered a breakdown from overwork in 1873; some of his friends, including CD and Hooker, had raised a subscription so he could take time off (see Correspondence vol. 21). Huxley’s wife was Henrietta Anne Huxley.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 February [1875] and n. 7. Alphonse de Candolle had written about Glaucium plants germinating from long-buried seeds. Glaucium is the genus of horned poppies.
Hooker was planning to visit Algeria with his daughter Harriet Anne Hooker but was waiting to see whether his application to have a secretary appointed for him would be successful (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [7 February 1875] and n. 5).
Henry Gordon-Lennox was first commissioner of works, in charge of funding for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; his brother, Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, sixth duke of Richmond, was leader of the House of Lords and president of the Council. The first secretary at the Office of Works was Algernon Bertram Mitford and the assistant secretary was Robert John Callandar. On the ‘row’, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 February [1875] and n. 4.
When Acton Smee Ayrton was first commissioner of works, he had come into conflict with Hooker over the running of Kew. The dispute lasted until Ayrton was transferred from his position in August 1873 (for more on the Ayrton affair, see Correspondence vols. 19–21).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Encyclopaedia Britannica: Encyclopaedia Britannica online.


Lyell very ill.

No two specimens of Glaucium are alike.

Lord Henry [Lennox] still burkes JDH’s application.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 14–15
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9860,” accessed on 16 August 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23