skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   15 January [1875]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan 15th

My dear Hooker.

I have been tremendously interested by your letter, which shall be kept strictly private. By Jove how I do hope you will beat Galton.—2 If he retires, I shd think there ought to be a public dinner to celebrate the event. And on your tombstone there ought to be engraved “the conqueror of Ayrton & Galton”.—3 I do hope that this affair will end well, as it looks now that you will get an assistant Secy, & then your labour will not be so severe. It really looks as if Farrer had done a right good turn.4

I will return pamphlet when looked at.—5

I am slaving away solely at making detestably bad English a very little less bad.—6

I have just put Aldrovanda verticillata of Roxburgh, received from Dr King, to soak, & shall see tomorrow or next day whether the leaves differ.—7 I am getting sick of insectivorous plants; but Genlisea has interested us greatly. All Utricularias in all parts of the world catch lots of creatures.8

Ever your affect | C. Darwin

P.S. Many thanks for Pamphlets, I—have been glad to glance at the German one, on grounds of priority. The Bull. Bot. Soc. of France9 must have been sent by mistake.


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 January 1875.
Douglas Strutt Galton was director of works and buildings at the Office of Works; the exact basis of Hooker’s dispute with him is not known, but see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 January 1875 and n. 2.
Hooker had had a long-running dispute with Acton Smee Ayrton, the former first commissioner of works, since 1870 (see Correspondence vols. 19 and 20). Ayrton was transferred to another post in 1873. Galton retired in August 1875 (The Times, 21 August 1875, p. 9).
CD had asked Thomas Henry Farrer to use his influence to have an assistant appointed to Hooker at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 January 1875 and n. 3).
The pamphlet has not been identified.
CD was working on the manuscript of Insectivorous plants and the second edition of Climbing plants (CD’s ‘Journal’ (Appendix II)).
Aldrovanda, the waterwheel plant, is carnivorous, and has only one extant species, A. vesiculosa. In Insectivorous plants, pp. 329–30, CD discussed what he thought to be a variety, A. vesiculosa var. verticillata, mentioning that it was considered by Nathaniel Wallich to be a species, A. verticillata. Wallich had made additions to William Roxburgh’s Flora Indica (Roxburgh 1820–4), but Aldrovanda was mentioned only in the edition published without Wallich’s additions, Roxburgh 1832. George King, the superintendent of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, had sent dried specimens of Aldrovanda with his letter of 18 December 1874 (Correspondence vol. 22).
CD had corresponded with Hooker’s colleague Daniel Oliver about Genlisea (corkscrew plants) and Utricularia (bladderworts; letter from Daniel Oliver, 2 January 1875, and letter to Daniel Oliver, 6 January [1875]).
The pamphlets have not been identified; one of them was evidently from the Bulletin de la Société botanique de France.


Climbing plants: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. London: Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts & Green; Williams & Norgate. 1865.

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.

Roxburgh, William. 1820–4. Flora Indica; or descriptions of Indian plants … to which are added descriptions of plants more recently discovered by Nathaniel Wallich. Edited by William Carey. 2 vols. Serampore: Mission Press.

Roxburgh, William. 1832. Flora Indica; or descriptions of Indian plants. 3 vols. Serampore: W. Thacker and Co., Calcutta. Parbury, Allen and Co., London.


Hopes JDH will beat Sir Douglas Galton.

Continues to work on insectivorous plants.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 369–71
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9818,” accessed on 24 July 2021,

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