The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 162 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Norfolk House, Shanklin, Isle of Wight,
Friday [July] 30th [1858].

My dear Hooker,

Will you give the enclosed scrap to Sir William to thank him for his kindness; and this gives me an excuse to amuse myself by writing to you a note, which requires no answer.

This is a very charming place, and we have got a very comfortable house. But, alas, I cannot say that the sea has done H. or L. much good. Nor has my stomach recovered from all our troubles. I am very glad we left home, for six children have now died of scarlet fever in Down. We return on the 14th of August.

I have got Bentham (‘British Flora.’), and am charmed with it, and William (who has just started for a tour abroad) has been making out all sorts of new (to me) plants capitally. The little scraps of information are so capital…The English names in the analytical keys drive us mad: give them by all means, but why on earth [not] make them subordinate to the Latin; it puts me in a passion. W. charged into the Compositae and Umbelliferae like a hero, and demolished ever so many in grand style.

I pass my time by doing daily a couple of hours of my Abstract, and I find it amusing and improving work. I am now most heartily obliged to you and Lyell for having set me on this; for I shall, when it is done, be able to finish my work with greater ease and leisure. I confess I hated the thought of the job; and now I find it very unsatisfactory in not being able to give my reasons for each conclusion.

I will be longer than I expected; it will take thirty-five of my MS. folio pages to give an abstract on variation under domestication alone; but I will try to put in nothing which does not seem to me of some interest, and which was once new to me. It seems a queer plan to give an abstract of an unpublished work; nevertheless, I repeat, I am extremely glad I have begun in earnest on it.

I hope you and Mrs. Hooker will have a very very pleasant tour. Farewell, my dear Hooker.

Yours affectionately,
C. Darwin.

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