Personal can give a true picture about the traits of character of a person and his relationship with relatives and friends. Certainly, the same goes with outstanding people, like Charles Darwin, for instance. His little known correspondence about his investigation of sundew (Drosera) can change or complete one’s opinion about the personality of the outstanding scientist.
The correspondence with Hooker reveals his being a very polite and sensitive person as he constantly makes use of such phrases as “Do not answer this till you have leisure” (Letter 2886). The same letter shows that the scientist is very persistent and that if his attention is caught by some idea, he is sure to develop it, because the first time we observe his interest in Drosera in the letter sent a month earlier, where he “amused [himself] with a few observations on the insect-catching power of Drosera” (Letter 2880). However, six letters later the scientist’s “amusement” is still in its fullest vigor, here it can be observed that it is substituted for scientific interest because he writes about his experiments with Drosera and its ability to distinguish minute quantities of nitrogenous substances (letter 2886).
Letter 2908, which shows Darwin’s appreciation of Hooker’s agreement to observe asses and mules during his expedition, and his asking the friend to observe plants, shows Darwin as a person whose real passion is nature. Besides, he is more and more involved with the study of Drosera, he gives full account of the latest experiments. This letter also shows Darwin’s sense of humor (when he writes about the Editor’s “D.B. degree”). What is more, the letter shows the scientist’s urgent need to communicate his ideas to somebody; this characterizes him as an extrovert.
Letter 2905 shows Darwin’s low opinion of British entomologists and it shows that the scientist does not choose polite words to speak about them, being irritated, he calls them “slow coaches”, “stupid beasts”. He is concerned about Hooker’s expedition as he fears for his safety; this shows that Darwin is not a risky person. He is absolutely absorbed by science and his interest in Drosera is insatiable, in letter 2913 he asks Oliver to study Australian Drosera, this opens new horizons for his experiments.
Darwin, Charles. Correspondence. Vol. 15.