Important issue at stake with new flora calculations: evidence that species are only strongly marked varieties. Planning large-scale survey.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
It is a horrid bore you cannot come soon, & I reproach myself that I did not
write sooner, but I had fancied Mrs
How busy you must be! with such a heap of Botanists at Kew.— Only think I have just had letter from Henslow, saying he will come here between 11th & 15th! Is not that grand? Many thanks about Furnrohr: I must humbly supplicate Kippist to search for it.: he most kindly got Boreau for me.—
I am got extremely interested in tabulating according to mere size of genera,
the species having any varieties marked by greek letters or otherwise: the result (as
far as I have yet gone seems to me one of the most important arguments I have yet met
with, that varieties are only small species—or species only strongly marked
varieties. The subject is in many ways so very important for me; I wish much you would
think of any well-worked Floras with from 1000–2000 species, with the
varieties marked. It is good to have hair-splitters & lumpers.— I have done or am doing.
Has not Koch published good Germany Flora: does he mark varieties? Could you lend it me? Is there not some grand Russian Flora which perhaps has vars. marked.— The Floras ought to be well known.—
I am in no hurry for a few weeks.— Will you turn this in your head, when, if ever, you have leisure. The subject is very important for my work, though I clearly see many causes of error.—
Do not forget that you must come before very long here.— Most sincerely do I wish Mrs Hooker through her troubles
Ever yours | C. Darwin
- f1 2130.f1The year is given by the reference to Frances Harriet Hooker's imminent confinement (see n. 2, below).
- f2 2130.f2The Hookers' fourth child, Marie Elizabeth Hooker, was born on 10 August 1857.
- f3 2130.f3For CD's earlier remarks concerning the administration of chloroform during childbirth, see Correspondence vol. 4, letters to W. D. Fox, [17 January 1850] and [May 1850], and Correspondence vol. 5, letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [June 1854], and letter from J. D. Hooker, [29 June 1854]. The proper dosage of chloroform had recently been the subject of discussion in various medical journals following an increase in the number of deaths resulting from its use.
- f4 2130.f4See letters to J. S. Henslow, 10 August , and to John Lubbock, 11 August  and 12 [August 1857].
- f5 2130.f5Fürnrohr 1839 and Boreau 1840. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 July .
- f6 2130.f6By ‘hair splitters’ CD means those taxonomists who formed many genera, species, and varieties; ‘lumpers’ tended to group diverse forms together as one species or genus.
- f7 2130.f7Babington 1851.
- f8 2130.f8Henslow 1835.
- f9 2130.f9Watson and Syme eds. 1853.
- f10 2130.f10Miquel 1837.
- f11 2130.f11A. Gray 1856a.
- f12 2130.f12J. D. Hooker 1853–5 and J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1857–8.
- f13 2130.f13Wollaston 1854.
- f14 2130.f14Koch 1843–4.
- f15 2130.f15Ledebour 1842–53 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 August ).