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Letter 6109

Darwin, C. R. to Wallace, A. R.

9 Apr [1868]

    Summary Add

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    Warns ARW of dubious character of list of European alpine genera and species in volcanoes of Hawaii. Problems of geographical distribution in oceanic islands.


Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Ap. 9.

My dear Wallace

You allude in yr note to several points which I shd much enjoy discussing with you did time & strength permit. I know Dr Seeman is a good botanist, but I most strongly advise you to shew the list to Hooker before you make use of the materials in print. Hooker seems much over worked & is now gone a tour, but I suppose you will be in town before very long, & cd see him.

The list is quite unintelligible to me; it is not pretended that the same species exist in the Sandwich I's & Arctic Regions; & as far as the genera are concerned, I know that in almost every one of them species inhabit such countries as Florida, N. Africa, New Holland &c. Therefore these genera seem to me almost mundane, & their presence in the Sandwich I.s will not, as I suspect in my ignorance, shew any relation to the Arctic regions. The Sandwich I.s, tho' I have never considered them much, have long been a sore perplexity to me; they are eminently oceanic in position & productions; they have long been separated from each other; & there are only slight signs of subsidence in the islets to the westward.

I remember however speculating that there must have been some immigration during the glacial period from N. America or Japan; but I cannot remember what my grounds were. Some of the plants, I think, shew an affinity with Australia.

I am very glad that you like Lyell's chapter on oceanic islands, for I thought it one of the best in the part which I have read. If you do not receive the big photo. of me in due time, let me hear.

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 6109.f1
    The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 [April] 1868.
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    f2 6109.f2
    CD refers to Berthold Carl Seemann and a list of Hawaiian plants that Seemann had made. Wallace had sent the list to CD with his letter of 8 [April] 1868, but CD evidently returned it and it has not been found. The list was published in Mann 1866. CD also refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
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    f3 6109.f3
    Hooker had gone on a trip to north Wales with Thomas Henry Huxley (letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 April 1868).
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    f4 6109.f4
    The Sandwich Islands was the name given to the Hawaiian islands by James Cook in 1778 (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
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    f5 6109.f5
    New Holland was the earlier Dutch name for Australia.
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    f6 6109.f6
    CD had briefly discussed the geology of Hawaii in Coral reefs, pp. 61--2, 131, 158--9.
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    f7 6109.f7
    CD refers to Lyell 1867--8, 2: 402--32 (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 [April] 1868 and n. 8).
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    f8 6109.f8
    See letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 [April] 1868 and n. 7.
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