Questions on JDH's sketch comparing floras of Australia, New Zealand, and western S. America; wishes to know botanical relations between other southern islands. Botanico-geographical discussions and comments on books sent by JDH.
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I must thank you once again for all your documents which have me interested me very
greatly & surprised me. I found it very difficult to charge my head
with all your tabulated results, but this I perfectly well know is in main part due to
that head not being a Botanical one, aided by the tables being in M.S. I think, however, to an ignoramus, they might be made clearer; but pray mind,
that this is very different from saying that I think Botanists ought to arrange their
highest results for non-botanists to understand easily. I will tell
you, how for my individual
self, I shd
Looking at the Globe, the Auckland, Campbell I, New Zealand & Van
Diemens so evidently are geographically related, that I shd
wish, before any comparison was made with far more distant countries, to understand
their floras, in relation to each other; & the southern ones to the northern
temperate hemisphere, which I presume is to everyone an almost involuntary standard of
Comparison. To understand the relations of the Floras of these islands, I
shd like to see the group divided into a northern & southern
half, & to know how many species exist in the latter
I daresay all this (as far as present materials serve)
If the Fuegian Flora was treated in the analogous way, (& this would incidentally show how far the Cordillera are a high-road of genera.) I shd then be prepared far more easily & satisfactorily to understand the relations of Fuegia with the Auckland Isd &c; & consequently with the mountains of Van Diemens Land. Moreover, the marvellous fact of their intimate Botanical relation between Fuegia & the Auckland Isd &c would stand out more prominently, after the Auckland Isd had been first treated of under the purely geographical relation of position. A triple division such as yours, wd lead me to suppose that the three places were somewhat equally distant, & not so greatly different in size: the relation of Van Diemen's land seems so comparatively small, & that relation being in its alpine plants, makes me feel that it ought only to be treated of as a subdivision of the large group, including Auckland, Campbell, New Zealand.
In Art VII—does the expression “more remarkable genera” (& sub-sections of genera) mean those confined to the stated countries?— Art VI does not appear to me clear, though I now understand it.
I think a list of the genera, common to Fuegia, on the one hand & on the other to Campbell &c & to the mountains of Van Diemens Land or New Zealand, (but not found in the lowland temperate, & S. tropical parts of S. America & Australia, or New Zealand), would prominently bring out, at the same time, the relation between these antarctic points one with another, & with the northern or arctic regions.
In Art III. Is it meant to be expressed, or might it not be understood by this article,
that the similarity of the distant points in antarctic regions was as close as between
distant points in the Arctic regions? I gather this is not so.— You speak of
the southern points of America & Australia &c being
“materially approximated” & this closer proximity being
corelative with a greater similarity of their plants: I find on the globe, that Van
Diemen's Land & Fuegia are only about
I trust you will work out the New Zealand Flora, as you have commenced at end of letter: is it not quite an original plan?— & is it not very surprising that N. Zealand, so much nearer to Australia than to S. America, shd have an intermediate flora; I had fancied that nearly all the species there, were peculiar to it.— I cannot but think you make one gratuitous difficulty in ascertaining whether New Zealand ought to be classed by itself, or with Australia or S. America,—namely when you seem (bottom of p. 7. of your letter) to say that genera in common, indicate only that the external circumstances for their life are suitable & similar. Surely can not an overwhelming mass of facts be brought against such a proposition: distant parts of Australia possess quite distinct species of Marsupials, but surely this fact of their having the same marsupial genera, is the strongest tie & plainest mark of an original, (so called) creative affinity over the whole of Australia; no one, now, will (or ought) to say that the different parts of Australia have something in the external conditions in common, causing them to be preeminently suitable to Marsupials; & so on in a thousand instances. Though each species, & consequently genus, must be adapted to its country, surely adaptation is manifestly not the governing law in geographical distribution.— Is this not so? & if I understand you rightly, you lessen your own means of comparison by attributing the presence of the same genera to similarity of conditions.
You will groan over my very full compliance with your request to write all I could on your tables, & I have done it with a vengeance: I can hardly say how valuable I must think your results will be, when worked out, as far as the present knowledge & collections serve.
Now for some miscellaneous remarks on your letter: thanks for the offer to let me see
specimens of boulders from Cockburn island; but I care only for boulders, as an
indication of former climate: perhaps Ross will give some
information: I hope you will write to N. Zealand on this subject. I see that
there are cases in Van Diemen Land, which ought to be explored.— Lieut: Britton speaks of a Fern above the coal of
V. Diemen's Land, as being allied to recent Ferns of Tasmania: did you collect any of the Coal-Plants there; I
I shall have done with the lent Books in about a week or 10 days & will return them by Deliverance company. They have interested me much, & I have ordered two of the numbers of the Journ of Bot, so that I shall return the new uncut copies. I was also very glad to see Silliman, as one or two Papers bore on my present geological writing. Thank you kindly for your offer of letting me see Silliman regularly; but I will not accept it; as I prefer reading each Journal in volumes, bound. I called on Bailliere & he tells me the old series of Ann: des Sci. Nat: wd cost 10£, & the new 20£: this is more than I can afford, though I shd much like to have them; so that shd you ever hear of a cheaper set, I shd be greatly obliged if you wd inform me.— It will be extravagant to buy Flinders, without it be very cheap, as, upon reflection, I remember it is so easily borrowed from Public Librarys.—
Watson's Paper on Azores has surprised me much; do
you not think it odd, the fewness of peculiar species, & their rarity on the
alpine heights: I wish he had tabulated his results:
Any time that you can put me in the way of reading about Alpine Flora, I shall feel as
kindness: I grieve there is no better authority for Bourbon, than that stupid
Bory: I presume his remark that plants, on isolated Volcanic
Farewell, my dear Hooker. This letter is infamously unclear, & I fear can be of no use, except giving you the impression of a Botanical ignoramus.— Ever yours | C. Darwin
- f1 803.f1CD refers to Hooker's notes on southern floras, enclosed in the letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 December 1844. The notes have not been found.
- f2 803.f2That is, their possible distribution by icebergs during previous cool conditions.
- f3 803.f3CD had just read volumes one and two of the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science, lent to him by Hooker, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 12 December 1844, and ‘Books Read’ (DAR 119, entry for 25 December 1844; Vorzimmer 1977, p. 132). CD's notes on volume two, commenting on Colenso 1843 and Breton 1843, are in DAR 205.3: 108. CD may be referring to McCormick 1842 or Colenso 1843.
- f4 803.f4Breton 1843, p. 135.
- f5 803.f5Hippolyte Baillière, London dealer in French medical and scientific books.
- f6 803.f6Watson 1843–7.
- f7 803.f7Watson 1843–7, 2 (1843): 407–8.
- f8 803.f8Pöppig 1835, 1: 288.
- f9 803.f9In CD's list of ‘Books Read’ (DAR 119; Vorzimmer 1977, p. 133) there is an entry for 30 January 1845: ‘Laings Tour in Norway’, probably Laing 1836.
- f10 803.f10Bory de Saint-Vincent 1804, 3: 161–6.