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Letter 850

Hooker, J. D. to Darwin, C. R.

[2–6 Apr 1845]
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    Summary Add

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    A Tasmanian Cyttaria is same species as CD's Fuegian fungus. Did the species originate on the beeches of Fuegia or of Tasmania?

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    JDH gives interpretation of Vestiges.

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    John McCulloch, J. F. Schouw, and Lamarck on the species question.

Transcription

– Gunn sent it, & Berkeley pronounces it as the same species with your's, where then did the species originate? on the Beeches of Fuegia or of Tasmania? I suppose Vestiges would call it a case of parallel developement & arrestation in each country. Mc Culloch & others a double creation —Schouw a similar momentum cosmicum exerted in each; Lamarck would be nonplussed as I am amongst them all.

I fear I shall not be in Edinbro, in September but cannot in the least tell. I lecture D.V. (if I do not stick) from the first week of May till the end of July, whether I shall have to Examine for degrees or no it is impossible to say, even if so it is uncertain whether that would keep me till September. most heartily I should enjoy to have a ramble with you, but as I enter upon the probability of giving also a winter course at Edinbro—from Jany–March, there would be little time left over to be in England during the year. Were you going in any other direction but Scotland I should be tempted to make a tour & meet you somewhere, but I am as much at sea regarding my prospects for the next 6 months as at any time during the Ant Exped. I have not a word of lectures prepared & Graham writes me that he preaches from notes which are at my service: not having modest assurance enough to be able to speak two words impromptu they will be very useless.

The principles of morphology appear to me to rest upon two modes of reasoning: one consists in following the modification of any given organ through the vegetable kingdom, this I suppose is the Inductive method, & the other is following the said modifications through the different states of a single species, tracing monsters in short; applying the rules for such instances to all Botany would be deductive reasoning if I remember my logic aright.

I know some of the Officers of this N. Pole Exped., if you want any Questions solved during the voyage pray send them to me, in black & white, & I will give them to a careful officer.

I do not doubt the Flora of the Sandwich Islds being very peculiar, but the difficulty is to settle what amount of new species or of new genera produces peculiarity. One species will sometimes render a whole vegetation peculiar in the eyes of some. In some instances, which I mentioned to you before, & which Hinds has wholly overlooked, the Flora of the Sandwich Group is quite singular, in the preponderance chiefly of Lobeliaceæ & Scævoleæ (if I remember); they are not however likely to strike a casual observer or to give a feature to the vegetation. Wilkes is probably indebted to his Botanist for the observation, which is just: no missionary book, nor does Cook (I think) or any other unpractised observer particularize the group as having any peculiarities of vegetation but the very contrary. I have not read Wilkes yet.. Our ideas of peculiarity are most loose, we have no standard, in the first instance we must know the absolute numerical amount of peculiar species, this must ever be the primary point, the leading fact, all other causes of peculiarity, as preponderance of a species, genus or higher group, or insulation of individuals &c &c must be secondary considerations. Except Brown & Humboldt, no one has attempted this, all seem to dread the making Bot. Geog. too exact a science, they find it far easier to speculate than to employ the inductive process. The first steps to tracing the progress of the creation of vegetation is to know the proportions in which the groups appear in different localities, & more particularly the relation which exists between the floras of the localities, a relation which must be expressed in numbers to be at all tangible.

I think you would like to read Kingdon's translation of Decandolle's Vegetable Organography, do not buy it however. I asked Brown since I saw you & he said St Hilaire is the best of its kind for Morphology. You should get Jussieus introduction to Botany, it is only 6/, & worth in every respect 16/— admirably done & inconceivably cheap.

Ever with best compliments to Mrs Darwin | most truly yours | Jos D Hooker.

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 850.f1
    Dated by a letter from M. J. Berkeley to J. D. Hooker of 1 April 1845: ‘The Cyttaria is I think the same with the Fuegian species’ (Archives, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). By 8 April, Hooker had apparently informed CD that Ernst Dieffenbach was in London, see letter to Ernst Dieffenbach, 8 April [1845], and letter to J. D. Hooker, [16 April 1845].
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    f2 850.f2
    See n. 1, above. Ronald Campbell Gunn collected plants, including the fungus Cyttaria darwinii in Tasmania, for the Hooker family.
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    f3 850.f3
    A reference to Vestiges of the natural history of creation ([Chambers] 1844).
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    f4 850.f4
    John MacCulloch put forward a progressionist interpretation of the fossil record and assumed successive creations and extinctions (MacCulloch 1837, 1: 128–46).
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    f5 850.f5
    Deo volente.
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    f6 850.f6
    Paragraph three was at one time excised and kept in CD's portfolio on classification and divergence (DAR 205.5) as evidenced by CD's pencilled annotation ‘11’.
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    f7 850.f7
    Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to search for a north-west passage left Britain on 19 May 1845. The vessels were the Erebus and Terror, the same ships that James Clark Ross commanded on the Antarctic voyage of 1839–43; on board were Francis Rawdon Moira Crozier and Robert McCormick, known to Hooker from the Ross expedition, and Harry S. Goodsir from Edinburgh.
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    f8 850.f8
    Hinds 1845.
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    f9 850.f9
    A. P. de Candolle 1839–40.
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    f10 850.f10
    Saint-Hilaire 1841.
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    f11 850.f11
    Jussieu 1842.
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