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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [5 August 1858]1

Norfolk House | Shanklin | I. of Wight


My dear Hooker

I shd. think the note apologetical about the style of the abstract was best as note. I shd. hardly have thought the cotton illustration worth a note.—2 But I write now to ask you to send me by return of post the M.S. on big genera, that I may make an abstract of a couple of pages in length.—3 I presume that you have quite done with it; otherwise I would not for anything have it back. If you tie it with string & mark it M.S for printing it will not cost, I shd. think more than 4d.— I shall wish much to say that you have read this M.S. & concur; but you shall before I read it to Socy: hear the sentence.4

What you tell me, after speaking with Busk about length of abstract is an immense relief to me; it will make the labour far less, not having to shorten so much every single subject; but I will try not to be too diffusive.— I fear it will spoil all interest in my Book, whenever published.—5

The abstract will do very well to divide into several parts: thus I have just finished “variation under domestication” in 44 M.S. pages & that would do for one evening: but I shd. be extremely sorry if all could not be published together. What else you say about my abstract pleases me highly, but frightens me, for I fear I shall never be able to make it good enough.— But how I do run on about my own affairs to you!—

I was astonished to see Sir W. Hooker’s card here 2 or 3 days ago: I was unfortunately out walking. Henslow, also, has written to me proposing to come to Down on the 9th,6 but alas I do not return till 13th. & my wife not till week later; so that I am, also, most sorry to think I shall not see you, for I shd. not like to leave home so soon; I had thought of going to London & running down for an hour or two to Kew.—7

I am glad to hear poor Miss Jenyns’ suffering are over for ever.—8

Etty has made a little start forward these few last days, which inspirits us.—

Farewell | Ever yours | C. Darwin

Could I have clean proof to send to Wallace? Did you ask? if not, & you will tell me, I would write to Busk & ask him.

I have just bethought me, that simplest plan wd. be to buy copy of Journal & send it, so that will cost no trouble.—9


Although the endorsement reads ‘Aug 4/1858.’, the letter was clearly written on the Thursday (5 August) following the letter from J. D. Hooker, 31 July 1858.
CD refers to his emendations to the proofs of Darwin and Wallace 1858 (see letter from J. D.Hooker, 31 July 1858).
The manuscript is in DAR 15.1. CD compressed the material for Origin, pp. 53–8.
In Origin, p. 53, CD stated: ‘Dr. Hooker permits me to add, that after having carefully read my manuscript, and examined the tables, he thinks that the following statements are fairly well established.’
CD intended to present his ‘abstract’ to the Linnean Society in several parts, and then publish it in the society’s Journal (see letter to T. C. Eyton, 4 August [1858]). Hooker may have given an account of his conversation with George Busk, under-secretary of the Linnean Society, concerning the publication of CD’s ‘abstract’ in the society’s Journal, in the portion of the letter from J. D. Hooker, 31 July 1858, that is now missing. At this time, CD still intended to publish his ‘big species book’ (Natural selection). In the event, the ‘abstract’ grew into Origin and the manuscript of the ‘big species book’ remained unpublished except for the parts CD used in Origin and Variation.
See preceding letter.
Hooker had apparently suggested that CD should visit him at Kew soon after his return to Down, as Hooker was due to leave on holiday shortly afterwards (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 [July 1858]). Hooker’s plans however, changed, and he was able to visit CD at Down, in the company of William Henry Harvey, from 28 to 31 August 1858 (Emma Darwin’s diary).
Mary Jenyns, Frances Harriet Hooker’s aunt, died after a long illness on 1 August 1858.
From 1856 the Journal of the Linnean Society had been subdivided into separately paginated zoological and botanical sections, published quarterly. Darwin and Wallace 1858 was published in number 9 (the first number of volume 3), which was issued on 20 August 1858 (Gage and Stearn 1988, p. 214). CD’s copy of this number is in DAR 135 (13). It is lightly annotated with calculations he made as to the number of lines of printed text that he could fit onto a page of the Journal.


Working on abstract, which now is to consist of a number of sections each to be read at Linnean Society and to be published as a unit. Has finished section on variation under domestication.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 246
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2313,” accessed on 20 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7