skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker  [24 November 1846]1


Ten thousand thanks my dear Darwin for the most ungracious of all offices executed & in the most gracious manner. I do not think we have much to quarrell about.

The St. Jago sentence is a case of bad Grammar, or something very like it I have made it now to mean that a scantier examination of St. Jago has produced more plants than a more careful one of the Gals.

Confound the Compositæ; I do declare & maintain that, for the largest order in the world & the most ubiquitous, its individual species are less ubiquitous than they should be. I have been a dozen times at my wits’ end (thank goodness it’s not far to go) for expressive language— It is not that the Comp. have not many widely spread species but no great proportion of them in comparison to the bulk of the order.

I have remodelled the obnoxious sentence on props. of gen to sp. please return the enclosed if approved Ratios are most deceiving in Botany: plants are so much more widely dispersed than land animals, that small numerical differences must be received with thankful hearts. Also the prop. of gen. to sp. amongst all plants is only as 1:4: which latter figure diminishes with the area.

I have mesmerised the sentence about affinity between Juan F. & St. Helena: but I maintain that it bears upon one of my conclusions anent Insular Peculiar Floras very directly:—that they have wholly inexplicable points of resemblance. I endeavour to draw a line between affinity & analogy, surely the former is the word when congeners are concerned.

Eheu the ugly sentence on the division of the plants. W. Indies Botanically speaking includes Panama: & I have put it in so; I used only the shortest sentences to avoid periphrasis, my besetting sin. How to get in Mexicos including [lowld ] &c &c &c2 under three breaths passes me, however here it goes & the L. Soc. may gasp till the windows are opened. I have also capsized or distorted the sentence to give prominence to your dear altered species:

I am thoroughly horrified at your not comprehending the table, but not believe me in the smallest surprized: of all the crabbed papers it is the crabbeddest: & how you got so far with any powers of comprehension left is the wonder. The 2d. column I have made to read “Total xclud. those common to America”.. As every Pacific Galap. plant is also American, there is no use bothering further about the Cannibal Islds..— Perhaps it wd. be better to say simply “confined to Galapagos”

The third column cannot be 96–15; because 15 indicates those “confined to group but found likewise on other Islets”: whereas 3d. col. indicates the whole number of species including some America, but xcluding such American as are (like the Galaps.) common to other Islets. It is however I clearly (as clearly as such a woolly brained

CD annotations

crossed pencil
‘Because easily connected into species a few wide ranges is all that is wanted.’ added pencil
scored pencil
scored brown crayon
crossed pencil
Top of first page: ‘20’brown crayon


The Tuesday before Hooker read the first part of his paper (J. D. Hooker 1846) to the Linnean Society on 1 December 1846.
In his previous letter CD suggested that Hooker explain more fully his Mexican type by ‘including temperate or dry or highland *parts of both [interl] Americas’. Accordingly, in J. D. Hooker 1846, Hooker remarks that the Mexican type includes ‘those whose nearest allies belong to Mexico or the higher levels in Columbia, or to the lower latitudes of the Southern United States, California or Chili’ (p. 250).


Thanks for reading paper. Accepts CD’s criticisms; discussion of some points.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 77–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1032,” accessed on 29 April 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3