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Darwin Correspondence Project


To J. D. Hooker   6 October [1848]

Down Farnborough Kent

Oct 6th

My dear Hooker

I have just been much pleased with getting your tiny note1 & above all with your statement that you are free from your heart-pains. For Heaven sake take care of yourself. I have been a good-for-nothing dog for not having written to you long ago; it has not been from forgetting you; for if I had no other memento I have had your name in my list of unanswered correspondents for an awful period. But I have had a rather extra dose of unwellness all this summer; an extra number of correspondents, & an extra amount of work. Owing to the kindness of your Father & Miss Henslow, I have seen a good many of your letters,2 & know what you have been doing. I was much grieved to hear sometime ago how ill Miss Hooker had been. You seem to have had great Botanical success,3 but I declare it made me tremble to see how very hard you work. Now please to remember that though your letters give me great pleasure, I deliberately repeat my request that you do not write to me: I know from former experience how much time letters consume.— As for news you cd not have a worse correspondent than myself; for I have hardly seen a soul this summer: you will have heard of Forbes’ marriage,4 & that is all I know of it— I almost grieve to think that I shall have no more of the old bachelor parties.5 Lyell has been Knighted in a very honourable manner, at the Queens private house in Scotland, where he staid some days.—6

I am extremely much obliged to you for not forgetting my species theory: pray thank Mr Hodgson cordially for me for the pamphlets; I have long been familiar with his name. I know well Pallas’ memoir.7 I have not lately done much in the species line, for I am becoming rapidly a complete Cirripede in my mind. I remember saying to you at Oxford (how pleasant a time that was!) that I felt as if a Barnacle had never been created; I shall never be able, I fear, to say that again. Though I have done little about species, I have struck up a cordial correspondence with a first-rate man, the author of the articles on Ornamental Poultry in Gardener’s Chronicle.—8

I have just finished Sir J. Ross’ Voyage;9 it is a poor book with little interest except the escapes from the ice: I except of course your Botanical summaries, which I have copied out in abstract, for they struck me as eminently well done. How I wish you had written the whole voyage. There was one other extract, which pleased both Mrs D. & myself uncommonly,—that about the cattle hunting in the Falkland;10 I at first thought it must have been you, but then why was it not given under your name. Whoever the officer was, to my taste he is a first-rate describer—you & he together would indeed have made a first-rate book.—

I am glad to hear that you are struck with my case of the Supplemental males: I have lately reworked them most carefully. They have no mouth or stomach, but the natatory larva or rather pupa (for the larva in 2d stage in no cirripede, I find, has a mouth) fixes itself on the hermaphrodite, develops itself into a great testis! & then dies & is succeeded by a fresh crop of these temporary Supplemental males. I have caught one lately at right epoch & its entire contents were a great sperm-receptacle full of perfect zoosperms.11 I believe I have now got a far more curious case, but of it I will say nothing till more positive.— I have been delighted of late in having made out minutely the metamorphoses & consequently without any theory the homologies with ordinary crustacea. The shell of a Balanus, & even the whole peduncle & shell of Lepas is certainly the 3 anterior segments of the head, wonderfully modified & enlarged so as to receive the 14 succeeding cephalic, thoracic & abdominal segments; I declare I know of no more surprising metamorphosis, & it is perfectly clear & evident.—12 Heaven forgive me for inflicting on you such a lecture on Barnacles; but I forget, that you are well entered on them,13 & I need not apologise. Oh if I cd but make out the circulatory system, I think I shd have pretty well finished their anatomy. I have lately been trying to get up an agitation (but I shall not succeed & indeed doubt whether I have time & strength to go on with it) against the practice of naturalists appending for perpetuity the name of the first describer, to species.14 I look at this as a direct premium to hasty work, to naming instead of describing. A species ought to have a name so well known, that the addition of the author’s name would be superfluous & a pi〈ece〉 of empty vanity. At present, it would not do to give mere specific name, but I think zoologists might open the road to the omission, by referring to good systematic writers instead of to first describers. Botany, I fancy has not suffered so much as Zoolog. from mere naming; the characters, fortunately, are more obscure. Have you ever thought on this point? Why shd Naturalists append their own names to new species, when Mineralogists & Chemists do not do so to new substances?

When you write to Falconer pray remember me affectionately to him: I grieve most sincerely to hear that he has been ill.

My dear Hooker, God Bless you & fare you well— Your sincere friend, | C. Darwin


Letter from J. D. Hooker, 24 July [1848].
Hooker’s letters to William Jackson Hooker and extracts of his letters to Frances Henslow are preserved at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Indian letters, 1847–51).
William Jackson Hooker publicised his son’s achievements in a series of extracts from his letters (see n. 2, above) under the title ‘Botanical mission to India’ in the London Journal of Botany and Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany. CD’s particular reference is probably to W. J. Hooker ed. 1848; but see also K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 146, in which Charles Lyell reported in a letter dated 2 August 1848 that J. D. Hooker had found three new species of magnolia in the Himalayas in one day.
Edward Forbes married Emily Marianne Ashworth, youngest daughter of General Sir C. Ashworth, on 31 August 1848 (Wilson and Geikie 1861, p. 444).
CD is referring to the occasions on which Forbes, Hooker, Hugh Falconer, and others visited him at Down House.
Lyell had been residing at his father’s house in Kinnordy for the summer and visited Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Balmoral Castle, some 50 miles to the north of Kinnordy. The prince consort had just taken over the lease of the castle and the royal couple resided there for the first time in September 1848. Lyell described part of his visit in a letter to Gideon Mantell (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 148).
CD’s abstract of Pallas 1780 is in DAR 196.5.
Edmund Saul Dixon, the author of a book on ornamental poultry (1848) that was much quoted by CD in Variation. Little correspondence between the two men has, however, survived. In Dixon 1848, an annotated copy of which is in the Darwin Library–CUL, Dixon quotes from letters from Darwin (pp. xii–xiii): Mr. Darwin’s discovery, the result of his great industry and experience, that “the reproductive system seems far more sensitive to any changes in external conditions, than any other part of the living œconomy,” confirms my suspicion of the extreme improbability of the origination of any permanent, intermediate, reproductive breed by hybridising… . Mr. Darwin suggests, “If you ever had it in your power fairly to test the possible fertility of the half-and-half birds inter se, I certainly think you would confer a real service on Natural History.”
Ross 1847, the official account of the Antarctic voyage, to which Hooker contributed botanical notes and illustrations. CD recorded on 17 September 1848 that he had completed reading this work (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
The passage describing the cattle hunt in the Falklands is introduced by the following statement: ‘I am glad to have the opportunity of introducing here an interesting account of the wild cattle hunt, furnished to me by an officer who accompanied the party in their first successful chase’ (Ross 1847, 2: 245). Hooker had written the account (see second letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 February 1849).
CD had informed Hooker about his discovery of males complemental to hermaphroditic cirripedes in letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 May 1848. The fact that these organisms contained ‘zoosperms’ provided proof that they were true males.
CD based his homological analysis of Cirripedia upon a comparison between an archetypal cirripede and the archetypal crustacean as depicted by Henri Milne-Edwards (Milne-Edwards 1834–40); this idealisation is represented in the woodcut found in Living Cirripedia (1851): 28. Milne-Edwards established twenty-one segments in Crustacea, the number of various cephalic, thoracic, and abdominal segments depending on the mode of life and the particular functional role each played in different groups. CD identified seventeen of the twenty-one crustacean segments in cirripedes, ‘the four missing ones being abdominal, and, I presume, the four terminal segments’ (Living Cirripedia (1851): 27).
Hooker had a personal interest in barnacles beyond his friendship with CD; he had spent the early months of his Antarctic voyage, 1839–43, working on marine organisms, particularly the Crustacea (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 69).
For CD’s efforts to change some of the British Association’s recommended rules of nomenclature, see his letter to H. E. Strickland, 29 January [1849], and the following correspondence. In 1842 CD had been a member of the British Association committee asked to draw up a report on rules for zoological nomenclature (Correspondence vol. 2, letters to H. E. Strickland).

Letter details

Letter no.
Darwin, C. R.
Hooker, J. D.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 112a
Physical description


CD makes progress with barnacles. Describes "supplemental" males in detail. In working out metamorphosis, their crustacean homologies followed automatically.

CD opposes appending first describer’s name to specific name.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1202,” accessed on 30 April 2016,