To J. D. Hooker 18 [July 1855]
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Hooker
I heartily wish you joy of the Birth being over.1 The Horners are all here; & the Breakfast party was charmed with the scientific & brief way of showing the sex of the new seedling.2 This morning, also, I have received your magnificent present of the Flora Indica:3 I do not know how you publish it but if on your own responsibility it is a perfect shame that you do not make me buy a copy. (I see on title it is published by Authors.) What a splendidly long introduction; it will be, if it be like everything else you have written, to me most interesting & valuable. By the way I have just been reading to my mind a capital little Essay, (which must be by you) on the Madeira Flora in the London Journal of Botany,4 & I see you bring forward a crushing (as it appears to me) argument (as I, also, inferred from parallel facts in Wollaston’s Insects)5 against the Forbesian doctrine!6
Have you ever read Eyres Journey from Spencers Gulf to K. George Sound:7 it is very interesting; it impressed me with a very strong notion of the desert character of intermediate country. A desert ought to be a more effectual barrier to migration than an arm of the sea, like Basse’s St. on the idea of sea-borne seeds.—
Very many thanks for your writing to Daubeny;8 I am really anxious on that head. I shall, also, be glad of the seeds.
What an odd coincidence; I wrote some weeks ago to Dr Bell Salter for seeds of the hybrid Geum!9 I wish simply to ascertain fertility according to Gærtner’s process.— Several of my most foolish experiments are failing just as might have been expected; but I shd never have been easy without trying them.—
Adios | C. Darwin
Hurrah I got yesterday my 41st Grass.—10
P.S. Next time you write, show a bold face, & say in how many years, you think, Charlock seed would probably all be dead.— A man told me the other day, of as I thought, a splendid instance,—& splendid it was for according to his evidence the seed came up alive out of the lower part of the London Clay!!! I disgusted him by telling him that Palms ought to have come up.—11
You ask how far I go in attributing organisms to a common descent; I answer I know not; the way in which I intend treating the subject, is to show (as far as I can) the facts & arguments for & against the common descent of species of same genus; & then show how far the same arguments tell for or against forms, more & more widely different: & when we come to forms of different orders & classes, there remain only some such arguments as those which can perhaps be deduced from similar rudimentary structure, & very soon not an argument, is left.—
I think I am getting a mild case about Charlock seed;12 but just as about salting, ill-luck to it, I cannot remember how many years you would allow that Charlock seed might live in the ground.—
Has read a paper, presumably by JDH, using the Madeiran flora to argue against Forbes’s doctrine.
JDH asked how far CD will go in attributing common descent; he intends to show "the facts & arguments for & against the common descent of species of same genus; & then show how far the same arguments tell for or against forms, more & more widely different".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1719,” accessed on 23 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1719