To Osbert Salvin 11 [May 1863]1
Down Bromley | Kent [Leith Hill Place]2
Dr. Hooker has written to me to say that you would like to hear my opinion on the value of a collection made at the Galapagos.3 Perhaps you may have read my Journal; & if so, you will have observed that all the productions are singularly unattractive in appearance, & this, no doubt, renders this collection less interesting.4
But under a purely scientific point of view, I think it would be scarcely possible to exaggerate the interest of a good collection of every species rigorously kept separate from each island. It would throw much light on variation (& as I believe on the origin of Species) & on geographical distribution.5 No doubt many curious facts could be observed on the habits of the Birds & Reptiles. Probably there would be curious facts on the naturalisation & spreading of introduced plants & animals.—6 Some of the islands were only just visited by the Beagle, & these would be well worth exploring.7 The climate is perfectly healthy. The dismal scenery is like that of another world. I look back to my 6 weeks on these islands with extraordinary interest. But you must be prepared for mere amateurs in Natural History thinking little of any collection made there.
If you go, it would well deserve your attention to ascertain how the marine Amblyrhynchus breeds.8 Pray attend to presence of sea-borne seeds in drift on the beaches exposed to prevailing currents.9
with most cordial wishes for your success if you start, & with sincere respect for your zeal, pray believe me Dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin
At the suggestion of J. D. Hooker CD offers his opinion on the value of a proposed collection to be made at the Galápagos. The display would not be attractive or appealing to amateurs in natural history, but the scientific value of good collections of every species would be very great if those of each island are rigorously kept separate.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4153A,” accessed on 22 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4153A