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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   30 June [1866]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

June 30

My dear Hooker

I have heard from Sulivan (who poor fellow gives a very bad account of his own health) about the fossils.1 His son goes with Capt. Mayne & Capt Richards the hydrographer helped Sulivan as his Lieut. in collecting the bones.2 Sulivan meant to speak to Capt. Mayne; but if you cd influence the Duke of S. that wd be by far the most important.3

The place is Gallegos on the S. coast of Patagonia. Sulivan says that in the course of 2 or 3 days all the boats in the ship could be filled twice over; but to get good specimens out of the hardish rock 2 or 3 weeks wd be requisite. It wd be a grand haul for paleontology.4

I have been thinking over your lecture. Will it not be possible to give enlarged drawings of some leading forms of trees?5 You will of course have a large map; & George tells me that he saw at Sir H. James’s at Southampton a map of the world on a new principle, as seen from within, so that almost 45 of the globe was shewn at once on a large scale. Wd it not be worth while to borrow one of these from Sir H. James as a curiosity to hang up?6

Remember you are to come here before Nottingham.7

I have almost finished the last number of H. Spencer & am astonished at its prodigality of original thought. But the reflection constantly recurred to me that each suggestion, to be of real value to science, wd require years of work.8 It is also very unsatisfactory the impossibility of conjecturing where direct action of external circumstances begins & ends, as he candidly owns in discussing the production of woody tissue in the trunks of trees on the one hand, & on the other in spines & the shells of nuts.9 I shall like to hear what you think of this number when we meet

yours affectly | Ch. Darwin

Thanks about Lupine10


In his letter of 27 June 1866, Bartholomew James Sulivan discussed the navy’s plan to return to the Río Gallegos in Patagonia, where he had discovered bones of fossil mammals in 1845.
CD refers to James Young Falkland Sulivan, Richard Charles Mayne, and George Henry Richards (see letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1866 and nn. 6 and 8).
CD refers to the twelfth duke of Somerset, Edward Adolphus Seymour Seymour, first lord of the Admiralty. See letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1866.
On the results of the expedition, see the letter from B. J. Sulivan, 27 June 1866, n. 11.
Hooker was to give a lecture on insular floras at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in Nottingham in August (J. D. Hooker 1866a). No illustrations were referred to in the published lecture: however, one report noted that the lecture ‘was illustrated by representations of some extraordinary plants arranged on a screen on either side of a geometrical projection of two-thirds of the sphere’ (J. D. Hooker 1866b, p. 22; see n. 6, below). CD discussed trees on oceanic islands in Origin, pp. 392, 396. Hooker remarked that CD’s theory of trans-oceanic migration explained why so many of the island genera tended ‘to grotesque or picturesque arborescent forms’ (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 75).
George Howard Darwin had visited his brother William Erasmus Darwin in Southampton on 21 June (see letter from W. E. Darwin, 20 June [1866]). Henry James was director-general of the Ordnance Survey, based in Southampton. To aid his talk (see n. 5, above), Hooker used a map that had been developed in 1858 by James for the topographical department of the War Office (see James 1860). James described the design of the map as presenting a ‘continuous symmetrical projection of the whole surface of the globe, or any part … in which the meridians and parallels intersect rectangularly; there being no distortion of form or area along or near the central meridian’ (James 1868, p. 5). James published a variety of maps showing two-thirds of the earth using this method (for example, James 1862). Hooker remarked that the map used in his talk represented the islands and continents in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans ‘more truly in position than in a Mercator’s or other projection’ (J. D. Hooker 1867, p. 7).
Hooker visited Down on 18 August (letter from J. D. Hooker, [17 August 1866]).
Herbert Spencer’s Principles of biology was published in instalments to subscribers between 1863 and 1867; the most recent issue appeared in June 1866, and discussed the formation of inner and outer tissues of plants and animals (see Spencer 1864–7, 1: Preface, 2: Preface and 241–320). CD’s annotated instalments of Spencer 1864–7 are in the Darwin Library–CUL bound as a single volume (see Marginalia 1: 769–73). For more on CD’s and Hooker’s general reservations regarding Spencer’s work, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 December 1866 and n. 4.
Spencer argued that various plant tissues were formed by the adjustment or ‘equilibration’ of an individual organism to external forces, although some tissues evolved through the operation of natural selection on the species. The woody tissue of trees, he claimed, developed in response to the mechanical stresses to which individual plants were exposed (Spencer 1864–7, 2: 258–60); however, thorns and the shells of nuts, he maintained, could not have resulted ‘from any inner reactions immediately called forth by outer actions; but must have resulted mediately through the effects of such outer actions on the species’. Spencer suggested that natural selection was a ‘mediate’ or ‘indirect’ force, which did not cause alterations in the structure of individual organisms, but operated on the structure of the species as a whole (ibid., p. 274).
No letter to Hooker on Lupinus has been found; however, CD may have discussed the plant with Hooker during his visit to Down on 23 June. CD later sent Hooker a specimen of Lupinus to identify (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 [July 1866]).


Has heard from B. J. Sulivan about the fossils at Gallegos, Patagonia. Would be a great haul for palaeontology if Duke of Somerset would encourage Capt. Mayne to collect them [on survey of Magellan Strait].

Tells JDH of a new map of world that he might use in his lecture [on "Insular floras", BAAS, 1866, J. Bot. Br. & Foreign 5 (1867): 23–31; Gard. Chron. (1867): 6, 27, 50, 75].

Impressed by H. Spencer’s last number, but each suggestion would require years of work to be of use to science.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 292
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5135,” accessed on 20 October 2017,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14