To J. D. Hooker 8 February 
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I am heartily glad that you have been offered the Presidentship of the B. Assoc. for it is a great honour, & as you have so much work to do I am equally glad that you have declined it.1 I feel, however, convinced that you would have succeeded very well; but if I fancy myself in such a position it actually makes my blood run cold. I look back with amazement at the skill & taste with which the D. of Argyll made a multitude of little speeches at Glasglow.2 By the way I have not seen the Duke’s book,3 but I formerly thought that some of the articles which appeared in periodicals were very clever, but not very profound. One of these was reviewed in the Saturday Review some years ago; & the fallacy of some main argument was admirably exposed, & I sent the article to you, & you agreed strongly with it.4 Now I have forgotten this counter-argument & I know I shall be humbugged by the Duke, if I reread him as I suppose I must. There was the other day a rather good review of the Duke’s book in the Spectator, & with a new explanation, either by the Duke or Reviewer (I could not make out which) of rudimentary organs; viz that economy of labour & material was a great guiding principle with God (ignoring waste of seed & of young, monsters &c &c), & that making a new plan for the structure of animals was thought & thought was labour, & therefore God kept to a uniform plan & left rudiments.5 This is no exaggeration. In short, God is a man rather cleverer than us: I wonder they did not suggest that he would suffer from indigestion, if he worked his brains too much.— I am very much obliged for the “Nation” (returned by this post): it is admirably good:6 you say I always guess wrong, but I do not believe anyone, except Asa Gray could have done the thing so well. I would bet even, or 3 to 2, that it is Asa Gray, though one or two passages staggered me.
I finish my Book on “Domestic Animals &c” by a single paragraph answering, or rather throwing doubt, in so far as so little space permits on Asa Gray’s doctrine that each variation has been specially ordered or led along a beneficial line. It is foolish to touch such subjects, but there have been so many allusions to what I think about the part which God has played in the formation of organic beings, that I thought it shabby to evade the question.7 I have even received several letters on subject. One was a funny one from a lady with a whole string of questions, & when I said I could not answer one; she wrote she was perfectly satisfied & it was exactly what she expected.—8 I overlooked your sentence about Providence, & suppose I treated it as Buckland did his own theology, when his Bridgewater Treatise was read aloud to him for correction.9 I do not quite understand what you mean; partly from Providence meaning either simply God or hourly, providential care.—
That seems a very difficult point to conjecture on, whether an insular genus originated on the island or survived there.10 When several allied species occur in an archipelago the probability seems that it was created there; as it shows it has long there been a varying & is a well adapted form. I forget whether the Umbellifers live on the other Atlantic Islands.11
Supposing that the Deer’s bones are not those of a naturalised animal, (for certainly there was no deer, when Mauritius was discovered) it is a grand case of continental extension & of greatest value. If you see Owen, caution him, but not from me, about the many animals which have been there naturalised.12
I saw in Proof-sheet the passage in a note by Owen about ideal types; he outdoes himself in audacious impudence on this head, & makes it the ground for an attack on Huxley.13
Send me a copy of your Insular paper when printed, as several of us want to read it.—14
I told Murray not to publish my book blindly, & he has kept the M.S long & is frightened, perhaps with good reason, for I never know when I go too much into detail; & the details are to be printed in smaller type; & at last the M.S is in printer’s hands.—15 In the interval I began a chapter on Man, for which I have long collected materials, but it has grown too long, & I think I shall publish separately a very small volume, “an essay on the origin of mankind:”16 I have convinced myself of the means by which the Races of man have been mainly formed, but I do not expect I shall convince anyone else.—17 I wish the dreadful six-month labour of correcting press was over.—18
Hensleigh Wedgwood has been very ill, & is sadly pulled down, but is now recovering.—19
Give our very kind remembrances to Mrs Hooker & our congratulations on her coming down stairs20
Ever yours affecty | C. Darwin
On Feb 13th we go for a week to 6 Queen Anne St.—21 I wish there was any chance of your being in London & seeing you.—
On the Duke of Argyll and a review of his Reign of law.
Asa Gray’s theological view of variation. God’s role in formation of organisms; JDH’s view of Providence.
Insular and continental genera.
Owen on continuity and ideal types
and on bones of Mauritius deer.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5395,” accessed on 23 March 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-5395