To J. D. Hooker [5 or 12 November 1845]
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I had intended not writing to you, until I had looked through your Botany,1 but I must at once thank you very much for it & for your two letters. I began reading the first number last night, & turned over the pages of some of the others, & saw quite enough to show me how much there will be of the very highest interest to me. How different your remarks make it to most systematic works! but I will say no more about it now, except to thank you once again very heartily for it, though I know full well how unworthy I am as a naturalist for such a present, yet I am proud of it, not to mention its real practical use to me.
It was indeed most absurdly unjust to speak of you, as a mere systematist. You speak of your printed letter, as being “bilious”, I do assure you, as far as my judgment goes, I see no signs of such feelings.—2 You must forgive me for alluding to such a subject, but I must say I admire from the bottom of my heart, the manner in which you have borne your disappointment & illiberal treatment. Your noble (& really interesting) set of Testimonials must be a consolation when you think of the Baillie’s speeches.—
I am glad to hear that you are hard at work again & continue to find interesting geographical results: assuredly, as you say in your Preface, geographical distrib: will be the key which will unlock the mystery of species.3 By the way I have written to Capt. Beaufort some queries, & amongst others urged him to direct attention to the Floras of all isolated islands.— I presume of course, you have specimens of the junction of the Beech-parasite, in spirits;4 I gave some to Brown, who, I daresay, wd give them up, if you want more specimens.—
Many thanks for l’Espece;5 could you lend me sometime, your former copy that I may transpose my marks (or rather exchange copies) as I do not want the trouble of looking it over again. I shall be glad to see the other pamphets; though I do not expect much, if they are by Gerard.— I am sorry to say I have sent my very small packet to Ehrenberg: I did not give you a fair chance & ought to have retained it longer; but I am in a hurry for Ehrenberg’s answer.— I will return the Testimonials to you;—I shall not, however, send to the Geolog. Soc. for another week..— You ask about my health: I have been unusually well for a week past, owing, I believe, to what sounds a great piece of quackery, viz twice a day passing a galvanic stream through my insides from a small-plate battery for half an hour.—6 I think it certainly has relieved some of my distressing symptoms.— My wife is not as strong as she ought to be.
—If you want to read a zoological book, I think Waterhouse’s Mammalia (now publishing by Bailliere) wd interest you;7 I can lend it you at some future time, when several of the numbers are out.— I hope this next summer to finish my S. American geology;8 then to get out a little zoology9 & hurrah for my species-work, in which, according to every law of probability, I shall stick & be confounded in the mud.—
I wish I could get you sometime hence to look over a rough sketch (well copied) on this subject,10 but it is too impudent a request.
Farewell my dear Hooker | Yours most sincerely | C. Darwin
Thanks for Antarctic flora [Flora Antarctica (1844–7)].
Agrees geographical distribution will be "the key which will unlock the mystery of species".
Could JDH look over a rough sketch on species?
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 924,” accessed on 6 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-924