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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   20 August 1881

Royal Gardens Kew

Aug 20/81.

Dear Darwin

Just a few last words, before I commit my vaporings to the public.1

Of all the followers of Latreille in the mutability of species did any one of them use this in explanation of representative species in very distant localities?2 See end  Von Baer, as you point out, was convinced by the facts of Geog. distribution that all Species were descended from one parent form, & I suppose must have been led to this by the phenomena of representation— Can you tell me if this was so? I have no time to consult the Zoog. & Anthrop. Untersuch.n.3

I find that Dana was the first (of all I have yet found,) who broached the doctrine of permanence of position of existing continents.4 You somewhere do the same for existing Oceans, & I read it lately, but for the life of me cannot turn the passage up. Also in the origin you imply this.5 But I do not know of any one except Wallace who has summed up all the arguments for it; & marshalled them with convincing force6

I know Blytt’s paper & had it, & thought at the time very highly of it, & my opinion is strengthened by reperusal. I give a sketch of it as the last advance towards a knowledge of the laws of Geograph. Distribn..7 I shall return your copy soon with thanks.

Ever yrs | J D Hooker.

P.S. What I want to know if any one ever suggested that the representation for an instance of an Azorean plant by a Canarian was due to their having a common parent the offspring of which diverged generally from the parent type but converged in those localities, either through both varying in the same direction or by one varying in the direction of the other.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘Mimosa 10° 30′ | Desmodium 11°’8 pencil


CD and Hooker had been discussing Hooker’s upcoming presidential address to the geography section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at York (Hooker 1881; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 12 August 1881).
Pierre André Latreille; however, Hooker meant Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, the famous transmutationist (see Hooker 1881, p. 733 n. 2).
CD had added a short discussion of Karl Ernst von Baer’s views on the descent of species within a group from a common form in the historical sketch to Origin 4th ed., pp. xx–xxi. CD cited an abstract of Baer 1859 that had appeared in Wagner 1861 (Zoologisch-anthropologische Untersuchungen 1 (1861): 51). CD had not read Baer’s original monograph (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to ?, 2 August [1866] and n. 3).
Alfred Russel Wallace discussed the permanence of continents and oceans in Island life (Wallace 1880a, pp. 81–102).
Hooker discussed Axel Blytt’s Essay on the immigration of the Norwegian flora (Blytt 1876) at length in his address (Hooker 1881, pp. 734–5).
CD’s annotation relates to his experiments on bloom. In notes dated 13 to 29 August [1881], he recorded the effects of dripping water on leaves of Mimosa pudica and Desmodium at different times of day (DAR 67: 102–4); the symbols denote hours and minutes. ‘Mimosa pudica … Aug 21st 10° 30′ a. m—new leaf started’; ‘Desmodium. Aug 21′. 11° a. m. started new leaf on cotton wool, drip high’ (DAR 67: 103, 104).


Baer, Karl Ernst von. 1859. Über Papuas und Alfuren. Ein Commentar zu den beiden ersten Abschnitten der Abhandlung ‘Crania Selecta ex Thesauris Anthropologicus Academiae Imperialis Petropolitanae.’ Mémoires de l’Académie impériale des sciences naturelles de Saint-Pétersbourg 6th ser. 8: 269–346.

Blytt, Axel. 1876. Essay on the immigration of the Norwegian flora during alternating rainy and dry periods. Christiania: Albert Cammermeyer.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1881. On geographical distribution. Presidential address, section E, geography. [Read 1 September 1881.] Report of the 51st Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at York, Transactions of the sections, pp. 727–38.

Wagner, Rudolph. 1861b. Zoologisch-anthropologische Untersuchungen, I. Göttingen: Dieterichschen Buchhandlung.

Wallace, Alfred Russel. 1880a. Island life: or, the phenomena and causes of insular faunas and floras, including a revision and attempted solution of the problem of geological climates. London: Macmillan.


Is making final preparations for his address [at York BAAS meeting] and questions CD on specific points.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 162–3
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13291,” accessed on 31 January 2023,