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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   25 May [1856]1

Down Bromley, Kent

May 25

My dear Sir,

I am really very much obliged to you and Mr. Storey, and am quite ashamed at having caused so much trouble, but I was very curious to obtain this information.2 My present work leads me to wish to get as accurate information as I can on what some call the economy of nature, and the point in question seemed to me deserving of attention, as aiding in shewing how far the struggle with other species checked the extreme possible northern range of any species. It seems odd that dwarfing should be so frequent on mountains, and so rare, or at least not equally conspicuous, at the extreme northern lowland limits of a species.3

I hope that you will be so kind whenever you see Mr. Storey to present to him my sincere thanks for all the trouble he has so kindly taken for me, and pray believe me,

My dear Sir, | Yours very sincerely, | CHARLES DARWIN.


The letter is dated by the reference to topics discussed in chapter 5 of Natural selection, a draft of which was completed in February 1857 (see ‘Journal’; Appendix II).
John Storey worked on the flora of Northumberland and Durham and, like Hancock, resided in Newcastle upon Tyne and was a member of the Tyneside Naturalists’ Field Club. CD had previously corresponded with Hancock concerning his monograph on the Cirripedia (see Correspondence vols. 4 and 5).
CD discussed this point in his chapter on ‘The struggle for existence’ in Natural selection, p. 195, where he stated: ‘as several British plants do not range beyond Northumberland & Durham, I asked Mr. Story to attend to this point for me, & he has sent me a list of 32 plants in this predicament observed by himself & friends; & it appears that only three or four of these are at all dwarfish.’


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Wants accurate information on "the economy of nature". Is interested in how far the struggle with other species checks the northern range of any species.

Thanks John Storey for information.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
J. Hancock 1886, pp. 277–8

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1332,” accessed on 25 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6