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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [24 June 1854]1



Dear Darwin

My wife presented me with a huge girl2 last night—said to weigh 11 lbs both are doing as well as possible. I read the Psychological book of Brodies3 during the operation & found a good many curious facts new to me with a redundancy of old ones. All would probably be old to you.

Will you oblige me with you ideas of what constitutes highness & lowness in the Animal Kingdom! Eg. in plants I should say that a high developement in the scale is indicated by special adaptation of organs to the discharge of functions & great deviations in those organs from the type upon which they are constructed.4 Thus Ranunculaceæ are low in the scale because the floral organs are apt to run into one another & revert to the type (a leaf) on which they are constructed—because calyx & corolla are so often alike— Stamens often reverting & the follicles present little deviation from a leaf folded on itself.— Hence monopetalous flowers are higher than polypetalous, inferior ovaries a higher type than superior &c &c. Dicotyledons than Monocot. Exogens than Endogens, &c. &c.

I hope your dinner did not disagree with you. 5 I had to walk to Shoreditch next morning no cabs!

Ever Yrs | J D Hooker

CD annotations

crossed ink
crossed ink CD memorandum:6 In answer to Hooker, I state perplexity produced by supreme man: I doubt whether Articulata & Mollusca can be compared in highness— Within same Kingdom, it appears to me, that “morpholog. differentiation” from embryo or archetype is distinctest idea, but perplexed by retrograde development, or animal with fewer organs than larva. (as male cirripedes. &c)— [‘We’ del] Specialisation of parts (Owen?), division of labour, generally go with morphological differentiation & imply it, & therefore this *ie morpholog. differentiation [interl] perhaps, (giving exceptions of retrograde [‘)’ del] development) is perhaps the safest definition. But if term highest must be used, then I would take the specialisation of parts as the definition.— But man as standard can hardly be excluded.—


Dated on the basis of Hooker’s reference to the birth of his daughter (see n. 2, below).
The Hookers’ second child, Harriet Anne, born on 23 June 1854.
After ‘great’, Hooker had written and then deleted: ‘*deviation from [above del ‘modification of’] the type upon which those organs are constructed, in’. For CD’s views on this subject, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [June 1854].
CD had been in London 21 to 23 June. He recorded in his Health diary (Down House MS) that he had had what he termed ‘double dash’ days, which he indicated by a double underlining of the ‘very’ in ‘well very’. The dinner was that of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society on Thursday, 22 June.
This memorandum (DAR 104: 204) was attached to Hooker’s letter. It is marked ‘11’ in brown crayon.


[Brodie, Benjamin Collins]. 1854. Psychological inquiries: in a series of essays, intended to illustrate the mutual relations of the physical organization and the mental faculties. London.


Birth of JDH’s second child.

Asks CD’s view of "highness" and "lowness" in animals. Gives his own for plants; extent of deviation from type, e.g., floral parts deviating from leaf.

Reading B. C. Brodie’s Psychological inquiries [1854].

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 202–4
Physical description
ALS 4pp †, CD note 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1572,” accessed on 2 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5