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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   7 September [1854]


Sept. 7th

My dear Hooker

Busy as you always are, it was really very good of you to write me so long a letter, some ten days ago,1 telling me so very many things to interest me.— Yesterday I had to send to the Athenæum, so I thought I could send at same time my Barnacle Book,2 & Rejuvenescence &c;3 there, directed to you.—

I am very glad you wish to have my Barnacle Book, for I would rather send it to you than to any half-dozen-others, if you cared to have it. Our old friend Arthrobalanus is now christened Cryptophialus.4 Under the Order to which it belongs, I discuss the (as it appears to me) very curious case of its affinities; I was most uncomfortably puzzled how to class it, & am far from sure that I decided correctly.—5

You will find a great deal about what is an individual in Braun: ever since seeing years ago with you here, the purple Laburnum,6 in which even the petals consisted of half & half, I have looked, without any gain, to all that I could read about individuality. What you say on the seed, is the newest view, which I have met with.—

But I cannot say that I have really read Braun.—

I thank you particularly for Huxley’s review7 it is exquisite & most clever, all about Owen.— The Review part strikes me as the best I have seen, on poor Vestiges, but I think he is too severe,—you may say “birds of a feather flock together”, & therefore I sympathise with the author. I fear (& for this I am very sorry) he makes mincemeat with Agassiz’s embryonic fish. Touching progression it must have been very satisfactory to you. I am very glad to hear about the placental Stonesfield Mammals; Waterhouse, years & years ago, told me he doubted whether they were placentata, but in those days it wd. have been more than his life was worth to have gone against the great Hunterian Professor.—8 Thanks, also, for Nun,9 which has interested me a good deal, though written in a most un-Robinson-Crusoe style. I am very glad to hear of the second edition of your Journal, but what a rascally little sum of money you have got for it. Anyhow it was more than I did for my first Edition, which was,£40, paid for copies to give away. Murray gave me £150 for his Edition.10 By the way I thank Mrs. Hooker much for sending me Humboldts letter, (so splendidly copied out):11 it really must be very satisfactory to you to see how well he has read your Book.— It is too good a joke, the way the Lancet treats you.—12 all Doctors, however, do not undervalue you, for I was speaking to one lately about your Journal, & I did not know how much he knew of you; so I said “we shall see him some day the first Botanist in Europe”, whereupon he snubbed me by saying, “Sir, he is decidedly now the first Botanist in Europe”.—

I hope that your Syon House party went off, brilliantly: I cannot make up my mind about Liverpool,13 it is such an exertion; but my wife today declares she thinks she shall be well enough to go & wd. like it, which may possibly decide me to go.—

I have been reading lately “Westwoods modern Class: of insects,”14 & I want you, who take an active share in scientific business, to bear Westwood in mind whenever a turn comes for a zoological Royal medal. I think he must feel that years of hard work & of careful observation & of dissection have not been much recognised by the men of science of this country.—15

I have been frittering away my time for the last several weeks in a wearisome manner, partly idleness, & odds & ends, & sending ten-thousand Barnacles out of the house all over the world.— But I shall now in a day or two begin to look over my old notes on species.16 What a deal I shall have to discuss with you: I shall have to look sharp that I do not “progress” into one of the greatest bores in life to the few like you with lots of knowledge. I hope I have not already bored you with this long letter.

Affectionately yours | C. Darwin


Letter from J. D. Hooker, 25 August 1854, which is now incomplete. CD refers to several topics that were evidently in the missing section of the letter.
When CD began work on his ‘first cirripede’ in October 1846, Hooker had assisted him in dissecting, drawing, and naming this curious cirripede that had been collected in South America (see Correspondence vol. 3, letters to J. D. Hooker, [2 October 1846] and [26 October 1846]). CD later decided to change the name from Arthrobalanus to Cryptophialus to reflect his more informed understanding of its characters (see Correspondence vol. 4, letter to Albany Hancock, [29 or 30 October 1849] and n. 9).
CD’s quandary arose from the several specialised characteristics shared by Cryptophialus and Alcippe that he believed were not simply analogical: their burrowing mode of life and their separation into two sexes. Yet he held that the striking differences in their internal anatomy and in their metamorphoses were great enough to justify placing them in different orders, as discussed in Living Cirripedia (1854): 565: The whole case seems to me very singular, and, as far as my knowledge extends, unique: we have two animals, of which the females, if classed by their external parts (homologically consisting of the three anterior segments of the head), would be placed each other in the same family; but when classed by the whole rest of their organisation, certainly must be ranked in distinct orders; yet the males of these very same animals might almost stand in the same genus. CD ultimately formed a new order, Abdominalia, in which Cryptophialus minutus was the sole species.
The reference is to a hybrid laburnum, Cytisus adami, with two kinds of bilaterally different flowers on the same stalk. See Correspondence vol. 4, letters to J. D. Hooker, [2 June 1847], [10 June 1847], and [12 June 1847]. The hybrid is discussed at length in Variation 1: 387–90, and Braun 1853b is cited in a footnote. The phenomenon aroused CD’s interest because, as he noted, ‘the tendency to segregation of character or reversion affects even single parts and organs’ (Variation 1: 387–8), and this raised the question whether each petal and stamen could be considered an individual.
T. H. Huxley 1854a (see letter to Huxley, 2 September [1854]).
CD refers to George Robert Waterhouse and to Richard Owen, Hunterian professor at the Royal College of Surgeons, 1836–56. For the issue being discussed, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 25 August 1854, n. 11, and also Correspondence vol. 2, letter to Charles Lyell, [14] September [1838], n. 20.
Nunn 1850, which CD recorded having read on 4 September (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 9). John Nunn had been shipwrecked on Kerguelen Land (Desolation Island).
John Murray published the second edition of Journal of researches (1845). The first edition (1839) was published by Henry Colburn (see Correspondence vol. 2).
The copy of Alexander von Humboldt’s letter to Hooker has not been found among the Darwin correspondence. The original is preserved in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
In the summer of 1854, Hooker had been appointed to the medical examining board of the East India Company, which had been set up by an act of Parliament to ensure that all medical appointments in India were the result of ‘merit as tested by examination’. The Lancet criticised the appointments in a number of editorials, claiming that Sir Charles Wood, president of the board of control, had deliberately rejected the list of appointees drawn up by the East India Company and put his own candidates forward. Specific personal gibes were directed against Hooker (Lancet, 19 August 1854, pp. 152–3): These appointments are certainly not such as to give satisfaction, either in this country or in India. We have not a word to say against Dr. [Edmund Alexander] Parkes, and Messrs. [James] Paget, [George] Busk, and Hooker, although we believe the last of these gentlemen has never before been heard of in the profession, but we do say the selection of these gentlemen to the posts they are appointed to fill is an insult to the Indian Medical Service … Why should there be two surgical examiners, and only one medical, while midwifery is entirely omitted, unless, indeed, this department is to be entrusted to Mr. Hooker? We ought to mention that Dr. Parkes spent a short time in India, and has written a book on Cholera; but Messrs. Paget, Busk, and Hooker, are entirely in a maiden state as regards military surgery and tropical pathology. The criticism of Charles Wood continued for the rest of the year (see the Lancet, 2 September 1854, pp. 197–8; 9 September 1854, p. 220; 16 December 1854, pp. 512–13).
The host city of the September 1854 meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
John Obadiah Westwood was awarded the Royal Medal in 1855 for his work on the classification of insects. He had been nominated by CD.
CD’s ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I) for 9 September 1854 reads: Finished packing up all my cirripedes. preparing Fossil Balanidæ distributing copies of my work &c &c.— I have yet a few proofs for Fossil Balanidæ for Pal: Soc: to complete, perhaps a week’s more work. Began Oct. 1 1846 On Oct. 1st. it will be 8 years since I began! but then I have lost 1 or 2 years by illness. began sorting notes for Species Theory.—


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.

Nunn, John. 1850. Narrative of the wreck of the ‘Favorite’ on the island of Desolation: detailing the adventures, sufferings, and privations of John Nunn. Edited by W. B. Clarke. London: William Edward Painter.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.

Westwood, John Obadiah. 1839–40. An introduction to the modern classification of insects; founded on the natural habits and corresponding organisation of the different families. 2 vols. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman.


On individuality.

Huxley’s review exquisite, but too severe on Vestiges; sorry for ridicule of Agassiz’s embryonic fishes.

Stonesfield mammals.

J. O. Westwood deserves Royal Society Medal.

Will begin species work in a few days.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 124
Physical description
ALS 10pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1588,” accessed on 30 May 2023,

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