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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [before 7 March 1855]1

My dear Darwin

I have been hunting every where in vain for Godron,2 which I have not only seen, but read, since I came home from India. I shall not rest till I have ferretted it out— I thought it uncommonly little to the purpose, if I do not greatly err— the only thing I cannot reconcile is, my not having corresponded with you about it. Your tabulation of the Colonists3 is very curious & though subject to great fluctuations, I think that these are in a great measure reducible. Thus the Cruciferae are azoto philists & they follow man, but their presence is perhaps not to be attributed to the same causes that brought the Caryophyllae wh. are chiefly corn field plants. The individual species should however be scrutinized before you make any use of the data, & I shall be delighted to do this whenever you are ready.

I am going on with the Tasmanian Flora4 & find the subject very interesting— some of the scarcest & most local alpine plants reappear on the isolated summits of the Australian Alps, & thence too I have the English Sagina procumbens, which, so far as I know, has not been found in the South hemisp: except in the Falklands (this wants study though)

I am also preparing as I go on for a general work on the Geog. distrib of the whole Australian Flora—5 this is ambitious, but it is really the most extraordinary thing in the world.— The Flora of Swan river i.e. of extratrop S.W. Australia will I believe turn out to be the most peculiar on the Globe & specifically quite distinct from that of N. S. Wales—also generically to a much greater degree than any two similarly situated areas.

I returned yesterday from Thomson’s6 marriage at Bath, he has left for India via France. I spoke to Bennett7 about the Linn. Soc. & you are to have any reasonable number of volumes for a reasonable time but please do not talk about it. We are I hope really about to have a reform in the Linnean8 & get a first rate Natural History Journal established; I have been moving heaven & earth to get the Linnean to organize it & enlist contributors & subscribers & have such a thorough reform as shall bring us members, attendance & subscriptions— Natural Science languishes in this country for support & plenty are ready to

CD annotations

crossed brown crayon
1.5 though subject to great] cross added brown crayon, del brown crayon
1.10 whenever you are ready.] cross added brown crayon
crossed brown crayon
4.2 Bennett] scored brown crayon


Dated by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 March [1855].
Godron 1848–9. CD did read this work but did not record when he did so (see Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *128: 177).
CD was compiling lists of plants which might have arrived in various geographical areas by dispersal or migration.
The flora of Australia is discussed in the introductory essay of Flora Tasmaniæ (J. D. Hooker 1855–60).
Thomas Thomson, Hooker’s companion on the Indian expedition, had been working with him on Flora Indica (J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1855).
The reforms included the establishment of an annual presidential address, discussion by fellows of the papers read at each meeting, changes in the finances, and the establishment of the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society. According to Gage 1938, p. 120, the project of starting a journal, rather than extending the scope of the Proceedings, was discussed by Thomas Bell, George Bentham, and Hooker at a dinner party in Bentham’s flat in Victoria Street on 2 March 1855.


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

Gage, Andrew Thomas. 1938. A history of the Linnean Society of London. London: Linnean Society of London.

Godron, Dominique Alexandre. 1848–9. De l’espèce et des races dans les êtres organisés du monde actuel. Mémoires de la Société Royale des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de Nancy (1848): 182–288; De l’espèce considérée dans les êtres organisés, appartenant aux périodes géologiques qui ont précédé celle où nous vivons. Mémoires de la Société des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de Nancy (1849): 381-420. Reprinted separately. 2 vols. Nancy. 1848–9.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1855–60. Flora Tasmaniæ. Pt 3 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM Discovery Ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. 2 vols. London.


CD’s tabulation of colonists curious but explicable.

Working on Tasmanian flora; contemplating general essay on Australian distribution: Tasmania and Australia same alpine species; Swan River flora very peculiar and quite distinct from New South Wales.

Trying to establish new journal at Linnean.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 104: 216–17
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1638,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

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