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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   11–12 November [1856]1

Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 11th.—

My dear Hooker

I thank you more cordially that you will think probable, for your note.2 Your verdict has been a great relief.— On my honour I had no idea whether or not you would say it was (& I knew you would say it very kindly) so bad, that you would have begged me to have burnt the whole. To my own mind my M.S relieved me of some few difficulties, & the difficulties seemed to me pretty fairly stated, but I had become so bewildered with conflicting facts, evidence, reasoning & opinions, that I felt to myself that I had lost all judgment.— Your general verdict is incomparably more favourable than I had anticipated.

Very many thanks for your invitation: I had made up my mind on my poor wifes account not to come up to next Phil. Club; but I am so much tempted by your invitation, & my poor dear wife is so goodnatured about it, that I think I shall not resist, ie if she does not get worse.— I wd. come to dinner at about same time as before, if that wd suit you & I do not hear to contrary, & wd. go away by the early train ie about 9 olock.— I find my present work tries me a good deal & sets my heart palpitating, so I must be careful.— But I shd. so much like to see Henslow, & likewise meet Lindley if the fates will permit.3 You will see, whether there will be time for any criticism in detail on my M.S. before dinner. Not that I am in the least hurry, for it will be months before I come again to Geograph. Distrib.; only I am afraid of your forgetting any remarks.—

I do not know whether my very trifling observations on means of distribution are worth your reading, but it amuses me to tell them.

The seeds which the Eagle had in stomach for 18 hours looked so fresh that I would have bet 5 to 1 they would all have grown; but some kinds were all killed & 2 oats 1 Canary seed, 1 Clover & 1 Beet alone came up! now I shd. have not cared swearing that the Beet wd. not have been killed, & I shd have fully expected that the Clover would have been.— These seeds, however, were kept for 3 days in moist pellets damp with gastric juice after being ejected which would have helped to have injured them.—4

Lately I have been looking during few walks at excrement of small birds; I have found 6 kinds of seeds, which is more than I expected. Lastly I have had a partride with 22 grains of dry earth on one foot, & to my surprise a pebble as big as a tare seed; & I now understand how this is possible for the bird scartches itself, & little plumose feathers make a sort of very tenacious plaister. Think of the millions of migratory quails, & it wd. be strange if some plants have not been transported across good arms of the sea.—5

Talking of this, I have just read your curious Raoul Isd paper:6 this looks more like a case of continuous land, or perhaps of several intervening, now lost, islands, than any, (according to my heteredox notions) I have yet seen; the concordance of the vegetation seems so complete with New Zealand & with that land alone.

I have read Salters paper, & can hardly stomach it: I wonder whether the lighters were ever used to carry grain & Hay to ships?—7

Adios, my dear Hooker, I thank you most honestly for your assistance,—assistance by the way now spread over some dozen years.—

Farewell | C. Darwin

P.S. Wednesday

I see from my wife’s expression that she does not really much like my going, & therefore I must give up of course this pleasure.— If you shd. have anything to discuss about my M.S. I see that I cd. get to you by about 12, & then cd. return by the 2o 19’ olock train & be home by 512 oclock, & thus I shd. get 2 hours talk.— But it would be a considerable exertion for me, & I would not undertake it for mere pleasure sake, but would very gladly for my Book’s sake.—


Dated by the relationship to the letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 November 1856.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 November 1856, in which Hooker invited CD to dinner on Wednesday, 12 November, to meet John Lindley and John Stevens Henslow, or on Friday 14 November, to meet John Tyndall and Henslow. CD attended neither dinner but did go up to London on 13 November (see letter to George Howard Darwin and W. E. Darwin, 13 [November 1856]).
CD recorded this case on 19 October 1856 in his Experimental book, p. 15 (DAR 157a). Following the entry, CD added: ‘(Nov. 13th. Nothing came up.)’.
J. D. Hooker 1857.
James Salter had reported that mud scraped from the bottom of Poole harbour in 1843 and deposited on the shore eventually gave rise to a vegetation different from that of the surrounding area (J. Salter 1857).


Salter, John William. 1857. On some new Palæozoic star-fishes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 2d ser. 20: 321–334.


CD relieved by JDH’s positive response to his MS.

CD continues observations on means of transport.

JDH’s Raoul Island paper [J. Linn. Soc. Lond. (Bot.) 22 (1857): 133–41], showing continuity of vegetation with New Zealand, best evidence yet of continental extension.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 181
Physical description
ALS 10pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1986,” accessed on 18 July 2024,

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