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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [24 March 1863]1

Royal Gardens Kew


Dear Darwin

I have been looking at Poplars. Most of the Trees are so big, that one would require a ladder to examine.2

One nice young tree of P. canescens is covered with ♂ catkins, I find no honey secreted, any where, I see no bees or other insects about the tree, & I find the pollen to be shed in great quantity in the powdery form.

This is all I have made out as yet.

I forgot last Sunday to ask you about Reversion, I am so glad you have taken up the subject.3 I do not understand you in saying that the child inherits nothing from its Grandparents except you mean (what I think you imply) that the Gndparents’ properties, if developed by the grdchild, were latent in the parent—& which I entirely believe—4 I wholly disbelieve Lyell’s dogma that a talented child can be born of untalented parents.5 In the case of every one of my Gdparents (Turners’)6 numerous grand children, I can descry some of his many wonderful qualities (bad good & indifferent), some patent in their parents, others latent but producible & I do not believe that one has a quality of its Grd parents, that was not transmitted through its parent.

I now well remember that the P.S. note to my Australian Essay was added to the 3d. Revise of the sheet, after receiving the “Origin” from you, & it was its actual distribution that prompted the reference in the P.S.—7

Falconer is implacable & takes a most violent & most prejudiced view of Lyell— I had at him in vain; & Lubbock did his very best too, seperately— F. was far too far gone to care whether Owen would enjoy it or not. From Fs. tone it will be a very severe affair.8

Lubbock in N.H. Review, had in a note called attention to Lyell’s “doing injustice” to Prestwich & Falconer.9 I mollified the expression “injustice” in Lubbock’s paper (which was friendly & apologetic)   I am deeply sorry for it, but what can one do—? I do think Lyells first XII chapters a complete mess.10

Oliver asks if you have a spare copy of the Linum paper, he would be greatly obliged for one.11

I do not know what to think of Tropical plants during cold period— As to their living through it, it is an impossibility— I quite go along with you in suggesting as many Tertiary or Secondary cold periods of migrations as you please.—12 But that such an Order as Dipterocarpeæ, whose species are all ultra tropical, all trees,—containing many diverse genera & species, should have survived a cold period, or been developed since, are equally preposterous surmises in the present state of science.

It was very kind of you to keep my medallion passion in mind, I do hope those you mentioned will turn up—13 I should extremely like a cast of that of your Grandfather for our Museum here, & asked Woolner the Sculptor, who offered to have it done without any injury whatever, if you did not object to lend it for the purpose.—14 It is immensely valuable, so I shall not be vexed if you decline.

Falconer was so superlatively jocund at Lubbocks, I did wish you had been there to hear.15

If ever you find any local application do good to your Eczema, pray let me know, as my Fathers is getting bad again.16

I had a very jolly walk back in 1h. 48”. to the house, & found the Busks & Tyndall arrived for dinner.17

I have not forgotten Edwardsia.18

I have a little girl down with bad sore throat not Diptheria thank God, something is evidently going through the family.19

Ever yours affec | J D Hooker

I hope I am not too severe on Lyells first Chapters—20 the state of case is thus.—

I read first & second with delight, those reminded me of the Principles21—& after a long interval I skimmed III–X & was struck with the appearances of Lyells want of faith in all Prestwichs observations & facts—till ratified by his (Lyells) going down to spot & examining for himself—in short a decided appearance of suppression of credit due to Ps. originality & accuracy.22

I then reread all very carefully, but could hardly justify my last verdict, & got quite confused & am so still.

I quite agree with you as to want of originality of whole work, but I expected no originality.—

CD annotations

1.1 I have … examine. 1.2] crossed brown crayon
3.1 This is … yet.] before closing square bracket, brown crayon
4.1 Reversion,] underl brown crayon
4.1 I am so … indifferent), 4.8] crossed pencil
4.8 I do not … parent. 4.10] scored brown crayon
7.4 chapters … mess.] underl brown crayon
9.1 I do not … impossibility— 9.2] scored brown crayon
9.4 But that … trees, 9.5] double scored brown crayon
10.1 I do hope … up— 10.2] scored brown crayon
10.3 who offered … purpose.— 10.5] double scored brown crayon
12.1 If ever … again. 12.2] double scored brown crayon
18.2 & was struck … himself— 18.4] double scored brown crayon


The date is established by the reference to Hooker’s visit to Down on 22 March 1863 (see n. 3, below); the following Tuesday was 24 March 1863.
CD asked Hooker for information on pollination in poplars in his letter of 13 [March 1863].
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1863] and n. 20. Hooker visited Down House on 22 March 1863, while on a visit to John Lubbock’s house at Chislehurst, Kent (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 March 1863]).
C. Lyell 1863a, pp. 504–5.
Hooker’s maternal grandparents were the banker and botanist Dawson Turner, and Mary Turner.
In C. Lyell 1863a, p. 417, Charles Lyell had claimed that J. D. Hooker 1859 was published several months before Origin, whereas it was actually published a month after Origin. Hooker had also been confused over their respective dates of publication (see letter from J. D. Hooker, [15 March 1863] and n. 7, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1863] and n. 3). Hooker ended his essay with a postscript, the last paragraph of which (J. D. Hooker 1859, p. cxxviii) read: I would further observe here, to avoid ambiguity, that my friend Mr. Darwin’s just completed work ‘On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection,’ from the perusal of much of which in MS. I have profited so largely, had not appeared during the printing of this Essay, or I should have largely quoted it.
Hugh Falconer was angry about what he considered to be Lyell’s failure properly to acknowledge his work, and that of Joseph Prestwich, in Antiquity of man (C. Lyell 1863a; see letters from J. D. Hooker, [6 March 1863] and [15 March 1863]). Hooker refers to conversations that took place at Lubbock’s house on 22 March 1863 (see n. 3, above). Earlier in the year, Falconer had been involved in a vigorous dispute with Richard Owen, who had subsequently also been criticised in, and was critical of, Lyell’s book (see, for example, letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 January [1863] and n. 2, and letter from J. D. Hooker, [23 February 1863] and n. 2).
Hooker refers to Lubbock’s review of C. Lyell 1863a, which appeared in the number of the Natural History Review for April 1863 ([Lubbock 1863c]); Hooker must have seen the review in manuscript while visiting Lubbock (see n. 3, above). In the published version ([Lubbock] 1863c, p. 214), Lubbock stated: ‘Though … we think that Sir Charles scarcely gives due prominence to the labours of his predecessors in these investigations, and especially to those of Dr. Falconer and Mr. Prestwich, we are quite satisfied that this is unintentional.’
C. Lyell 1863a. See also letter from J. D. Hooker, [1 March 1863] and n. 12.
CD’s paper, ‘Two forms in species of Linum, was read before the Linnean Society on 5 February 1863. It was published in the number of the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) that was issued on 13 May 1863 (General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society, p. vi). However, CD obtained a number of offprints of the paper in mid-April for distribution to those who he considered would be interested; Daniel Oliver’s name appears on CD’s presentation list (see Correspondence vol. 11, Appendix IV). Oliver had previously requested a copy of the paper in order to give an abstract of it in the Natural History Review, of which he was one of the editors (see letter from Daniel Oliver, 27 February 1863). He apparently wrote the abstract that was published in the July 1863 issue of the journal ([Oliver] 1863d; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 14 July [1863]).
Hooker was an avid collector of Wedgwood ware (see letters from J. D. Hooker, 6 January 1863, [16 February 1863], and [6 March 1863]). Hooker and CD apparently discussed the subject during Hooker’s visit to Down House of 22 March 1863.
Thomas Woolner. Hooker refers to a Wedgwood medallion of Erasmus Darwin and to the museum of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
See n. 3, above.
Both CD and William Jackson Hooker had been diagnosed as suffering from eczema in 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, 2 July 1862).
See n. 3, above. The references are to George and Ellen Busk, and to John Tyndall.
The reference is to either Harriet Anne or Maria Elizabeth Hooker.
See n. 10, above.
See n. 8, above.


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

General index to the Journal of the Linnean Society: General index to the first twenty volumes of the Journal (Botany), and the botanical portion of the Proceedings, November 1838 to June 1886, of the Linnean Society. London: Linnean Society of London. 1888.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1859. On the flora of Australia, its origin, affinities, and distribution; being an introductory essay to the flora of Tasmania. London: Lovell Reeve.

Lyell, Charles. 1830–3. Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation. 3 vols. London: John Murray.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Has been looking at separation of sexes in poplars.

Interested in reversion.

Does not understand all CD said on inheritance.

JDH now remembers that Origin was "published" some time before it was "distributed" and therefore appeared prior to his own essay [see also 2478].

Impossible to say whether some Dipterocarpaceae survived a cold period or have developed since.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 154, DAR 101: 123–5
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2027,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11