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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   8 April [1857]1

Down Bromley Kent

Ap— 8th

My dear Hooker

Drege contains no materials for seeing range of genera, so I return it by Deliverance Coy., & I hope you will get it safe by Thursday night or Friday morning.—2

I now want to ask your opinion & for facts on a point; & as I shall often want to do this during next year or two; so let me say once for all, that you must not take trouble out of mere goodnature (of which towards me you have a most abundant stock) but you must consider, in regard to trouble any question may take, whether you think it worth while, (as all loss of time so far lessens your original work) to give me facts to be quoted on your authority in my work. Do not think I shall be disappointed if you cannot spare time; for already I have profited enormously from your judgment & knowledge.— I earnestly beg you to act as I suggest, & not take trouble solely out of goodnature.—

My point is as follows—Harvey gives cases of Fucus varying remarkably, & yet in same way under most different conditions. D. Don makes same remark in regard to Juncus bufonius in England & India.— Polygala vulgaris has white red & blue flowers in Faröe, England, & I think Herbert says in Zante.3

Now such cases seem to me very striking, as showing how little relation some variations have to climatal conditions.

Do you think there are many such cases? Does Oxalis corniculata present exactly same varieties under very different climates?

How is it with any other British plants in N. Zealand, or at foot of Himalaya?— Will you think over this & let me hear result.—4

One other question; do you remember, whether the introduced Sonchus in N. Zealand, was less, equally, or more common than the aboriginal stock of same species, where both occurred together: I forget whether there is any other case parallel with this curious one of the Sonchus.—

My wife starts with Etty on Thursday for Hastings: she is no better.—5

I have been making good, though slow, progress with my Book, for facts have been falling nicely into groups, enlightening each other.—

My dear Hooker | Farewell | C. Darwin


The year is given by the reference to Emma and Henrietta Emma Darwin’s trip to Hastings (see n. 5, below).
Polygala vulgaris is common milkwort. Harvey 1849, Don 1841, and Herbert 1846 are all cited in Natural selection, p. 284.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [11 April 1857]. In Natural selection, p. 284, CD stated that while he believed these instances were not common, ‘Dr. Hooker thinks a good many could be collected’.
Henrietta Darwin’s health had begun to fail in 1856. In August 1856, CD had taken her to London to consult Benjamin Collins Brodie (Emma Darwin’s diary). In March 1857 Henrietta’s condition worsened, and on 9 April Emma took her to the seaside resort of Hastings, Sussex, where Henrietta remained until 12 May (Emma Darwin’s diary).


Don, David. 1841. An account of the Indian species of Juncus and Luzula. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 18: 317–26.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Independence of variation from climate shown by several plant genera; CD asks for confirmation.

Progressing with book [Natural selection].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 191
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2073,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

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