skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   15 January [1858]1

Down Bromley Kent

Jan. 15th

My dear Hooker

My note on papilionaceous flowers crossed yours on the road; & for it I am much obliged for it told me a good deal of news. Though that about Henslow I am truly grieved to hear; I had thought his heart had got quite right again.—2 I saw the death of Miss Jenyns in the paper.—3

I enclose some queries for Dr. 4 but I suppose he will think them too troublesome & trifling to be attended to.

I do not see that the musk ox, of which remains have been found in Siberia, is any great difficulty for I have never for one second doubted the possibility, nay probability of such slight changes as the union of the shallow Behring’s Straits.—5 Your Indian Mysore & Carnatic plants in tropical Australia seems to me a more curious case.6

I am very doubtful whether I shall be up for Club;7 owing to Boys holidays drawing to a close, & sickness in our house. My wife often ails, & Lenny has very frequent bad days with badly intermittent pulse.—8 We escaped a considerable anxiety in George having apparently a regular low fever, but it died away & has spoiled only a fortnight of his holidays.9 Oh health, health, you are my daily & nightly bug-bear & stop all enjoyment in life. Etty keeps very weak.—10 But I really beg pardon, it is very foolish & weak to howl this way. Everyone has got his heavy burthen in this world.—

I shd. like to come up; if it were only just to see you & Lyell, who must be brimming full of geological news.11

Farewell | My dear Hooker | Yours affecy | C. Darwin

P.S. | I have just got your letter for which thanks. The Clover case was published in the “New Zealand Journal” date not given but republished in Gardeners Chronicle Dec. 16. 1843.—12

Humble-bees, I believe, are mundane in their distribution; but I do not know how it is in small islands. Bees are more confined in their visits to particular flowers, than you seem to be aware.— I daresay the Clover case may break down, & I shd. not have thought about it, had not so many facts, all vague, all pointed in same direction.

I cannot come up so soon as Tuesday, for we have relations in House:13 I doubt much whether I shall be up for Thursday



The endorsement is confirmed by the relationship to the preceding letter.
There must have been news of John Stevens Henslow’s poor health in the missing part of the preceding letter. He was 62 years old.
The death of Jemima Maria Hicks Jenyns, aged 29, was announced in The Times, 12 January 1858, p. 1. She was Henslow’s niece and Frances Harriet Hooker’s cousin.
CD apparently forgot to add the name or initial when he started a new page of his letter. From the context, it seems probable that he intended to refer to Andrew Sinclair (see preceding letter). Sinclair had been a naval surgeon before entering the colonial service.
CD refers to the hypothesis that land-bridges existed between continents in former geological periods. He had long felt that naturalists should not invoke land-bridges to explain the geographical distribution of plants and animals without first considering the different ways that organisms might have been transported over the intervening sea. However, as he states in this letter, he did not doubt that in a few cases, such as the Behring Straits, land-bridges might previously have existed. Hooker, on the other hand, believed that sea transportation between land masses was too infrequent and accidental to be the main means of dispersal (Hooker 1853–5, 1: xx–xxvii). CD and Hooker had discussed the point at length (see Correspondence vol. 6, especially letters to J. D. Hooker, 19 July [1856] and 30 July [1856], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 August 1856).
The Philosophical Club of the Royal Society, of which both CD and Hooker were members, met monthly. A meeting was held on 21 January 1858 (Bonney 1919, p. 137).
Leonard Darwin, who had just turned 8, had experienced a breakdown in his health in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, 30 September [1857], and n. 13). Emma Darwin recorded Leonard’s fluctuating ill health in several entries in her diary in February and March 1858.
George Howard Darwin, aged 13, was attending Clapham Grammar School. Emma Darwin recorded in her diary that ‘G. went to school’ on 1 February 1858.
Henrietta Emma Darwin, aged 15, had suffered poor health throughout much of the previous year. The Darwins had sent her to Edward Wickstead Lane’s hydropathic establishment in Moor Park, Surrey, for several weeks on two separate occasions in 1857 (see Correspondence vol. 6).
Charles and Mary Elizabeth Lyell had travelled in Switzerland and Italy from August to December 1857, during which time Lyell had geologised extensively. After his return, he reported in January 1858: ‘My tour was unusually profitable, first in the glaciers and then the volcanos.’ (K. M. Lyell ed. 1881, 2: 279).
Emma Darwin’s brother Josiah Wedgwood III and his wife Caroline, CD’s sister, arrived with their family at Down on 15 January 1858 (Emma Darwin’s diary).


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

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

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1853–5. Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ. 2 vols. Pt 2 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. London: Lovell Reeve.


CD has never doubted probability of Bering Strait land connection.

Family illness.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 221
Physical description
ALS 6pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2203,” accessed on 19 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7