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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   23 February [1858]

Down Bromley Kent

Feb. 23d

My dear Hooker

There is no peace for the wicked in this world & if it goes in proportion you must be very wicked.— Here goes then,—Did D Sinclair bite at all about Clover & Bees:1 if so, & you wd. give me his address, I would write & ask him if he can find a gardener who was in any part of N. Z. before Bees were introduced & ask whether Kidney Beans &c set their pods well.—2 Though I fully believe that Bees are favourable to fertilisation of Leguminosæ; I do not believe that the extreme view of their necessity will hold good.

I have been enquiring about what Bees there are in N.Z. There are plenty of Andrænidæ, but F. Smith (nor I) ever saw them visit Leguminosæ.3 There are no known species of Apis or Bombus or Antherophoras known from N. Zealand, & these are only genera which F. Smith (or I) have ever seen visiting Leguminosæ. But F. Smith thinks that last genus probably does inhabit N. Zealand, though not so known.—

Would you give me deliberate answer to enclosed question on Classification & permit me, if I shd. require it, to quote your answer.— You can write it at tail of query.—

Lastly I am not at all easy about the biggest genera & their varieties: could you spare once again & for short time, vols. 10, 11. & 12 with Scroph: Labiat: & Acanthaceæ: I know I am unreasonable in this to give trouble of packing up & loss of use; but I cannot be easy without trying the sections.4 Yet if really inconvenient to spare them, I know you will say so, as that wd. be far pleasantest to me: if you do send them, send by enclosed address.—

I was not much struck with the great Buckle & I admired the way you stuck up about deduction & induction.—5 I heard that the other day that he met Ld. Lansdowne for first time in party, & fairly silenced the old man with his harangues!6 I am reading his Book, which with much sophistry as it seems to me, is wonderfully clever & original & with astounding knowledge.—7

I saw that you admired Mrs Farrers Questo tomba of Beethoven thoroughily; there is something grand in her sweet tones.8 My Brother, by the way, simply thinks Buckle the most infernal bore he ever met!9

Farewell, I have partly written this note to drive Bees-cells out of my head; for I am half mad on subject to try to make out some simple steps from which all the wondrous angles may result.—

I was very glad to see Mrs. Hooker on Friday; how well she appears to be & looks.10

Forgive your intolerable but affectionate friend | C. Darwin


Will you think on some of the largest genera with which you are well acquainted, & then suppose 45 of species utterly destroyed & unknown in the sections in (as it were) as much as possible in the centre of such great genera.— Then would the remaining 15 of the species, forming a few sections, be according to general practice of average good Botanists, be ranked as distinct genera.— Of course they would in that case be closely related genera. The question in fact is are all the species in a gigantic genus kept together in that genus, because they are really so very closely similar as to be inseparable; or is it because no chasms or boundaries can be drawn separating the many species.— The question might have been put for Orders.—


Andrew Sinclair, to whom CD seems to have addressed some queries (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 15 January [1858]).
See letters from J. D. Hooker, 15 January 1858 and [25] February [1858].
CD may have visited Frederick Smith during his recent stay in London, 16–20 February, having been told of Smith’s study of the nests of wasps (see letter from G. R. Waterhouse, 13 February 1858).
CD refers to Candolle and Candolle 1824–73 and the problems he was having in making calculations on the gigantic genera (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 February [1858]).
While in London, the Darwins had attended a dinner party on 19 February at which Henry Thomas Buckle was a guest (Emma Darwin’s diary). From Hooker’s reply (letter from J. D.Hooker, [25] February [1858]), it is clear that the party was given by Hensleigh and Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood and that the Hookers also attended. See also n. 9, below.
Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, third Marquess of Lansdowne. Buckle was notorious for his monologues.
CD recorded having read the first volume of Buckle 1857–61 early in 1858 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 23). He referred to it again in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 March [1858].
Thomas Henry Farrer had married Frances Erskine, Frances Mackintosh Wedgwood’s niece, in 1854. CD refers to Beethoven’s ‘Questa tomba oscura’ (1807).
CD later gave an account of this dinner party in Autobiography, pp. 109–10, where he agreed with Erasmus Alvey Darwin’s opinion of Buckle.
The enclosure is in DAR 114.4: 224b.


Autobiography: The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882. With original omissions restored. Edited with appendix and notes by Nora Barlow. London: Collins. 1958.

Buckle, Henry Thomas. 1857–61. History of civilization in England. 2 vols. London: John W. Parker & Son.

Candolle, Augustin Pyramus de and Candolle, Alphonse de. 1824–73. Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, sive enumeratio contracta ordinum generum specierumque plantarum huc usque cognitarum, juxta methodi naturalis normas digesta. 19 vols. Paris: Treuttel & Würtz [and others].

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


Fertilisation of clover by bees in New Zealand.

Uneasy about biggest genera and their varieties.

H. T. Buckle’s sophistry [History of civilisation in England (1857)].

Working on bees’ cells.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 224
Physical description
ALS 8pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2222,” accessed on 3 February 2023,

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