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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   10 [March 1858]



My dear Hooker

On my honour I am ashamed of myself, & I assure you that I will not for some considerable time make any troublesome request, if you will relend me Ledebour Flora Russica.—1 I will keep it only for short time, & will return it very soon, as I did the 3 last vols. of Decandolle.—

I find now that I am putting my notes together that I accidentally tabulated ranges of species on different principle to other cases, & I am quite confounded & put to a dead lock, until I have them done conformably.2 Can you spare them again?

Do pray forgive me & Believe me | Yours most humbly | C. Darwin

I presume you never found out any Flora of Holland;?3

I am in better heart about my tables of vars. in large & small genera, since trying them in various ways to test your serious objection.—

I have just got your note. Hearty thanks. I am so very glad you are got interested on subject, of highest importance for my doctrines.— I cannot collect never my wits at once to deliberate on your remarks, but I will & then write.—

I suppose you have correctly tabulated Weddell4 you say you have done it only roughly: it is very hostile indeed to me I shd. very much like to do it on principle on which I have invariably acted, whether right or wrong. viz to avoid getting only a few genera on the large side; as you have done it, you have only got 10 genera on one side. [SYMBOL] I fear that you cannot spare it for a week.5


Ledebour 1842–53. CD had borrowed this work from Hooker in 1857 (Correspondence vol. 6, letters to J. D. Hooker, 30 September [1857] and 14 [November 1857]).
CD believed he had evidence to show that common and widespread species tended to belong to the larger genera (Natural selection, pp. 140–5). His notes and calculations on the geographical range of varieties and species extracted from Ledebour 1842–53 are in DAR 15.2: 82–105.
CD had earlier borrowed Miquel 1837 from Hooker but had found it inadequate for his purposes (Correspondence vol. 6, letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 October 1857]). See Natural selection, p. 143.
Hooker’s note has not been found; it evidently contained the results of some calculations he made, using CD’s techniques, on data drawn from Weddell 1856.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Ledebour, Karl Friedrich von. 1842–53. Flora Rossica sive enumeratio plantarum in totius imperii Rossici provinciis Europaeis, Asiaticis et Americanis hucusque observatarum. 4 vols. Stuttgart. [Vols. 6,7]

Miquel, Frederich Anton Wilhelm. 1837. Disquisitio geographicobotanica de plantarum Regni Batavi distributione. Leiden. [Vols. 6,7]

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.

Weddell, Hugh Algernon. 1856. Monographie de la famille des Urticés. Paris.


Heartened that tabulations of small and large genera done in different ways yield good results. JDH has done some tabulations but has not followed CD’s method of getting equal numbers of small and large genera.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 227
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2237,” accessed on 31 October 2020,

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