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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   27 [November 1858]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I am so glad to hear that your interview passed over amicably with Murchison.2 I had never heard of his having treated the Botanists unfairly. I imagine from what I hear from Henslow that he was furious with us all. I had become very uneasy in my conscience & my old doubts had arisen very strong, whether the whole memorial was not a great mistake;3 so that hearing that the Prince & other Trustees &c &c are in earnest about the removal has removed every doubt I had about the wisdom of the Memorial, & I am proud to have signed it, though very little otherwise concerned with it. I think it will very likely prove that you have all done a great service to Natural History. How like Murchison to suppose that you had acted from selfish motives!4

What you say about the Cape Flora’s direct relation to Australia is a great trouble to me. Does not Abyssinia high-land, & the mountain on W. coast in some degree connect the extratropical floras of Cape & Australia? To my mind the enormous importance of Glacial Period rises daily stronger & stronger. I am very glad to hear about SE. & SW. Australia: I suspected after my letter was gone that the case must be as it is. You know of course that nearly same rule holds with Birds & Mammals.— Several years ago I reviewed in Annals of N. H. Waterhouses Mammalia, & speculated that these 2 corners, now separated by Gulfs & low land, must have existed as two large islands;5 but it is odd their productions have not become more mingled: but it accords with, I think, a very general rule in the spreading of organic beings.

I agree with what you say about Lyell; he learns more by word of mouth than by reading.—

Henslow has just gone, & has left me in a fit of enthusiastic admiration of his character.6 He is a really noble & good man

My dear Hooker | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


Dated by the reference to John Stevens Henslow having visited Down (see n. 6, below).
CD’s doubts had been expressed in letters to T. H. Huxley, 23 October [1858] and 3 November [1858], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 November [1858].
An allusion to the fact that the memorial of 18 November 1858 recommended that the British Museum should give its herbarium to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where Hooker was assistant director. See Appendix VI.
CD had suggested this in 1847 in his anonymous review in the Annals and Magazine of Natural History of the first volume of George Robert Waterhouse’s Natural history of Mammalia (Waterhouse 1846–8), which dealt with the Marsupialia. See Collected papers 1: 214–17. Hooker had discussed the possible origins of the south-western and south-eastern floras of Australia in Hooker 1859, pp. liv–lv. These pages are heavily annotated in CD’s copy (Darwin Library–CUL).
Henslow left Down on 27 November (Emma Darwin’s diary).


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Mammalia: Pt 2 of The zoology of the voyage of HMS Beagle. By George Robert Waterhouse. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1838–9.

Waterhouse, George Robert. 1846–8. A natural history of the Mammalia. 2 vols. London: H. Baillière.


Memorial concerning British Museum collection.

Relation of Cape of Good Hope and Australian flora a great trouble. CD’s high estimation of importance of glacial period for distribution.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 258
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2386,” accessed on 23 June 2021,

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