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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   6 May [1859]

Down Bromley Kent

May 6th

My dear Hooker

Thanks for advice about Reversion & clearness. When I go over 1st Ch. I will see what I can do.— But I hardly know how I am obscure; & I think we are somehow in a mutual muddle with respect to each other, from starting from some fundamentally different notions.—1

Confound the Acacias, say I.— A very little experiment, would, I think be worth trying, if you have 2 trees of same species; take pollen from one, ((that grown under any to most different circumstances) & dust the stigmas well 2 or 3 times of same half-dozen or dozen flowers on the other tree at intervals of a day or two, & see whether that will improve the chance of setting seed.—2

I am very glad to hear that you will look to Goodenia.—3

Yours affect. | C. Darwin

The dusting with pollen shd. be done in morning.


CD’s opinion was published in Origin, pp. 14–15 and 159–67. Hooker’s views on reversion were given in Hooker 1859, pp. viii–ix. CD’s copy of Hooker 1859 is in the Darwin Library–CUL; these pages were annotated by CD, and three passages are marked ‘good’. See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 May [1859].
CD and Hooker had evidently discussed the question of cross-pollination in Acacia and Goodenia when Hooker had visited Down in April. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 July [1859].


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


JDH’s comments on style of Origin MS leave CD confused.

CD advises on how to get Acacia to set seed.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 14
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2458,” accessed on 13 April 2024,

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