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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [27 October or 3 November 1859]1

Wells Terrace, Ilkley Otley | Yorkshire


My dear Hooker

I have read your discussion, as usual, with great interest.2 The points are awfully intricate, almost at present beyond the confines of knowledge. The view which I should have looked at as perhaps most probable (though it hardly differs from yours) is that the whole world during the Secondary ages was inhabitedby Marsupials, Araucarias (mem fossil wood so common of this nature in S. America) Banksias &c, & that these were supplanted & exterminated in the greater area of the north, but were left alive in the south.—3 Whence these very ancient forms originally proceeded seems a hopeless enquiry.—

Your remarks on the passage of the northern forms southward, & of the southern forms of no kinds passing northward, seem to me grand.—4 Admirable, also, are your remarks on the struggle of vegetation: I find that I have rather misunderstood you, for I feared I differed from you, which I see is hardly the case at all.— I cannot help suspecting that you put rather too much weight to climate in case of Australia:5 La Plata seems to present such analogous facts, though I suppose the naturalisation of Europeans plants has there taken place on still larger scale than in Australia.

You see that I have no remarks worth sending— You use in first page “whose” funnily!

You will get 4 copies of my Book, one for self, & 3 for the foreign Botanists, in about 10 days or sooner,—ie as soon as the sheets can be bound in cloth. I hope this will not be too late for your parcel.—

When you read my volume, use your pencil, & score; so that sometime I may have a talk with you on any criticisms.—

I have been very bad lately; having had an awful “crisis” one leg swelled like elephantiasis—eyes almost closed up—covered with a rash & fiery Boils: but they tell me it will surely do me much good.— it was like living in Hell.—

Your affectly | C. Darwin


The dates are those of the two Thursdays preceding CD’s receipt of a bound copy of Origin (see letter from John Murray, 2 November 1859). Of the two, the earlier one seems most likely given CD’s comment that his book would be ready in ‘about 10 days or sooner’. However, this date leaves little time between Hooker’s receipt of the letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 October 1859], and the dispatch of the proof-sheets Hooker wished CD to see. The later date fits in with CD’s reference to having just recovered from a medical ‘crisis’. Emma Darwin’s diary records that CD returned to their rented house from a temporary visit to the Ilkley hydropathic establishment on 4 November 1859.
CD had agreed to read the proof-sheets of Hooker 1859 (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 October 1859]) in which Hooker discussed the fossil flora of Australia and its geology in relation to the existing flora and naturalised plants (Hooker 1859, pp. c--cvi).
Hooker cited Joseph Beete Jukes’s view that there was a large hiatus in the Australian fossil record during the epoch when Europe was apparently well stocked with marsupials and other ‘Australian’ forms (Hooker 1859, p. c). CD and Hooker had previously discussed Jukes’s views in relation to Hooker’s essay. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 December 1858.
Hooker 1859, p. civ.
Hooker 1859, p. cv. CD and Hooker had corresponded about this point in December 1858. See especially letter from J. D. Hooker, 22 December 1858, and letters to J. D. Hooker, 24 December [1858] and 31 December [1858].


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.


More detailed comments on JDH’s introductory essay [to Flora Tasmaniae]. Remarks on struggle of vegetation are admirable.

JDH will receive Origin in about ten days.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 25
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2512,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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