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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   25 [December 1859]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

I never thought about the Book belonging to the Public Library.—1 It is extra-ordinarily kind of Sir William letting me have Books: on some former occasions I do not know what I could have done without this great kindness.—2 I will return it next week, by the Carrier & from London by Parcels delivery, which I shd think was very safe channel.—

I shall not write to Decaisne:3 I have always had a strong feeling that no one had better defend his own priority: I cannot say that I am as indifferent to subject as I ought to be; but one can avoid doing anything in consequence.

I do not believe one iota about your having assimilated any of my notions unconsciously—you have always done me more than justice. But I do think I did you a bad turn by getting you to read the old M.S, as it must have checked your own original thoughts.4 There is one thing I am fully convinced of that the future progress (which is the really important point) of the subject will have depended on really good & well-known workers, like yourself Lyell & Huxley, having taken up the subject, than on my own work.— I see plainly it is this that strikes my non-scientific friends.—

Last night I said to myself I would just cut your Introduction, but would not begin to read—but I broke down & had a good hour’s read.5

Farewell | Yours affect | C. Darwin

You are prouder than I am, for I am very glad to hear that Grove patted Lyell & me on the back.—6

Some weeks ago, Lyell told me that he had been rereading your Review & N.Z. Flora & looking over De Candolle, so I shd. think he ought to know which is yours.—7

I had letter yesterday from L. warm with interest & admiration of your Australian Introduction.—8


Probably the volume of Revue Horticole that included Naudin 1852. The ‘Public Library’ was the collection of books belonging to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
William Jackson Hooker had often lent CD works from the Hookers’ private library and from Kew when he was preparing his species manuscript. See Correspondence vol. 6.
Joseph Decaisne had pointed out to Hooker the similarity between CD’s theory and work published by Charles Victor Naudin (Naudin 1852). See letters to J. D. Hooker, 21 [December 1859] and23 [December 1859].
Hooker had, earlier in the year, read the manuscript copy of CD’s two chapters on geographical distribution (Origin, pp. 346–410) (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 March [1859]). In 1856, he had read CD’s previous chapter on geographical distribution and a manuscript on large and small genera (Natural selection, pp. 534–66, 134–71). See Correspondence vol. 6. He had also read the complete manuscript of CD’s essay of 1844 (Foundations) in 1847 (see Correspondence vol. 4).
CD received a copy of Hooker 1859 on 22 December (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 [December 1859]). He refers to cutting open the pages of the volume so that it could be read.
William Robert Grove was one of the founding members of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society. The occasion was probably the meeting of the club on 22 December 1859 (see Bonney 1919, p. 147); the minutes of the Philosophical Club (Royal Society) do not indicate what might have been said.
CD refers to Hooker’s review of A. de Candolle 1855 ([Hooker] 1856), Hooker’s work on the plants of New Zealand (Hooker 1853–5), and A. de Candolle 1855. For Charles Lyell’s views on the relationship between Hooker’s work and that of Alphonse de Candolle, see K. M. Lyell ed. 1881,2: 327–8.
The letter has not been found, but see the letter to Charles Lyell, 22 [December 1859].


Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

Candolle, Alphonse de. 1855. Géographie botanique raisonnée ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle. 2 vols. Paris: Victor Mason. Geneva: J. Kessmann.

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

Foundations: The foundations of the Origin of Species. Two essays written in 1842 and 1844 by Charles Darwin. Edited by Francis Darwin. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1909. [Reprint edition. New York: Kraus Reprint Co. 1969. Also reprinted in De Beer ed. 1958.]

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1853–5. Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ. 2 vols. Pt 2 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Lovell Reeve.

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.

Naudin, Charles Victor. 1852. Considérations philosophiques sur l’espèce et la variété. Revue Horticole 4th ser. 1: 102–9.

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.


CD will not write to L. Descaisne to defend his priority over C. V. Naudin.

Feels success of theory depends on acceptance and application by good and well-known workers, like JDH, Huxley, and Lyell.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 31
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2602,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

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