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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   12 March [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

March 12th

My dear Hooker

I ought to have written sooner to say, with hearty thanks, that the two Plants arrived quite safely on Friday morning.1

The Lyells went this morning.2 I had much talk most interesting to me. & it did not kill me to the extent which I expected. We talked over your Essays & agreed about the Book which you ought to make. What fine materials in all combined, including as Lyell remarked, the Galapagos papers!3 But I see in the Gardeners’ Chron: that you have started on a gigantic task with Bentham.4 By the way I now quite understand Bentham’s silence on the modification of species.—5

When will you come here? Pray do not forget what pleasure it would give us: & I would get Huxley to come, so that if I were knocked up, you would have a companion.—   Do not forget us & do not put off for an indefinite period coming here. There are lots of things I want to talk over.—

Ever yours affecly | C. Darwin


Hooker sent CD living specimens of Leschenaultia formosa from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. CD had requested specimens of the genus Goodenia, a closely related group of plants with a two-lipped corolla, in order to investigate the plants’ mechanism of pollination (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 February or 4 March 1860]). CD’s experiments on the plants that Hooker supplied are recorded in his Experimental book, pp. 50–1 (DAR 157a). The first entry is headed: ‘Ap. 18/60/ Leschenaultia formosa from Kew (Goodnenaciaciæ)’. The correct spelling of the family name is Goodeniaceae.
Emma Darwin’s diary records that Mary Elizabeth Lyell and Charles Lyell visited Down from 9 to 12 March 1860. Lyell made notes on several of his discussions with CD in his scientific journal (Wilson ed. 1970, pp. 357–64). Some of Lyell’s entries are dated 13 March 1860. Among the subjects discussed, as indicated by Lyell, were progression and specialisation in animals, the geology of the Weald, various criticisms of Origin, Asa Gray’s review of Origin ([Gray] 1860a), and Hooker’s essay on the plants of the Galápagos Islands (see n. 3, below). CD evidently showed Lyell several letters he had received about Origin, for they were copied into Lyell’s journal during the visit.
Lyell had recorded in his journal: ‘Hooker’s Galapagos paper good’ (Wilson ed. 1970, p. 362). The reference is probably to Hooker 1847a and 1847b. He may also have read an earlier paper by Hooker on a new genus of Portulacaceae from the Galápagos Islands (Hooker 1846). CD had suggested that Hooker compile his published materials into a new volume (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February [1860]).
An announcement in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 3 March 1860, p. 189, stated that Hooker and George Bentham intended to produce a new Genera plantarum that would list all the known genera of plants with their synonyms. According to the editor of the Gardeners’ Chronicle, John Lindley, ‘No work in natural history is more needed’. The first part of the first volume was issued in 1862 (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83).
Hooker’s letter, in which he discussed Bentham’s reaction to Origin, has not been found, but see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 March [1860].


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.


Lyell and CD would urge JDH to make his essays into a book, but see he has embarked on a huge project with G. Bentham [Genera plantarum, 3 vols. (1862–83)].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 46
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2728,” accessed on 10 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8