skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   29 [May 1860]1

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

Your letter contained two capital pieces of news, that Mrs. Hooker’s troubles are safely over which is a real blessing,2 & that the Admiralty should have been liberal.3 I truly rejoice at this, though of course the remuneration is as nothing to the labour expended.—   Many thanks for Harvey’s letter,4 which I will keep a little longer & then return.—   I will write to him & try to make clear, from analogy of domestic productions, the part which I believe Selection has played.5 I have been reworking my pigeons & other domestic animals & I am sure that anyone is right in saying that Selection is the efficient cause, though as you truly say variation is the base of all.—

Why I do not believe so much as you do in Physical agencies, is that I see in almost every organism (though far more clearly in animals than in plants) adaptation, & this except in rare instance must, I shd. think, be due to selection.—

Do not forget the Pyrolas when in flower. My blessed little Scævola has come into flower & I will try artificial fertilisation on it.—

Yours ever affect | C. Darwin

I have looked over Harvey’s letter & have assumed (I hope rightly) that he could not object to knowing that you had forwarded it to me.—


The endorsement is confirmed by the reference to the Hookers‘ new baby (see n. 2, below).
Brian Harvey Hodgson Hooker was born on 27 May 1860.
The reference has not been traced. It may possibly relate to the publishing of Hooker 1859, the costs of which Hooker had primarily borne. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February [1860].
William Henry Harvey corresponded with Hooker in May and June 1860 about the theological implications of CD’s theory. A letter from Hooker to Harvey dated 26 May 1860 indicates that Harvey had written a long letter to Hooker discussing natural selection, which is probably the one referred to here. See L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 516–20.
CD’s letter to Harvey has not been found. See, however, letter to W. H. Harvey, [20–4 September 1860].


Convinced selection is the efficient cause. Less convinced of physical causes than JDH because he sees adaptation everywhere and that must be due to selection.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 58
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2816,” accessed on 25 October 2021,

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