skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   8 June 1860


June 8 | /60

My dear Darwin

We are much relieved by your good news of dear Etty    What a long trial the poor thing has had. I suppose you look to change of air as the next measure when practicable. I shall be anxious to know where you will go.

Your observations on Scævola are capital.1 I am sure you are right about the horns being the stigmata, I know them well to be so, but I will look to S. microcarpa again with especial interest—   The Indusium collecting the pollen is a splendid fact, as it is undoubtedly the homologue of the hairs of Campanula, & indeed I consider Goodeniaceæ only a tribe of Campanulaceæ including Lobeliaceæ. Our Leschenaultia does nothing    how should it in this miserable weather—so different from Kg. Gs Sound.2 The genus is almost confined to S.W. Australia if not altogether so.

I expect to find that the horns are protruded from the boat shaped organ; or rather from the bottom of it: for if my memory serves me right the boat shaped organ is a second indusium whose base inside is stigmatic surface & afterwards protrudes as horns.—   Just as base inside of cup of Leschenaultia is stigmatic & the glandular fold outside indusium of Leschenaultia is I take it a rudimentary breaking up of indusium into two concentric ones.

I am, as you rightly suppose, extremely interested in the progress of opinion on Species, it amuses & instructs me. I do not despair of Harvey—   I may tell you that I have purposely kept his printed affair from you till he has settled a little—3 he will I expect take up the subject at the Gooseberry season4 You know he never had any Education in Science at all; & calls himself an Amateur only,—lays no claim to be philosophical or scientific— he was brought up a Quaker & his MD is purely honorary    he took up Botany as another takes up coins, or seals—without a notion of ever being scientific— his science has grown on him    he has not raised it. If you consider this you will agree with me that his letter is an interesting & not despicable one.5 He is all wrong in his reasoning on biform fruit of Algæ.— how can it tend to preserve species? I am inclined to agree with his meaning at lines 2–6 of p. 3, but there again he is not clear    N.S.6 is not dependent on variability in any logical sense—   As to the question of personality it is simply ridiculous—   I agree with him & you too that the real primary agency is as great a mystery as ever, call it mystery or theistic element or God or nature or what he will, unseen Power if he likes. How odd that people should not

CD annotations

0.1 My … will go. 1.3] crossed pencil
4.1 I am, … should not 4.16] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘June 11/1860’ pencil


Leschenaultia is a genus of Australian shrubs commonly found in south-west Australia near King George’s Sound.
Hooker refers to William Henry Harvey’s privately printed pamphlet, On the origin of the human animal (1860). CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. In the preface, dated 21 February 1860, Harvey refers to it as ‘a serio-comic squib’. Harvey sent it to CD in October (see letter from W. H. Harvey, 8 October 1860).
Gooseberry season: ‘the time of year when newspapers have plenty of space to record trifles’ (OED). Harvey had apparently used this expression in a letter to CD that is now missing. See L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 518.
The letter from Harvey has not been found. For the correspondence between Hooker and Harvey about CD’s theory in May 1860, see L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 516–20.
Natural selection.


OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Glad to hear good news of Etty [Henrietta Darwin].

CD’s observations on Scaevola are capital. The indusium collects the pollen and is the homologue of the pollen-collecting hairs of Campanula. A boat-shaped organ forms a second indusium, the inside base of which forms the stigmatic surface. The latter later protrudes as horns, forming the stigma.

Describes W. H. Harvey’s scientific career and thinks his letter interesting. Agrees with Harvey that the primary agency of natural selection is as great a mystery as ever. [Response to 2823.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 157a
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2825A,” accessed on 3 February 2023,

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