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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   12 [June 1860]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

Many thanks for your long & pleasant letter & for the enclosures herewith returned.—   I am sorry Thomson does not budge an inch about permanence of species;1 but how capitally he appreciates the Geographical part of your Essay,2—he ranks it as it deserves.—   I am pleased to observe that Thwaites advances a little.—3

I enclose two slips, with points on which I want observations; if you can persuade Mr Oliver kindly to observe;4 mind that I know that you are much too busy.—

Have you ever thought of getting that done, which you said you thought you could, viz a rough approximation of proportions of plants in some one greenhouse or Hot-house—or even out-of-doors, which set seeds.— This would be invaluable for me— In Gardeners Ch. I have said from sticky gland that I thought that pollen-masses of Bee-orchis would be sometimes removed by insects—5 I have now received account of numerous moths caught with pollen-masses on proboscis—(in one case 3 pair on one!) & the writer asserts that they were pollen-masses of Bee orchis; but I have written to know how he knew this.—6

Thank you for telling me about homologies of stigma &c of Leschenaultia & Scævola; I was curious on this head.—7

I have long meant to experimentise (as far as insects are concerned) on the imperfect flowers of Viola & certain Leguminosæ; but I do not know whether I shall have time.8

I am sorry to hear about bronchitis & your little boy;9 we know what that is with children.—

We were grievously disappointed yesterday by decided return of Fever-fit with Etty.—   It is extremely doubtful whether I shall get to Oxford.

Yours affect | C. Darwin

P.S. The following metaphor gives good view of my notion of relative importance of Variability & Selection.—   Squared stones, bricks or timber are indispensable for construction of a building; & their Nature will to certain extent influence character of building, but selection I look at, as the architect; & in admiring a well-contrived or splendid building one speaks of the architect alone & not of the brick-maker.—


Thomas Thomson had written to CD expressing his opposition to the theory of species change through natural selection. The letter has not been found, but see letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 [May 1860].
Hooker 1859.
Daniel Oliver was Hooker’s assistant in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Letter to Gardeners’ Chronicle, [4–5 June 1860].
CD refers to information obtained from Edward Parfitt. Parfitt probably wrote to CD after reading his letter to the Gardeners’ Chronicle, [4–5 June 1860]. There would not have been enough time for Parfitt to have responded to CD’s inquiry mentioned in the preceding letter.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 June [1860], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 8 June 1860. CD subsequently published Hooker’s observations in a communication entitled ‘Fertilisation of Leschenaultia’ printed in the Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 9 September 1871, p. 1166 (see also Collected papers 2: 162–5).
There is only one experiment on Viola recorded in CD’s Experimental book, p. 59 (DAR 157a), and this is dated 24 May, 24 June, and 8 July 1860.
Probably Charles Paget Hooker, aged 5.


‘Fertilisation of Leschenaultia’. By Charles Darwin. Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette, 9 September 1871, p. 1166. [Shorter publications, pp. 371–3.]

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.


Progress of [Thomas?] Thomson and G. H. K. Thwaites on accepting mutability.

Bee orchid pollination.

JDH has written to CD on homologies of stigma in Goodeniaceae.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 62
Physical description
ALS 5pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2830,” accessed on 2 June 2023,

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