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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   2 September [1860]

Down Bromley Kent

Sept. 2d

My dear Hooker

I am astounded at your news received this morning.1 I am become such an old fogy, that I am amazed at your spirit. For God’s sake do not go & get your throat cut.2 Bless my soul, I think you must be a little insane. I must confess it will be a most interesting tour; & if you get to top of Lebanon, I suppose extremely interesting.— You ought to collect any Beetles under stones there; but the Entomologists are such slow coaches, I daresay no result could be made out of them. The stupid beasts have never worked the Alpines of Britain.—

If you come across any Brine lakes do attend their minute Flora & Fauna; I have often been surprised how little this has been attended to.—

I have had long letter from Lyell, who starts ingenious difficulties opposed to nat. selection, because it has not done more than it has.3 This is very good, as it shows he has thoroughily mastered the subject; & shows he is in earnest. Very striking letter altogether, & it rejoices the cockles of my heart.— I mentioned to him that you had been thinking of answering Q.R.. but he does not think it worth your while.4

If you come across many mules or Asses look out for double or treble shoulder stripe—or trace of forked shoulder stripes; diagram for transverse bars on legs & trace of stripes on side of face: especially forked shoulder stripe, even trace of.—   If you see, make slightest sketch,—that will be best & shortest way.—5

I am glad to hear pretty good account of Baby. Etty steadily crawls on. How I shall miss you my best & kindest of friends.—   God Bless you | Yours ever affectionly | C. Darwin

I have got nothing to suggest about Arctic Flora.—6

I wrote yesterday about Drosera, give it Mr. Oliver.7

I had not heard of Review in “Once a week”8


The letter has not been found. John Washington, a naval hydrographer, had invited Hooker to take part in a scientific expedition to Syria. Hooker left for Palestine in mid-September in the company of Washington and Daniel Hanbury (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 528). Hooker’s objective was to ascend Mount Lebanon and examine the cedars, with particular reference to establishing their relationship to the cedars of the Himalayas.
In his biography of Hooker, Leonard Huxley described the perils of the journey as follows: ‘With wars and rumours of wars on every side, the journey promised to be more than a little hazardous; Italy was still engaged in the struggle for liberation from Austria; in Syria Muslim and Christian were at daggers drawn; the French as Protectors of the Faith … were chief in organising the Powers’ campaign against the Druses.’ (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 528–9).
CD refers to the possibility of Hooker answering Samuel Wilberforce’s arguments against Origin published in the Quarterly Review ([Wilberforce] 1860).
There is a note in CD’s hand about stripes on horses bound with the letter. The note had been sent to Hooker in 1857 with reference to CD’s inquiries about the colour of Norwegian horses (see Correspondence vol. 6, enclosure with letter to J. D. Hooker, 11 September [1857]). Hooker apparently located the note and kept it with the present letter. The note was incorrectly endorsed ‘1860’ by Hooker.
Hooker may have sent CD a draft of Hooker 1862a, which he had read at the Linnean Society of London on 21 June (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 [June 1860]).
No review of Origin appeared in the journal Once a Week.


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

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.

[Wilberforce, Samuel.] 1860. [Review of Origin.] Quarterly Review 108: 225–64.


CD has a low opinion of British entomologists.

Lyell’s ingenious difficulties with natural selection show he is in earnest.

Asks JDH to observe beetles and variation of stripes in mules on his Syrian tour.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 73
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2905,” accessed on 16 July 2024,

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