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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. H. Harvey to J. D. Hooker1   23 November [1860]

Trin. Coll.

Nov. 23.

My dear Hooker

I am glad to find you are safe home again & have not been eaten up by the Druses:2 Your wife promised me the reading of your letters—but I never received any    tell her so. Tell her also that it was in the City “Maull & Polyblank”3 that I gave the Order—but also, that I have never yet received any copies myself—& have written to enquire why delay—& have got no answer. If she will use her influence with the wretches, perhaps then we may all get our own.

I dont want to bother you with further writing.—   I am going through Lyall’s N.W. Algæ,—meaning to print a list in Linn. Journal—but there are very few species—& of some, as many as 100 or more specimens.4

Cape Flora goes on slowly. Doing Crassulaceæ now— of which Sonder has a superb set—far and away better than yours & mine put together.5

In working out Cliffortia you will be glad to hear that I found some funny evidences of transmutation. I thought of preparing a short paper thereon—to show gradual passage from very unlike to same. Here is one. You know the genus has typically trefoil leaves.

= diagram
Well— C. crenata & pulchella indent=4pc 2 lateral only diagram
C. obcordata— diagram
Now I find vars of C. obcordata going thus—

the larger & more uniform or orbicular the side leaves grow, the smaller becomes the middle leaf.—   Carry on the dwarfing far enough & you get C. crenata!6

I have also found a divarication in the fruit; from which I could draw a productive inference—as to genera arising from more than one species of old genus—whence difft. subtypes under one type.

Yours affy. | Quid Nunc.

CD annotations

1.1 I am … together. 3.2] crossed pencil
4.1 In .  .  . transmutation. 4.2] ‘Rosaceæ of Jussieu’7 ink
Top of first page: ‘Compensation | Analogous Variation’ brown crayon; ‘Harvey’ ink


The Druses formed a significant proportion of the population of Syria, where Hooker had recently been travelling. Harvey’s allusion is to the Damascus massacre of July 1860, in which thousands of Maronite Christians were killed by Druses. The privileged province of Lebanon was ultimately constituted in 1864 as a response to the long-continued conflict.
The firm of Maull and Polyblank in London had taken a photograph of Hooker in 1855 for their published series entitled Literary and scientific portrait club.
Harvey described the algae collected by David Lyall during an expedition to British Columbia (Harvey 1862).
Harvey’s study of the plants of the Cape Colony (Harvey and Sonder 1859–65), undertaken with the German botanist Otto Wilhelm Sonder, was not completed until 1865.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 December [1860]. Cliffortia, a genus of the Rosaceae, is described in Harvey and Sonder 1859–5, 2: 292–304.
Cliffortia belongs to the family Rosaceae, first described by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu.


Harvey, William Henry. 1862. Notice of a collection of algae made on the north-west coast of North America, chiefly at Vancouver’s Island, by David Lyall. Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 6: 157–77.


Has found some funny evidences of transmutation in Cliffortia. Sketches gradual passage "from very unlike to same" – e.g., from three-leafed form to two-leafed.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Henry Harvey
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Trinity College Dublin
Source of text
DAR 47: 218–19
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2995,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

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