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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [15 and] 20 November [1862]1

Royal Gardens Kew


Dr Darwin

I thought you might care to see these W. Ireland Soundings, showing the bank tailing off to the South, burn it when done with, as I have a copy in Nautical Journal2

I am horrified at your telling me that I have made an allusion to R Brown that might seem Lindleyitish, for certainly that was the last point in which I should have tried to write like him.3 I had indeed forgotten that I made any allusion to Brown   In apeing Lindly I went no further, to my knowledge, than trying to treat the subject as I thought he might could would or should have, & setting out with a rather clumsy force of wording, which he delights in. I have not reread any of it but the last column of the last article, where I was at first exceedingly puzzled to recover my meaning, (which is not very like Lindley!) I mean where I allude to the bearing of the whole thing on your theory.4

What a capital article Bates has made in his paper in Linn. Trans.5   I have written to him about it, calling attention to the weakness of the paragraph at p. 508 about the effect of physical causes on variation.—6

What a poor paper Murrays is! he does not in the least see how he is playing into your hands, from sheer ignorance of your hand, which he thinks he quite understands—7 nevertheless it is a sort of Entomological paper I am glad to see in the Transactions.

I was too late to send the London journal of Botany with Bonafuss on Thursday, I am trying to find a copy of vol VII. for Linn. Soc.—8 They have put me on council of R.S. “heu me miserum!”9 & with Owen too, for my sins.10 I wish you would come up on Monday & substitute Falconer’s11 name for his!— There is a talk about organising an opposition to his election, but I suppose it will come to nothing.12

By the way I see you are alluded to in no less than 3 of the papers in Linn. Trans!—13 I do not think you are conceited, but really I do think you have a good right to be so. I have said nothing of your writing but what I verily think & believe, & I find people are fast coming round to my way of thinking.14

Nov 20th | I send letter written 4 days ago15

I have no recollection of applying N.S. to Polynesians, though I dare say I have alluded to so obvious a deduction— none but a German would dig out such a passage & attach importance to it (if it exists in print)16   The idea is of course not new to the future author of ‘“The Aristocracy,” or Darwin in all in all.’17

I have caused Tyndall to modify extensively his pseudo geology, but do not know to what extent— He is awfully wrong about Valleys.18

I have not seen D of Argylls review— he did not understand it the least little bit about Orchids when I saw him nor understand fully the Origin.19 I shall hunt up a clue I have to his proceedings   I do know something of the origin of his book on Church matters at time of Scotch disruption.20

Would you like our dried strawberries   we have all the wild forms from insular localities &c.21 Oliver reminds me of curious remark on sexualism of strawberries by an American, he says it is alluded to at length in Technologist.22 He also tells me to call your attention to 2 states of Epilobium angustifolium 23

I am ashamed of so long neglecting Oxalis sensitiva   I have a plant for you but this is worst season.24

Our admirable (perfect) governess is so ill with Lungs, that we must part with her, & she has no home poor thing—25 My wife is in pack of troubles, I take her today to get tooth pulled, a worse affair for me than for her! for she behaves shockingly ill; & I am afraid to have her chloroformed   indeed I doubt if dentist will do it—as I must tell him her heart action is not what it should be.26

Yours perplexed | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 I thought … Journal 1.3] crossed pencil
3.2 weakness … variation.— 3.3] scored pencil


The year is established by the relationship to the letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862]; the Saturday following that date, but preceding 20 November, was 15 November.
The enclosure has not been found. Hooker apparently sent CD a map of the deep sea soundings made to the west of Ireland in June, July, and August 1862 by HMS Porcupine, under the superintendence of Richard Hoskyn. Hooker also refers to the account given in the Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle for November 1862 (Hoskyn 1862); his error in citing the title of the periodical may be explained by the fact that its subtitle was ‘a journal of papers on subjects connected with maritime affairs’. Hooker evidently considered these soundings relevant to the ongoing debate between himself and CD, over the possible former existence of land-bridges connecting existing islands and continents (see, for example, letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 November 1862, and letters to J. D. Hooker, 4 November [1862] and [10–]12 November [1862]).
Hooker refers to the botanists Robert Brown and John Lindley, and to his anonymous three-part review of Orchids ([J. D. Hooker] 1862c). See letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862].
[J. D. Hooker] 1862c, p. 910.
Bates 1862a. The third issue of volume 23 of the Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, in which Bates 1862a appeared, was published on 13 November 1862 (Raphael 1970). There is an annotated copy of this number of the journal in the Darwin Library–CUL.
Hooker refers to the following passage (Bates 1862a, p. 508): I think the facts of similar variation in two already nearly allied forms do sometimes show that they have been affected in a similar way by physical conditions. A great number of insects are modified in one direction by a seaside habitat. I found, also, the general colours of many widely different species affected in a uniform way in the interior of the South American continent. In his letter to Henry Walter Bates of 13 November 1862, which is reproduced in Bates 1892, pp. xlvi–xlvii, Hooker stated that he could not see how Bates applied ‘physical conditions here, logically, as a cause different in kind and operation from natural conditions elsewhere.’ If the ‘physical conditions’ of the sea caused species change, Hooker argued, they could only do so by natural selection rather than by direct action, and were thus identical to ‘natural conditions’. CD, Bates, and Hooker had corresponded on this subject earlier in the year (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [10 March 1862], 17 March 1862, and [23 March 1862], and letters to J. D. Hooker, 14 March [1862], 18 March [1862], and 26 [March 1862]).
Murray 1862. In his paper, Andrew Murray discussed the Coleoptera of Old Calabar in Africa, in the light of Edward Forbes’s theory that the South American continent was ‘at one time united or in close proximity to Western Africa’, a view that Murray tentatively supported. Hooker refers particularly to the following statement of Murray’s (p. 453): I am willing to assume for the present that Europe and North America have been at some period united, and that the affinity between Anophthalmus Bilimekii and A. Tellkampfii may be explained, on Mr. Darwin’s theory, by assuming them to be the product of the same or of allied Trechi which have wandered into the caves, and that the like conditions have impressed a like form on their offspring. This latter assumption is of course not Mr. Darwin’s; for he repudiates the idea of physical conditions making much, if any, impress upon life. I confess I am still a believer in that exploded heresy. I can see no other way of explaining the existence of these allied blind insects in caves so widely separated; and if it applies to the caves, it may equally apply to any district with well marked physical conditions. CD lightly annotated his copy of the paper (see n. 5, above), including in his manuscript index for this number of the journal the comment: ‘[p.] 455   Distribution of Beetles’.
Hooker refers to his sending CD a copy of Bonafous 1836 by the Down carrier service, operated every Thursday by George Snow. In his letter of 3 November [1862], CD requested that Hooker inform him of the number of the volume of the London Journal of Botany in which Planchon 1847–8 appeared, so that he might borrow it from the library of the Linnean Society of London.
This commonly used phrase translates: ‘Alas! wretched me’.
Richard Owen and Hooker were formally elected to the council of the Royal Society of London at the anniversary meeting of the society on 1 December 1862 (Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 12 (1863): 299).
Thomas Henry Huxley conducted a correspondence with the secretary of the Royal Society, William Sharpey, protesting against the proposal to elect Owen to the council of the society. Writing to Sharpey on 13 November 1862 (University College London, MS Archives, Add MS 227/4 no. 122), Huxley stated that he was ‘greatly and not pleasantly astonished to find Owen’s name’ on the list of the new council of the society. He continued, referring to the so-called ‘Hippocampus controversy’: Considering the position of the controversy between us is, as you know very well, such, that one of the two of us is guilty of wilful & deliberate falsehood, I did not expect to find the Council of the Royal Society throwing even a feather’s weight into the scale against me— But of the fact that Owen’s election into the Council at this time will be viewed & used in that light there cannot be a doubt—
Bates 1862, Murray 1862, and Blanford 1862. In his paper, Bates invoked the theory of natural selection to account for the phenomenon of mimicry in Amazonian butterflies, arguing that the case offered ‘a most beautiful proof of the truth of the theory’ (Bates 1862a, p. 513). CD’s copy of this paper (see n. 5, above) is heavily annotated. On Murray 1862, see n. 7, above. In his paper on the genus Tanalia, Henry Francis Blanford argued not only that many of the supposed species were merely varieties of one species, but also that this genus and a number of related genera should merely be considered ‘sections of the genus Melania’. Referring to the structure of the operculum, on which alone the generic distinction was based (Blanford 1862, pp. 609–10), he stated: Indeed, accepting the views of Mr. Darwin, we might regard the group as affording an instance of variable structure in an organ usually constant, the tendency to vary having survived generic and specific differentiation and obtaining to some extent in coexistent forms of the same species. CD marked this passage with a marginal line in his copy of the paper, also adding a reference to it and to Bates 1862a in his manuscript index to this number of the journal, with the comment: ‘Laws of Variation & Variability’.
The second part of this letter was written on a separate sheet of paper; however, since the two parts were sent under the same cover and include only one salutation and valediction, they have been treated as a single letter.
Hooker refers to his somewhat whimsical suggestion that the development of an aristocracy was the necessary consequence of natural selection (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [19 January 1862], [31 January – 8 February 1862], and [23 March 1862]).
Hooker refers to the disruption of the Church of Scotland in 1843, when more than 450 ministers seceded over the issue of the church’s relationship with the civil government, forming the Free Church of Scotland. The seventh duke of Argyll, John Douglas Edward Henry Campbell, was involved in trying to resolve the issue in the House of Lords, and his son, George Douglas Campbell (later eighth duke of Argyll) published two pamphlet letters seeking to avert the disruption (see Buchanan 1849 and Cameron et al., eds. 1993). Hooker apparently refers to a polemical essay on the ecclesiastical history of Scotland written by the eighth duke (G. D. Campbell 1848), and may be implying that it was not entirely of Argyll’s own authorship. The attribution of [G. D. Campbell] 1862 is confirmed by the Wellesley index 1: 511–12.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, [10–]12 November [1862]. Hooker refers to specimens in the herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Hooker refers to Wray 1861a, in which the author contrasted the ‘scientific culture of the strawberry’ in the United States, where the tendency to dioecism of the cultivated strawberry was made the basis for horticultural practice, with strawberry growing in Britain.
The governess has not been identified; she was appointed in June 1862 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 19 [June 1862] and n. 4).
Frances Harriet Hooker had been ill earlier in the year, causing Hooker to fear that she may have inherited a heart condition from her father, John Stevens Henslow (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 28 June 1862).


Bates, Henry Walter. 1862. Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley. Coleoptera: Longicornes. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 3d ser. 9: 117–24, 396–405, 446–58.

Bates, Henry Walter. 1892. The naturalist on the River Amazons. A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life, and aspects of nature under the equator, during eleven years of travel. With a memoir of the author by Edward Clodd. Reprint of the first edition. London: John Murray.

Blanford, Henry Francis. 1862. On the specific identity of the described forms of Tanalia. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 23: 603– 10.

Bonafous, Matthieu. 1836. Histoire naturelle, agricole et économique du maïs. Paris and Turin.

Buchanan, Robert. 1849. The ten years’ conflict: being the history of the disruption of the Church of Scotland. 2 vols. Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London.

Campbell, George Douglas. 1848. Presbytery examined. An essay, critical and historical, on the ecclesiastical history of Scotland since the Reformation. London.

[Campbell, George Douglas.] 1862. [Review of Orchids and other works.] Edinburgh Review 116: 378–97.

Hoskyn, Richard. 1862. Report on the deep sea soundings to the westward of Ireland,– made in HMS “Porcupine,” in June, July, and August, 1862. Nautical Magazine and Naval Chronicle 31: 561–9.

Murray, Andrew. 1862. On the geographical relations of the Coleoptera of Old Calabar. [Read 6 February 1862.]Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 23: 449–55.

Orchids: On the various contrivances by which British and foreign orchids are fertilised by insects, and on the good effects of intercrossing. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1862.

Planchon, Jules Emile. 1847–8. Sur la famille des Linnes. London Journal of Botany 6 (1847): 588–603; 7 (1848): 165–86, 473–501, 507–28.

Raphael, Sandra. 1970. The publication dates of the Transactions of the Linnean Society of London, series 1, 1791–1875. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 2: 61–76. [Vols. 10,11]

Wellesley index: The Wellesley index to Victorian periodicals 1824–1900. Edited by Walter E. Houghton et al. 5 vols. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1966–89.


Sends CD West Ireland soundings.

More detail on his review "a la Lindley" [see 3797].

Bates’s paper ["Contributions to an insect fauna of the Amazon valley", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 23 (1862): 495–566] is capital.

Andrew Murray’s article plays into CD’s hands through sheer ignorance.

JDH is on Royal Society Council.

Has no recollection of applying natural selection to Polynesians. None but a German would dig out such a passage if it exists [see 3812].

Has caused Tyndall to modify his pseudo-geology.

Has not seen Duke of Argyll’s review [Edinburgh Rev. 116 (1862): 378–97]. [The Duke] did not understand Orchids the least little bit, nor the Origin, when JDH saw him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 71–2, 79
Physical description
ALS 6pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3807,” accessed on 24 April 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10