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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [before 29 December 1862]1

P.S.2 I am very glad to see the Sat. Review of D. of Argylls review,3 it is perfect, & if S.R. always wrote like that instead of out-corresponding the Times Correspondent, or indulging in flatulent & pompous language I would take it in.

I read the Edinb Review, & wondered; of course I saw that the Duke had strained at a gnat & swallowed a Camel in accepting the superhuman & rejecting the supernatural.—or rather had found the desiderated difference between tweedledum & tweedledee, but I could not have convicted him so neatly & concisely as the Saturday has.4

But what on earth has your orchid book to do there— he evidently wrote 2 reviews, clipped them both, & made a most uncommon bad one out of them5


Dated by the reference to CD’s having sent Hooker a copy of the issue of the Saturday Review containing [Parker] 1862 (see n. 3, below).
It is not known whether this letter was the postscript to one of the extant letters from Hooker, or to a letter which has not been found (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 [December 1862]).
Hooker refers to [Parker] 1862, published in the Saturday Review on 15 November 1862, which criticised the views advanced by George Douglas Campbell, eighth duke of Argyll, in [G. D. Campbell] 1862. It is not known when CD sent Hooker the magazine, but see the letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 [December 1862], and the letter from J. D. Hooker, [31 December 1862].
In his article, Argyll argued that miracles were not supernatural, since they did not involve the suspension or violation of the laws of nature, but that they were superhuman, since natural laws were in such cases applied by the divine will in a way that was analogous to, but more powerful than, human contrivance. In his review, Henry Parker argued that Argyll’s distinction did not hold true, since it was ‘simply to avoid ambiguity’ that the word supernatural was not also applied to ‘the agency of man as standing in opposition to nature in its narrower sense’ ([Parker] 1862, p. 590). He asserted that God’s ‘coming in and applying natural laws to effect a particular purpose, just as men apply them’, still constituted a violation of the laws of nature, and that without ‘the notion of a special interposition’, however remote, there could be no such thing as a ‘true miracle’.
[G. D. Campbell] 1862 reviewed Orchids in conjunction with five works on miracles and the supernatural.


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

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.

[Parker, Henry.] 1862. The Edinburgh review on the supernatural. Saturday Review, 15 November 1862, pp. 589–90.


Comments on items in the Saturday Review and the Edinburgh Review.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Source of text
DAR 101: 85
Physical description
ALS inc

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3879F,” accessed on 15 July 2024,

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