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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   30 August [1866]1

Down | Bromley Kent

Aug 30th.

My dear Hooker

I was very glad to get your note & the Notts Newspaper. I have seldom been more pleased in my life than at hearing how successfully your lecture went off.2 Mrs. H. Wedgwood sent us an account, saying that you read capitally & were listened to with profound attention & great applause. She says when your final allegory began “For a minute or two we were all mystified, & then came such bursts of applause from the audience. It was thoroughly enjoyed amid roars of laughter & noise making a most brilliant conclusion.”3

I am rejoiced that you will publish yr. lecture, & felt sure that sooner or later it wd come to this; indeed it would have been a sin if you had not done so.4 I am especially rejoiced, as you give the arguments for occasional transport with such perfect fairness, these will now receive a fair share of attention, as coming from you a professed botanist.5 Thanks also for Grove’s address; as a whole it strikes me as very good & original but I was disappointed in the part about species; it dealt in such generalities, that it would apply to any view or no view in particular.6

I have also to thank you much for a lot of things sent by Parslow—7 I must get Sclater’s M.S. copied & then return it, which I will do in a few days.8 The Codrington has come safe—9 I shall be delighted to receive the Drosera.10 As for Acropera I must beg leave to keep it for some time for it is making new flower stalks, & I have already I find had much better success in fertilising it, than I expected when you were here; so that I am sure I shall find out the dodge.11 And now I have got to beg another favour: I want very much a book which is not in Royal or Linn. libraries— it is “Séringe Bullet. bot. 1830 p. 117. on the St Valery apple”—12

And now farewell— I do most heartily rejoice at your success, & for Grove’s sake at the brilliant success of the whole meeting.

Yours affectly. | Charles Darwin

I have made abstract of Sclater & return it herewith.—


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 August] 1866.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [28 August] 1866. Hooker evidently enclosed a local Nottingham newspaper report on his lecture on insular floras at the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but no copy has been found in the Darwin archive. The Nottingham Journal and the Nottingham Daily Express both carried accounts of Hooker’s lecture on 28 August 1866. The latter account claimed that Hooker had succeeded in making a not very attractive subject highly interesting.
The reference is to Frances Emma Elizabeth Wedgwood. Her letter has not been found but her account of Hooker’s lecture was copied in a letter from Emma Darwin to William Erasmus Darwin, [September 1866] (DAR 219.1: 84). She described the humorous conclusion to the lecture as follows: Dr Hooker took just 1 1/2 hour & perhaps it was as well you shortened him & also he read capitally & was listened to with profound attention— There was a crammed theatre the house being quite full for an hour before. When the Sachem began, for a minute or two we were all mystified & then there came such bursts of applause from the audience first & going on— It was so thoroughly enjoyed amid roars of laughter & noise making a most brilliant conclusion. (Now I must explain a little what the Sachem was. Dr Hooker said that in his travels he had come upon a tribe of Indians who were firmly of opinion that the moon was a fresh creation every month & they thought him very impious for telling them it was the same moon “as if God could not create a fresh moon every month.” However seven years afterwards on meeting the same tribe he found that many of the medicine men & Sachems had begun to see the truth & the opinion was gradually making way with them & then he added that he need not tell them that his first visit to the tribe was at Oxford 7 years ago & that his second was at Notts. now) I thought Mr Grove’s address as good as it cd be— how I longed for you to hear the noise they made when Charles’ name was mentioned. For more on the Oxford meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1860, see Correspondence vol. 8, Appendix VI.
Both newspaper accounts of the lecture had noted that Hooker discussed continental extension and occasional transport as explanations for the similarities in island and continental floras (see Nottingham Journal and Nottingham Daily Express, 28 August 1866). On occasional transport, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 July [1866], n. 7. For Hooker’s presentation of the theory of seed dispersal through occasional transport, see J. D. Hooker 1866a, pp. 50–1, 75.
William Robert Grove’s address as president of the British Association contained a section on transmutation of species (W. R. Grove 1866, pp. lxxi–lxxix). Grove gave examples of recent research that supported transmutation, but did not distinguish between different theories, focusing instead on the idea that continuity was the ‘law of nature’ that underlay the gradual process of change (ibid., p. lxxix). Grove had requested more information on CD’s theory while preparing his address (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 May 1866, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 31 May [1866]).
Joseph Parslow was Darwin’s butler.
Philip Lutley Sclater probably sent Hooker a manuscript with information on the birds of Madeira and the Azores (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 August 1866 and n. 3).
The reference is to the Coddington lens; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 18 August 1866 and n. 2.
Hooker told CD he would send a specimen of Drosera binata, the fork-leafed sundew, an insectivorous plant (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 18 August 1866).
Hooker had sent CD a specimen of Acropera, which CD received on 4 August 1866 (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 31 July 1866 and n. 22, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 3 and 4 August [1866]). CD had tried on many previous occasions to artificially pollinate flowers of this genus without much success; he first pollinated Acropera in 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to John Scott, 7 November [1863] and n. 6). CD later described his method for pollinating Acropera in Orchids 2d ed., pp. 168–9. Hooker had visited Down on 18 August (see letters from J. D. Hooker, [17 August 1866] and 18 August 1866).
The reference is to an article on the monstrous apple tree of St Valery, which appeared in Bulletin Botanique ou Collection de Notices Originales et d’Extraits des Ouvrages Botaniques (Seringe 1830).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Grove, William Robert. 1866. Address of the president. Report of the thirty-sixth meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held at Nottingham, pp. liii–lxxxii.

Orchids 2d ed.: The various contrivances by which orchids are fertilised by insects. By Charles Darwin. 2d edition, revised. London: John Murray. 1877.

Seringe, Nicolas Charles. 1830. Pommier monstrueux de St.-Vallery, avec une notice sur la disposition des carpelles de plusieurs fruits. Bulletin Botanique ou Collection de Notices Originales et d’Extraits des Ouvrages Botaniques no. 5, May 1830, pp. 117–25.


Pleased by JDH’s success. JDH gives argument for occasional transport with perfect fairness.

W. R. Grove’s address [see 5201] good, but is disappointed that species part was so general.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 299
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5200,” accessed on 10 May 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14