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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [12 January 1867]1



Dear Darwin

A thousand thanks for your criticisms—2 It is not merely that there are no Boreal or Arctic plants in the Mts of Canaries &c, but no gentians, or any of the Alpine Spanish plants as Cruciferæ, Alsineæ, Compositæ &c &c—at least in so far as I believe. It is true there are species of Spartiums &c, which do not grow low down, but they are shrubs &c & do not seem to represent an alpine vegetation. But I must go through Webbs book & tabulate the altitudes &c.3

2. I tried hard so to arrange the sentence about savages in Islands, as that it should obviously not apply to Madeira & the Azores &c. I have not a copy by me, of the G. C., & fear I have failed somehow.4

Pray go on with such criticisms, they will be most useful

3 Of the groups of Islands with Insects I particularly remember Kerguelen’s land, with 5 insects one only winged, if I remember aright, (Dipterous), the moth was apterous and had rudimentary wings.— Ross. says only 5 insects, & 2 winged.5

In Auckland & Campbell’s Island again, winged Insects were very rare, Excepts


Fuegia ditto.

Falkland I forget—

Ascension—little but crickets6

Yes Annuals are certainly best adapted for short seasons, & they do abound in cultivated ground in the more equable climates7—but there are lots in the uncultivated districts of Australia, Asia Minor Levant—N. Africa & California, & it would not be easy to define their season as short   Whereas in Arctic regions, as I have somewhere remarked, there are none or next to none.—& in alpine regions there are very few indeed.

Yes—humid season implies equability, with which an evergreen vegetation is closely connected.8

I do remember some passages between us anent Bees & clover in N. Zealand & I don’t doubt I was quite right; in screaming at you at the time:9 indeed I cannot doubt it—. I could not have done so, you see, if you had not been wrong. Owen & the Bp of Oxford10 have accepted this, however, & so I do now believe in Bees & Clover, but not because you said it!— What I want to know now is, whether you have ever suggested to me that the rarity of irregular flowered plants in general or papilionaceæ in particular in Islands, was due to the rarity of winged insects. In plain truth I feel that I have begged borrowed & stolen such a lot from you, that my “meum & tuum” may well be vaguely limited

I must confess that I was (Fanny has just had a fine boy, excuse the interruption)11 not surprized that your new book should require more space & be much bigger than the origin, & I think it is well that it should have a different form, too.12 As to the size of the book being out of proportion to the subject, I do not see how that can well be— surely domesticated animals alone would fill a large volume under your treatment, & plants a larger even. This however is no reason why you should not swear at yourself & other book writers too— it can do no harm to yourself & may do great good to the latter

Mrs Hooker has presented me with a fine boy since this letter was begun, & is doing well

Ever yrs aff | J D Hooker

Plumbago not forgotten.13

CD annotations14

End of letter: ‘Orig Letter— Mrs H.– Violet like Pyrenees | I did suggest [above del ‘ask’] about *proportion of [interl] irregular flowers in Isls—after [‘writing that letter’ del] giving a very short discussion on bearing of such flowers as Lythrum— But what on earth does my asking such a question signify— it has no relation to meum & tuum— You have comforted me a little about bigness of my Book’ ink


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and 15 January [1867]. In 1867, the Saturday following 9 January was 12 January.
Hooker refers to CD’s criticisms of the first part of his article on insular floras (J. D. Hooker 1866a; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867]).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and n. 3. Hooker refers to Webb and Berthelot 1836–50; the third volume covered the phytogeography of the Canary Islands. For Hooker’s comments on this topic in 1866, see Correspondence vol. 14, letters from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1866] and 31 July 1866.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and n. 4. J. D. Hooker 1866a was published in the Gardeners’ Chronicle.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and n. 5. Hooker is recalling his observations made on Kerguelen’s Land during his 1839 to 1843 Antarctic voyage on the Erebus and Terror with James Clark Ross (see J. D. Hooker 1844–7 and R. Desmond 1999). In A voyage of discovery and research in the southern and Antarctic regions, during the years 1839–43 (Ross 1847, 1: 90), Ross noted several insects on Kerguelen’s Land including a ‘curculio’, a small brownish moth, and two flies; he thought, however, there would be more insects in the summer. For earlier correspondence between CD and Hooker on apterous insects, including a moth, on Kerguelen’s Land, see Correspondence vol. 5, letter from J. D. Hooker, [before 17 March 1855] and nn. 3 and 4, and Correspondence vol. 14, letter from J. D. Hooker, [24 July 1866] and n. 15; see also Natural selection, p. 292.
Hooker is evidently recalling informal observations of insects made on the Lord Auckland Islands, Campbell’s Island, Hermit Island of Tierra del Fuego, the Falkland Islands, and Ascension Island during his Antarctic voyage; for Hooker’s botanical observations on these islands, see J. D. Hooker 1844–7 and R. Desmond 1999.
Hooker refers to his wife, Frances Harriet Hooker, and his newborn son, Reginald Hawthorn Hooker (Allan 1967).
Hooker refers to Variation (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and n. 11).
CD’s annotations are notes for his letter to Hooker of 15 January [1867].


Allan, Mea. 1967. The Hookers of Kew, 1785–1911. London: Michael Joseph.

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

Desmond, Ray. 1999. Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, traveller and plant collector. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors’ Club with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1844–7. Flora Antarctica. 1 vol. and 1 vol. of plates. Pt 1 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Reeve Brothers.

Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.

Ross, James Clark. 1847. A voyage of discovery and research in the southern and Antarctic regions, during the years 1839–43. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Responds to CD’s criticisms. JDH is sometimes confused as to what he has borrowed from CD.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 131–4
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5358,” accessed on 24 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15