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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 January [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Jan 21st

My dear H.

Four lines from bottom of 2d column apparent bad misprint “commonest” for “rarest”1

Fourth column instead of “oceanic” fish, read “fresh-water” fish.—2

You give an excellent abstract of arguments in favour of occasional means of transport; even such a bigot, as I, could not possibly desire anything better, clearer or more favourable.3

Ever yours | C.D


CD refers to the third instalment of Hooker’s article on insular floras (J. D. Hooker 1866a) in the Gardeners’ Chronicle, 19 January 1867, pp. 50–1. See also the letters to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867] and 15 January [1867], for his comments on the first and second instalments. In summarising the peculiarities of island floras, Hooker had written: ‘the plants having no affinity with those of the mother continent are often the commonest of all’ (ibid., p. 50). In the pamphlet Hooker published from J. D. Hooker 1866a (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 9 January [1867], n. 2), Hooker changed ‘the commonest of all’ to ‘very common’ (see Williamson 1984, p. 70).
In summarising CD’s arguments for the trans-oceanic migration of plants, Hooker reported that CD had established a number of supporting facts, including the following: ‘That oceanic fish devour seeds, and that if these become the prey of birds, the contents of their stomachs may thus be deposited on distant islands’ (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 51). In his 1867 pamphlet (see n. 1, above), Hooker made CD’s suggested change (see Williamson 1984, p. 72). See Origin, p. 362.
Hooker summarised the arguments for the stocking of oceanic islands with plants from a continent either by former land-bridges, or by the transport of seeds by ocean currents, wind, birds, icebergs, or similar agencies in J. D. Hooker 1866a, pp. 50–1. For CD’s arguments in favour of seed and animal transport rather than land-bridges as a means of species dispersal, see Origin, pp. 356–65, 388–410.


Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

Williamson, M. 1984. Sir Joseph Hooker’s lecture on insular floras. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 22: 55–77.


On recent instalment of "Insular floras" in Gardeners’ Chronicle [(1867): 50]. Approves of JDH’s abstract of argument for transport of species [i.e., migration, as opposed to continental extension hypothesis].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 7
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5373,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

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