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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   20 March 1867


March 20/67.

Dear Darwin

I take it very hard & not a little unkind that, after having by a series of unprecedented wriggles, got my Ins. Flora into the shape of a plausible though perhaps rather sophistic form—you (& Etty especially) should call on me to wriggle out of any mere contradictions of facts, or irreconcileable statements.1

I thought I had modified the sentence you objected to (& which did appear I grant irreconcileable) & I have not looked since;— now I must: so here goes—for a contortuplication of wriggles (a regular colic) if I find that I must.2

Meanwhile I send Naudins letter, & return your note— there is no need to refer to me at all in the matter.3 N. puts no restriction on the communication, & no doubt it will be published long before you are in print. Fruit or Drupe is the proper word.4 I shall see N. in Paris early in April & let you know. I shall send them to L. S.5 tomorrow. I was not aware that you had similar cases.

I am dying to understand Pangenesis that haunts me at night. Huxley told me that he had referred you to something of the kind in Bonnet.6 I cannot conceive a Pangenesis without a correlative Panexodus (the Great God Pan is not yet dead, that’s clear)— What I mean is this, that if every previous attribute (infinitely subdivided) of all its ancestors, exists in an organism, any of these may come out/turn up in its progeny— but I suspect I am talking nonsense to you. I was so very blind to the force of the derivative hypothesis, that I always feel too inclined to take your views au coup de (I forget what, I am coaching up french, hard, for Paris Exposition.7

That poor Clark is simply mad, & has been in confinement.8 You have grasped the reason why no one attacks his theory—which by the way he will alter to suit your tastes as much as you please. When I point out a fact or structure to him he always accepts it, however subversive of his theory whose Elasticity is delightful. Thank God he is off on Zoology9

I am extremely interested, as is Smith, in your Ipomœa experiment.10

Scott has been telling me of his success in cultivating Temperate plants in thatched houses in Calcutta, he seems to be getting on capitally & his experiments are all in your favor.11

Now for p. 9. of my Lecture— I cannot see the error.12 That the plants of no affinity are commonest, appears carried out by the Laurels being so abundant, forming forests, in the Canaries & I think also in Madeira, & Clethera13 is certainly very common at least I think so. It is the peculiar genera of European affinity that are so rare—as Merugia, Melanoselinii, & Dracæna ajari is abundant in Canaries & has no European affinity. so with Plocama, Visnea, Bosea, &c.14 Please look again & let me know.

NB. This is not a wriggle.

Thanks for the note about Azorean birds.15

I have written to ask Sir H. Barkly about Mammals bones in Mauritius16

I do not attempt to read Andrew Murray in G. C. the most bumptious, conceited, muddle pated pig in print.— true he cannot reason. He was Secy. Hort. Soc. but they had to chassée him: his treatment of Lyell is refreshingly civil—17

I am wearying very much to see you again, but cannot conceive when.

Next week I go to Paris. More & more St Helena plants prove to have Cape affinities.18

I have just identified another very marked & peculiar genus common to Chili & New Zealand   it is Griselinia of Foster, with which I find Decostea to be generically identical & by Jove there is a species undescribed on the top of the Organ Mts!19 so go ahead— As usual it is one of those genera most difficult to preserve the seeds of—a small fleshy berry. It is not a glacial genus.20

Ever dear old Darwin | yrs aff | J D Hooker

When you write, do tell me about p. 9: and do say I was right about Asa Gray!!!!21

CD annotations

3.2 no doubt … proper word. 3.4] scored pencil
4.4 if every … progeny— 4.6] scored pencil
13.1 I am … affinities. 14.2] scored pencil
17.1 When … Gray!!!! 17.2] double scored pencil


In his letter of 17 March [1867], CD commented that both he and his daughter Henrietta Emma Darwin had found an error in the offprint of ‘Insular floras’ (J. D. Hooker 1866a; see Williamson 1984 for the text of the offprint, which differed slightly from the original version printed in Gardeners’ Chronicle).
For the change in the offprint, see letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867] and n. 10.
CD had asked Hooker to obtain Charles Victor Naudin’s permission to cite his observation about the fruit of a fan palm pollinated by a date palm (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867] and nn. 2 and 4). Hooker sent Naudin’s letter later (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 23 March 1867 and enclosure).
In his letter of 17 March [1867], CD had asked Hooker for the correct terminology to refer to the ‘seeds or nuts’ of the palm.
CD had previously clarified some aspects of his theory of pangenesis in a letter to Hooker of 4 April [1866] (Correspondence vol. 14). CD had sent the manuscript of a version of his theory for criticism to Thomas Henry Huxley, who had told him about similar theories propounded by the French authors Charles Bonnet and Georges Louis Leclerc, comte de Buffon (see Correspondence vol. 13, letter to T. H. Huxley, 12 July [1865] and n. 4).
Hooker alludes to his caution in supporting CD’s theory of transmutation of species, which was occasionally referred to as the ‘derivation’ of species (see also letter to J. D. Hooker, 29 January [1867] and n. 4). For a review of the literature on Hooker’s acceptance of CD’s theory, see Endersby 2002, pp. 310–22. Hooker planned to attend the Paris International Horticultural Exhibition in April (see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 March 1867 and n. 7.
Clarke, who had written a taxonomic work on plants (Clarke 1866), had begun to work on zoological taxonomy (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867] and n. 18).
Hooker refers to John Scott. For more on Scott’s acclimatisation experiments, see the letter from John Scott, 22 January 1867 and n. 4.
Hooker refers to Clethra; C. arborea is the species native to Madeira (Mabberley 1997).
Hooker may refer to Myrica. He refers to Melanoselinum, an unidentified species of Dracaena, Plocama, Visnea, and Bosea. For endemic plant species in the Canary Islands, see Bramwell 1976.
CD had passed on information from a note about birds from Europe being occasionally blown to the Azores in his letter to Hooker of 17 March [1867]. The note has not been found.
Henry Barkly was the governor of Mauritius (DNB). Hooker’s letter to him, dated 18 February 1867, is in the Hooker deposit–CUL (Ms Add 9537; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 February 1867 and n. 10, and letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 February [1867]).
In his letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 March [1867], CD discussed Murray’s review in Gardeners’ Chronicle of J. D. Hooker 1866a (Murray 1867), and criticised Murray’s treatment of Charles Lyell. Murray was assistant secretary to the Royal Horticultural Society from 1860 to 1865 (Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society 5 (1865): 1).
In ‘Insular floras’, Hooker had commented, ‘St. Helena, though 1000 miles nearer to South America than is any part of the African coast, contains scarcely any plants that are even characteristic of America’ (J. D. Hooker 1866a, p. 50; see also Williamson 1984, p. 70). The Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost part of South Africa.
The Serra dos Orgãos, or Organ Mountains, are a coastal range in central Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil (Columbia gazetteer of the world). The genus Griselinia, named by Johann Reinhold Forster and Georg Forster, is found in the littoral zone in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. Hooker was working on the third part of the first volume of Genera plantarum (Bentham and Hooker 1862–83); this part appeared in 1867. In Bentham and Hooker 1862–83, 1: 951, Hooker listed Decostea as a synonym of Griselinia.
Hooker evidently held that the presence of Griselinia in south-eastern Brazil could not be accounted for by its being the remnant of an earlier cold period. In 1866, CD, Hooker, Charles Lyell, and Charles James Fox Bunbury had discussed the character of the flora of the Organ mountains and the possibility of glacial action there (see Correspondence vol. 14).
Hooker refers to page 9 of the offprint of J. D. Hooker 1866a; see above, nn. 1 and 2. Hooker had earlier informed CD that Asa Gray was not the author of the article ‘Popularizing science’ (Anon. 1867; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 March 1867 and n. 1).


Bramwell, David. 1976. The endemic flora of the Canary Islands; distribution, relationships and phytogeography. In Biogeography and ecology in the Canary Islands, edited by Günther Kunkel. The Hague: Junk.

Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.

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

DNB: Dictionary of national biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. 63 vols. and 2 supplements (6 vols.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1912. Dictionary of national biography 1912–90. Edited by H. W. C. Davis et al. 9 vols. London: Oxford University Press. 1927–96.

Endersby, Jim (James John). 2002. Putting plants in their place: Joseph Hooker’s philosophical botany, 1838–65. PhD dissertation, Cambridge University.

Mabberley, David J. 1997. The plant-book. A portable dictionary of the vascular plants. 2d edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Murray, Andrew. 1867. Dr. Hooker on insular floras. Gardeners’ Chronicle (1867): 152, 181–2.

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


Sends Naudin’s letter.


Benjamin Clarke is mad.

Interested in CD’s Ipomoea experiment.

Scott’s experiments are all in CD’s favour.

Clarifies a sentence in "Insular floras".

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 147–50
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5449,” accessed on 26 March 2023,

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