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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   28 January 1868

Royal Gardens Kew

Jany 28/68

Dear Darwin

I write only to say thank you, & that I hear from Stainton that Wollaston’s affairs are so far past praying for, that any good accrueing to him of the kind, would only go to the Creditors: & get out of the way he must, to Boulogne or Jersey—1 Still Stainton hopes that he may shake off liabilities after some years & return   Steps have been taken by a friend of his to keep the collection together—& books.—

I have been reading the Introduction to his Cape de Verd Coleopterology2 how very badly he writes & how nicely he manages to give the go bye to every really worthy idea or conclusion— yet it seems to me to be most valuable matter, & no doubt very accurate. What do you think of the “Wholesale Euphorbian onslaught—for the benefit of mere Indian Corn, and the downfall of that noble-Beetle population which had hitherto reigned supreme”!!!3 By Jove, Eyre’s Executioners were a joke to this4—& mind you, he visited the Island during a frightful famine

I enjoyed my Barton visit exceedingly.—5 Prof Newton6 was there, a very agreeable & intelligent man, though he does believe in Progression—& Darwinism— also a very nice girl a Miss McMurdo, daur of the general, & niece of a shipmate of mine,7 who when asked whether she had liked dolls as a child, said, I never had but one, a superb one with eyes & trousseau &c, & all I did was, to put it in a drawer & say—“lie there, & when I open the drawer again I hope to find you dead

I cannot fancy Wollaston really disliking you & not me—& worse. this book of his however shows a very odd type of mind, or rather of intellect especially if you remember that it is in some sort (& not the narrowest sort) an Educated one. How very much we liked him at Down.8

Lubbock9 comes to me for a night tomorrow.

Ever Yr affec | J D Hooker

I have been trying to read the D. of Argyll, & cannot get through it—prejudice apart.10

P.S. | What about backing Asa Gray as Foreign Member of R.S.— I will go ahead if you really think right to support it. Thomson wishes it & I quite approve11

My only doubt is whether ADC. is as worthy— as a Botanist he is far away inferior but A Gray has done nothing like the “Geographie”12


Hooker refers to Thomas Vernon Wollaston and Henry Tibbats Stainton. CD had offered to subscribe to a relief fund for Wollaston; see letter from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1868], and letter to J. D. Hooker, 27 [January 1868].
The reference is to Wollaston 1867, a descriptive catalogue of the beetles of the Cape Verde archipelago.
Hooker quotes Wollaston’s remarks that cultivation on Monte Verde, St Vincent, was destroying the native Euphorbiaceae flora that supported a large number of Coleoptera (Wollaston 1867, p. xxviii).
In his efforts to suppress an uprising of the ex-slave population of Jamaica in 1865, the governor, Edward John Eyre, had executed the rebel leader without a trial. A committee was formed in Britain in 1866 to prosecute Eyre. CD had supported the committee, while Hooker had opposed it. See Correspondence vol. 14 and Semmel 1962.
Hooker had visited Barton Hall in Suffolk, the residence of Charles James Fox Bunbury and Frances Joanna Bunbury. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1868].
Hooker refers to Katherine Emily McMurdo, daughter of William Montagu Scott McMurdo. William McMurdo was a brother of Archibald McMurdo, first lieutenant on HMS Terror during the expedition to the Antarctic between 1839 and 1843. (Robert McMurdo, personal communication.)
Wollaston had been among the guests at a weekend party at Down in 1856 at which the transmutation of species was discussed. The other guests were Thomas Henry Huxley and Hooker. See Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Charles Lyell, 1–2 May 1856 and n. 7.
The reference is to The reign of law (Campbell 1867), by George Douglas Campbell, the duke of Argyll. For CD’s view of the book, see Correspondence vol. 15, letter to A. R. Wallace, 12 and 13 October [1867].
The procedures for the election of foreign members to the Royal Society of London are described in Record of the Royal Society of London, pp. 95–6, 100. Certificates signed by six or more fellows were required for nomination. The number of foreign members was restricted to fifty. Thomas Thomson was a fellow of the Royal Society and a long-standing collaborator of Hooker’s.


Campbell, George Douglas. 1867. The reign of law. London: Alexander Strahan.

Candolle, Alphonse de. 1855. Géographie botanique raisonnée ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle. 2 vols. Paris: Victor Mason. Geneva: J. Kessmann.

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

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.

Semmel, Bernard. 1962. The Governor Eyre controversy. London: Macgibbon & Kee.

Wollaston, Thomas Vernon. 1867. Coleoptera Hesperidum, being an enumeration of the coleopterous insects of the Cape Verde archipelago. London: John Van Voorst.


Wollaston’s situation hopeless; he must go to Boulogne or Jersey to live. A friend will keep his collection and books together.

JDH’s opinion of Wollaston’s Coleoptera Hesperidum [1867].

Cannot read Duke of Argyll.

CD’s view of Asa Gray as foreign member of Royal Society; compares him to Candolle.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 189–190
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5807,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16