skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   13 January 1869

Down. | Bromley. | Kent.

Jan 13. 69

My dear Hooker,

As I believe you will not much grudge the trouble I send by this post 13 pages of M.S, well written, in answer to Nägeli for the new Edit. of the Origin.1 I should be extremely obliged if you would read it over, and see whether I have made any blunders, as is very likely to be the case. I have quoted Aug. St. Hilaire from my own notes, & when I made them I certainly understood what he meant, but now I am not so sure that I do, and therefore am the more likely to blunder.2 I quote Asa Gray on Mimulus and Dr Masters on Saponaria from the Abstracts given in the Gardiner’s Chron: of papers read to the Linn. Soc. 1856 Ap. 15 & Nov. 18; and these papers I have not got; but the Abstract in the G. Chron. seems clear.3

Besides looking out for blunders I should of course be grateful for any criticism, but I do not want to be unreasonable, knowing well how busy you are.

Ever yours | Ch. Darwin

The style of my M.S. will no doubt require improvement.—


The manuscript has not been found, but see Origin 5th ed., pp. 151–7. Carl Wilhelm von Nägeli’s monograph Entstehung und Begriff der naturhistorischen Art (The origin and concept of natural historical species; Nägeli 1865) was about the mechanisms and principles operative in the development and transmutation of species. CD’s copy of Nägeli 1865 is heavily annotated and there is a partial manuscript translation, beginning on page 15 of the German text, along with a page of notes by CD, in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. Nägeli had opposed what he termed the theory of ‘usefulness’ (‘Nützlichkeitstheorie’, that is, CD’s transmutation theory) to his own theory of perfectibility (‘Vervollkommnung’), which posited an inner tendency towards a more complex organisation (Nägeli 1865, p. 29). He claimed that CD’s theory could only account for functional changes whereas his own theory explained development in purely morphological characteristics that had no functional advantage. For more on Nägeli’s theory, see Correspondence vol. 16, letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 December [1868].
In Origin 5th ed., pp. 155–6, CD referred to Auguste de Sainte-Hilaire’s discussion of varying numbers of ovaria in Zanthoxylon, varying numbers of locules in Helianthemum, and different forms of Gomphia oleaeformis (probably a misspelling of G. oleaefolia). Sainte-Hilaire discussed Gomphia in Sainte-Hilaire 1841, pp. 507–8.
For the reference to Gray on Mimulus, see Origin 5th ed., p. 155 (see also Gardeners’ Chronicle, 19 April 1856, p. 263, and Gray 1856). In Origin 5th ed., p. 156, CD mentioned Maxwell Tylden Masters’s observations on Saponaria officinalis (see also Gardeners’ Chronicle, 6 December 1856, p. 806, and Masters 1856).


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

Masters, Maxwell Tylden. 1856. Note on a monstrosity of the flowers of Saponaria officinalis, L. [Read 18 November 1856.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society Botanical Papers. 1: 159–62.

Nägeli, Carl Wilhelm von. 1865. Entstehung und Begriff der naturhistorischen Art. 2d edition. Munich: Verlag der königl. Akademie.

Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.


Sends MS of 13 pages in answer to Nägeli, for new edition of Origin [5th ed., p. 151].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 110–11
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6550,” accessed on 6 October 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17