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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   13 August 1869


Aug 13 /69.

Dear old Darwin

I was delighted to hear of your being back & better.1

I did not mean to imply that Hallett affirmed that all variation stopped, far from it—2 he maintains the contrary, but, if I understand him aright—he soon arrives at a point, beyond which any further accumulation in the direction sought is so small & so slow, that practically, a fixity of type (not absolute fixity however) is the result. Also that coincident with this point is that the plant is also very slow to vary in other directions than that it was bred to accumulate. This, I supposed, correlation would account for—viz. that while you are knowingly accumulating in one direction correlation obliges you unknowingly to be accumulating in others.

I suppose I must read the N. B.3 but I never read now, & am getting very tired of the struggle, not for life, thank God, but of life. & am getting overweighted with duties of the Colonial & Foreign Office which want endless supplies of seeds & forest trees, &c, that I alone can procure, & I only through personal correspondence, with people, who would snap their fingers at Official requests.

The D. of A. has further requested me to superintend the publication of a Flora Sylvatica of India, that will give me a lot of trouble. I think he is paying me off for my kick at Nat: Theology!4 Next Tuesday I go to the Brit. Ass. which grieves me.5 then for 2 days to Sir Thos Acland, & for as many to Symond of Pendock, where I hope the fair Cinthea will amuse me, for I am very dull & down in the mouth—6 Especially because poor Willy is coming home from N.Z.—like a bad shilling to its passer!— he is so young of his age, childish & purposeless, that Hector can get no one to take it him—7 He has also been threatened with more hemorhage, & has had a little more indeed, but of this I have said nothing to any one but my wife.8 He will arrive about beginning of winter & I shall have to send him off again at once—

I have written to Mr Merivale at the F. O. & asked him to send you a copy of the India Census if he can.9

I have figured Drosophyllum & will make a few observations on it’s affinities   it is clearly Drosereceous, I went over the matter with Oliver—10 I observe one remarkable character & I think unique in plant, that the leaf is revolute in Vernation   please look to this— our specimens have gone to the dogs, I cannot conceive why— they had my special attention— Do not pack & send yours’ as I am going away. I should like to run down for a Sunday after Exeter & have a chat with you about it—11

I saw Huxley the other day as bright as a lark—about to publish his “Darwiniana”—12 he is a prodigy

What a capital letter of Fritz Mueller you sent me— how admirably he plans his observations— the Begonia is growing.13

I saw Lyell 3 weeks ago14   he is I believe in Scotland—what doing I know not.

I see no necessity for your subscribing to the Faraday Monument— I had to as P. B. S.—& to do the maximum of £5.5.015 Also I had to do the Ross memorial, which was £10.—16 These are the luxuries of Presidentship.

There will be a collection for the Faraday monument at Exeter, & I will pay for you if you really wish to, & say how much. but I see no call whatsoever. & disapprove this eternal touting for dead bones.— £2.2.0. would be ample any-how—

I have letters from Sydney with account of Ld Howes Island, the Boty. of which approaches Norfolk Island. There are 4 Palms on the Island (as many as in all N.S.W.!) which is only 412 miles long! Not a Proteaceæ! & very few Leguminosæ, Myrtaceæ or Rutaceæ! I suspect that the Palms are Australian types.17 What is to be done with such Islands, they fit into no theory.

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

Poor Moggridge has just called— he looks dreadfully ill—& has been very bad indeed.—18

CD annotations

3.1 I suppose … of life. 3.2]‘ X (Tait)’19 added pencil
4.6 Especially … passer!— 4.7] ‘X’ added pencil
6.2 I observe … to this— 6.4] ‘X’ added pencil
6.5 I should … it— 6.6] ‘X’ added pencil
10.1 I see … any-how— 11.3] crossed pencil
12.1 I have … theory. 12.5] ‘Geograph Distrib’ added pencil
14.1 Poor … indeed— 14.2] crossed pencil


See letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1869]. The Darwins arrived home from Wales on 31 July 1869 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 17, Appendix II)).
Hooker refers to Frederic Francis Hallett and his paper ‘On the laws of the development of cereals’, read at the British Association for the Advancement of Science meeting at Exeter on 18 August 1869. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 5 August 1869 and n. 4.
North British Review; see letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1869] and n. 4.
George Douglas Campbell, eighth duke of Argyll, was secretary of state for India. Hooker published the first of seven volumes of The flora of British India (J. D. Hooker 1875–97) in 1875 under the authority of the secretary of state for India in council, and dedicated it to Campbell. In his presidential address to the British Association in 1868, Hooker had described natural theology as ‘a science falsely so-called’, which is ‘to the scientific man a delusion, and to the religious man a snare’ (Athenæum, 22 August 1868, p. 248); Campbell was well-known as a supporter of natural theology.
The meeting of the British Association was held in Exeter from 18 to 25 August 1869.
Hooker refers to Thomas Dyke Acland and to William Samuel Symonds, rector of Pendock, Worcestershire, and his daughter, Hyacinth Symonds; see also letter from J. D. Hooker, [25 January 1869].
Hooker refers to his son, William Henslow Hooker, who had been sent to New Zealand for his health, and to James Hector; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 17 July 1869 and n. 6.
Frances Harriet Hooker. William Hooker had suffered a burst blood vessel in the lungs in 1868 (see Correspondence vol. 16, letter from J. D. Hooker, 30 August 1868).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1869] and n. 15. Herman Merivale was permanent under-secretary at the India Office. Hooker presumably wrote ‘F. O.’ (Foreign Office) in error.
See n. 5, above. Hooker was unable to make the suggested visit to Down; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 September 1869.
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 7 August [1869] and n. 17. Hooker was president of the British Association. An upper limit of five guineas had been set for individual subscriptions to the Faraday Memorial Fund, set up in memory of Michael Faraday (The Times, 22 June 1869, p. 5).
Hooker probably refers to a memorial collection for James Clark Ross.
Lord Howe Island is in the Pacific Ocean, about halfway between the mainland of Australia and Norfolk Island, which is itself about 1500 km east of Australia. Charles Moore, director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, undertook a survey of the vegetation of Lord Howe Island in June 1869 and listed thatch palm (Howea forsteriana), curly-leaved palm (Howea belmoreana), umbrella palm (Hedyscepe canterburyana), all in the family Arecaceae, and a fourth unnamed dwarf species that he himself did not see (C. Moore 1869 and 1870). Moore also listed four species of Leguminosae, two of Myrtaceae, and two of Rutaceae; in his opinion the flora was closer to that of Norfolk Island than to mainland Australia (C. Moore 1870). Proteaceae is the family of proteas; Australia has more species than any other country. Leguminosae (now Fabaceae) is the bean family; Myrtaceae is the myrtle family; Rutaceae is the rue or citrus family.


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

Desmond, Ray. 1994. Dictionary of British and Irish botanists and horticulturists including plant collectors, flower painters and garden designers. New edition, revised with the assistance of Christine Ellwood. London: Taylor & Francis and the Natural History Museum. Bristol, Pa.: Taylor & Francis.

Moore, Charles. 1869. Lord Howe’s Island. Gardeners’ Chronicle (1869): 968–9.


Did not intend to imply that Hallett said variation stopped, but that it arrives at a point where further accumulation in direction sought is so slow as to result practically in fixity of type – but not absolute fixity.

Duke of Argyll has requested JDH to superintend publication of a flora of India. JDH thinks he [Argyll] is paying him off for his kick at natural theology.

Willy [Hooker] returning from New Zealand.

A unique character in Drosophyllum.

Sees no reason for CD to contribute to Ross and Faraday memorials.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 103: 27–9, DAR 100: 156
Physical description
ALS 8pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6862,” accessed on 7 October 2022,

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