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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 February 1873

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Feb 17— 1873

My dear Hooker

I am drawing up an acct of my crossing experiments.1 Will you be so kind as to add the families, (written legibly) after the 9 enclosed genera. Steudel & Lindley differ so much that I do not know which to follow.2 For all the genera in yr Student’s Flora3 I follow you   Will you therefore be so kind as to add, after the name of each family, which family in your Synopsis4 the new one to be added by you after my new genera ought to be introduced. I cannot always follow any systematic arrangement, but whenever there is no objection I shd like to arrange the families in some sort of natural order. I hope & think this job cannot take you more than 5 m. If you have not already read Spalding’s article on instinct in Macmillan, it wd be well worth yr reading.5

yours affectly | Ch. Darwin

I have 12 dozen letters to write so no more.—


CD refers to a series of experiments on the offspring of self-fertilised and cross-fertilised plants, begun in 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Asa Gray, 10 September [1866] and n. 13). His results were published in Cross and self fertilisation.
The enclosure has not been found. Ernst Gottlieb Steudel’s Nomenclator botanicus (Steudel 1841) is the Darwin Library–CUL. Although CD’s copy of the third edition of John Lindley’s Vegetable kingdom (Lindley 1853) has not been found, it is the edition of the work listed in CD’s Library catalogue (DAR 240). In Cross and self fertilisation, p. 357, CD wrote that the species were arranged nearly in the order followed by Lindley in his Vegetable kingdom.
CD refers to Hooker’s ‘Synopsis of the classes, cohorts and orders’ in General system of botany (Le Maout and Decaisne 1873, pp. 995–1023).
Douglas Alexander Spalding’s article, ‘Instinct. With original observations on young animals’ appeared in Macmillan’s Magazine, February 1873 (Spalding 1873b). CD had mentioned the article in his letter to Nature, [before 13 February 1873].


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

Cross and self fertilisation: The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the vegetable kingdom. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1876.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1870. The student’s flora of the British Islands. London: Macmillan.

Lindley, John. 1853. The vegetable kingdom; or, the structure, classification, and uses of plants, illustrated upon the natural system. 3d edition with corrections and additional genera. London: Bradbury & Evans.

Spalding, Douglas Alexander. 1873. Instinct. With original observations on young animals. Macmillan’s Magazine 27 (1872–3): 282–93.

Steudel, Ernst Gottlieb. 1841. Nomenclator botanicus: seu: synonymia plantarum universalis, enumerans ordine alphabetico nomina atque synonyma, tum generica tum specifica, et a Linnaeo et a recentioribus de re botanica scriptoribus plantis phanerogamis imposita. 2d edition. 2 parts. Stuttgart and Tübingen: J. G. Cotta.


Is drawing up the account of his crossing experiments. Requests JDH to add the families after nine genera, the names of which he encloses. Whenever there is no objection he would like to arrange the families in some sort of natural order.

Recommends Spalding’s article on instinct in Macmillan’s Magazine [27 (1873): 265–81].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 257–8
Physical description
LS(A) 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8769,” accessed on 27 March 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21