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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   1 September [1845]

[West Park, Kew]

Monday Morning | 1st. Sept.

My dear Darwin

I think that I informed you of my venerable Grandfather’s death but had so many to write to on the subject, that I may have trespassed on your good nature in favor of others who would not take the neglect so well.

About a fortnight ago I was called off hurriedly to Edinbro’, to canvass the Town council for the chair of Botany: & to undergo the detestable ordeal of writing to all my friends for testimonials for them to judge me by: thanks to their kindness & blindness they have supplied me with about 50 already & I expect 40 more—1 I had hoped that one from Brown one from Humboldt with three from Professors proving that my lectures gave complete satisfaction would have been enough, but it was not so. Balfour2 had 60 or 80 & I must get the same. The election comes on in 1st week in October. I expect that the Crown and Town will come to a private understanding before—that, & let the nominated candidate be elected after telling the councillors who to support, & who not at their peril.3 There will be an immense deal to do at Edinbro with the Garden & to reform (between ourselves) a certain sink, called the Bot. Soc. of Edinburgh, which I must of course join & either do nothing to or remodel

I returned this day week & have been busy ever since with private affairs & snatching all moments for the unlucky Flora, Antarct.

I was reading Cosmos in the railway carriages, have you seen it? the translation is never to be sufficiently execrated, I cannot understand many pages of it at all.4 I can send you my copy if you have it not, for such a translation is never worth buying I should think, but I may be all wrong in my judgement.

I have been thinking more & more upon Forbes Botanico Geological remarks.5 I can account in no other way for the similarity of the Irish & Portuguese floras, or of the Cape Horn & Kerguelens Land; Migration as an agent is all very well, but it has been ridden to death, in atempts to account for such similarities in vegetation. Now I see what Strzelecki was at, when he told me & I told you of the identtity of the Geology & Botany of Illawarra & V. D L. or something of that sort which I told you of at the time. 6 Cunningham long ago remarked that some Tasmanian plants suddenly appeared on the Blue Mts. but not (I think) at an elevation analagous to the differences of Latitude 7 If we are to account for these things geologically what an antiquity it gives to vegetation & how eminently true it must be that the Geological changes must have been slow & gradual not to have obliterated all traces of vegetation during the removal of the intervening land.

Please send any thing to Hiscock’s Kew boat, Hungerford stairs: he has an office there & receives all parcels for us. I want a number of your copy of Fl. Ant. or I would have sent it ere this.

I am truly sorry that Mrs Darwin does not recover, could you not come over here for a day,? my Sisters would be delighted to make her acquaintance as wd. my mother, but she is going with my Father to Norfolk tomorrow for 10 days. You live in such an impracticable part of the country that we ie. the Ladies cannot call or even send to enquire, but you are right to be down there. I fear I shall have to go to Edinburgh again.

Many thanks for your excellent testimonial & all you have done Ever most truly yours | Jos D Hooker.

Guaya villa is in Span S. Am a species of Eugenia, so I daresay the Gallapago berry called Guaya vita is my Psidium Galapageum (allied to Guava, same genus) native of Jas. Island only, found also by Scouler there. 8

There is an excellent paper in the Ann. Sc. Nat for April 1845 & chart,9 on the distrib. of Conif. in Europe, it looks rather too precise to be accurate, (a very ungenerous remark) the replacement of species along the Italian coast is curious & what I have been working out with regard to some genera of S. American plants along the Chilian coast.

CD annotations

crossed ink
‘Kosmos’added pencil
4.1 I was … carriages] scored pencil
scored pencil
scored brown crayon
5.10 an antiquity … Hooker. 8.2.] crossed ink
6.1 to Hiscock’s … stairs:] square brackets added pencil
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J. D. Hooker 1845c, in which 153 testimonial letters were eventually printed.
John Hutton Balfour stood for election to the professorship as the Town Council nominee.
The Town Council retained the right to appoint to the valuable University professorship (the ‘chair’) while the Crown appointed to the less valuable Regius professorship and the curatorship of the botanic garden. On previous occasions both parties had agreed on a single candidate for the positions; however, the Town Council had not been consulted about the Crown’s nomination of Hooker and attempted to block his election. See Huxley, ed. 1918, 1: 204–5.
Humboldt 1845–8. The translation was by Augustin Prichard.
See J. D. Hooker 1845d, pp. 224–5, for his description of Psidium galapageium.


Cunningham, Allan. 1827. A few general remarks on the vegetation of certain coasts of Terra Australis. In vol. 2 of Narrative of a survey of the intertropical and western coasts of Australia … in the years 1818 and 1822, by Phillip Parker King. London.

Forbes, Edward. 1845. On the distribution of endemic plants, more especially those of the British Islands, considered with regard to geological changes. Report of the 15th meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Cambridge, Transactions of the sections, pp. 67–8.

Humboldt, Alexander von. 1845–8. Kosmos; a general survey of the physical phenomena of the universe. Translated by Augustin Prichard. 2 vols. London.

Huxley, Leonard, ed. 1918. Life and letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, OM, GCSI. Based on materials collected and arranged by Lady Hooker. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Schouw, Joakim Frederik. 1845. Les conifères d’Italie, sous les rapports géographiques et historiques. Annales des Sciences Naturelles (Botanique) 3d ser. 3: 230–72.


JDH’s grandfather’s death.

Collecting testimonials for the Edinburgh chair.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 14–15
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 910,” accessed on 2 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3