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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [16 April 1846]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Hooker

It would give me great pleasure to help you even in the construction of a sentence, though if you knew what a bad hand I am in building my own, you would apply to some better workman.— I find I am more disabled than usual in this instance from not knowing the precise facts.— In many respects I like your expression centrifugal, & it is a striking one which is a great advantage; I would use “centrifugally” & avoid the word force.— I doubt more about “centripetal”, as it appears that the Gnaphaliums tend to revert to more than one centre or type. I presume in the case of Senecio you actually mean that the species differ in rough proportion to the distance from some one country inhabited by your typical form; if you mean that the groups of species differ in different countries in proportion to their distances apart, I wd certainly altogether avoid “centrifugal”, as it irresistibly leads the mind to one type & tends to the notion of one central spot whence the species have spread; in this case one naturally wishes to know what is your typical form, & what is its country.— The whole case strikes me as eminently curious.— Shall you elsewhere enlarge on Gnaphalium? I do not quite understand why you state that the species return in each country to a few typical forms, instead of supposing that the same typical forms have been originally widely spread, & have in each country varied a little.—1

I wish with all my heart I could aid you; I am often myself driven half-desperate over a paragraph.— I have made one or two most trifling pencil suggestions: I do not understand what you mean by “its recognized states”.—

I shall be proud to append my name to your certificate on Wednesday.—2 I shall not be able to return your Books quite so quickly as I anticipated, as Bailliere has no copy of M. Tandon.3

Ever yours | C. Darwin

Would it not be adviseable when you remark on the confined ranges of species of Senecio, though belonging to a genus, of univers⁠⟨⁠al⁠⟩⁠ diffusion & numerous in species,—to point out why this is remarkable, viz in as much as the species of most genera which are large in number & have very wide ranges have themselves wide ranges.—4


Hooker was preparing an account for J. D. Hooker 1844–7, p. 309 (Gnaphalium) and p. 315 (Senecio). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 1 February 1846.
A reference to Hooker’s forthcoming election to the Geological Society (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 April [1846], n. 1). CD attended a council meeting of the Geological Society on 22 April (Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II).
CD’s suggestion is taken up in J. D. Hooker 1844–7, p. 315 n.


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

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1844–7. Flora Antarctica. 1 vol. and 1 vol. of plates. Pt 1 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Reeve Brothers.

Moquin-Tandon, Horace Bénédict Alfred. 1841. Eléments de tératologie végétale, ou, histoire abrégée des anomalies de l’organisation dans les végétaux. Paris: P.-J. Loss.


CD’s suggestions for improving a paragraph by JDH.

On distribution of certain species and their variation relative to a central, typical form.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 60
Physical description
ALS 3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 974,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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