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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [8 or 15 July 1846]1

Down Farnborough Kent


My dear Hooker

I have been a shamefully bad correspondent; but I have not been quite so well as usual of late & have been overworked in trying to finish my S. American geology, of which I am inexpressibly wearied. We are extremely much obliged to you & to Sir W. & Lady Hooker for your invitation, which I had hoped much to accept in the Spring, but fear must now give up. My father’s health is rather failing & I must go there the last day of this month2 & I have much work to do in the interval, & have just recommenced a course of Galvanism, wh. I shd be sorry to break through, as I have had a good deal more sickness than usual. My wife, moreover, has just returned from 18 days absence at Tenby.3 I am very sorry to give it up, as we both looked forward to the visit with much pleasure. Shall you be at Southhampton?4 I have some feeble thoughts of it; I shd like much to spin some scientific yarns (as you express it) with you.—

Now for your letter; by all means trust FitzRoys measurements in the Appendix,5 the difference I have no doubt arises from recalculation with more accurate data for refraction &c.— With respect to Antuco6 I know nothing; the little I know on snow-line I have given in my 1st. Edit: of Journal.—7

I was very sorry to hear about poor Edmonston. The Galapagos seems a perennial source of new things; I hope you know which islands he visited.8

I was having some talk with Lyell about coal, when in London:9 his fossils from Alabama being most of them identical in species according to Bunbury with the coal-plants 20o degrees N. in Europe, is an interesting fact: I told him of your remarks on the equability of climate & wide extension & he has quoted them in a Paper just despatched for Silliman’s Journal.10 The more I think on coal, the more utterly perplexed the subject appears to me. He finds the Oolitic coal resting on granite. with no underclay &c.—

I received some time since & finished Hopkirk: there is very little in it, & I will return it soon.—

I have just finished your late numbers of the A. Flora & have been in truth delighted with them: I read a good many books, but I know none, which are so suggestive as your’s;— I refer, of course, to your generalizations, such as your discussion under Myrtaceæ,11 which interested me particularly, & even more your discussion on numbers of individuals & species: your conclusions on this latter point have surprised me much.12 Long life to you & may your Book extend to a 100 numbers— By the way, you cannot think how proud I am at seeing how many species I collected: it has often been a vexation to me, how much trouble I threw away on some collections, amongst which I formerly ranked my plants, but now they are a real source of pleasure to me.

There is one point of detail in works, like yours or the Zoology of the Beagle, which I have often regretted; namely that there is not some conventional means of showing the general Habitat, from the particular habitat of the specimens under description: thus you sometimes put, “Habitat, Chonos Isld.” & in turning over the page & reading your remarks I find it also inhabits Chiloe & Chile &c.—

Farewell, I shall be very glad to have some talk with you again, till we meet goodbye. | Ever yours | C. Darwin


Dated by the reference to Emma having just returned from Tenby, see n. 3, below.
CD went to Shrewsbury from 31 July to 9 August (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II).
Emma, William, and Anne Darwin were in Tenby from 19 June to 7 July 1846, see letter to Emma Darwin, [24 June 1846], n. 2.
The British Association was to meet in Southampton, 10–16 September 1846.
Narrative, appendix to volume two.
A volcano near Concepción, Chile. See Journal of researches, p. 374.
Thomas Edmondston was accidently shot dead on 24 January 1846 in Peru, shortly after visiting the Galápagos on board H.M.S. Herald.
CD recorded the expenses of a trip to London in his Account Book (Down House MS) on 1 July 1846.
C. Lyell 1846b, quoting Hooker on p. 230.
J. D. Hooker 1844–7, pp. 275–6, which discusses the relationships between floras of the southern hemisphere. This passage is extensively scored in CD’s copy (Darwin Library–CUL).
J. D. Hooker 1844–7, pp. 277–8, in which Hooker claimed that the area that contained most species of a particular family or genus did not necessarily carry a large number of individuals. In his copy CD has noted: ‘very odd [reverse question mark].once it was different | it may be if all individuals of all the species be counted’ (p. 277).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Narrative: Narrative of the surveying voyages of His Majesty’s ships Adventure and Beagle, between the years 1826 and 1836. [Edited by Robert FitzRoy.] 3 vols. and appendix. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


Regrets he cannot visit JDH.

Has been talking with Lyell about coal, which he finds utterly perplexing.

Is delighted with the generalisations in latest numbers of Flora Antarctica.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 63
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 986,” accessed on 25 January 2022,

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