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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [before 3 September 1846]1


This probable fracas between the 2 Geographers distresses me, for they are almost the only 2 men who have looked on British Flora with the eyes of philosophers.2 Watson in particular ranks in my opinion at the very head of English Botanists, whether for knowledge of species or of their distribution; he first wrote philosophically upon them & his works are of the highest order.

Unfortunately he is touchy & very severe when first offended, though he never holds a grudge long.

I need hardly ask what you are about, as my Proof sheets come from Reeves enveloped with cabalistic diagrams, all your own—which I doubt not belong to the Geology of S. America.3 When that work is over you will I suppose attack Species as you have long promised I wish you joy of the task: & shall be very glad to know your views— I have done all of Edmonstones Galapago plants that have been received,4 but understand that these are only duplicates of a much fuller collection not yet received. As it is, they modify the results drawn from the xamination of previous collections materially; there being more Guayaquil species amongst them.

I have at last finished down to the Ferns of Flor. Ant. & begun the Cryptog. I am ready on my return to send you a return of the species identical & representative inhabiting N. temperate & Antarctic regions. I hope you get your numbers regularly from Reeves; but he is not the most regular of publishers. This winter I shall (entre nous) bilk the Survey & work at home. My address is as above, where I shall be for a week or 10 days,5 longing to hear how you all are & what about

Ever my dear Darwin | Most truly yrs. | Jos D Hooker.

CD annotations

crossed pencil
‘20’added brown crayon
scored pencil
crossed pencil
scored pencil


Dated from CD’s reply, see letter to J. D. Hooker, [3 September 1846].
Hooker refers to Hewett Cottrell Watson’s belief that Edward Forbes had appropriated Watson’s ideas in E. Forbes 1845 and 1846, without acknowledging their source. Watson, like Forbes, argued that the British flora was made up from elements of other European floras which had, at one time or another, extended over Britain (Watson 1843). See Watson’s editorial comments in the Phytologist 2 (1846): 483–4 and the appendix to volume one of Watson’s Cybele Britannica (Watson 1847–59, 1: 465–72) for his accusations.
The illustrations for South America were printed by Reeve Brothers, publishers of J. D. Hooker 1844–7. See letter to Reeve Brothers, [August 1846].
Thomas Edmondston, who collected in the Galápagos. According to Hooker his collection was second only to CD’s and contained several plants not found in other collections (J. D. Hooker 1846, p. 238).
Hooker was examining the fossil plants of the Bristol coalfields in his capacity as botanist to the Geological Survey (Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 210).


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.

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.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1843. The geographical distribution of British plants. 3d edition. Pt 1 (no more published). London: Printed for the author.

Watson, Hewett Cottrell. 1847–59. Cybele Britannica; or British plants and their geographical relations. 4 vols. London: Longman.


Has done Edmondston’s Galapagos plants.

Dispute between Edward Forbes and H. C. Watson.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 100: 79
Physical description
ALS 2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 994,” accessed on 21 June 2024,

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