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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [18 September 1845]



My dear Hooker.

I write a line to say that Cosmos arrived quite safely (NB one sheet came loose in Pt. I) & to thank you for your nice note. I have just begun the introduction & groan over the style, which in such parts is full half the battle.— How true many of the remarks are (ie as far as I can understand the wretched English) on the scenery;1 it is an exact expression of ones own thoughts.—

I wish I ever had any Books to lend you in return for the many you have lent me.—

What a curious case that of the Lathyrus; I do not think you cd pick out on the whole American Coast, a spot so unlikely for any plant to have been introduced by man: it is inconceivably wild & most seldom visited. The maps before the Beagle’s survey were all vilely inaccurate.—

All which you so kindly say about my species work does not alter one iota my long self-acknowledged presumption in accumulating facts & speculating on the subject of variation, without having worked out my due share of species. But now for nine years it has been anyhow the greatest amusement to me.—

Farewell my dear Hooker, I grieve more than you can well believe, over our prospect of so seldom meeting.

I have never perceived but one fault in you, & that you have grievously, viz modesty;—you form an exception to Sydney Smith’s aphorism, that merit & modesty have no other connexion, except in their first letter2

Farewell | C. Darwin


Humboldt 1845–8, 1: 6–13.
See letter from Charles Lyell, [after 2 August 1845], in which Lyell quotes the same aphorism.


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


Kosmos [by Alexander von Humboldt] has arrived safely.

CD acknowledges his presumption in speculating on variation without having worked out his due share of species, but "for nine years it has been anyhow the greatest amusement to me".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 42
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 917,” accessed on 14 April 2024,

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