Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP5301

Sent by:
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent to:
Joseph Dalton Hooker
26 February 1881

Sent by Charles Robert Darwin, Down House, Beckenham, Kent, S.E. to Joseph Dalton Hooker [none given] on 26 February 1881.

Record created:
17 May 2013 by Chillingworth, Nancy


Discusses Wallace's view on European plants and effects of glaciers on Alpine plants.

Record contains:

  • letter (1)

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LETTER (WCP5301.5845)

A typical letter handwritten by author in English and signed by author.

Held by:
Cambridge University Library
Finding number:
MS DAR 95: 509-12
Copyright owner:
©William H. Darwin

Physical description

Transcription information





Beckenham, Kent.

Railway Station

Orpington.S.E.R 2

Sat[urday]. Feb 26/ [18]813

4 Bryanston Str[eet], W

My Dear Hooker4,

It was a real pleasure to me to see your hand-writing again, for it is a long time since I have heard of you. What a bore about the mumps; but I am very glad that you will soon have complete rest & change, in which latter I have untold faith. I suppose that Lady Hooker5 goes with you & I hope she may enjoy herself. Pray give her my kindest remembrances. I had vaguely thought whether I [[2]] would pay you a call at Kew, but thought that you would probably be too busy, & it seems that you will be on the road before I could come.

I sh[oul]d think that you might make a very interesting address on Geograph[ical]. Distrib[ution].. Could you give a little history of the subject. I, for one, sh[oul]d like to read such history in petto; but I can see one very great difficulty, that you [[3]] yourself ought to figure most prominently in it; & this you would not do, for you are just the man to treat yourself in a dishonourable manner! I sh[oul]d very much like to see you discuss some of Wallace’s6 views, especially his ignoring the all powerful effects of the Glacial period with respect to Alpine plants. I do not know what you think, but it appears to me that he exaggerates enormously the influence of debacles & slips & new [[4]] surface of soil being exposed for the reception of wind-blown seeds. What kinds of seeds have the plants which are common to the distant mountain-summits in Africa? Wallace lately wrote to me about the mountain-plants of Madagascar being the same with those on mountains in Africa & seemed to think it proved dispersal by the wind, without apparently having enquired what sort of seeds the plants bore.

[[5]] I suppose it w[oul]d be the travelling too far, (though for geographical section the discussion ought to be far reaching) but I sh[oul]d like to see the European or northern element in the C[ape]. of Good Hope Flora discussed. I cannot swallow his Wallace’s 7 view the European plants travelled down the Andes, tenanted the hypothetical Antarctic continent (in which I quite believe) & thence spread to S[outh]. Australia & the Cape of G[ood]. Hope.

[[6]] Moseley8 told me not long ago that he proposed to search at Kerguelen Land the coal beds most carefully & was absolutely forbidden to do so by Sir W Thompson9 who said that he would undertake the work, & he never once visited them. This puts me in a passion. I hope that [[7]] you will keep to your intention and write make an address on Distribution. Though I differ in much from Wallace, his Island Life10 seems to me a wonderful book.

Farewell, I do hope that you may have a most prosperous journey. Give my kindest remembrances to Asa Gray11.

Ever yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin [signature]


1. "509" written in a later hand in the top right hand corner.

2. Printed address crossed out by author.

3. "Sat. 26" written by author, "Feb" and "/81" added in a different pen.

4. Hooker, Joseph Dalton (1817-1911). British botanist.

5. Hooker, Hyacinth Jardine (1842-1921). Second wife of Joseph Dalton Hooker, married in 1876.

6. Wallace, Alfred Russel (1823-1913). British naturalist.

7. Word "his" crossed out and "Wallace's" written above.

8. Moseley, Henry Nottidge (1844-1891). British naturalist who sailed on HMS Challenger.

9. Thomson, Sir Charles Wyville (1830-1882). British naturalist and chief scientist on the Challenger expedition (1872-1876).

10. Wallace, Alfred Russel (1881) Island Life, Harper and brothers, New York.

11. Gray, Asa (1810-1888). American botanist.

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