Wallace Letters Online

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Record number: WCP5322

Sent by:
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent to:
Charles Robert Darwin
24 May 1863

Sent by Joseph Dalton Hooker, Kew, Surrey to Charles Robert Darwin [none given] on 24 May 1863.

Record created:
20 May 2013 by Chillingworth, Nancy


Hooker states that he will re-read Wallace's 1853 book about the Amazon as he doesn't recall it interesting him at all when it was first published.

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LETTER (WCP5322.5866)

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

Held by:
Cambridge University Library
Finding number:
MS DAR 101: 143-6
Copyright owner:
Reproduced with kind permission of members of the Hooker family

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Transcription information






Dr. Darwin

I was aware how poorly you must be in receiving the sad case & Abbeville paper, for both of which much thanks. No one yet knows who wrote said Case-- Busk1 & Egerton2 both deny it. Wm. Gourlay F.L.S.3 Is the man you ask about, a most estimable fellow who did great good in Glasgow all ways, & died awfully of Fungus hæmatodes in the face! A dreadful death, & rapid.

I twice took Clianthus, to look at it, but had no time, & so sent it to you— not doubting that you would explain it readily & rightly, & that if I tried I should make a bungle of it.

Thanks for your exposition of your Island views. It I think [[2]] I understand them precisely— my difficulty in accepting them arises from the want of apparent accordance between the plants common to Isld & continent, & what I should have expected to be common. In other words migration inadequate to explain the presence of what is common to both, & the absence of what is absent in one. I am far from believing in ancient connection, all I hold is that in the present state of science it is to me the least difficult hypothesis—though a very bad one. Cameroons Mts have much shaken my faith in our having any clue to ancient or modern migration as yet—We want some new hypothesis, as novel as Nat. Selection, or Glacial Cold, & as stupendous as continental connection.

I do hope Godman4 & Salvin5 will [[4]] stick to Gallapagos—my fear is that G., a fine looking young man of means, will be bagged by some pretty girl before a year is over.

I had a preliminary talk with F. the other evening about a reconciliation with Lyell6. Of course he was not ready yet, that I expected but I insist I must thought right to broach the subject before he was ready—it will probably be weeks months yet. Poor Lyell seems perdu, no one sees him in London, & I am told by one that met him at Osborne, that he buttonholes you about F.—as Wheatstone used about Brewster.

I am going to re-read Wallaces book. I do not remember that it interested me at all when it appeared. I wonder that Wallace does not fructify as Bates7 does. Dr. Gray8 is really not malignant, Owen9 is,—Gray has all the attributes of malignancy except [[4]] malignance—there then!—or rather, he talks like a malignant man without feeling in the least malignant.— I never knew Gray to do an action that sprung from an unkind motive or feeling. he abounds in all the active attributes of unkindness & malignancy without being either in heart.

I will get the Anthropolical. I shall be intensely interested in your opinion of Benthams Address. It is neither judicial nor argumentative, only intended to show his opinion of the position of your hypothesis in regard to its acceptance, its influence & its future prospects, on scientific research— he has taken immense pains with it— of course he does not appreciate half your stand-points.

What a mess Falc. Busk, Carpenter10 & Prestwich11 have made of it! We had a "field night'' at the Club last Thursday, & trotted them [[5]] all out. I cannot but think that Prestwich's position is most awkward— he had just claimed from Lyell the lion's share of authority in such matters & forthwith breaks down on a practical question. I regard the position of all 4 as humiliating. Falconer is of his original opinion saving solely that no fraud was played, (how he reconciles this to his facts I cannot conceive). Busk believes a little more than F.— Carpenter more than either, & P. is ready to believe any thing! Falc. assured us that the his whole conversation with Lartet in the train from Paris to Moulin Quignon was, how so to word the Report as to give least umbrage to France's susceptibility! Lubbock tells me he is going next week to see for himself.

[[6]] My wife's knee is bad again but better— we go to the Nightingales for 3 days this week, & to Bury-hill next for as long or longer—I do hate these sort of visits, but one has no business to cut old & kind friends, & certainly trotting about agrees with my wife, & it is very nice to see how people like her— How people with disagreeable wives can v

isit is a most fearful & wonderful thing.

I saw Huxley on Thursday looking quite well— his wife & children are at Felixstow.

Palmerston12 has given my brother in Law Leonard a living of £600 & good house in Suffolk, near Halesworth.— his wife has had a very bad confinement indeed.

I fancy I can feel the bad influence [[7]] of Yankee affairs on A Gray's ordinary correspondence: it makes him very bumptious scientifically!

I send you Nægeli's paper & I pity you, but you are a hard headed man:—these subjects & papers floor me.— Please send it back when done with as it is Library copy

I will remember the 2-formed stamen plant (Lagerstroemia) when it flowers—

I am glad that Lubbock13 is going to Abbeville— that young man wants advice— he is living too hard, a great deal, what with business Society & science—I feel very strongly attached to him indeed. I think him the most faultless [[8]] character I know, who is at the same time one of the best & most active & clever. Thank God there are some men worth living for, but really when one peeps beyond the immediate circle of ones friends one gets disgusted & disquited [sic] altogether.

Ever your affecte grumbler | J D Hooker [signature]


1. Busk, George (1807 – 1886). An English surgeon for the Royal Navy and comparative anatomist.

2. Egerton, Philip Grey (1806 – 1881). An English paleontologist and politician.

3. Gourlie, William (1815 – 1856). A Scottish botanist.

4. Godman, Frederick DuCane (1834 – 1919). An English entomologist, lepidopterist, and ornithologist.

5. Salvin, Osbert (1835 – 1898). An English herpetologist, ornithologist, and naturalist.

6. Lyell, Charles (1797 – 1875). An English geologist.

7. Bates, Henry Walter (1825 – 1892). An English naturalist.

8. Gray, Asa (1810 – 1888). An American botanist.

9. Owen, Richard (1804 – 1892). An English biologist and comparative anatomist.

10. Carpenter, William Benjamin (1813 – 1885). An English physician and zoologist.

11. Prestwich, Joseph (1812 – 1896). An English geologist.

12. Temple, Henry John (1784 – 1865). An English prime minister known as Lord Palmerston.

13. Lubbock, John (1834 – 1913). An English politician and biologist.

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