Letter icon
Letter 3468

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

7 Mar [1862]

Higher resolution and downloadable images available from Cambridge Digital Library

    Summary Add

  • +

    CD wishes he could sympathise with Asa Gray's politics.

  • +

    Orchids to appear soon.

  • +

    Pre-glacial Arctic distribution.

  • +

    Work on floral dimorphism.

  • +

    High opinion of Buckle as a writer.


Down Bromley Kent

March 7th

My dear Hooker.

I have thought you would like to see enclosed from Gray: without having seen mine, you will not perceive what nice little sneers it contains; & there is a slap at you. I heartily wish I cd. sympathise more with so excellent a man. Some time, return the note to me.—

I will soon prepare & modify some extracts for Linn. Soc about the three Orchid forms; why I wrote again was because I did not think that you understood they would be chiefly mere extracts from my book.

You will be disappointed in my little book: I have got to hate it, though the subject has fairly delighted me: I am an ass & always fancy at the time that others will care for what I care about: I am convinced its publication will be bad job for Murray. Well it won't be a big concern.—

Your last note will be very useful when I come to reconsider your Arctic paper (by the way I will never believe that naturalists are so dull, as not sooner or later to appreciate this paper); your notion of a preglacial centre of dispersal far north, seems good. I have often speculated that during eocene period, there could hardly have been any strictly Arctic Flora & Fauna; & consequently their curious poverty, from want of time for great modification in strictly Arctic genera.— Greenland is indeed very curious; I do not feel quite so sure as you (considering direction of currents of sea, & greater proximity of land far north) that chance migration would have brought to there temperate forms. I am more willing, considering Geolog. nature of Spitzbergen & Bear Isd. to admit a recent continental extension there than almost anywhere else.—

``Link   Die Urwelt & das Alterthum &c 1821. p. 102'',—on Alpine plants & change of climate.—

I have had a most obliging letter from Mr. Crocker; who offers & wishes to experiment, so I have given him some things to do; it will be grand if he will work.— I am at work on Dimorphism; in Primula & am finding out some very odd & perplexing facts; including a third form in the Chinese Primrose; & I am nearly sure that daylight is coming with respect to the melastomas.— Can you tell me whether anything is better than Spirits & Water to preserve flowers in, as I have to preserve all, as I cannot draw.—

Have you read Buckle's 2d. Vol: it has interested me greatly; I do not care whether his views are right or wrong; but I shd. think they contained much truth. There is a noble love of advancement & truth throughout; & to my taste he is the very best writer of the English Language that ever lived, let the other be who he may.—

Yours affect | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

  • +
    f1 3468.f1
    The year is provided by the reference to CD's paper on the Linnean Society's trimorphic orchid specimen (see n. 3, below).
  • +
    f2 3468.f2
    See the letter from Asa Gray, 18 February 1862, which is a reply to the letter to Asa Gray, 22 January [1862].
  • +
    f3 3468.f3
    CD's letter has not been found, but see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1862. CD's paper, `Three sexual forms of Catasetum tridentatum', was read before the Linnean Society of London on 3 April 1862.
  • +
    f4 3468.f4
    CD's publisher, John Murray, issued 1500 copies of the first edition of Orchids on 15 May 1862. Although favourably reviewed, the book sold slowly. See letter to John Murray, 9 April [1862], and Freeman 1977, p. 112.
  • +
    f5 3468.f5
    J. D. Hooker 1861a. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 March 1862.
  • +
    f6 3468.f6
    See letter to J. D. Hooker, 25 February [1862], and letters from J. D. Hooker, 27 February 1862 and 3 March 1862.
  • +
    f7 3468.f7
    Link 1821. See letter from J. D. Hooker, 27 February 1862 and n. 5.
  • +
    f8 3468.f8
    See letter from C. W. Crocker, 17 February 1862.
  • +
    f9 3468.f9
    CD's letter has not been found. The letters from C. W. Crocker, [before 13 March 1862] and 13 March 1862 give an indication of the experiments Crocker agreed to carry out for CD.
  • +
    f10 3468.f10
    CD had carried out crossing experiments with the Chinese primrose, Primula sinensis, in 1861 (`Dimorphic condition in Primula', pp. 87--8; see also Collected papers 2: 54--6), and had subsequently raised plants from the resulting seeds. With this second generation of plants CD carried out a second series of crosses in late January and February 1862, some of the results of which were later given in `Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants', pp. 410--18 (see also the experimental notes in DAR 108: 15--18, 26--8, 34--9). The experiments were designed to investigate further the connection between dimorphism and sterility (see `Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants', pp. 431--7, letter to T. H. Huxley, 14 [January 1862] and n. 9, and Correspondence vol. 10, Appendix VI). See also letter to Alphonse de Candolle, 17 June [1862] and n. 2, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 June [1862] and n. 4, and letter to John Scott, 11 December [1862]. In `Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants', p. 414, CD reported that his attention was first drawn to the equal-styled variety of Primula sinensis in 1862 by observing some anomalous flowers in a long-styled plant derived from a self-fertilised long-styled parent. As a result, he reported (p. 415), he had examined the plants `in several small collections', and had discovered that `the equal-styled variety is not rare'. CD's notes from these observations and experiments, dated 27 February -- 30 March, 24 April 1862, and 30 May 1862, are in DAR 108: 38 v., 56--66.
  • +
    f11 3468.f11
    CD had read and greatly admired the first volume of Henry Thomas Buckle's History of civilization in England (Buckle 1857--61) in 1858 (see Correspondence vol. 7, letter to J. D. Hooker, 23 February [1858]). In the second volume, published in 1861, Buckle used the examples of Spain and Scotland to defend his four leading propositions concerning the history of civilisation: first, that human progress depends on the prosecution and diffusion of science; second, that scientific investigation requires a prior `spirit of scepticism', itself subsequently fostered by science; third, that the discoveries thus made increase the influence of intellectual as compared with moral truths; and, finally, that the `great enemy' of such progress, and thus of civilisation, is `the protective spirit' found in the constant interference of church and state in human affairs (Buckle 1857--61, 2: 1).
Maximized view Print letter