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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   5 October [1878]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Oct 5th

My dear Hooker

I have been particularly glad to get some news of you & your doings. What an awful lot of work you have on your hands, & I am not in the least surprised at your howling. It is really enough to do you permanent injury. If I were Lady Hooker I would howl to some purpose, & stop you working so hard.—2

If you have to discuss flora of Canary Isld. I advise you to read F. Buchanan Whites paper, which I send by this Post.3 I think he throws great light on the stocking of all the Atlantic isld, through changed currents during the northern Glacial period.4 But unless you are inclined to believe in Croll, it will appear nothing to you.—5 Need not be returned— I have copied my scrawl6

I pity you with all my heart about your address to R. Socy. It must be a devil of a job.— Frank will do what you want as far as he can; but I can see nothing for him to do, except to give a list of what we have published during last 5 years, just indicating by single words what seems to us the more important points.7 But an author can never judge well on this head, & you can select any point which you may think worthy of notice. But I presume that you can afford very little space to any one subject or division of science.—

Thanks about the Oxalis: ill-luck to it  I have examined this species, but did not recognise the plants when grown out of doors.8 I do long my dear old friend to know that you have some rest & quietude

Ever yours | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 October 1878.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 October 1878. Hooker’s wife was Hyacinth Hooker.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 October 1878 and n. 9, and letter to F. B. White, 23 September [1878] and n. 2. Francis Buchanan White had evidently sent CD an offprint of his paper, ‘Contributions to a knowledge of the hemipterous fauna of St. Helena, and speculations on its origin’ (F. B. White 1878).
White had suggested that during one of the northern glacial periods equatorial currents were reversed, and that this accounted for the influx of temperate species of flora and fauna to St Helena (F. B. White 1878, pp. 458–60).
James Croll had theorised that glacial periods alternated between hemispheres (Croll 1868; for CD’s discussion with Croll on the topic, see Correspondence vol. 16). CD had used Croll’s theory to account for the survival of tropical species during an ice age (Origin 5th ed., pp. 450–61).
CD subscribed to the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, so transferred his marginalia from the offprint of F. B. White 1878 that he forwarded to Hooker (see n. 3, above).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 October 1878 and n. 3. Hooker was preparing his presidential address to the Royal Society of London (Hooker 1878b).
See letter from J. D. Hooker, 4 October 1878 and n. 1. Hooker had identified a specimen of Oxalis valdiviensis (Chilean yellow-sorrel).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Croll, James. 1868. On geological time, and the probable date of the Glacial and the Upper Miocene Period. Philosophical Magazine 4th ser. 35: 363–84; 36: 141–54, 362–86.

Origin 5th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 5th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1869.

White, Francis Buchanan. 1878. Contributions to a knowledge of the hemipterous fauna of St. Helena, and speculations on its origin. [Read 7 May 1878.] Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (1878): 444–77.


Before JDH discusses flora of Canary Islands CD suggests he read F. B. White’s paper [see 11707], which explains stocking of Atlantic island fauna as due to changed currents during [last, or Miocene] northern glacial period.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 95: 475–6
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11715,” accessed on 19 September 2021,