skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   17 November [1867]

Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.

Nov. 17th

My dear Hooker

Congratulate me, for I have finished last revise of last sheet of my Book. It has been an awful job,—712 months correcting the press— the book from much small type does not look big, but is really very big.1 I have had hard work to keep up to the mark, but during last week only few revises came, so that I have rested & feel more myself. Hence, after our long mutual silence, I enjoy myself by writing a note to you, for the sake of exhaling & hearing from you.— On account of Index, I do not suppose that you will receive your copy till middle of next month.—2 I shall be intensely curious to hear what you think about pangenesis; though I can see how fearfully imperfect even in mere conjectural conclusions it is, yet it has been an infinite satisfaction to me somehow to connect the various large groups of facts, which I have long considered, by an intelligible thread.3 I shall not be at all surprised if you attack it & me with unparalleled ferocity.— It will be my endeavour to do as little as possible for some time, but shall soon prepare a paper or two for Linn. Soc.—4 In a short time we shall go to London for 10 days, but the time is not yet fixed.5 Now I have told you a deal about myself; & do let me hear a good deal about your own past & future doings. Can you pay us a visit?6 Early in December Woolner is coming here to make a bust of me for my Brother;7 & a most horrid bore it is; but he being here wd. not interfere with your visit if you could come. I have seen no one for an age & heard no news. I enclose some Himalayan Balsam seed, which my wife collected for you, as you said you wanted it—but the seed does not appear very good.8

Ever my dear Hooker | Yours most truly | C. Darwin

About my book, I will give you a bit of advice, skip the whole of Vol I, except last Chapt. (& that need only be skimmed) & skip largely in 2d. vol., & then you will say it is very good book.—9


The reference is to Variation. In his ‘Journal’, CD recorded receiving the first proof on 1 March and finishing revisions on 15 November 1867 (see Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II). On the size of the book and the use of two different sizes of type, see the letter to John Murray, 8 January [1867].
The index of Variation was being prepared by William Sweetland Dallas, who had expected to complete it by about 18 November 1867 (letter from W. S. Dallas, 4 November 1867). However, the task progressed more slowly than Dallas had predicted (see letter from W. S. Dallas, 20 November 1867). Variation was published on 30 January 1868 (see ‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II)); Hooker mentioned in his letter of 1 February 1868 (Correspondence vol. 16) that he had received his copy.
Chapter 27 of Variation was headed ‘Provisional hypothesis of pangenesis’. On pangenesis, see also the letter to Charles Lyell, 22 August [1867] and n. 4.
CD’s two papers, ‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’ and ‘Specific difference in Primula, were read at the meetings of the Linnean Society on 20 February and 19 March 1868, respectively, and subsequently appeared in the Journal of the Linnean Society.
CD visited London from 28 November to 7 December 1867 (‘Journal’ (Correspondence vol. 15, Appendix II)).
Hooker next visited Down on 21 December 1867 (Emma Darwin’s diary (DAR 242)).
The references are to Thomas Woolner and Erasmus Alvey Darwin.
Numerous species of balsam (Impatiens) are endemic to the Himalayas; for a contemporary list, see J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1859, pp. 117–18. Himalayan balsam is now I. glandulifera (A. Huxley et al. eds. 1992), but was formerly I. roylei, which was described as endemic and very common in the western Himalayas (J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1859, pp. 117, 127–8). Receipt of these seeds at Kew was recorded on 27 November 1867 with the note: ‘The lady who gathered it mixed seeds of white Balsam with it. Dead’ (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Inwards book). No letter from Hooker requesting balsam seed has been found.
The last chapter of the first volume of Variation is headed ‘On bud-variation, and on certain anomalous modes of reproduction and variation’ (Variation 1: 373–411).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 28 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Illegitimate offspring of dimorphic and trimorphic plants’: On the character and hybrid-like nature of the offspring from the illegitimate unions of dimorphic and trimorphic plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 20 February 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 10 (1869): 393–437.

‘Specific difference in Primula’: On the specific difference between Primula veris, Brit. Fl. (var. officinalis of Linn.), P. vulgaris, Brit. Fl. (var. acaulis, Linn.), and P. elatior, Jacq.; and on the hybrid nature of the common oxlip. With supplementary remarks on naturally produced hybrids in the genus Verbascum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 19 March 1868.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 10 (1869): 437–54.

Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Has finished last revise of his book [Variation].

Is curious to know what JDH thinks of Pangenesis. It is fearfully imperfect, yet satisfying, for it connects large groups of facts by an intelligible thread.

Thomas Woolner is coming [to do a bust of CD].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 35–6
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5680,” accessed on 23 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15