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Darwin Correspondence Project

To A. R. Wallace   9 April [1868]1

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

Ap. 9.

My dear Wallace

You allude in yr note to several points which I shd much enjoy discussing with you did time & strength permit. I know Dr Seeman is a good botanist, but I most strongly advise you to shew the list to Hooker before you make use of the materials in print.2 Hooker seems much over worked & is now gone a tour, but I suppose you will be in town before very long, & cd see him.3

The list is quite unintelligible to me; it is not pretended that the same species exist in the Sandwich I’s4 & Arctic Regions; & as far as the genera are concerned, I know that in almost every one of them species inhabit such countries as Florida, N. Africa, New Holland5 &c. Therefore these genera seem to me almost mundane, & their presence in the Sandwich I.s will not, as I suspect in my ignorance, shew any relation to the Arctic regions. The Sandwich I.s, tho’ I have never considered them much, have long been a sore perplexity to me; they are eminently oceanic in position & productions; they have long been separated from each other; & there are only slight signs of subsidence in the islets to the westward.6

I remember however speculating that there must have been some immigration during the glacial period from N. America or Japan; but I cannot remember what my grounds were. Some of the plants, I think, shew an affinity with Australia.

I am very glad that you like Lyell’s chapter on oceanic islands, for I thought it one of the best in the part which I have read.7 If you do not receive the big photo. of me in due time, let me hear.8

yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 [April] 1868.
CD refers to Berthold Carl Seemann and a list of Hawaiian plants that Seemann had made. Wallace had sent the list to CD with his letter of 8 [April] 1868, but CD evidently returned it and it has not been found. The list was published in Mann 1866. CD also refers to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
Hooker had gone on a trip to north Wales with Thomas Henry Huxley (letter from J. D. Hooker, 7 April 1868).
The Sandwich Islands was the name given to the Hawaiian islands by James Cook in 1778 (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
New Holland was the earlier Dutch name for Australia.
CD had briefly discussed the geology of Hawaii in Coral reefs, pp. 61–2, 131, 158–9.
CD refers to Lyell 1867–8, 2: 402–32 (see letter from A. R. Wallace, 8 [April] 1868 and n. 8).


Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.

Coral reefs: The structure and distribution of coral reefs. Being the first part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1842.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.

Mann, Horace. 1866. Enumeration of Hawaiian plants. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 7 (1865–8): 143–235.


Warns ARW of dubious character of list of European alpine genera and species in volcanoes of Hawaii. Problems of geographical distribution in oceanic islands.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Alfred Russel Wallace
Sent from
Source of text
The British Library (Add MS 46434)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6109,” accessed on 27 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16