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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   30 March [1869]1

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

March 30th

My dear Hooker

Many thanks for sight of the letters.2 The account of the islet off Mauritius is most wonderful. I wish I cd believe that the island was formed of upheaved sandstone, as it wd. indicate former non-volcanic land.— I do not know whether Sir H. B is a geologist; but until some one, who is, sees the sandstone, I must believe that a steep conical islet, near a volcanic island, formed of friable sandstone, with the beds rising in inclination to the summit, consists of tuff.

You ought to urge Sir H. B. to have every plant, shell, insect & reptile collected. On any view, former continent, or waifs & strays (which I rather lean to, as snake & reptile different) the case is most interesting.—3

You are a real good man to come here on the 17th4

I thought Huxleys address wonderfully brilliant,—some of his sayings most happy.— I wrote indeed to him to say that it was a shame that any one, man shd. have the power to write so many brilliant essays.—5 I do not think it right to make a class of Evolutionists, as distinct from Uniformitarians, simply because they are ready to speculate on first origin of our planet.— I think he has here sacrificed reality to make a striking point.6

Yours affecty | C. Darwin

Henrietta is a little better, & comes down daily.—7

Judging from Report in Gard. Chron. how splendidly Bentham has come out on the Descent of Species: I shall be very much interested in reading it in larger type in our Journal.—8


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker to Emma Darwin, 29 March 1869.
Hooker had enclosed letters from Henry Barkly and Isaac Anderson-Henry with his letter to Emma Darwin of 29 March 1869.
See the letter from Barkly to Hooker enclosed in Hooker’s letter to Emma Darwin of 29 March 1869.
CD refers to Thomas Henry Huxley’s presidential address to the Geological Society of London on 19 February 1869 (T. H. Huxley 1869c). See letter to T. H. Huxley, 19 March [1869].
Henrietta Emma Darwin had been ill for a couple of weeks (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 8 March [1869] and n. 4).
CD refers to the report in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 27 March 1869, pp. 336–7, of the Linnean Society meeting of 4 March 1869 at which George Bentham read a paper, ‘Revision of the genus Cassia’. Bentham was quoted as affirming ‘the great principle that natural affinity results from community of descent’. Bentham’s paper was later published in Transactions of the Linnean Society of London (Bentham 1869a).


Interested in Barkly’s letter about Mauritius. Doubts non-volcanic origin. Urges collection of all forms of terrestrial life to determine whether they are of a former continent or "waifs and strays". He leans to latter view, as snakes and reptiles are different.

Huxley’s address wonderfully "brilliant", but it is a mistake to separate evolutionists from uniformitarians.

Bentham has come out "splendidly" on descent of species.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 121–2
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6688,” accessed on 29 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17