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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   19 November [1869]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Novr. 19

My dear Hooker.

Thank you much for telling me all about the C.B, for I wished much to hear. It pleases me extremely that the Government has done this much; & as the K.C.B.s are limited in number (which I did not know) I excuse it.2 I will not mention what you have told me to anyone, as it wd. be Murchisonian. But what a shame it is to use this expression, for I fully believe that Murchison wd. take any trouble to get any token of honour for any man of science.—3

I like all scientific periodicals, including poor “Scientific Opinion”, & I think higher than you do of “Nature”.4 Lord what a rhapsody that was of Goethe;, but how well translated— it seemed to me, as I told Huxley, as if written by the maddest English scholar.5 It is poetry, & can I say anything more severe? The last number of the Academy was splendid, & I hope it will soon come out fortnightly.—6

I wish “Nature” wd search more carefully all foreign Journals & Transactions.— I am now reading a German thick pamphlet by Kerner on Tubocytisus; if you come across it look at the map of distribution of the 18 quasi species, & at the genealogical tree.7 If the latter, as the author says, was constructed solely from the affinities of the forms, then the distribution is wonderfully interesting; we may see the very steps of the formation of a species. If you study the gen: tree & map you will almost understand the book. The 2 old parent connecting links just keep alive in 2 or 3 little areas; then we have 4 widely extended species, their descendants; & from them little groups of newer descendants inhabiting rather small areas.—

I must enjoy myself & tell you about Madelle. C. Royer who translated the Origin into French, & for whose 2d. Edit I took infinite trouble.8 She has now just brought out a 3d. Edit without informing me, so that all the corrections &c in the 4th & 5th English editions are lost. Besides her enormously long & blasphemous preface to 1st Edit, she has added a 2d Preface, abusing me like a pick-pocket for pangenesis, which of course has no relation to the Origin—9 Her motive being, I believe, because I did not employ her to translate “Domestic Animals”.—10 So I wrote to Paris; & Reinwald agrees to bring out at once a new Translation from the 5th English Edition, in Competition with her 3d. Edit.—11 So shall I not salt her well? By the way this fact shows that “evolution of species” must at last be spreading in France.—

I rejoice that Pres. R. Soc will be offered to Lyell, though I cannot believe that he is strong enough for labour.—12

Yours most affectly | C. Darwin

What a pity it is, as your boy is well, “fat” & happy in N. Zealand, that he cannot find a home for a time at least there.—13


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869.
Roderick Impey Murchison had recently recommended Hooker for the KCSI (Knight Commander of the Star of India); see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869. For more on Hooker’s and CD’s use of ‘Murchisonian’, see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 September 1863 and n. 16.
On the weekly newspaper Scientific Opinion, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, [22 January 1869] and n. 8. For Hooker’s opinion of the new journal Nature, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869.
Thomas Henry Huxley translated an essay mistakenly attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the first issue of Nature (T. H. Huxley 1869b, see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869 and n. 15). The essay was in fact by Johann Georg Christof Tobler. For another translation, see Miller ed. and trans. 1988, pp. 3–5.
CD refers to Anton Kerner von Marilaun’s pamphlet Die Abhängigkeit der Pflanzengestalt von Klima und Boden. Ein Beitrag zur Lehre von der Entstehung und Vergreitung der Arten, gestützt auf die Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse, geographische Verbreitung und Geschichte der Cytisusarten aus dem Stamme Tubocytisus D. C. (Kerner von Marilaun 1869). The map and the genealogical tree are at the end of the article. The tribe Tubocytisus has been subsumed within Cytisus.
On Clémence Auguste Royer’s translations of Origin, see the letter to John Murray, 8 November [1869] and n. 5. For CD’s work on her second edition (Royer trans. 1866), see Correspondence vol. 13, letter from C. A. Royer, [April–June 1865], n. 5. See also Harvey 1997, pp. 76–9.
CD refers to Royer trans. 1870, Royer’s third French translation of Origin; the translation did not include the changes in the fourth and fifth English editions of Origin. On the prefaces to the editions, see the letter to John Murray, 8 November [1869] and n. 5.
Variation was translated by Jean Jacques Moulinié, as suggested by Carl Vogt (Moulinié trans. 1868; see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from Carl Vogt, 23 April 1867).
CD wrote Charles-Ferdinand Reinwald of Paris on 10 November 1869; the letter has not been found. Reinwald agreed to publish Moulinié’s translation of the fifth edition of Origin (Moulinié trans. 1873) in his letter of 13 November 1869.
Hooker had mentioned Charles Lyell as a possible president of the Royal Society of London in his letter of 14 November 1869.
CD refers to William Henslow Hooker; see letter from J. D. Hooker, 14 November 1869.


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

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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


Glad to know about C.B.

Thinks better of Nature than JDH does.

Likes Academy.

Is reading Anton Kerner on Tubocytisus [in Die Abhängigkeit der Pflanzen von Klima und Boden (1869)].

The genealogical tree reveals the very steps of the formation of the species.

Mlle Royer has brought out a third edition of her translation of the Origin without informing CD, so corrections to fourth and fifth English editions are lost. Has arranged for a new translator of the fifth English edition.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 159–61
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6997,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

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