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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   8 July [1870]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

July 8th

My dear Hooker

It suddenly flashed on me in what part of heap, I I shd. find the 2 Pamphlets on orchids, & have extracted them & send them by this post.—2

I thought well of Prof. Claparèdes criticism, & I think it wd. be well worth translating & publishing, partly because he is so capital an observer & naturalist, & chiefly because no sort of answer has yet appeared to Wallace.3 Bates thinks his heterodox views have already done a good deal of mischief to the cause of evolution.4 There are so few “ignorant sceptics” in the world, who think for themselves. Wallace himself thinks Claparede’s article very weak;5 but I conclude that he thinks so because Claparede has arrived at an unpleasant judgement, very much like Lyell about Bentham’s address: I wd lay a wager that L. has lately said something about European Proteaceæ in one of his Editions.6 I do not remember anyone before Wallace on relations of Sumatra & Java: I obscurely fancied that Miquel had demurred, or said there were no materials to judge from; but my attention has now been for a long time turned from the grand subject of Geograph. Distrib.7

Thanks for your very pleasant letter with lots of all kinds of gossip: I am sorry to have nettled Hodgson, for whom I have much respect, but it is too absurd to suppose that I possibly could refer to all papers on such a large subject as Dogs.—8 When you see Huxley ask him about Bastian & a fragment of Sphagnum moss, which he mistook for a spont. gen. organism!9

Farewell my dear old fellow. C.D.

I shd. think I had no chance of election in France against Brandt.10


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from J. D. Hooker, 10 July 1870.
See letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 or 7 July 1870] and n. 3. CD refers to Edouard Claparède and Alfred Russel Wallace.
Henry Walter Bates had urged CD to write a critique of Wallace’s view of natural selection as applied to humans. See letter from H. W. Bates, 20 May 1870 and n. 1.
CD refers to Charles Lyell and George Bentham. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 2 July [1870] and n. 7, and letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 or 7 July 1870].
CD refers to Friedrich Anton Wilhelm Miquel. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 or 7 July 1870] and n. 7.
CD refers to Brian Houghton Hodgson. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 or 7 July 1870] and n. 8.
Thomas Henry Huxley had evidently told CD about an experiment conducted by Henry Charlton Bastian to show the spontaneous generation of organisms. Huxley had pointed out to Bastian that one of the organisms in his test tube looked like Sphagnum (peat moss). Bastian wrote to confirm Huxley’s observation in a letter of 2 May 1870 (Huxley papers MS 10.238 (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine Archives)). For more on Bastian’s work on spontaneous generation within the context of Darwinian theory, see Strick 1999.
CD refers to Johann Friedrich von Brandt. See letter from J. D. Hooker, [6 or 7 July 1870] and n. 5.


Strick, James. 1999. Darwinism and the origin of life: the role of H. C. Bastian in the British spontaneous generation debates, 1868–1873. Journal of the History of Biology 32: 51–92.


Thinks well of Claparède’s criticism; worth publishing as an answer to Wallace. Bates thinks Wallace’s heterodox views have done mischief to the cause of evolution. Wallace thinks Claparède’s article very weak, CD concludes, because Claparède has arrived at an unpleasant judgment very much like Lyell’s about Bentham’s address.

CD would wager Lyell lately has said something about European Proteaceae.

Does not remember anyone before Wallace on Sumatra and Java.

CD does not think he has a chance against Brandt in French Academy election.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 94: 177–8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7271,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18