To J. D. Hooker [5 October 1847]1
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Hooker
I have nothing particular to say, but as I have nothing particular to do, so I will at least thank you for telling me how your plans get on, which I am always very anxious to hear. Your great men seem to have all been bungling, but I trust that will be only a temporary inconvenience: you surely, however, will never be able to get away on the 20th of Novr 2 I am very glad you have resolved against taking ship for a regular time off Borneo;3 it would be a miserable loss of time, & I daresay you would be hooked in to do regular Doctor’s duty.— I shd think it must be a good thing for you, Government asking your advice about planting &c: I have no sort of opinion about Ascension;4 I remember being surprised how well Scotch fir seemed to do at St. Helena: you do not specify Larch: is not that a more southern fir? & certainly more valuable wood than Scotch fir.—
My plans are, to go to Shrewsbury on the 22d & return home on 4th of Novemb, stopping in London for the first Geolog. Meeting;5 I should probably have gone sooner, but we have a gang of relations coming here on the 9th — I do hope you will manage a visit here after the 4th, even if it be only for a Sunday; Falconer has promised to come for a Sunday, but he cannot spare more time. I can well understand how dreadfully busy you must be: if you cannot come here, you must let me come to you for a night; for I must have one more chat & one more quarrel with you over the coal.6 By the way I endeavoured to stir up Lyell, (who has been staying here some days with me) to theorise on the coal: his oolitic upright Equisetums7 are dreadful for my submarine flora; I shd die much easier if someone would solve the coal question; I sometimes think it could not have been formed at all— Old Sir Anthony Carlisle8 once said to me gravely that he supposed Megatherium & such cattle were just sent down from Heaven to see whether the earth would support them & I suppose the coal was rained down to puzzle mortals. You must work the coal well in India.—
I have had several long letters to write lately on Glen Roy, which has vexed me much— Mr Milne has been trying to prove the former existence of common lakes, which I feel sure is absurd, but his paper staggered me in favour of Agassiz ice-lake theory, so I wrote a letter to the Scotsman. Now R. Chamber, who was a follower of me, & then became a convert to Milne, has been there again, & now says he can prove the sea theory— The confounded subject has made me sick twice.—
Ever yours | C. Darwin
Pray give my kind remembrances to your sister: I am exceedingly glad that she is at last free of her cough.—
Mystified by the origin of coal-plants.
Milne’s Glen Roy theory is absurd but, oddly, it has staggered CD in favour of Agassiz’s ice-lake theory.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1123,” accessed on 22 February 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1123