To J. D. Hooker 28 March 1849
Down Farnborough Kent (The Lodge Malvern.)
March 28th /49
My dear Hooker
Your letter of the 13th of October has remained unanswered till this day! What an ungrateful return for a letter which interested me so much, & which contained so much & curious information. But I have had a bad winter. On the 13th of November my poor dear Father died & no one, who did not know him, would believe that a man above 83 years old, could have retained so tender & affectionate a disposition, with all his sagacity unclouded to the last. I was at the time so unwell that I was unable to travel which added to my misery. Indeed all this winter I have been bad enough, with dreadful vomiting every week, & my nervous system began to be affected, so that my hands trembled & head was often swimming. I was not able to do anything one day out of three, & was altogether too dispirited to write to you or to do anything but what I was compelled.— I thought I was rapidly going the way of all flesh. Having heard, accidentally, of two persons who had received much benefit from the Water Cure, I got Dr Gully’s book1 & made further enquiries, & at last started here, with wife, children & all our servants. We have taken a house for two month & have been here a fortnight. I am already a little stronger & now have had no vomiting for 10 days. Dr G. feels pretty sure he can do me good, which most certainly the regular Doctors could not. At present, I am heated by Spirit lamp till I stream with perspiration,2 & am then suddenly rubbed violently with towels dripping with cold water: have two cold feet-baths, & wear a wet compress all day on my stomach. I eat simply, dine at 1 oclock & take several short walks daily. Even in first 8 days the treatment brought out an eruption all over my legs. I mention all this to you, as being a medical man, you might possibly like to hear about it.— I feel certain that the Water Cure is no quackery.— How I shall enjoy getting back to Down with renovated health, if such is to be my good fortune, & resuming the beloved Barnacles.— Now I hope that you will forgive me for my negligence in not having sooner answered your letter.—
I was uncommonly interested by the sketch you give of your intended grand expedition, from which I suppose you will soon be returning. How earnestly I hope that it may prove in every way successful. I received from your Father a few weeks ago your Galapagos papers3 & I have read them since being here. I really cannot express too strongly my admiration of the geographical discussion: to my judgment it is a perfect model what such a paper shd be: it took me four days to read & think over. How interesting the Flora of the Sandwich islands appears to be,4 how I wish there were materials for you to treat its flora, as you have done the Galapagos. In the Systematic paper I was rather disappointed in not finding general remarks on affinities, structure &c, such as you often give in conversation & such as Decandolle & St. Hilaire,5 introduce in almost all their papers & which make them interesting even to a non-Botanist. I have not yet succeeded in borrowing the vol. with your Coal Paper,6 & I grudged buying the whole volume; but I will & must get it, for as you know, there is no subject which interests me more than that inexplicable Coal Problem.— I have received Mr Hodgson’s excellent pamphlets,7 & have forwarded them to Waterhouse & will write to Mr H. in a few days.— What a good fellow you were to take so much trouble in giving me so much information from H. on the crossing of animals &c. effect of climate. &c.— I shall be very curious sometime to read your observations on the fruit-trees of Europe.— Many thanks also for your news about poor dear old Falconer: I do hope he will not have any more illness: when you write remember me most kindly to him.— I see that you have been attending to the Geology of the mountains; I quite agree that the gneiss & mica-slate districts are the dullest of all. I believe that what you call strata are not really so, but analogous to the laminæ of clay-slate. I have developed this view in my Geolog. vol. of S. America,8 & it is held by some excellent continental geologists, though not adopted in England: Dan Sharpe, however, since I published this view maintains that it is correct.9 I wd wager that the so called strata of the mica-slate are parallel to the laminæ of the clay-slate, if such occurs in same neighbourhood. I may just mention, as you have been having analyses made of mould, that I lately read a Paper in Gardeners Chron. that potash is found to be volatilised during the usual process of incineration.—10
I have really no news to tell you, for I was in London only once all this winter & have seen no one for an age. I have heard nothing of the Henslows, but in that quarter you will have full information. Sir Ch. Lyell is flourishing as President:11 he got Sir R. Peel & the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the Anniversary Geolog Dinner.—12 I have not even seen Mrs Forbes, & altogether I daresay you know more London news than I do. You heard no doubt of the tremendous turmoil there was in Royal Soc.: the Naturalists beating the Physicists, with whom were most of the Geologists.13 Well my dear Hooker this is a dreadfully dull letter to send across the world, but such as it is, it must carry my most sincere wishes for your success.—
Your affectionate friend | C. Darwin
CD’s health and his father’s death have delayed his answer. Describes J. M. Gully’s water-cure.
JDH’s Galapagos papers [Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 20 (1851): 163–233] have excellent discussion of geographical distribution, but why no general treatment of affinities?
CD’s views on clay-slate laminae.
Turmoil in Royal Society between naturalists and physicists.
- affinity and analogy
- geographical distribution
- negative attitude/assessment
- positive attitude/assessment
- queries / requests
- scientific controversy, confrontation
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1236,” accessed on 28 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1236