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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   10 March [1854]

Down Farnborough Kent

March 10th.

My dear Hooker

I have finished your second volume,1 & you must let me express again my admiration at all that you did & underwent in your Journey. I had no idea that you had attended to so many subjects. Even if you had not touched a plant, it would have been a very remarkable undertaking for its geology, metereology, zoology & geography. You may well rest & be content. How very interesting all about the capture of Dr. Campbell & yourself is.—2 But I write now to ask you to take the trouble some day to answer me one question, viz whether you know, from what others have observed, that in those parts of the Himmalaya, where there is any Tertiary formation, whether the Glacial action has been subsequent to such Tertiary formations & their elevation?—

Did the moraines which you saw, impress you with the idea that the Glacial period was very remote?—

Tell me one other point, which I ask out of mere idle curiosity, whether the Tropical vegetation of Brazil is as beautiful or nearly as beautiful as the tropical vegetation of the lower Himmalaya?—

How curious many of your facts on Botanical distribution. The Himmalaya seem to be for Plants, what old Ethnologists were pleased to consider Mount Caucasus was for Man.—3 Now I have finished, Emma has begun your book.—

We here really have kept the Books you lent us for a most unreasonable time, but I hope soon to finish the Salt Lake,4 & Miss Thorley the Amazons.5 Certainly it was a most valuable loan of Books.

Farewell, my dear Hooker, I hope to feel in the course of 2 or 3 months, when my cirripedes are all printed off, my shoulders light, like yours must now feel.6

Farewell | Your’s affectionly | C. Darwin

I fancy the Khasia Mountains in form, must be something like the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.—7


J. D. Hooker 1854a, which CD recorded having finished on 7 March 1854 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 8).
Hooker and Andrew Campbell, superintendent of the Darjeeling station, were imprisoned on their way to the Chola pass in Tibet; they were held for two months as political hostages by the Dewan of Sikkim. Peremptory orders from Calcutta for their release were disregarded until the governor-general, Lord Dalhousie, despatched an ultimatum that he would use military force to secure their release, a threat which was partially carried out and which resulted in the British confiscating the Sikkim Rajah’s land known as the Terai in the foothills of the Himalayas (J. D. Hooker 1854a, 2: 202–41, and L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 306–19). See also Correspondence vol. 4, letter to W. J. Hooker, [January 1850].
Hooker described the Himalayan flora as a mixture of species from Asia, India, Europe, and North America (J. D. Hooker 1854a, 2: 18–19, 37–40). In CD’s copy of J. D. Hooker 1854a these passages are marked. CD’s reference is to the view of scholars like Matthew Hale and others, including Linnaeus, that Mount Ararat, in the Caucasus Mountains, was occupied by the ancestors of all the human races mingled together before they spread out over the earth as the biblical flood-waters receded (D. C. Allen 1949; Browne 1983, pp. 11–14). CD’s metaphor was probably stimulated by Hooker’s reference to the mountain of Tendong, near Darjeeling, being known as Mount Ararat by the Lepchas (J. D. Hooker 1854a, 2: 3).
CD recorded that he finished reading Stansbury 1852 on 23 March 1854 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 8).
Wallace 1853. CD recorded having read this work on 6 February 1854 (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, 128: 8). Miss Thorley was the governess of the Darwin children.
According to his ‘Journal’, CD finished the final revision of Living Cirripedia 1854 on 15 July 1854 (Correspondence vol. 5, Appendix I).
Hooker had expressed surprise that the rocks that elsewhere in the Himalayas presented rugged peaks were in the Khasia range eroded into tabular and rounded forms (J. D. Hooker 1854a, 2: 323–4). CD had visited the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, in January 1836 during the Beagle voyage. He described them as: ‘At no great elevation an almost level plain extends, which, rising imperceptibly to the westward, at last attains a height of more than three thousand feet’ (Journal of researches, p. 522).


More praise for Himalayan journals.

How remote was glacial action in Himalayas?

Implies Himalayas were birthplace of many plants.

Final volume of Cirripedia to be printed in two or three months.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 119
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1558,” accessed on 17 November 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5