To J. D. Hooker 8 September 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
I got your letter of the 1st this morning;2 & a real good man you have been to write. Of all the things I ever heard, Mrs Hooker’s pedestrian feats beats them. My Brother is quite right in his comparison of “as strong as a woman”,—as a type of strength.— Your letter, after what you have seen in Himalaya &c, gives me a wonderful idea of the beauty of the Alps. How I wish I was one half or one quarter as strong as Mrs Hooker: but that is a vain hope. You must have had some very interesting work with glaciers &c.3 When will the glacier structure & motion ever be settled! When reading Tyndall’s paper it seemed to me that movement in the particles must come into play in his own doctrine of pressure;4 for he expressly states that if there be pressure on all side, there is no lamination: I suppose I cannot have understood him, for I shd have inferred from this that there must have been movement parallel to planes of pressure. Sorby read paper to Brit. Assoc. & he comes to conclusion that Gneiss &c may be metamorphosed cleavage or strata; & I think he admits much chemical segregation along the planes of division.5 I quite subscribe to this view, & shd have been sorry to have been so utterly wrong, as I shd have been, if foliation was identical with stratification.6
I have been no where & seen no one & really have no news of any kind to tell you.— I have been working away as usual (floating plants in salt-water inter alia & confound them, they all sink pretty soon, but at very different rates) working hard at Pigeons &c &c By the way I have been astonished at differences in skeletons of domestic Rabbits:7 I showed some of the points to Waterhouse & asked him whether he could pretend that they were not as great as between species, & he answered “they are a great deal more”.—8 How very odd it is that no zoologist shd ever have thought it worth while to look to the real structure of varieties.—
I most earnestly hope that at Vienna you will make particular enquiries about the pure Laburnum, which one year bore the hybrid flowers & on one sprig the C. purpureus.—9 Dr Reissik(?) is name of man I think.— Bentham10 will not believe that it was a pure Laburnum, & it does seem quite incredible, notwithstanding the clear statements in the Flora.11 Please enquire particularly whether the hybrid or purple or pure bears seeds: I have just got the seeds of a yellow branch from the sterile hybrid to sow & see what will come up.— Really this case ought to be investigated,12 & if you, the King of Sceptics believe, all others may.—
My poor wife keeps very uncomfortable, but rather better than she was.13
With our kindest regards to Mrs Hooker. | Believe me | My dear Hooker | Ever yours | C. Darwin
Whether or not there should be movement of particles according to Tyndall’s theory of glacial action ["Observations on glaciers", Not. Proc. R. Inst. G. B. 2: 54–8, 441–3].
CD subscribes to H. C. Sorby’s view of gneiss [Edinburgh New Philos. J. 55 (1853): 137–50].
Significant differences in skeletons of domesticated rabbits.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1950,” accessed on 16 January 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-1950