From J. D. Hooker [19 January 1862]1
I was getting anxious to hear from you & now that I have am all the more to know again how you are all progressing my poor man, I can quite sympathize with you, a sick house is a dreadful thing—2 We have been wonderfully well this winter considering the aggravating weather. my wife is laid up now with Neuralgia, which will I hope be better tomorrow, when the Lyells come.3 I had Lubbock & Bates to dinner yesterday4 the latter has done of his book: he is very earnest & I have no doubt will make a capital book as you say.—5
Huxley writes to me in Exuberat spirito at the reception of his lecture in “Saintly Edinburgh”—6 he quite forgets there are sinners enough in a population of 180,000 to make him an applauding audience. I do not think H. has the smallest idea in how small a circle he makes a noise.
I dined the other day with Benthams sister—7a very intelligent & accomplished person who moves in the “best society” & dotes on her brother— — she did not know of what Society he was President!!! & cared not to know—8
Ten million thanks for Grays letter which is very interesting & very sad.9 I was amazed with his insouciant national Egotism at the outset.— The only allusion I had then made to the war was to the effect that it would clear off the mass of scum under which I considered his nation groaned— this I intended as the only conceivable good that could come out of such a fratricidal contest.—& by George he took me for a sympathizer! not seeing that mine was the sympathy of contempt— You & I have always differed a good deal about America. I never could like but a dozen of all the Americans I had seen—but always thought that there was an element of Grays &c &c &c very strong in Boston &c, who, in any emergency would rise superior to the occasion, & by the might of a dignified line of conduct, gradually become the centre of a better state of things & of feelings.—
From the first of this affair I have looked for some expression of sense moderation & magnanimity from this boasted Boston party— & what do I see? Lowell in the chair at the Boston dinner to Wilkes10 & Gray’s rabid letters— after all why should we expect better things from a nation of upstarts— Our Aristocracy may have been (& has been) a great draw back to civilization—but on the other hand it has had its advantages—has kept in check the uneducated & unreflecting—& has forced those who have intellect enough to rise to their own level, to use it all in the struggle— There is a deal in breeding & I do not think that any but high bred gentlemen are safe guides in Emergencies such as these.
The moral effect of Lord Russell’s despatches on the English mind has been quite astounding—11& I do not think you can point out a dozen men in public life—but of less breeding & culture (I do not mean by this aristocratic training as a specific thing) who would have been safe to have behaved with equal prudence dignity & consideration, & yet Gray calls this the pressure of a mob! If there is any thing at all in force of circumstances & Natural Selection it must arrive that the best trained, bred & ablest man will be found in the higher walks of life—true he will be rare, but then he will be obvious & easily selected by a discriminating public— When got to, he is removed above a multitude of temptations & conditions that prove the ruin of of the rising statesmen of a lower class of life— Your “Origin” has done more to enhance the value of the aristocracy in my eyes than any social political or other argument.
Now I never allude to politics in writing to Gray— it is useless I know, & furthermore whenever we did agree, it would perhaps most often be on totally different grounds—and this leads to endless misunderstandings. What puzzles me is, how are you to answer his letter? after your recent avowal that they are “unmitigated Blackguards” an opinion I heartily Echo.12 Do tell me what you will say to him—it passes my guess-power. Have you read Spences “American Union” & what do you think of it?13 I still like the tone of the London Review best of all the papers.14
I always forget to tell you that we can send you Lythrum plants whenever you want them.15 Old Borrer died last week, & my Father went to the funeral.16
I gave Haast’s book to Hector who has sailed for survey of Otago—17 his glacial deposits was a mere mention without detail.— Hector is quite up to importance of subject.
I brought my remarkable plant before L. Soc. last Thursday with some effect—18 it was thought quite as curious as I represented I have applied to R.S. grant for £50 to illustrate it—& of course expect to get it— I cannot afford to spend so much on my Barnacles as I used.19 Genera Plantarum is passing through press i.e. 2d Sheet is printing— the first part will contain DCs. Thalamifloræ & contain about 1000 genera—20 it is an awfully laborious work.— still it is the great desideratum in Botany & must be done as well as we possibly can do it.— I have now Heers & Pengellys paper on Bovey Tracey to report on & Binney’s on coal fossils:—so I am very busy.21
By the way Bates asked me last night to advise him about what was to be done about the plates for his paper for Linn: Soc:—was your offer of £10 accepted?—22 of course the L.S. will gladly pay the engraving & coloring—but not the original drawing—but if this is done on stone at once it will save expense to all parties.
Ev yrs affec | J D Hooker
I will send Carrier on Thursday for Catasetum to Nagshead23
Dr. Weddell. Poitiers. France24
JDH castigates the Americans after the Trent affair. The value of an aristocracy. How will CD answer Asa Gray’s letter?
His "remarkable plant" [Welwitschia mirabilis] exhibited at Linnean Society.
Genera plantarum is in press.