To J. D. Hooker [10–]12 November 1
Down Bromley Kent
My dear Hooker
What a long & interesting letter you have sent me, & you so hard-worked.—2
So you did write the Review in Gardeners Chrone: Once or twice I doubted whether it was Lindley;3 but when I came to a little slap at R. Brown,4 I doubted no longer. You arch-rogue!— I do not wonder you have deceived others also. Perhaps I am a conceited dog; but if so, you have much to answer for: I never received so much praise, & coming from you I value it, much more than from any other.—
I am extremely sorry to hear about Lindley, & I am glad you told me, for I was going to have written to him to ask him about any odd Potatoes in Hort. Gardens.5 I have thought of late that Gardeners’ Chronicle has been rather flat. It is wonderful for my purposes, what a lot of matter the Gardeners’ Chron. has contained during last 20 years.—6
I return by this Post Dawson’s lecture, which seems to me interesting, but with nothing new.7 I think he must be rather conceited with his “If Dr. Hooker had known this & that, he would have said so & so”.— It seems to me absurd in Dawson assuming that N. America was under sea during whole Glacial period.—8 Certainly Greenland is a most curious & difficult problem. But as for the Leguminosæ, the case, my dear fellow, is as plain as a pikestaff, as the seeds are so very quickly killed by sea water.9 Seriously it would be a curious experiment to try vitality in salt-water of the plants which ought to be in Green-land:10 I forget, however, that it would be impossible, I suppose, to get hardly any except the Caltha,11 & if ever I stumble on that plant in seed I will try it.
I wish to Heaven some one would examine the rocks near sea-level at south point of Greenland & see if they are well scored; that would tell something;12 but then subsidence might have brought down higher rocks to present sea-level. I am much more willing to admit your Norwego-Greenland connecting land than most other cases, from the nature of rocks in Spitzbergen & Bear Isld.—13 You have broached & thrown a lot of light on a splendid problem, which some day will be solved. It rejoices me to think that when a boy I was shown an erratic boulder in Shrewsbury & was told by a clever old gentleman, that till the world’s end no one would ever guess how it came there.—14 It makes me laugh to think of Dr. Dawson’s indignation at your sentence about “obliquity of vision”:15 by Jove he will try & pitch into you some day.—
Good Night for the present.—16
I am particularly obliged for sentence about Sikhim people in Famines, & I find nearly same in your Journal: it is a little point which interests me, & I shall quote it.17
(To return for a moment to Glacial period, you might have asked Dawson whether Ibex, Marmot &c &c were carried from mountain to mountain in Europe on floating ice; & whether musk ox got to England on iceberg; yet England has subsided, if we trust to good evidence alone of shells more during glacial period, than America is known to have done.)18
Hearty thanks about seeds; I thought it useless to send my list to seedsman first, for besides 2 or 3 I shd. think there was no chance of getting them. Add, if you can, seeds of any Stylidium (for excitable column) of easy greenhouse culture.—19 You write “say the word when you wish for Oxalis sensitiva”.20 Do you mean you could let me have some plants now? if so I shd. be delighted for I can try little experiments at odds & ends of time; but could I keep plant sensitive now in greenhouse & study? If so send them to G. Snow Nag’s Head, Boro’, by midday on any Thursday.21
Some day I will amuse myself by sending diagram with explanation on Lythrum, which you can study or burn as you like—22 Good Heaven how your friends work you with M.S. (we will say nothing about another friend on seeds, plants, facts &c &c) For Heaven sake instill a word of caution into Tyndalls ears; I saw extract that valleys of Switzerland were wholly due to Glaciers.23 He cannot have reflected on valleys in Tropical countries. The grandest valleys I ever saw were in Tahiti. Again if I understand, he supposes that Glaciers wear down whole mountain ranges, thus lower their height, decrease the temperature & decrease the glaciers themselves. Does he suppose whole of Scotland has been thus worn down? Surely he must forget oscillation of level would be more potent one way or another during such enormous lapses of time. It would be hard to believe any mountain range has been so long stationary.—
I suppose Lyell’s book will soon be out:24 I was very glad to see in News Paper that Murray sold 4000; what a sale!25
To recur to Orchids, I hear that D. of Argyle has been praising my book in Edinburgh R. which is a good joke, as you told me he could not understand it.—26
I am now working on cultivated plants & rather like my work;27 but I am horribly afraid I make the rashest remarks on value of differences; I trust to a sort of instinct, & God knows can seldom give any reason for my remarks. Lord in what a medley the origin of cultivated plants is in.— I have been reading on Strawberries & I can find hardly two Botanists agree what are the wild forms; but I pick out of horticultural books here & there queer cases of variation inheritance &c. &c.—
What a long letter I have scribbled; but you must forgive me, for it a great pleasure thus talking to you.—
Farewell | Ever yours | C. Darwin
Did you ever hear of “Condy’s Ozonised Water”? I have been trying it with, I think extraordinary advantage to comfort at least,—a tea-spoon in water 3 or 4 times. a day.— If you meet any poor dyspeptic devil like me suggest it.—28
So JDH did write the Gardeners’ Chronicle review [of Orchids]! CD guessed it from the little slap at R. Brown.
Dawson’s lecture has nothing new. Absurd to assume Greenland under water during whole of glacial period. Suggests absence of certain plants in Greenland due to seeds not surviving in sea-water. Suggests an experiment on vitality in sea-water of plants that might be in Greenland. Is more willing to admit a Norway–Greenland land connection than most other cases.
Urges JDH to warn Tyndall on his glacial theory of valleys in Switzerland.
Is working on cultivated plants.
- continuous or ‘broken’ land
- experiment, scientific observation
- geographical distribution
- geological time, epochs
- ice, ice-action, icebergs, glaciers
- negative attitude/assessment
- negative criticism of correspondent
- reception of Darwinism
- sea, sea-currents
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3801,” accessed on 27 October 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3801