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Darwin Correspondence Project


From J. D. Hooker   2 December 1864


Dec 2d/64

Dear Darwin

The enclosed letters of Hectors1 may interest you at your leisure.

Have you heard of the small breeze at R.S. apropos of your award—2 Busk3 told me—thus— Sabine said, in his address, that in awarding you the Copley, “all consideration of your Origin was expressly excluded”—4 After the address Huxley5 gets up & asks how this is—& being assured it is so, he insists on the minutes of Council being produced & read, in which of course there was no such exclusion or indeed any allusion to the Origin—6 Busk & Sabine afterwards were discussing the point—Sabine saying that no allusion = express exclusion, & shuffling as usual—when up comes Falconer & to Busk’s horror compliments Sabines address unreservedly.—7 Busk thinking that F. had overheard the discussion said nothing at the time, but calls Falconer to account afterwards; upon which F. is grievously put out, at finding out what he has done, & forthwith goes & writes a letter to Sabine on the subject—8 May the Lord have mercy on S. is all I can say; for F. will have none

This is the story as I believe Busk to have told it me yesterday: but as it has thus passed through 2 hands I do not doubt it is damaged in the process,—so pray take it for no more than it is worth—

Wistaria certainly twined right up a Salisburia upwards of 6 in diam in our Garden. & I think I may positively affirm that Ruscus androgynus is twining sua sponte,9 round one of the columns of our new winter Garden. which is 9 in. diam.10

I carried a proposition in the Linn. Council giving a gratuity of £50 to each of our Secretaries Busk & Currey11—who I hope will get out the Journal in future without delay   at the same time I have divorced the Zoology from the Botany (the latter has always had to wait for the former) & urged greater speed in publication making special complaint of your Lythrum paper being so delayed.12 I cannot think you have digressed too much in it.13 it is a splendid paper: quite your best.

A man named Bastian read last night what appeared a capital paper on Nematoid worms advocating the separation of the non-parasitic from the parasitic.14 What is Willy about? has he quite given up Natural History?15

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

[Enclosure 1]

Christchurch. 15th July 1864 My dear Hooker,

As I have been travelling about N.Z. I have not yet received my letters by either of the two last mails & so cannot answer them. I wrote you a few lines from Auckland acknowledging receipt of the lists of plants.16 Since then Buchanan17 has compared it with the plants and has sent me a few notes which I enclose.

I trust that by this time you have received the West Coast Plants which were sent by the Jany & Feby mails. Also the Analysis of the Geographical distribution.18

In answer to your enquiries— The Areca Sapida does not occur in Otago, but I believe 〈is found〉 on Banks Peninsula and also at the mouth of the Grey on the West Coast. This brings it as high as Lat. 44.° S. & very considerably above its S. American limit!!19 Dr. Munroe20 fancies from the Nelson Africanus that Cordyline indivisa was always sessile, but both on our West Coast and near Auckland I have seen them with stems 12 ft. high. All those I saw in the Nelson woods were however without stems. Can these be two similar species. The leaves also appeared diff. to me.21

I shall send you full illustrations of C. Australis.22 I have enjoyed my tour very much & have made acquaintance with many persons I only knew by name previously— such as Dr. Knight,23 Colenso,24 Travers25 Haast26 &c. Travers is going home soon and I have no doubt that you will like him— He is a natural born botanist that has only lately discovered his vocation. And as he is rich & can afford the leisure you must secure him as a work man. Haast improves very much on acquaintance & is really a very good fellow on the whole. He is most indefatigable & has done lots of good work in the way of collecting and [revising] sections. The excellence of his botanical work you well know. He shewed me some of the proof sheets of your Flora—27 It is splendid & will be highly appreciated in this Colony as there are an unusual percentage of folk here that take an interest in Botany.

Haast asks me to tell you that he has not had time to write by this mail. We have been up country for a few days together looking at the structure of the plains where the rivers hurry on them from the mts. Haast as I suppose you know goes in strongly for glacier action, & has made some excellent observations,28 but his notions on the subject are very confused I think as he does not distinguish sufficiently between the extension of glaciers under existing conditions & their mode of opperating when the features of the mts were different— Oscillations & Faultings have undoubtly occurred in late Geological times & they must have aided & even overruled the Ice action in the formation of the mt valleys. I dont remember if I ever pointed out to you the relation of our great Lakes to the Sounds of the West Coast29

[diagram here]

East side sea level Lake 1000 ft. above the sea 2000 ft deep 1290 ft deep

Here it is evident the rock bound basins have been formed on the East side and deep sounds on the West side of the mts by the whole mass of the Island having undergone depression at unequal rates— the West side sinking fastest. The original formation of the valleys I have no doubt was formed by the errosion of glaciers along Anticlines & lines of fault.30 My principal news this mail is that the General Govt have asked me to organise & direct a permanent Geol: Survey of the whole of New Zealand on the same footing as in other Colonies,31 and that as I have agreed to do so I must give up all hope of returning to Europe for many years to come.

I think you will agree that this is right step on the part of Govt so far as the principle is concerned, but whether they have pitched on the right man or not I wont venture to say— At any rate I will work hard to make New Z. what you predicted it should be vizt. a Geological Guage on which we may measure the changes which Physical Geography has undergone in recent Geol: times, by a study of the recent fossils & the living animals & plants.

Already I begin to perceive that in the matter of shells there has been a gradual displacement of S. American (Miocene & Pliocene) forms by forms that are in the equivalent strata of Australia so that the littoral fauna of N. Z. was, say in Miocene times, identical or nearly so with that of W. America but now it is almost Australian—32

I return to Otago today in the mail steamer & if I have time after getting my letters & anything requires answer I shall write you a few lines— Now that I have seen the whole of New Zealand do you know that I think the South Island will be the greater colony. The N. Island has all the natural advantages but the S. Island shews all the signs of active development. I fear very much they are going to break assunder as the miserable Maori question is dragging the whole into the mud while the S. Island has no interest in the matter whatever.33

Pray tell Mrs. Hooker34 that I have never yet been able to get the Postage stamps she wished—they must be very rare indeed but I do not dispair yet.

Ever your affect. friend | James Hector

Dr. Hooker | Kew

[Enclosure 2]

Inch Clutha 14th Augt 1864 My dear Hooker,

I have been suddenly obliged to take the field again before I had written my letters. I meant to have sent you several photographs &c. by this mail but cannot do so now. I was glad to learn by your last letter that the plants had all arrived.35 I shall send you the bulk of those sent by post in a box along with other things.

I enclose a small fern that Buchanan says is very rare—only in one spot near Dunedin—& which he does not know whether he has previously sent. It looks like a fern I have seen from the Chatham Is.

I can learn nothing of Antipodes Island but I understand it does exist.36 If I can find out anything about it I will not forget your enquiry. I got a lot of specimens from Chatham Island lately & among them recognised rocks (grits &c.) identical with our old Tertiary (or perhaps Cretaceous) rivers that yield the Brown Coals.

I have every reason to expect that that formation indicates the last great Continental state of the South Hemisphere.

It must have been then occupied by land with gigantic forests & mighty rivers. The great faults that have tilted the older rocks to form the N.Z. Southern Mts. have all been since then & the earliest of the volcanic rocks are of a still later date.

[diagram here]

1. Slates. 2. Grits with Brown Coal & [2 words illeg] 3. Clays with Eocene? fossils. 4. Calcarious Sandstone with Miocene and Pliocene fossils. 5. Volcanic rocks (Dolimites and the like.) After 5. comes the epoch of the Moa. 37 This section serves for about any part of the province38 & you will see that the faulting of 1. must have begun after the deposit of 2, but before the deposit of 3 & 4. Thus as 2 is Grits & Conglomerates (i.e. shore deposits) with coal, & is overlaid by clays & this by shale sandstones, it seems to indicate a gradual passage from [Terrestrial] to deep sea conditions & then a partial [recovering] or shoaling prior to the volcanic outbursts. This is only to be applied to faultings that have given form to the surface & dip to the various strata. In addition, just as I believe there was in America, there has been great alternating heavings of the land in mass. Is it possible that this may arise from the unequal retardation of the tides in the opp. hemispheres at diff. periods & be therefore a change of the mean level of the ocean & not an alteration in the radial distance of the Earths surface at the plane?

I think I told you last mail that the General Govt have asked me to remain in N.Z. to organise a Geol. Survey of the whole Colony— It will be many months however before I transfer to my new masters. I am away now to the South Coast where there is a thickly bushed & almost unknown country. I have a lot of papers with me but it is too early for anything but the orchids. I am going in a whale boat with three hands & expect to be gone 4 weeks. Folks say I run great risk but I find they generally overestimate the things they have not tried. I am longing for your book in common with many other folks. You seem to have got on with it at a great pace if you are at Gramineae.39

Ever yours sincerely | James Hector

I have never yet been able to get the P. stamps for Mrs Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 The enclosed … worth— 3.3] crossed pencil
5.1 I carried … parasitic. 6.2] crossed pencil


James Hector. See enclosures.
The references are to the Royal Society of London and the Copley Medal; the award of the Copley Medal to CD was announced at the Society’s anniversary meeting on 30 November.
George Busk.
Edward Sabine’s address to the Royal Society on 30 November 1864 contained remarks on Origin that became a subject of controversy (see letter from Hugh Falconer, 2 December 1864 and n. 3).
Thomas Henry Huxley.
The minutes contained only the formal motions, not the discussions, of the Council. As recorded in the Council minutes of 3 November 1864, it was ‘Resolved, by ballot,—That the Copley Medal be awarded to Charles Darwin, F.R.S., for his important Researches in Geology, Zoology, and Botanical Physiology.’ See also letter from T. H. Huxley to J. D. Hooker, 3 December 1864.
Because of his deafness, Hugh Falconer may not have heard Sabine’s address clearly (see letter from G. G. Stokes to T. H. Huxley, 5 December 1864).
No letter from Falconer to Sabine has been found in the Sabine papers and correspondence at the Royal Society.
Sua sponte: of its own accord.
CD had consulted Hooker about these plants for his research on the climbing habits of twining plants (see letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1864], and letter from J. D. Hooker, 29 November 1864). CD cited Hooker’s observations of Wistaria (also called Wisteria) and Ruscus androgynus in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 21–2. A note on R. androgynus is in DAR 157.1: 21.
Hooker was a member of the governing council of the Linnean Society; Busk was zoological secretary; Frederick Currey was botanical secretary (Gage and Stearn 1988, p. 59).
In his letter to CD of [23 November 1864], Hooker expressed his dissatisfaction with delays in publishing the issue of the Journal that contained CD’s paper ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’. CD’s paper had been read at the Linnean Society on 16 June 1864. It was published in the 12 December 1864 issue of the Journal. Hooker had played an active role in the reform of Linnean Society publications for many years (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter from J. D. Hooker, [before 7 March 1855]). In 1856, he helped to initiate reforms that separated Society news, thereafter issued in the Proceedings, from full-length articles, thereafter issued in the new Journal, which had separate sections for zoology and botany. Hooker apparently hoped to carry these reforms further by having the two sections published separately; however, this policy was not implemented until 1867 (Gage and Stearn 1988, pp. 160–2, 214–16).
See letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 November [1864].
Bastian 1864. Henry Charlton Bastian’s ‘Monograph on the Anguillulidae, or free nematoids, marine, land and freshwater, with descriptions of 100 new species’ was read before the Linnean Society on 1 December 1864.
Hooker refers to CD’s eldest son, William Erasmus Darwin, who had made extensive observations on dimorphism in Pulmonaria and other species in the spring of 1864 (see, for example, letter from W. E. Darwin, 24 May 1864). Hooker had helped encourage William’s interest in botany (see, for example, Correspondence vol. 9, letter to J. D. Hooker, 17 [July 1861] and n. 1).
Hooker had corresponded with Hector, the provincial geologist of Otago, New Zealand, since 1862; his letters to Hector are published in Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998. Hector supplied Hooker with extensive collections and descriptions for Hooker’s Handbook of New Zealand flora (see J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 13).
John Buchanan worked under Hector as a botanist and illustrator on the geological survey of Otago (DNZB). Buchanan supplied specimens for Hooker’s Handbook of the New Zealand flora (see J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 13).
Hooker had asked Hector for information about the difference between the floras of the east and west coasts of New Zealand’s Middle Island (or South Island) (letter from J. D. Hooker to James Hector, 18 January 1864, in Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, pp. 45–6).
Areca sapida is described in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 288 and 2: 744.
David Monro’s plant collections from the Nelson mountains are acknowledged in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 12.
Cordyline indivisa is described in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 282 and 2: 743. Hector is acknowledged for providing specimens and descriptions of C. indivisa and other species of Cordyline.
Cordyline australis is described in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 281–2 and 2: 742–3. Buchanan is acknowledged for providing sketches and descriptions of the species.
Charles Knight was one of the members of the New Zealand General Assembly, which had commissioned Hooker’s Handbook of the New Zealand flora (see J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 7**).
William Colenso had supplied specimens for Hooker’s Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ (see J. D. Hooker 1853–5, 1: 4).
William Thomas Locke Travers sent large collections of alpine plants to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (see J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 12**).
Julius von Haast. Hooker had given Hector a letter of introduction to Haast in 1862 (see H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 250). Haast’s contributions to the botany of New Zealand are acknowledged in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 12**. Haast had corresponded with CD in 1862 and 1863 (see Correspondence vols. 10 and 11), and was an enthusiastic supporter of Origin (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from Julius von Haast, 9 December 1862).
The reference is to the first volume of J. D. Hooker 1864–7.
Haast had made extensive observations and maps of the alpine lakes and glaciers on the Middle Island (or South Island) of New Zealand as part of his activities on the Geological Survey of Canterbury (see, for example, J. F. J. von Haast 1864a). Hooker had sent CD a letter from Haast discussing New Zealand glaciers (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 April 1863 enclosure and n. 30). See also letter from J. D. Hooker, 15 June 1864 and n. 10. CD expressed much interest in Haast’s reports of Pleistocene glaciation and incorporated his observations in Origin 4th ed, pp. 442–3 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Julius von Haast, 22 January 1863 and n. 4). In a note communicated by Roderick Impey Murchison at the 7 December 1864 meeting of the Geological Society of London, Haast claimed that the numerous lakes and valleys of New Zealand’s Southern Alps had been excavated by glaciers during the Pleistocene period (see J. F. J. von Haast 1864b, and Murchison 1864d). Haast’s views on the power of glaciers to carve out deep rock-basins in alpine regions were similar to those of Andrew Crombie Ramsay; Ramsay’s views had been debated in Britain since 1862 (see, for example, letter from J. B. Jukes, 10 August 1864 and nn. 2–4). For a discussion of Haast’s theories on the formation of rock-basins in comparison with those of Ramsay and others, see Oldroyd 1973, pp. 10–12. Haast’s theories are also discussed in H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 1037–44.
The diagram is reproduced at 80 per cent of the original size.
Hector’s view that New Zealand’s mountain valleys and lakes were formed chiefly by unequal movements of subsidence and elevation along fissures and fault lines in the strata had been put forward by Charles Lyell in opposition to Ramsay’s theory, and was also supported by Murchison and Hugh Falconer (see letter from J. B. Jukes, 10 August 1864 and nn. 2–4). Hooker was enthusiastic about Hector’s explanation: ‘This tilting theory shuts me up quo ad rock basins — I am sending your letter & sketches to Darwin & then to Lyell’ (letter from J. D. Hooker to James Hector, 18 February 1865, in Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, p. 55). Hector’s doubts about the excavating power of ice, conveyed in a letter of January 1864 to Roderick Murchison, had been inserted in a note to Murchison’s presidential address to the Royal Geographical Society in May 1864 (Murchison 1864a, p. clxi). Murchison later communicated another letter from Hector to the Geological Magazine, which presented Hector’s own theory that such basins had been formed ‘by unequal axial motion’ (Hector 1865, p. 378). See also Stafford 1989, pp. 59–61.
The Geological Survey of New Zealand was formed in 1865, with Hector as director (DNZB). Hector’s work on the Geological Survey of New Zealand is discussed in H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 454–9.
Hector later noted that evidence from existing and extinct plants and animals suggested that New Zealand was once joined to the temperate region of South America by a large land mass that had since been eroded by the sea (see Hector 1886, p. 40). The close botanic affinity of New Zealand and South America had been well documented by Hooker in his Introductory essay to the flora of New Zealand (J. D. Hooker 1853, pp. xix–xxiii, xxxi–xxxvi). Hooker suggested that these affinities could be explained by a land mass that had earlier existed between the countries and that contained plants common to both (J. D. Hooker 1853, p. xxiii). In Origin, p. 399, CD suggested that New Zealand and South America might have been stocked from the Antarctic islands before the commencement of the glacial period. See letter to J. D. Hooker, 4 December [1864].
For a discussion of the Maori conflicts, see Belich 1986. See also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooer, 20 April 1863 and n. 44.
Frances Harriet Hooker.
Hector probably refers to Hooker’s letter of 19 May 1864, in which he acknowledged the receipt of mosses (Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, p. 48).
Hooker had enquired about the Antipodes Islands in his letter to Hector of 19 May 1864 (Yaldwyn and Hobbs eds. 1998, p. 49). The islands are a small uninhabited volcanic group about 550 miles south-east of Dunedin, New Zealand (Columbia gazetteer of the world).
Bones of the moa (Dinornis), a genus of New Zealand land-birds, had been found in Pleistocene strata; the birds were believed to have become extinct quite recently (see, for example, J. F. J. von Haast 1865).
The diagram is an east–west cross-section of the geological structure of Otago, New Zealand. A more detailed diagram appears in a paper read before the Geological Society of London on 7 December 1864 (Hector 1864b, p. 125).
Hector refers to the section on Gramineae in J. D. Hooker 1864–7, 1: 317–43.


Recounts row at the Royal Society over exclusion of mention of Origin from Sabine’s address awarding Copley Medal to CD.

Encloses two letters to JDH from James Hector in New Zealand.

Letter details

Letter no.
Hooker, J. D.
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 260–1; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Director’s correspondence 174: 429–31 & 433–4)
Physical description
4pp † encl 11pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4692,” accessed on 24 July 2016,