To J. D. Hooker 9 February 1
My dear Hooker
I had not heard of poor Falconer’s sufferings before receiving your note.2 The thought has quite haunted me since. Poor fellow it is horrid to think of him,— I quite agree how humiliating the slow progress of man is; but everyone has his own pet horror, & this slow progress, or even personal annihilation sinks in my mind into insignificance compared with the idea, or rather I presume certainty, of the sun some day cooling & we all freezing. To think of the progress of millions of years, with every continent swarming with good & enlightened men all ending in this; & with probably no fresh start until this our own planetary system has been again converted into red-hot gas.— Sic transit gloria mundi,3 with a vengeance.
I have been having 5 or 6 wretched days, miserable from morning to night & unable to do anything, but am much better today. How I wish I could beg borrow or steal your eczema, intensified a dozen fold; for this alone would do me good.4 I hope Startin has done you good.5 I wish I knew whether it was any earthly use consulting any doctor, for I can get nothing more out of Dr. Jenner.6 Remember when you can with ease, you are pledged to come here. You cannot think how it pleases me to hear that you remember the gone-bye days at Down with pleasure;7 they were indeed pleasant to me. What a loss the loss of nearly all Society has been to me & to my family; & now for the few years which I may live it will be worse.—8
I am much pleased to hear that my paper on Climbers went off well.9 Masters has written to me & what he tells me accords with & supports what I have written.10 I am rather surprised that the hypothetical case of L. nissolia was noticed:11 the case interested me, because a few years ago I remember looking at this plant & concluding that it would be utterly impossible to even conjecture what could be the meaning of its strange leaves: it would be interesting to me to trace the graduated forms mentioned by Bentham,12 but I must resist the temptation. T[he] diversified powers of movements in the Climbers,13 & the gradations in structure struck me as the most interesting points in the subject.14 Well, I ought to love the subject, for it helped me over many a weary hour, when I could do nothing else.15
Elizabeth Wedgwood has been here for a day,16 & has told me a little news of you & Mrs Hooker,17 to whom pray give kindest remembrances, & of a most pleasant luncheon at her house—
My dear old friend | Yours affectly | C. Darwin
Falconer’s death haunts him. Personal annihilation not so horrifying to him as sun cooling some day and human race ending.
His health has been wretched.
Masters has written his agreement with CD’s "Climbing plants".
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4769,” accessed on 4 December 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4769