From J. D. Hooker [26 September 1865]1
7 Terrace Road | Buxton
Out of the utter idleness of my mind I write to you you dear blessed ultima thule of my fatuous correspondence—to whom I can write in my folly, as well as in my sorrows & prosperity— Don’t you see I am better.2 I have quite got the use of my legs, walked full 5–6 miles yesterday & am getting up strength & flesh: if the Rheumatism would only leave my arm & finger joints I should be all right. Night sweats are still bad & most horrid, especially with linen sheets. We are most comfortably lodged, my wife is a splendid nurse;— we are blessed in the weather & pertiklarly in a goodish Cook!
We have read Uncle Silas isnt it creepy?, & crawly too, one should have a brandy bottle & sal volatile to get through it in safety alone.3 how splendidly the interest is kept up. Then I took the Mill on the Floss, & am ravished with it; what a clever person the authoress is, I like it even better than Adam Bede.—4 how evidently the authoress belongs to the class of life of her heroines, with whom first love is an animal passion with nothing to elevate it. How splendid are her analysis of the mixed motives of human action in the young but not in the old & yet how vividly she represents the acts & conversation of the old.
Then I took a dose of Jamieson’s paper on the Glacial period of Scotland5 & wrote him a long letter praising it. Still I am sure there was a time when the contour of submerged Scotland was ploughed by Icebergs moving in definite directions (S.W. to N.E. or rather vice versa). Given a submerged Gt Britain a hundred miles or so off Victoria Land & the Bergs would plough it in a direction SW to N.E.—Bergs, some of them 10 miles long & 700 ft below water! I can fancy no other explanation of the parallelism of the great Scotch valleys but this: & as there are not more things in Heaven & Earth than are dreamt of in &c6 it follows as a matter of course
Then I read the Carrs of Carrlyon7—utter trash after G. Eliot— by the way I met Lewis at dinner & was not fascinated— Such a connection as his must tend to destroy a man’s manners in public; the very sense of its exciting prejudice must insensibly react in a man’s manners.8
Have you read Geikie, I liked it much but was not wholly satisfied somehow.9 Have you read “Frost & Fire”10 I have not, but want to; the author is a brand plucked from the burning! a son of a man my father knew well & I a little, Campbell of Islay an utter spendthrift who left his son a beggar, having run through a magnificent property that was sold by Tontine some 16 years ago—11 The young man, bred to the utmost fashion & luxury, insisted on working for his bread instead of hanging onto his multitudinous relations. I have scarce seen him for years but was struck with his occupying his holiday tours with Geological observations—& I read his Nova Scotia book (I forget its name) with a good deal of interest.12
Col. Strachey is back, you did not know him I think. he called often on me in Town & is full of Science— he is in Phil. Club13
Lyell called on me every 2 days & hugely I enjoyed it— he is a wonderful man. I am so glad the Lubbock affair is settled, at any price—14 it was a miserable affair whichever way regarded— What will Lubbock do now. I hear that Huxley was the great Scientific friend who backed his Parliamentary aspirations.15 Tyndall16 was dead against it. Thank God they did not ask me. I should have blurted out awfully against it. What madness of Lady L.17 to have urged it; she would be the first to suffer.
How strange is the difference between the loss of an aged parent & child— my father has been my companion as well as parent for 25 years our intimacy has never been broken, our aims have been one as much as those of father & son ever could by possibility be but I have to reflect on his loss before I realize it & swell with grief.18 How different in my childs case!19 I cannot see that it is altogether natural though it is so in the main. Is my grief for him more selfish than that for my child, I cannot feel it to be so— I do suppose we have a pure nature, independent of conditions (& of Darwinism applied!) but what it is we can only hope to know if we realize a future state. What did you think of Tylor? & Leckie20 who is glorious, but I am astounded at his supposing that none but rationalistic views are held by most religious people including teachers of the X—21 he never goes to X that is clear.
Ever Yrs aff | J D Hooker
What about the Reader?22
On his reading: George Eliot,
T. F. Jamieson on Scottish glaciation.
Glad Lyell–Lubbock affair is over.
His grief over loss of father and child.
- geological time, epochs
- ice, ice-action, icebergs, glaciers
- scientific controversy, confrontation
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4899,” accessed on 28 September 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-4899