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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [after 28 April 1866]1

– – in their case (as in our’s) depend on the favor of the public. The Director of the Adelaide Garden2 writes that no born colonist there ever saw a parasitic orchid.

The W. Ind. Gardens are roaring for E. Ind. Orchids & vice versa:—& we roar for all!—

Oliver will answer in a day or two about buds,3 the books are at binders.4

I go to Torquay tomorrow   Lubbock goes by same Train.5

Lyell has been writing to me about the Coal-plants of Melville Island. But as we have not the plants, it is no use speculating on them.6 I have glanced at Lyells 1st. Ed. & do not doubt he there means all Globe cooler by massing land at Poles. I doubt it greatly—& suspect that he would only thereby redistribute amounts of heat & cold—as I gathered was his view from subsequent Editions.7 He makes no allusion to effect of vapor, which I am sure will throw out all his calculations.8

Ever Yrs affec | J D Hooker

CD annotations

1.1 in … calculations. 5.6] crossed pencil


The date is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 April 1866].
Moritz Richard Schomburgk became director of the Adelaide Botanic Garden in 1865.
Hooker refers to Daniel Oliver; see letter to J. D. Hooker, [28 April 1866].
Hooker refers to John Lubbock.
Charles Lyell was preparing the tenth edition of Principles of geology. He revised his discussion of Carboniferous plants collected on Melville Island in the Arctic Ocean off Canada. Lyell noted that the collection had since been lost, but that further fossil plants had been obtained from the island, indicating the spread of Miocene plants over the Arctic regions nearly as far as the north pole (C. Lyell 1867–8, 1: 225; see also ibid., pp. 89–90). For more discussion of coal plants, see the letter from J. D. Hooker, 16 January 1866 and n. 8, and the letter to J. D. Hooker, 21 [January 1866] and n. 6.
In the first edition of Principles of geology, Lyell argued that the earth’s temperature was determined to a significant degree by the relative position of land and sea, adding that a concentration of land at the poles would produce a general cooling of the earth’s surface (C. Lyell 1830–3, 1: 108–21). Lyell’s argument remained largely unchanged in later editions (see, for example, C. Lyell 1853, 1: 104–10, and C. Lyell 1867–8, 1: 266). For further discussion of Lyell’s theory, see the letters from Charles Lyell, 1 March 1866 and n. 3, and 10 March 1866, and the letter to Charles Lyell, 8 March [1866]; see also Fleming 1998.
In the tenth edition of Principles of geology, Lyell briefly considered whether the glacial period was one of higher mean temperature, ‘because an excess of snow implies an excess of evaporation, and consequently of heat’; however, he dismissed this view as a ‘fallacy’ that had arisen ‘from omitting the element of time from the calculation’. He argued, ‘If the summer’s warmth cannot get rid of all the winter’s snow, even by a few feet in a century, there will, in the course of thousands of years, be as large a store of ice formed as geologists may require’ (C. Lyell 1867–8, 1: 288).


Fleming, James Rodger. 1998. Charles Lyell and climatic change: speculation and certainty. In Lyell: the past is the key to the present, edited by Derek J. Blundell and Andrew C. Scott. London: Geological Society.

Lyell, Charles. 1830–3. Principles of geology, being an attempt to explain the former changes of the earth’s surface, by reference to causes now in operation. 3 vols. London: John Murray.

Lyell, Charles. 1867–8. Principles of geology or the modern changes of the earth and its inhabitants considered as illustrative of geology. 10th edition. 2 vols. London: John Murray.



Lyell has written to JDH about coal-plants of Melville Island.

Has glanced at first edition of Principles and has no doubt that Lyell meant the whole globe was cooler when land was massed at poles. JDH doubts this.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 102: 60
Physical description
2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5076,” accessed on 14 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14