To J. D. Hooker [10 February 1845]
Down near Bromley | Kent
My dear Hooker
I am much obliged for your very agreeable letter; it was very goodnatured, in the midst of your scientific & theatrical dissipation, to think of writing so long a letter to me. I am astonished at your news & I must condole with you in your present view of the Professorship,1 & most heartily deplore it on my own account. There is something so chilling in a separation of so many hundred miles, though we did not see much of each other when nearer.— You will hardly believe how deeply I regret for myself your present prospects— I had looked forward to seeing much of each other during our lives. It is a heavy disappointment; & in a mere selfish point of view, as aiding me in my work, your loss is indeed irreparable.— But on the other hand, I cannot doubt that you take at present a desponding, instead of bright view of your prospects: Surely there are great advantages, as well as disadvantages. The place is one of eminence; & really it appears to me there are so many indifferent workers & so few readers, that it is a high advantage, in a purely scientific point of view, for a good worker to hold a position, which leads others to attend to his work.— I forget whether you attended Edinburgh, as a student,2 but in my time, there was a knot of men who were far from being the indifferent & dull listeners which you expect for your audience.3 Reflect what a satisfaction & honour it would be to make a good Botanist—with your disposition you will be to many, what Henslow was at Cambridge to me & others, a most kind friend & guide.
Then what a fine garden, & how good a Public Library; why Forbes4 always regrets the advantages of Edinburgh for work; think of the inestimable advantage of getting, within a short walk, of those noble rocks, & hills & sandy-shores near Edinburgh. Indeed I cannot pity you much, though I pity myself exceedingly in your loss.— Surely lecturing will in a year or too, with your great capacity for work (whatever you may be pleased to say to the contrary) become easy & you will have a fair time for your Antarctic Flora & general views of distribution. If I thought your Professorship would stop your work, I shd wish it & all the good worldly consequences at el Diavolo: I know I shall live to see you the first authority in Europe on that grand subject, that almost key-stone of the laws of creation, Geographical Distribution.— Well there is one comfort, you will be at Kew, no doubt every year.—so I shall finish, by forcing down your throat my sincere congratulations.
Thanks for all your news— I grieve to hear Humboldt is failing;5 one cannot help feeling, though unrightly, that such an end is humiliating: even when I saw him he talked beyond all reason.— If you see him again, pray give him my most respectful & kind compliments, & say that I never forget that my whole course of life is due to having read & reread as a Youth his Personal Narrative.6 How true & pleasing are all your remarks on his kindness: think how many opportunities you will have, in your new place, of being a Humboldt to others. Ask him about the river in NE Europe, with the Flora very different on its opposite banks.—7 I have got & read your Wilkes.—8 what a feeble book in matter & style, & how splendidly got up. Shall I return it, (with your Sandwich Lists, which have interested me much; ah what labour) to Sir William.—
Do write me a line from Berlin—also thanks for the proof sheets; I did, not, however, mean proof-Plates: I value them, as saving me copying extracts.—
Farewell, my dear Hooker, with a heavy heart, I wish you joy of your prospects. | Your sincere friend | C. Darwin
Congratulates JDH and condoles with him on possible position at Edinburgh. Although CD will miss him bitterly, he encourages JDH to view it as a good opportunity.
Sorry to hear that Humboldt is failing.