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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   [12 May 1847]



My dear Hooker

I cannot resist thanking you for your most kind note. Pray do not think that I was annoyed by your letter: I perceived that you had been thinking with animation, & accordingly expressed yourself strongly & so I understood it.— Forefend me from a man who weighs every expression with Scotch prudence. I heartily wish you all success in your noble problem & I shall be very curious to have some talk with you & hear your ultimatum. I do really think, after Binneys pamphlet, it will be worth your while to array your facts & ideas against an aquatic origin of the coal—though I do not know whether you object to fresh-water. I am sure I have read somewhere of the cones of Lepidodendron being found round the stump of a tree; or am I confusing something else. How interesting all rooted better it seems from what you say than upright specimens become.—

I wish Ehrenberg would undertake a microscopical hunt for infusoria in the underclay & shales;1 it might reveal something. Would a comparison of the ashes of terrestrial peat & coal give any clue: peat-ashes are good manure & coal-ashes, except mechanically, I believe are of little use: does this indicate that the soluble salts have been washed out? ie if they are not present.—

I go up to Geolog. Council today2 —so farewell | Yours affectionately | C. Darwin


Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg’s examination of the Infusoria contained in CD’s South American specimens had provided evidence for determining whether certain formations were freshwater, tidal, or marine in origin. See Correspondence vol. 3, letter from C. G. Ehrenberg, 8 April 1845.
According to the minutes of the council meetings of the Geological Society, CD was present at the meeting of 12 May 1847. The entry in CD’s Account Book (Down House MS) recording a trip to London on 12 May 1847 confirms this and Hooker’s endorsement.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.


Thinks JDH should arrange his facts against the aquatic formation of coal.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 114: 92
Physical description
ALS 4pp & C

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1087,” accessed on 28 May 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4