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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   9 April 1849


April 9th. 49/

My dear Hooker

The very next morning after posting my last letter (I think on 23d of March)1 I received your two interesting gossipaceous & geological letters; & the latter I have since exchanged with Lyell for his.— I will write higglety-pigglety just as subject occurs.— I saw the Review in the Athenæum,2 it was written in an illnatured spirit, but the whole virus consisted in saying that there was not novelty enough in your remarks for publication. No one, now a days, cares for reviews; I may just mention that my Journal got some real good abuse, “presumption” &c. & ended with saying that the volume appeared “made up of the scraps & rubbish of the author’s portfolio”.—

I most truly enter into what you say & quite believe you that you care only for the review with respect to your Father; & that this alone would make you like to see extracts from your letters more properly noticed in the same periodical. I have considered to the very best of my judgment whether any portions of your present letters are adapted for the Athenæum (in which I have no interest; the beasts not having even noticed my 3 Geolog: volumes which I had sent to them) & I have come to the conclusion it is better not to send them: I feel sure, considering all the circumstances, that without you took pains & wrote with care a condensed & finished sketch of some striking feature in your travels, it is better not to send anything. These two letters, are moreover, rather too geological for the Athenæum & almost require woodcuts.— On the other hand there are hardly enough details for a communication to the Geolog. Soc.—

I have not the smallest doubt that your facts are of the highest interest with regard to Glacial action in the Himmalaya, but it struck both Lyell & myself that your evidence ought to have been given more distinctly; describing for instance any one moraine (if moraines they are) & stating whether any of the boulders are scored or perched, or the underlying rocks polished or scored; whether the latter are mamillated &c; & positively whether some of the largest boulders are from distant rocks in situ. Again I cannot make out whether your Glacial deposits lie far (& how far?) beneath existing glacial action; which is of course the most interesting point with respect to the glacial action of Europe.— If you can remember it, I shd. be really curious to hear how this is whenever you write. Lyell thinks that your lakes are connected with old Glacial action; but I do not see how.— At first I thought that your Terraces were curiously like those which I have described in my Geolog. vol. in detail in the Cordillera, & which I have no doubt are of ancient marine origin; but your singular lakes quite puzzle me.— Your terraces are not described sufficiently in detail, viz the state, size & nature of the pebbles; the kind of stratification & whether there are layers of sand or clay occasionally intercalated. &c.— Do the rivers after cutting through terraces generally reach the hard underlying rocks? With respect to the red clay over the mountains; can it be gneiss decomposed in situ, as happens to so surprising a thickness in Brazil?; I suppose not, as you state that it lies on your terraces.

Altogether your excursion amidst the snow-heights must have been very grand; I fear, however, that Botanically it can hardly have repaid you the immense fatigue; how fortunate it is that your health stands so well & Heaven grant this may continue.—

I forgot to say that I will carefully preserve all your letters: none have been destroyed, but those portions which did not contain any facts which I wanted to refer to again have been spitted & the other parts put in my portfolios, but half-an-hour’s work will get them all together & it shall be done on my return home.—3

I have written so lately that I have nothing to say about myself; my health prevented me going on with a crusade against “mihi” & “nobis” of which you warn me of the dangers: I showed my paper to 3 or 4 naturalists & they all agreed with me to a certain extent: with health & vigor, I wd not have shown a white feather, but with aid of 12 a dozen really good naturalists, I believe something might have been done against the miserable & degrading passion of mere naming species.4 In your letter you wonder what “Ornamental Poultry” has to do with Barnacles; but do not flatter yourself that I shall not yet live, to finish the Barnacles & then make a fool of myself on the subject of Species, under which head ornamental Poultry are very interesting.— Thank you much for all your news about Falconer: his conduct does seem really most inexplicable & lamentable: it is a thousand pities.—

In my last letter I said I had not read your Coal Paper,5 because I had not yet borrowed the Volume: that same evening lo & behold I found your Paper amongst my Books: when starting & packing for this place I received the parcel from your Father & somehow overlooked the Coal Paper in a manner, which I cannot even now understand. I have read it with the greatest interest. Your preliminary remarks strike me as excellent, as well as your various discussions. What beautiful Plates!— I remember in conversation you said you thought that the upright Coal flora might have been fresh-water aquatic; I regret you did not strongly insert this, for it strikes me as removing some of the geological difficulties & as agreeing so well with your curious facts about the seeds in the hollow trunks: Why on earth shd not the fern-leaves have been drifted to the spot where the upright vegetables grew?— But my Paper is full— Farewell, all success attend you.—

Your’s affectionately. C. Darwin.


See the second letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 February 1849, n. 7. However, later issues of the Athenæum (28 April and 13 October 1849) contained more positive reviews of his letters to William Jackson Hooker.
There is no evidence indicating that Hooker’s letters were divided and ‘spitted’, although not all the surviving letters are complete.
See letters to H. E. Strickland, [4 February 1849] and 10 February [1849].
JD. Hooker 1848a. CD’s annotated copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.


Does not recommend that JDH publish extracts of his letters from India in the Athenæum.

CD criticises JDH’s observations on glacial deposits in Himalayas as insufficiently clear and detailed.

CD will live to finish barnacles and make a fool of himself over species.

Letter details

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

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1239,” accessed on 4 March 2024,

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