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Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   [c. 25 March 1854]1

going out to India in the E.I.C.2 auspices to do magnetism.) he3 writes in great force, & asks about tints upon snow. he had not received my book yet. I understand he is very wroth at the Quarterly Review Article upon Cosmos. 4

With regard to your question anent tertiaries & glacial actions. My own old moraines I conceived to be geologically very modern indeed, & to be a recession of Ice now & still progressing either from diminished fall of rain, altered temperature, or sinking of the mountain chain &c.

I often looked towards the bases of glaciers & on the moraines &c for old tree stumps, Juniper stumps &c. but never found any trace of them. The general appearance was of vegetation crawling up—i.e. following the receding glaciers.

As to the Tertiaries of West Tibet: there are very modern Lymnæas &c imbedded in a fine silt—& overlain by glacial detritus— Thomas’s5 idea is, that as the Himal: were elevated the valleys, from being fiords, &c, became chains of Lakes &c, which gradually drained as they were raised to the regions of Ice & that the glacial period of the Himalaya was the most recent of any. I think he mentions however the interstratification of glacial matter & this tertiary fossiliferous clay in certain localities.

As to the Sewalik fossils hills6 I conceive them to be comparatively very ancient indeed & that they were raised in their present form as part & parcel of the Himalaya from which they are not physically & geographically distinct

By the way before I forget it Brown7 shewed me some very curious views of the Chilean Cordillera published I think in the Vienna Acad Transactions8 which reminded me much of your descriptions of Andes of the colored rocks, Skies & great plain of Plata. &c.9

As to vegetation of Sikkim lower Himal it was certainly uncommonly fine after the plains of India;10 but not comparable with Brazil or Khasia or Chittagong. The more I read & travel the more impressed I am with the fact that our impressions are more the effects of association than ever, & that it requires

CD annotations

crossed ink
4.2 Thomas’s idea] ‘Thomsons’ added pencil
crossed pencil
crossed brown crayon
Top of first page: ‘22’brown crayon


Dated by CD’s reference in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 26 March [1854], to having received Hooker’s letter on the morning of 26 March 1854. The two surviving pages of the letter are numbered ‘III’ and ‘IV’.
East India Company.
A reference to Alexander von Humboldt (see n. 4, below). For Hooker’s personal acquaintance with Humboldt, see Correspondence vol. 3, letter from J. D. Hooker, [late February 1845]. Humboldt’s interest in Hooker’s Himalayan expedition is discussed in L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 218, and in Correspondence vol. 4, letter from J. D. Hooker, 3 February 1849, n. 12.
Henry Holland’s unsigned review of volumes two and three of Humboldt 1845–58 appeared in the Quarterly Review 94 (1853): 49–79 (Wellesley Index 1: 737). The first volume had been reviewed previously (Quarterly Review 92 (1852–3): 77–106).
Thomas Thomson was Hooker’s companion during the Indian expedition of 1850 and co-author of Flora Indica (J. D. Hooker and Thomson 1855). See Thomson 1852, pp. 26–8, 478–80.
Hooker had not travelled as far to the north-west as the Siwalik Hills, which are located in the Punjab near Saharanpur. A large number of fossils had been collected there by Hugh Falconer and Proby Thomas Cautley (Bonney 1919, p. 9). Hooker compared the fossiliferous deposits of the Himalayan foothills around Darjeeling with those of the Siwalik Hills in J. D. Hooker 1854a, 1: 403 n.
Robert Brown.
Bibra 1853, in which four coloured plates show views of Chile.


Bibra, Ernst von. 1853. Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte von Chile. Denkschriften der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Classe 5, pt 2: 73–142.

Bonney, T. G. 1919. Annals of the Philosophical Club of the Royal Society written from its minute books. London: Macmillan.

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

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Thomson, Thomas. 1852. Western Himalaya and Tibet; a narrative of a journey through the mountains of northern India, during the years 1847–8. London. [Vols. 5,7]


JDH summarises letter from Humboldt.

JDH answers CD’s questions on glacial action in Himalayas.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.9: 382
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1559,” accessed on 4 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5