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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   21 [September 1862]1

Cliff Cottage | Bournemouth

Sunday 21st.

My dear Hooker

I am specially obliged to you for sending me Haasts communications.2 They are very interesting, & grand about Glacial & drift or marine glacial.— I see he alludes to whole southern hemisphere.3 I wonder whether he has read the Origin.—4 Considering your facts on the Alpine plants of N. Zealand & remarks, I am particularly glad to hear of the geological evidence of glacial action.5 I presume he is sure to collect & send over the mountain “Rat” of which he speaks; I long to know what it is.6 A Frog & Rat together would to my mind prove former connection of N. Zealand to some continent;7 for I can hardly suppose that the Polynesians introduced the Rat as game, though so esteemed in the Friendly Islands.8

Ramsay sent me his paper & asked my opinion on it.9 I agree with you & think highly of it.10 I cannot doubt that it is to large extent true: my only doubt is that in a much disturbed country, I shd. have thought that some depressions, & consequently lakes, would have almost certainly have been left— I suggested a careful consideration of mountainous Tropical countries, such as Brazil, peninsula of India &c; if lakes are there very rare, I shd. fully subscribe to Ramsay’s views.11 What presumption, as it seems to me, in the Council of Geolog. Socy.: that it hesitated to publish the paper.—12

We return home on the 30th.— I have made up my mind, if I can keep up my courage, to start on the Saturday for Cambridge & stay the last few days of the Assoc.n there.13 I do so hope that you may be there then.—

Farewell | C. Darwin


The date is established by the relationship to the letters from J. D. Hooker, 20 August 1862 and 20 September 1862.
Hooker had sent CD a letter from Julius von Haast, together with some newspaper reports of his recent explorations in the Southern Alps of New Zealand, that had been enclosed with his letter (see enclosure to letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 September 1862 and n. 2).
Haast’s newspaper reports have not been identified; they apparently related, among other subjects, to glacial remains observed during his expedition in the Southern Alps of New Zealand (see J. F. J. von Haast 1862a, and H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 199–219). In Origin, p. 373, CD referred to the ‘evidence of former glacial action in New Zealand’ as a point in favour of his argument that the Pleistocene glacial epoch had affected large portions of the world. Hooker told CD about Haast’s earlier observations of glacial remains in New Zealand in his letter of [29 December 1861] (Correspondence vol. 9). See also letter to J. D. Hooker, 16 January [1862] and n. 6. In Origin 4th ed., pp. 442–3, CD stated: ‘we now know, from the excellent researches of Dr. J. Haast and Dr. Hector, that enormous glaciers formerly descended to a low level in New Zealand’.
Haast had read Origin, and held it in high esteem (see letter from Julius von Haast, 9 December 1862 and n. 8).
CD refers to Hooker’s flora of New Zealand (J. D. Hooker 1853–5), and to the remarks in the introductory essay concerning the possibility of a former cool period, occasioned by the existence at that time of a greater amount of landmass in the southern seas (J. D. Hooker 1853–5, 1: xxiii–xxv). There is a copy of Hooker’s introductory essay in the Darwin Library–CUL (Marginalia 1: 394).
Haast probably referred to the rat in the newspaper reports that have not been identified. The reference may have been to the ‘large Norwegian grey species’ of rat that had been introduced to New Zealand, and that Haast, on his 1862 expedition, found to have reached ‘the very heart of our Alps’ (H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 215). However, CD evidently believed Haast was referring to the supposed native species of rat, Mus rattus (now called Rattus rattus). See n. 7, below; see also letter from Julius von Haast, 9 December 1862. On Mus rattus, see Buller 1870.
CD had long regarded the presence of frogs and rats in New Zealand as evidence supporting the possibility of a continental connection for these islands, especially since he found frogs’ spawn to be very easily killed by salt water (see Correspondence vol. 5, letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 June [1855], and L. G. Wilson ed. 1970, p. 53). However, in Origin, p. 393, after stating that frogs are never found on oceanic islands, CD suggested that their presence in New Zealand might be explained by glacial transport. CD had previously attempted to obtain specimens of the New Zealand frog and rat (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter to W. B. D. Mantell, 5 June [1856–9]). See also Correspondence vol. 9, letter to W. B. Clarke, 25 October [1861].
CD refers to present-day Tonga.
In 1862, the British Association for the Advancement of Science held its annual meeting in Cambridge during the first week of October. See also letter to W. D. Fox, 20 [September 1862].


Buller, Walter. 1870. On the New Zealand rat. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 3: 1–4.

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

Haast, Heinrich Ferdinand von. 1948. The life and times of Sir Julius von Haast, explorer, geologist, museum builder. Wellington, New Zealand: privately published.

Hooker, Joseph Dalton. 1853–5. Flora Novæ-Zelandiæ. 2 vols. Pt 2 of The botany of the Antarctic voyage of HM discovery ships Erebus and Terror, in the years 1839–1843, under the command of Captain Sir James Clark Ross. London: Lovell Reeve.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.

Origin 4th ed.: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 4th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1866.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Thanks for Haast’s observations. Particularly glad to get geological evidence of glacial action (in Southern Hemisphere).

Thinks Ramsay’s theory to large extent true, but thinks that in a much disturbed country some lakes would have been formed in depressions.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 115: 161
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3735,” accessed on 14 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10