skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From J. D. Hooker   5 September 1864


Sept 5/64.

My dear Darwin

I have just read through the glacial part of Murchisons address, & agree that it is a smasher to Ramsays theory.1 The summary of subject appears an apt one, though weakened by a few inconsequent observations, & over-much stress on the opinions of “all geologists” all “practical geologists”, all “old geologists”—for whose opinions (bless their old gums) Ramsays do not care a pin. Falconers objections,2 as put by Murchison are simply unintelligiable to me.

Thanks for telling me of Beppo.3 I like Quits much,4 all but the end, but ends do not trouble me.

I did not mean that it was beneath your dignity or really below the dignity of your subject to answer Kollicker,5 but what I think is, that when such subjects are dragged into periodicals for discussion, ⁠⟨⁠the⁠⟩⁠ public are apt to form a low opinion of them & their disputants. The subject is a great one, there are acknowledged organs for its discussion, accessable to all taking a true interest & capable of appreciating the men & their arguments, & to fling these down to be scrambled for in a weekly periodical, is somehow derogatory— I dare say I do not explain my meaning, nor should convince you if I did. Of one thing I can assure you, that it is never worth your while, whose working moments are worth so much to us, to waste one thought on this discussion. After all you could only impress outsiders—who would forget & turn like the wind to the next writer, & it is the dignity of the subject, more than of the proceeding which I am considering.

Falconer was very jolly on Thursday.6

Ever yrs affec | J D Hooker

Begonia Tweedyana7 is one of that unguis set of things.

CD annotations8

End of letter: ‘Harvey’ pencil, circled pencil; ‘Oliver | Scotts Paper’ pencil; ‘Bentham | Naudin | Translate Ray Socy.’ pencil, del ink; ‘Vine scales9 pencil, del pencil; ‘Nepenthes’ ink, circled ink; ‘—Marc gravia.’ added ink; ‘Scotts paper’ ink


The reference is to Murchison 1864a, pp. 221–41 and Andrew Crombie Ramsay (see letter to J. D. Hooker, [23 August 1864]). Ramsay outlined his theory of the glacial origin of lake basins in Ramsay 1862. See also letter from J. B. Jukes, 10 August 1864 and n. 3, letter from A. C. Ramsay, 18 August 1864 and n. 2, and letter from RIMurchison, 19 August 1864.
The reference is to Hugh Falconer. On Falconer’s opposition to Ramsay’s theory, see the letter from J. B. Jukes, 10 August 1864 and n. 2.
Hooker refers to Rudolf Albert von Kölliker and Kölliker 1864c. See letter from Ernst Haeckel, 10 August 1864 and n. 12. For Hooker’s opposition to the discussion of science in the general periodical press, see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from J. D. Hooker, [7 May 1863].
Hooker mistakenly wrote Begonia for Bignonia. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [1 September 1864] and n. 6.
CD’s annotations, with the exception of the deleted reference to ‘vine scales’ (see n. 9, below), relate to subjects mentioned in the letter to J. D. Hooker, 13 September [1864].
CD discussed vine scales, which are bracts or foliar structures situated on the tendrils and branches of vines, in ‘Climbing plants’, pp. 79–81. CD had been observing the vine family Vitaceae since 1863 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 22 July [1863] and n. 5). For CD’s queries to Hooker and Daniel Oliver on the external structures of plants in the vine family, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864], and the letter to Daniel Oliver, 11 March [1864]. For a discussion of the place of the Vitaceae in the development of CD’s understanding of gradation in the structures of climbing plants, see the letter to J. D. Hooker, [27 January 1864] and nn. 19–20.


‘Climbing plants’: On the movements and habits of climbing plants. By Charles Darwin. [Read 2 February 1865.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 9 (1867): 1–118.

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

Tautphoeus, Jemima von. 1857. Quits; a novel. 3 vols. London: Richard Bentley.

Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. 1864. Beppo the conscript. A novel. 2 vols. London: Chapman and Hall.


R. I. Murchison’s address [see 4595] smashes Ramsay’s glacial theory.

JDH defends his view that CD should not answer Kölliker.

Letter details

Letter no.
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 101: 238–9
Physical description
ALS 4pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4608,” accessed on 2 October 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 12