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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Julius von Haast   27 September 1865

Christchurch N. Z.

Septr 27. 1865

Dear Mr Darwin

From our mutual friend Dr Hooker I hear from time to time from you and of the complete recovery of your health,1 whilst your excellent papers in the Linnean Journal show me, that you are again at work.2 I need scarcely say, that it is with great delight and instruction that I follow your researches. In the mean time I have always given myself the pleasure to send you a copy of all my reports, so that you may be able, if your time should allow you, to see what I am doing.3

Unfortunately I am so much in the field, that I never have as yet found an opportunity to lay a more detailed account of my journeys before the public, but hope to do so soon.4

Dr Hooker & Prof. Ramsay5 have been so kind as to propose me as a candidate to the Royal Society of London and I should be very thankful to you if you would lend me your powerful assistance towards attaining this goal of my greatest ambition.6

I know very well that there are many scientific men far more deserving than I am, who solicit such a distinction, but I may say with Göthe: “Nur die Lumpen sind bescheiden”7   I know your kind co-operation will go a long way and I am certain, that if you will assist me, that my chances of being elected will become very great.—

I have also written to Sir Chs Lyell and Prof Tyndall,8 requesting them to give me their help too.

Two months ago I returned from the West coast of this Province, where some very extensive goldfields, the existence of which I pointed out already three years ago, are now worked.9 In going down the Coast towards Mt Cook, I found that the whole coast was formed by morainic accumulations for about 60 miles, where in the often vertical cliffs, washed by the sea these beds can be easily studied.10

By this mail I send you a lecture written for our Mechanic Institute in which you will find some details about it,11 but after my return from the West coast, for which region I shall start in a few days I shall try to write a more detailed account with Sections etc for the Geological Society of London.—12

It is unnecessary to tell you, how highly I shall be delighted to hear again from you. I asked in one of my last letters the favour to receive your photograph, which I shall highly prize; may I reiterate that request?13

With my best wishes for your welfare believe me, dear Mr Darwin | yours very faithfully | Julius Haast

Chs. Darwin Esqr | FRS. etc


Joseph Dalton Hooker had corresponded with Haast since 1861 (see Correspondence vol. 10, letter from J. D. Hooker, 20 September 1862 and n. 4).
CD’s most recent papers in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) were ‘Climbing plants’ (in the double issue dated 12 June 1865), ‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria (12 December 1864), and ‘Two forms in species of Linum (13 May 1863).
Haast sent CD two short papers, J. F. J. von Haast 1862a and 1862b, in November 1862 (see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to Julius von Haast, 22 January 1863 and n. 1), and an account of his geological expedition across the Southern Alps of New Zealand’s Middle Island (now South Island) to the west coast in May 1863 (see ibid., letter from Julius von Haast, 13 May 1863 and n. 2). He also sent CD his 1861 geological report made for the provincial government of Nelson province (J. F. J. von Haast 1861; see Correspondence vol. 11, letter to J. D. Hooker, 10 [November 1863]; CD’s lightly annotated presentation copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL), and a manuscript copy of his paper on the ground parrot, Strigops habroptilus (a synonym of S. habroptila, the kakapo); see ibid., letter from Julius von Haast, 21 July [–7? August 1863] and n. 13, and letter from Emma Darwin to Julius von Haast, 12 December [1863] and n. 4. For a complete list of Haast’s publications, see H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 1088–100.
In his capacity as provincial geologist, Haast published numerous papers on the geology of Canterbury province (see H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 1088–100, and the Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers). He published a more general account (J. F. J. von Haast 1879) in 1879; a copy is in the Darwin Library–Down House.
With the support of Hooker, Ramsay, CD, and others, Haast was proposed for fellowship of the Royal Society in 1866; he was elected in the following year (see H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 505; Proceedings of the Royal Society of London 16 (1867–8): 1). See also letter to Julius von Haast, 26 December [1865].
Haast quotes from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem ‘Rechenschaft’. The full line reads, ‘Nur die Lumpen sind bescheiden, Brave freuen sich der Tat.’ (‘Only knaves are furtive, the worthy rejoice in their deeds.’)
Haast explored the west coast of Canterbury province from 29 March to 15 July 1865 (see J. F. J. von Haast 1879, pp. 65–107; the west coast of Canterbury province is now Westland province). He made a number of reports to the provincial government on various aspects of the journey (H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 1091). Haast had surveyed the Southern Alps, on the west coast of Canterbury province, from January to May 1862, during which time he also searched for gold-bearing deposits (see Correspondence vol. 11, letters from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863 and 21 July [– 7? August] 1863, and H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 199–219).
For Haast’s description of the moraines, see J. F. J. von Haast 1879, pp. 93–4. For CD’s interest in Haast’s earlier report on New Zealand glaciers, see Correspondence vol. 12, letters from J. D. Hooker, 15 June 1864 and n. 10, and 2 December 1864 and n. 28.
Haast’s ‘Lecture on the west coast of Canterbury’ was delivered to members of the Mechanics’ Institute, Christchurch, on 25 September 1865 and printed in the Lyttelton Times on 28 and 29 September 1865 (H. F. van Haast 1948, p. 1092). No copy of the lecture has been found in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL.
Haast had first requested a photograph of CD in his letter of 21 July [ – 7? August] 1863 (Correspondence vol. 11).


‘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–.

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

Haast, John Francis Julius von. 1861. Report of a topographical and geological exploration of the western districts of the Nelson Province, New Zealand. Nelson, New Zealand: Nelson provincial government.

Haast, John Francis Julius von. 1867. Notes on the geology of the province of Canterbury, N.Z., principally in reference to the deposits of the glacial epoch at the western base of the Southern Alps. [Read 19 June 1867.] Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society 23: 342–52.

Haast, John Francis Julius von. 1879. Geology of the provinces of Canterbury and Westland, New Zealand: a report comprising the results of official explorations. Christchurch, New Zealand: The ‘Times’ office.

Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers: Catalogue of scientific papers (1800–1900). Compiled and published by the Royal Society of London. 19 vols. and index (3 vols.). London: Royal Society of London. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1867–1925.

‘Three forms of Lythrum salicaria’: On the sexual relations of the three forms of Lythrum salicaria. By Charles Darwin. [Read 16 June 1864.] Journal of the Linnean Society (Botany) 8 (1865): 169–96. [Collected papers 2: 106–31.]

‘Two forms in species of Linum’: On the existence of two forms, and on their reciprocal sexual relation, in several species of the genus Linum. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 February 1863.] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society (Botany) 7 (1864): 69–83. [Collected papers 2: 93–105.]


Expects to publish an account of his journeys soon.

Asks CD’s support for his Royal Society candidacy.

Goldfields he discovered are now being worked.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Francis Julius (Julius) von Haast
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 8
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4900,” accessed on 5 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 13