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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Julius von Haast   8 September 1866


Sept 8. 1866

My dear Mr Darwin

I have to thank you heartily for your kind letter of the 5th of May and the trouble you have taken concerning my election to the R. S.—1 Prof Ramsay told me already some months ago, that I had very little chance for the first year but I have no doubt, that with your powerful assistance and that of other kind friends my election will take place next year.2

I am delighted to hear from other English friends, that your health has so much improved & trust, that it will continue to do so, so that you will be able to take a more active part in scientific life, than you were able to do for the last few years.3

I am just occupied to plot my alpine work on a large scale which will take me another 3 months, but I hope then to publish a map of the Southern Alps proper which will not be uninteresting—4 Our Western goldfields continue to become every day more extensive and another rush from Australia is beginning to set in towards that part of New Zealand5   It is wonderful to behold how the wandering after that golden vliess6 brings such busy life into the wilderness; towns spring up as by enchantment & men battle successfully against nature & nature has to give way at the end.

Fearing to miss the mail, I have to be short this time but shall write soon again

Believe me my dear Mr Darwin | ever yours very sincerely | Julius Haast.


See letter to Julius von Haast, 5 May [1866]. CD told Haast that although he had written on Haast’s behalf to the Royal Society of London, he had never received Haast’s proposal paper for his signature.
Andrew Crombie Ramsay had officially proposed Haast as a candidate for Royal Society fellowship (H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 505). Haast became a fellow of the Royal Society on 6 June 1867 (Record of the Royal Society of London).
Haast probably heard about CD’s health from, among others, Joseph Dalton Hooker, with whom he had corresponded since 1861 (see H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 247–50, 513).
As provincial geologist for Canterbury province, New Zealand, Haast had made a number of expeditions to the Southern Alps. Early in 1866, he explored the area around the head-waters of the Rakaia river. In June 1866 he wrote a report on the area, including a map (J. F. J. von Haast 1866; see H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 472–3, 1092). His map of the whole of the Southern Alps was eventually published by the Royal Geographical Society of London (J. F. J. von Haast 1870; see H. F. von Haast 1948, p. 1095).
After the first discovery of gold in 1864, the provincial government had been interested in finding routes from Canterbury through the Southern Alps to the goldfields of the west coast. Haast explored much of the region looking for passes (see H. F. von Haast 1948, pp. 405–33; see also Correspondence vol. 11, letter from Julius von Haast, 5 March 1863 and n. 2). For a history of the 1860s gold rushes on the west coast of New Zealand, see May 1967.
Haast refers to ‘das Goldene Vlies’, the golden fleece of Greek mythology.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 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. 1866. Report on the head-waters of the Rakaia. Christchurch: government of Canterbury province.

Haast, John Francis Julius von. 1870. Notes to accompany the topographical map of the Southern Alps, in the province of Canterbury, New Zealand. Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 40: 433.

May, Philip Ross. 1967. The west coast gold rushes. 2d edition. Christchurch, New Zealand: Pegasus Press.

Record of the Royal Society of London: The record of the Royal Society of London for the promotion of natural knowledge. 4th edition. London: Royal Society. 1940.


Thanks CD for his efforts on behalf of JvH’s Royal Society candidacy.

Is at work on a large-scale map of the Southern Alps [of New Zealand].

The ever-growing goldfields and their effect on the country.

Letter details

Letter no.
John Francis Julius (Julius) von Haast
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 166: 10
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5207,” accessed on 31 May 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14