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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. D. Hooker   26 [April 1858]

Moor Park, Farnham | Surrey


My dear Hooker

As I confess I thought you a little uncharitable about Dr. Daniel, I feel bound in honour to send you the enclosed. As it may be confidential, it shd. not be mentioned.— It is an astounding revelation to me.1 Return it here or to Down at your leisure.—

I have just had the innermost cockles of my heart rejoiced by a letter from Lyell.2 I said to him (or he to me) that I believed from character of Flora of Azores, that icebergs must have been stranded there; & that I expected erratic boulders wd. be detected embeded between the upheaved lava-beds: & I got Lyell to write to Hartung to ask,3 & now H. says my question explains what had astounded him viz large boulders (& some polished) of Mica-schist, quartz, sandstone &c, some embedded & some 40 & 50 ft above level of sea, so that he had inferred that they had not been brought as ballast. Is this not beautiful?4

The Water-cure has done me some good, but I am nothing to boast of today so goodbye. | My dear friend | Yours | C. D.


The enclosure has not been found. William Freeman Daniell had arranged to have West African domestic animal skins sent to CD. On his return to England from Sierra Leone late in 1856, Daniell had asked CD whether he would support an application to the Royal Society for a grant to collect natural history specimens in Africa. At the time, Hooker had expressed doubts about Daniell’s capabilities and CD declined to support the application. See Correspondence vol. 6, letters to J. D. Hooker, 17 January [1857] and 20 January [1857].
The letter has not been found, but see the following letter.
Georg Hartung was preparing a geological study of the Azores (Hartung 1860). Charles Lyell had met Hartung on the Canary Islands in the winter of 1853–4, and they had carried out researches into the geology of the islands and of Madeira. Although the joint paper they intended to publish was never completed, Hartung later published, with Lyell’s permission, many of their observations (Hartung 1864).
CD believed that the only way erratic boulders could have been transported to Madeira was by icebergs or, if found at sea-level, as ballast in ships. For CD’s interest in the transport of boulders by icebergs, see ‘On the distribution of the erratic boulders’ and ‘Notes on the effects produced by the ancient glaciers’ (Collected papers 1: 145–63, 163–71).


Collected papers: The collected papers of Charles Darwin. Edited by Paul H. Barrett. 2 vols. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. 1977.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

‘Distribution of the erratic boulders’: On the distribution of the erratic boulders and on the contemporaneous unstratified deposits of South America. By Charles Darwin. [Read 5 May 1841.] Transactions of the Geological Society of London 2d ser. 6 (1841–2): 415–31. [Shorter publications, pp. 147–62. For read date, see Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 3 (1838–42): 425.]

Hartung, Georg. 1864. Geologische Beschreibung der Inseln Madeira und Porto Santo. Leipzig: W. Engelmann.

Hartung, Georg and Bronn, Heinrich Georg. 1860. Die Azoren in ihrer äusseren Erscheinung und nach ihrer geognostischen Natur. Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelmann.


Confidential revelation concerning W. F. Daniell.

Georg Hartung confirms CD’s supposition from flora of Azores that icebergs had been stranded there.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Dalton Hooker
Sent from
Moor Park
Source of text
DAR 114: 232
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2263,” accessed on 25 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7