To J. D. Hooker 16 January 1
My dear Hooker
I shd. have thanked you before for valuable specimens & 3 notes,2 but we have been in a lamentable state; with 3 or 4 or even 6 in bed at a time with virulent influenza. I have been very bad & am much shaken & have done nothing for nearly 3 weeks. The Catasetum has dropped its flowers, alas & alas; & I want to return both plants & the Bolbophyllum.—3 Our carrier will be in London on Thursday morning;4 please give me address of the Kew Carrier in a few days’ time: I fear that the plants are not very healthy, though my neighbour’s gardener can grow Orchids well, yet he says he cannot manage these Catasetums:5 I hope to God they are not much injured.—
Sometime give me reference to Haast(??) Survey of Middle Isd of New Zealand??— about Glacial deposits, which interests me much.—6
Asa Gray is evidently sore about England: he does not say much; nor do I; but I have hitherto been able to write with some sympathy; now I must be silent; for I look at the people as a nation of unmitigated blackguards.—7
I have been interested by what you say about your Willy:8 I should expect he would become all right, with all the excellent characters you specify, under advancing years. A child from such ancestry must lose the too great volatility, which seems the sole failing. I was struck years ago by what Archbp Whately9 told me of a son of very able parents, who was thought for years a dunce & who remained so till full manhood, when he stumbled on his vocation, viz an Australian settler; & then, as W. remarked, he exhibited his inherited genius, for he became Supereminent in this line of life.—
With respect to colours of flowers; I think such an investigation as you propose would certainly be very interesting; though whether worth the labour, I cannot say.—10 I have been excessively perplexed by opposite statements with respect to shells in deep water;11 & now comes Bates’ case to astound me.12 He refers truly to my observations on this head at Galapagos Arch. I saw (but had forgotten) that something more than heat is required for development of colour.13 Certainly it is an important consideration, (perhaps hardly anything more important,) to try to discover how much of any character stands in direct relation to external conditions; so that assuredly I hope you may undertake this investigation.—
Farewell— I am out of Spirits with all the illness in this house; & our youngest Boy has just failed in miserable degree, like five of our other children, with intermittent pulse.—14
What misery there is in this life.— God Bless you my dear old friend—
Do not forget Kew Carrier.—
P.S. The letter with curious address forwarded by Mrs Hooker15 was from a German Homœopathic Doctor—an ardent admirer of the Origin—had himself published nearly the same sort of book, but goes much deeper—explains the origin of plants & animals on the principles of Homœopathy or by the Law of Spirality— Book fell dead in Germany— Therefore would I translate it & publish it in England &c &c?!16
Entire family down with influenza. Has done nothing for three weeks.
Asks for Haast reference on New Zealand glacial deposits.
CD’s view of the North since Trent case. Can no longer write with sympathy to Asa Gray.
Encourages JDH about his son, Willy.
Problem of relation of colour to external conditions. Hopes JDH will undertake the investigation.
- climate and conditions
- experiment, scientific observation
- physical ‘external’ characters
- queries / requests
- theory (including philosophy)
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3391,” accessed on 29 July 2016, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-3391