The correspondence between Darwin and Hooker, which concerns the latter's address for the 51st meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS), delivered at York on 1 September 1881, has never been published as an ongoing discourse. However, the context usually turns out to be important in historical issues. Stitching together isolated quotes from decades apart and from various sources can easily lead to a patchwork of facts that biases their interpretation.
Therefore, this post is a transcription of the whole Hooker-Darwin correspondence on Hooker's BAAS-address. Both hands are very difficult to read and I had some help by Roland Jackson (@RolandJackson, author of The Ascent of John Tyndall) with some of Hooker's letters. When transcriptions already existed in the form of published collections of either Darwin's or Hooker's letters, I used them. As mentioned above, however, none of the available publications give this BAAS-1881 related correspondence between Darwin and Hooker in full. That is, available transcriptions lack a lot of context. The following transcriptions remain a cloze in places. However, the links to scans of the originals at Cambridge University are given before each transcript, so that readers can confer to them. Suggestions for missing words are welcome.
P.S.: On 20 August 1881, Hooker asked Darwin about a publication of Karl Ernst von Baer (1859. Ueber Papuas und Alfuren). Translations of the relevant passages of Baer's essay can be found in the previous post. Darwin's reply, on 21 August 1881, also refers to Leopold von Buch (1825. Physicalische Beschreibung der Canarischen Inseln; 1836 in French). Translations of the relevant passages of Buch can be found in an earlier post.
Darwin–Hooker Correspondence: Feb.–Sept. 1881
Uncertain words in square brackets: . Illegible words indicated by 6 spaces: _____. [My own comments are in square brackets and in green.]
Darwin to Hooker, 26 Feb. 1881
Part transcript: More Letters of Darwin.
“My dear Hooker
It was a real pleasure to me to see your hand-writing again, for it is a long time since I have heard of you. What a bore about the [mumps]; but I am very glad that you will soon have complete rest & change, in which [latter] I have [unbounded] faith. I suppose that Lady Hooker goes with you & I hope she may enjoy herself. Pray give her my kindest [simpathy]. I had vaguely thought whether I would pay you a call at Kew, but thought that you would [firstly] be too busy, & it seems that you will be on the road before I could come.
I shd think that you might make a very interesting address on geograph. Distrib. [Could] you give a little history of the subject. I, for one, shd like to read such history in petto; but I can see one very great difficulty, that you yourself ought to figure most prominently in it; & this you would not do, for you are just the man to treat yourself in a dishonourable manner! I shd very much like to see you discuss some of Wallace’s views, especially his ignoring the all powerful effects of the Glacial period with respect to alpine plants. I do not know what you think, but it appears to me that he exaggerates enormously the influence of debacles or [slips] & new surface of soil being exposed for the reception of wind-blown seeds. What kinds of seeds have the plants which are common to the distant mountain-summits in Africa? Wallace lately wrote to me about the mountain-plants of Madagascar being the same with those on mountains in Africa, & seemed to think it proved dispersal by the wind, without apparently having inquired what sort of seeds the plants bore. I suppose it wd be travelling too far (though for geographical section the discussion ought to be far reaching) but I shd like to see the European or Northern element in the C. of Good Hope flora discussed. I cannot swallow Wallace’s view that European plants travelled down the Andes, tenated the hypothetical Antarctic continent (in which I quite believe), & thence spread to S. Australia & the Cape of G. Hope.
Mosley told me not long ago that he proposed to search at Kerguelen Land the coal beds most carefully, and was absolutely forbidden to do so by Sir W. Thomson, who said that he would undertake the work, and he never one visited them. This put me in a passion. I hope that you will keep your intention and make an address on distribution. Though I differ so much from Wallace, his “Island Life” seems to me a wonderful book.
Farewell. I do hope that you may have a most prosperous journey. Give my kindest remembrances to Asa Gray”
Hooker to Darwin, 12 June 1881
can you [conveniently] send me a few plants of [Oxalis corniculata] – to grow – we are quite out of it & you have plenty near you. I am groaning as usual, – now under the incubus of the Sectional Presidency of the B. A. in York (Geography), which I was ass enough to accept because of Lubbock. Kew is [becoming] [more] [toilsome] than [ever], & I can [rarely] get an [hour] for “Genera plant.m,” which I have been doing the Palms for 16 months at least; the most difficult task I ever undertook. They are evidently a very ancient group & much dislocated structurally and geographically.
My wife is vastly the better for her Italian trip, though the good of it is [not] likely to [last] long under the hurry & worry of this “[Home/House] of [call] of all natives” - She is [inquiring] about a farm house at Knock-[holt] to take the children to in autumn. Should she fail in her [Inqueries] she may ask Mrs Darwin if she knows of any place for them in your neighbourhood.
Ever affectedly, Joseph Hooker”
Darwin to Hooker, 15 June 1881
“My dear Hooker
it was [real] pleasure to me to see once again your well-known hand-writing on the [outside] of your [note]. I do not know how long you have returned from [Italy], but I am very sorry that you are so bothered [always] with work & visits. I cannot but think that you are too kind & civil to visitors, & too conscientious about your official work. But a man cannot cure his virtues anymore than his vices, after early growth, so you must bear your burthen. It is, however, a [great] misfortune for science that you have so very little spare time for the Genera. I can well believe what an awful job the Palms must be.
Even their size must be very inconvenient. You & Bentham must hate the monocotyledons, for what work the [Orchideae] must have been & Graminaceae & Cyperaceae will be.
I am rather despondent about myself & my troubles [are] of an exactly opposite nature to yours, for idleness is downright misery to me, as I find here, as I cannot forget my discomfort for an hour. I have not the heart or [strength] at my age to begin any investigation, lasting years, which is the only thing, which I enjoy; & I have [no] little jobs which I can do. So I must look forward to Down [grave-yard] as the sweetest place on this Earth.
This place is magnificently beautiful & I enjoy the scenery, though weary of it; & the weather has been very cold & almost always hazy. I am so glad that your tour has [answered] for Lady Hooker. I doubt whether Knock-[holt] wd be a pleasant place: it is about  ft higher & much [exposed] to all the winds of [Heaven]. We return [home] in the first week of July & shd be truly [glad] to aid Lady Hooker in any [possible] manner which she will suggest.
I have written to my gardener to send you plants of Oxalis corniculata (& seeds if possible): I shd think so [common] a weed was never [asked] for before. & what a poor [return] for the hundreds of plants which I have [received] from Kew!
I hope that I have not bothered for writing so long a [post]; & I did not intend to do so. If Asa Gray has returned with you, [please] give him my kindest [remembrances]. [Frank] is working under De Berg whom he likes very much, [at Strasburg] & [seems pretty happy].
[Your] [old] friend, Charles Darwin”
Hooker to Darwin, 18 June 1881
Common as you [may] regard Oxalis corniculata, it was not what I intended to ask for, but a commoner, the wood-sorrel! [O. acetosella]. I had no idea you were away from home. I fear I have bothered you in vain by stupidly asking for the wrong plant (it has not [come] yet). However I cannot regret having got so long a letter from you, & with something of yourself in it too. I quite understand your misery at finding yourself when you have “all [play]” offered you, & no work to fall back upon! I should be as bad; but then I know not the condition. When I go away I have work that I can always take with me, official or other: & my misery is the lots accumulating at home. I cannot tell you how I long to throw off the trammels of official [life] & do like Bentham: it is horrid at 63, after 42 years of Public Service too, to have to work [as a pot boiler] over & above official hours. – but then it is my own fault. A man who marries & has a family [late] in life must pay for it.
I hear [that] Grey is dying. Mr & Mrs [Symonds] (my wife's parents) are here, & [insist] on the children going to them in the holidays so that we shall not want a
home summer quartier at Knock[holt]. ______ ______ ______ [poor] Rolleston is dead. His wife is I hear suffering from acute mania, but some at any rate of her medical attendants regard it as temporary. They have 4 children, & the eldest only 17. We have lost no end of friends this year, & it is difficult to resist the [pessimist] view of creation, when I look back however, & especially my beloved friend to the days I have spent in intercourse with you & yours, that view takes wings to itself & flies away: it is a horrid world [to be sure], but it could have been worse.
I am [sore] ______ about my address for York: of which I fear you will [hear] more than you [wish] cure for [doing] incubation.”
Darwin to Hooker, 20 June 1881
“My dear Hooker,
your letter has cheered me, and the world does not look a quarter so black as it did when I wrote before. Your friendly words are worth their weight in gold.
I [daresay] you [have] got Ox. acetosella by the time if not, despatch the enclosed card & you will receive specimens. – I do not believe Ox. acetosella will even grow long except in [the] [dense], shade, – a fact which agrees with [Batelius’] experiments on the movement of the leaflets, given in my last book. – Tear up
my [card], if plant not wanted, & do not acknowledge [receipt]. I am very sorry to learn about [Rolleston] & Gray – the former is a horrid case. I liked much the little I ever saw of him. This morning we heard of the death (a blissful release from suffering) of Mc [Lennan], who has left uncompleted a book more valuable, [perhaps], than Primitive [marriage]. Your address must be a horrid bore, the whole subject of Geographical Distribution has been a frightfully big one. – I wish I cd be of any [use] to you; but that’s out of the question, as [the] subject has gone much out of my mind. You ought to keep steadily before your mind, what a splendid [amount] of grand work you have done.
Ever yours affectionately, Charles Darwin”
Hooker to Darwin, 4 August 1881
From: Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (pp. 223ff).
I am groaning over my address to York after a fashion with which I have more than once bored you awfully. – Now do believe me when I say that it is an unspeakable relief to me to groan towards you; – & I will have done.
I am trying to formulate my ideas on the subject of the several stages of discoveries or ideas by which the Geog. Distrib. (of plants) has been brought up to be a science & to its present level, & showing that these stages have all been erected on ideas first entertained by great voyagers or travellers, thus “hitching” myself on to the sympathies of a geographical audience! Something in this following sort of way:
1. Tournefort’s enunciation of the likeness between the vegetation of successive elevations and degrees of latitude: the true bearings of which have come out only now that we know that said vegetations are affiliated in fact as well as in appearance.
2. Humboldt’s showing that great Natural Orders, Gramineae, Leguminosae, Compsitae, etc., are subject to certain laws of increase or decrease relatively to other plants, in going polewards (in both hemispheres) and skywards. I should also refer parenthetically to his construction of the isothermals as so great an engine towards the advancement of Geog. Bot.
Now will you give me your idea as to whether I should be right in calling Humboldt the greatest of scientific travellers, or only the most accomplished, – or most prolific? It is the custom to disparage Humboldt now as a shallow man, but when I think of what he did through his own observations during travel, for Geographical distribution of plants, for Meteorology, for Magnetism, for Topography, for Physical Geography and Hydrography, for Ethnology, for political history of Spanish America and for Antiquity of Mexico—besides the truth and picturesqueness of his descriptions of scenery and all else—I am constrained to regard him as the first of scientific travellers; do you? This is however a digression.
3. Lyell’s showing that distribution is not a thing of the present only or of the present condition of climates and present outline and contours of lands, and Forbes’ Essay on the British Flora.
4. The establishment of the permanence since the Silurian period of the present continents and oceans. Were you not the first to insist on this, or at least point this out? Do you not think that Wallace’s summing up of the proof of it is good? (I know I once disputed the doctrine, or rather could not take it in—but let that pass!)
5. The Evolution theory.
6. The discovery of fossil warm plants in high Northern regions, leading to exact ideas as to effect of glacial period as shown by Gray’s Essay.
7. I must wind up with the doctrine of general distribution being primarily from North to south and always along existing continents, with no similar general flow from S to N.—thus supporting the doctrine which has its last expression in Dyer’s Essay read before the Geog. Soc., and referred to in my last R.S. Address (1879, p. 15). Now if this is accepted, we may not too hastily throw overboard Saporta’s doctrine of the boreal origination of the main types of vegetation; and if this again is accepted we cannot altogether neglect Buffon’s argument that vegetation should have commenced where the cooling globe was first cold enough to support it, i.e. at a pole; and lastly, if this is accepted I must bring in Buffon’s speculation in its proper chronological order, and put it as No. 2 of the stages that have led up to our state of knowledge. But I am disposed to regard Saporta’s and Buffon’s views as too speculative for that and to introduce them at the end. What do you think of this point, and of it all?
It is not even on paper, and how I am to get it all in shape before the end of the month passes my limited powers of prevision.
I have to take some part in this Congress [the International Medical Congress held in London, 2-9 August 1881], and by request give a Garden Party on Saturday [7 Aug 1881] —it will be a dreadful ordeal I fear (except it rains!).”
Darwin to Hooker, 6 Aug. 1881
From: Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. 3 (p. 246ff).
“MY DEAR HOOKER,—For Heaven's sake never speak of boring me, as it would be the greatest pleasure to aid you in the slightest degree and your letter has interested me exceedingly. I will go through your points seriatim, but I have never attended much to the history of any subject, and my memory has become atrociously bad. It will therefore be a mere chance whether any of my remarks are of any use.
Your idea, to show what travellers have done, seems to me a brilliant and just one, especially considering your audience.
1. I know nothing about Tournefort’s works.
2. I believe that you are fully right in calling Humboldt the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived. I have lately read two or three volumes again. His Geology is funny stuff; but that merely means that he was not in advance of his age. I should say he was wonderful, more for his near approach to omniscience than for originality. Whether or not his position as a scientific man is as eminent as we think, you might truly call him the parent of a grand progeny of scientific travellers, who, taken together, have done much for science.
3. It seems to me quite just to give Lyell (and secondarily E. Forbes) a very prominent place.
4. Dana was, I believe, the first man who maintained the permanence of continents and the great oceans. … When I read the Challenger’s conclusion that sediment from the land is not deposited at greater distances than 200 to 300 miles from the land, I was much strengthened in my old belief. Wallace seems to me to have argued the case excellently. Nevertheless, I would speak, if I were in your place, rather cautiously; for T. Mellard Reade has argued lately with some force against the view; but I cannot call to mind his arguments. If forced to express a judgment, I should abide by the view of approximate permanence since Cambrian days.
5. The extreme importance of the Arctic fossil plants, is self-evident. Take the opportunity of groaning over [our] ignorance of the Lignite Plants of Kerguelen Land, or any Antarctic land. It might do good.
6. I cannot avoid feeling sceptical about the travelling of plants from the North except during the Tertiary period. It may of course have been so and probably was so from one of the two poles at the earliest period, during Pre-Cambrian ages; but such speculations seem to me hardly scientific, seeing how little we know of the old Floras. I will now jot down without any order a few miscellaneous remarks.
I think you ought to allude to Alph. De Candolle's great book, for though it (like almost everything else) is washed out of my mind, yet I remember most distinctly thinking it a very valuable work. Anyhow, you might allude to his excellent account of the history of all cultivated plants.
How shall you manage to allude to your New Zealand and Tierra del Fuego work? if you do not allude to them you will be scandalously unjust.
The many Angiosperm plants in the Cretacean beds of the United States (and as far as I can judge the age of these beds has been fairly well made out) seems to me a fact of very great importance, so is their relation to the existing flora of the United States under an Evolutionary point of view. Have not some Australian extinct forms been lately found in Australia? or have I dreamed it?
Again, the recent discovery of plants rather low down in our Silurian beds is very important. Nothing is more extraordinary in the history of the Vegetable Kingdom, as it seems to me, than the apparently very sudden or abrupt development of the higher plants. I have sometimes speculated whether there did not exist somewhere during long ages an extremely isolated continent, perhaps near the South Pole.
Hence I was greatly interested by a view which Saporta propounded to me, a few years ago, at great length in MS. and which I fancy he has since published, as I urged him to do—viz., that as soon as flower-frequenting insects were developed, during the latter part of the secondary period, an enormous impulse was given to the development of the higher plants by cross-fertilization being thus suddenly formed.
A few years ago I was much struck with Axel Blytt's* [*See footnote, Vol. iii. p. 215.] Essay showing from observation, on the peat beds in Scandinavia, that there had apparently been long periods with more rain and other with less rain (perhaps connected with Croll's recurrent astronomical periods), and that these periods had largely determined the present distribution of the plants of Norway and Sweden. This seemed to me a very important essay.
I have just read over my remarks and I fear that they will not be of the slightest use to you.
I cannot but think that you have got through the hardest, or at least the most difficult, part of your work in having made so good and striking a sketch of what you intend to say; but I can quite understand how you must groan over the great necessary labour.
I most heartily sympathise with you on the successes of B. and R.: as years advance what happens to oneself becomes of very little consequence, in comparison with the careers of our children.
Keep your spirits up, for I am convinced that you will make an excellent address.
Ever yours affectionately, CHARLES DARWIN”
Hooker to Darwin, 11 Aug. 1881
From: Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (pp. 225ff).
“My dear Darwin,
Your letter and memos have been unspeakable comforts—for I was beginning to despair of making any Address anything but a budget of snippets of facts and ideas, and you have both helped and encouraged me to give one part of it at any rate a consecutive scientific character.
Then too the revival of our scientific correspondence and interchange of ideas is extraordinarily pleasing to me, who regard myself as your pupil.
I am indeed glad that your old appreciation of Humboldt is no more dimmed than is mine. I have been re-reading all his Geog. Bot. Essays, and it is impossible to deny their supreme ability and approach to originality. I wish I had time to write, and space to give to all I think of them—his ‘Distribution Arithmetices’ of the great groups, expressed in definite proportions, is a stroke of originality, if not of genius, and I have called it a sort of parallel (?) (I can’t find a good word!) to his Isothermal lines.
I cannot find a reference to the permanence of continents in your ‘Coral Reefs’ – a book by the way that shook my confidence in that theory more than all others put together, and the effect of which it has required years of thought to eliminate or rather to overlay. I thought the idea was first published in your ‘Geological Observations,’ of which I cannot find my copy (but shall). Any of Dana’s works must have been long after both. Where does he ‘reclaim,’ and where does J. Mellard Reade publish his vies? I may have long cogitated over the fact that the main water parting Asia is not coincident with the greater elevations of that continent but runs obliquely from S.W. to N.E., and I sometimes determined by huge sedimentary deposits as in Upper India, at others by very low mountains—does this not imply vast oscillations over an already formed land of continental extension?
I am doubtful about going into the Flora of part ages, beyond the Tertiary. I quite believe in the sudden development of the mass of Phanerogams being due to the introduction of flower-feeding insects, though we must not forget that insects occur in the coal and may have been flower-feeding too.
I have dealt with Saporta’s view of the polar origin of Floras in my last R.S. Address. I hope we may talk over them and many other such matters when too late for my Address!
It appears to me that the great Botanical question to settle is, whether the main endemic Southern temperate types originated there and spread Northwards, or whether they originated in the North and have only just reached the South, and have increased and multiplied there (to be turned out in time by the Northern perhaps). The balance of evidence seems to favor the latter view, and if Palaeontologists are to be believed in crediting our tertiaries (even polar ones?) with Proteaceae, it would tend to confirm this view, as do the Cycadeae, not about extinct in the N. Hemisphere and swarming in the South.
Buffon’s and Saporta’s views of life originating at a pole, because a pole must have first cooled low enough to admit of it, is perhaps more ingenious than true—but is there any reason opposed to it? If conceded, the question arises, did life originate at both Poles or one only? Or if at both was it simultaneously? – but this is the deepest abyss of idle speculation.
Ever yours affectly. J. D. Hooker”
Darwin to Hooker, 12 August 1881
“My dear Hooker
I can answer hardly any of your questions, but am able to send you by this post Blytt’s first essay, which [please] at [some] [time] return. – My memory [failed] me; I can find nothing about permanence of continents or oceans in my [Coral] Book; but as in [1st edit.] of Origin (p. 309) when I allude to the subject I refer to [Coral] [Reefs], this, I suppose, [deceived] my memory. I am almost sure that Dana’s letter was in Nature, I think in the current year. [Reade’s] article, I believe, was in the Geological Mag., but as I resolved never again to [write] on [such a] difficult subject, I unfortunately kept no record & read the articles merely for amusement.
I think that I must have expressed myself badly about Humboldt. I should have said that he was more remarkable for his astounding knowledge than for originality. I have always looked at him as, in fact, the founder of the geographical distribution of organisms. I thought that I had read that extinct fossil plants belonging to Australian forms had lately been found in Australia, and all such cases seem to me very interesting, as bearing on development.
I have been so astonished at the apparently sudden coming in of the higher phanerogams, that I have sometimes fancied that development might have slowly gone on for an immense period in some isolated continent or large island, perhaps near the South Pole. I poured out my idle thoughts in writing, as if I had been talking with you.
No fact has so interested me for a heap of years as your case of the plants on the equatorial mountains of Africa; and Wallace tells me that some one (Baker?) has described analogous cases on the mountains of Madagascar (398/1. See Letter 397, note.)... I think that you ought to allude to these cases.
I most fully agree that no problem is more interesting than that of the temperate forms in the southern hemisphere, common to the north. I remember writing about this after Wallace’s book appeared, and hoping that you would take it up. The frequency with which the drainage from the land passes through mountain-chains seems to indicate some general law—viz., the successive formation of cracks and lines of elevation between the nearest ocean and the already upraised land; but that is too big a subject for a note.
I doubt whether any insects can be shown with any probability to have been flower feeders before the middle of the Secondary period. Several of the asserted cases have broken down. Your long letter has stirred many pleasant memories of long past days, when we had many a discussion and many a good fight.”
Hooker to Darwin, 20 Aug. 1881
Part transcription: Life and Letters of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, vol. 2, p. 225, footnote 1.
Just a few last words before I commit my vaporings to the public. Of all the followers of Latreille [he probably meant Lamarck] in the mutability of species did any one of them use this in explanation of (see end) representative species in very distant locations? Von Baer, as you point out, was convinced by the facts of geog. distribution that all species were descended from one parent form, & I suppose must have been led to this by the phenomena] of representation. Can you tell me if this was so? I d have no time to consult the Zoog. & Anthrop. Untersuch. [He meant the Zoologisch-anthropologische Untersuchungen of Rudoph Wagner (1861, p. 50ff), in which Wagner had excerpted Baer's essay in question. Wagner (1861) was the source that Darwin (1866) had given for Baer (1859) in the Historical Sketch of the 4th edition of his Origin of Species.]
I find that Dana was the first (of all I have yet found), who broached the doctrine of permanence of position of existing continents. You somewhere do the same for existing oceans, and I read it lately, but for the life of me cannot turn the passage up. Also in the Origin you imply this. But I do not know anyone except Wallace who has summed up all the arguments for it, and marshalled them with convincing force. I know Blytt’s paper & have it, & thought at the time very highly of it, & my opinion is strengthened by reperusal. I gave a sketch of it as the last advance towards a knowledge of the laws of geograph. distributn. I shall return your copy soon with thanks.
P.S. What I want to know if any one ever suggested that the [representative] [for] an instance of an Azorean plant by a Canarian was due to their having in common parents the offspring of which diverged [samely] from the parent type but converged in those [localities], either through both varying in the same direction or by one varying in the direction of the other.”
Darwin to Hooker, 21 Aug. 1881
“My dear Hooker
I cannot aid you much or at all. I shd think that no one could have thought on the modification of species, without thinking of representative species.— But I feel sure that no discussion of any importance had been published on this subject before the Origin; for if I had known of it, I shd assuredly have alluded to it in the Origin, as I wished to gain support from all quarters. I did not then know of Von Buch’s view (alluded to in my Historical Introduction in all the later editions). Von Buch published his “Isles Canaries” in 1836 and he here briefly argues that plants spread over a continent & vary, & the varieties in time come to be species. He also argues that closely allied species have been thus formed in the separate valleys of the Canary Islands, but not on the upper and open parts.
[Vertical writing at the left margin:] I could lend you Von Buch’s Book if you like: I have just consulted the passage. [End of marginal note]
I have not Baers papers, but as far as I remember the subject is not fully discussed by him.— I quite agree about Wallace’s position on the Ocean & Continent question. — To return to Geograph. Distribution as far as I know no one ever discussed the [meaning of the] relation between representative species, before I did as I suppose Wallace did in his paper before Linn. Soc. Von Buch’s is the nearest approach to such discussion known to me.
Ever yours, Charles Darwin”
Hooker to Darwin, 29 Aug. 1881
“My dear Darwin
I have just seen the announcement of your brother’s death & must send you a few words of heartfelt sympathy. I have somehow come to think them the happiest, who, like myself, ______ [an] ______ [brother] when very young. It seems now as if they [would] then be but ______ , – a blunder no doubt – but we know better what an ______ ______ ______ having lived so long together as you & your brother have.
It was in your brother’s house near Park Lane that I first became acquainted with you. & shall never forget his kind face & kinder ______ . That was nearly 40 years ago! - I [will] remember thinking him then quite an elderly man & yet I see he was then under 40.
Ever my ______ Darwin
Darwin to Hooker, 30 Aug. 1881
“My dear Hooke,
Your note ha pleased me much. The death of Erasmus is a very heavy loss to all of us, for he had a most affectionate disposition. He always appeared to me the most pleasant & [clearest] headed man, whom I have ever known. [London] will seem a ______ ______ place to me without his presence; but I will not ______ [on] [about] him. I am deeply glad that he died without any great suffering, after a very short illness from mere weakness, & not from any definite disease. He had become quite weary of life! I cannot quite agree with you about the death of the old & [young]. Death in the latter case, when there is a bright future ahead causes grief never to be wholly [obliterated].
Farewell my old & dear friend. I remember the little room, where we first met.
Ever yours, Charles Darwin”
Darwin to Hooker, 3&4 Sept. 1881
“My dear Hooker
I have this minute finished reading your splendid, but too short, address. I cannot doubt that it will have been fully appreciated by the geographers at York: if not they are asses & fools.”
“After letting my enthusiasm thus escape, I suddenly felt burst up & had to stop.
I am sorry that I forgot to remind you in relation to A. Blytt that S.B. Skertchly (of the Geolog. Survey) has observed androgen facts in the peat bogs of the Cambridgeshire fens; & I Believe that he had come to this conclusion before he knew of Blytt’s views; at least I remember writing to tell him of them. You speak (p. 10) of a glacial period being “inferred” in the S. [hemisphere]: surely this is too weak a term considering the enormous number of ______ angular [enatic] [blocks] of ______ [rocks] in the Tertiary plains of Patagonia far from the Andes, & in the ______ ______ of Chiloe, likewise ______ in a Tertiary formation & far for the Andes. That seems to me a capital argument (p. 11) “the several S. temperate [Floras]” [are] [more] intimately related [taxa]. I shd like to see this argument worked out in detail. But my chief motive for writing in as fullness: a young Patagonian a native of ______ ______ in the [Azonas] seems to be an enthusiast about Geograph. Distribution, Evolution &c (& such a man in such a place is a prodigy) & he has published on land mollusca & insects. He wrote to me to ask for hints, so I have told him to attend to ask chance [introductions] & have given him [hints], ([when/what] ______ is ______) & I sent him Wallace’s big book. Amongst other prints I told him to collect the plants from the highest mountains of the several islands. He [writing] that he has made a collection from 2 hills, but these are only 480 & 384 meters high, & offers to send them to anyone whom I might suggest. I have told him that I would mention this to you, but that I thought that the heights were not nearly great enough. Please tell me whether they are worth sending to Kew, or should I tell him to keep them, until he can get other collectings. His name is F. d’Arruda Furtado.
I have no large note-paper with black edges, so have written on this.
Ever yours Ch. Darwin
By the way you pile in your address honours on my old bald head.”
Hooker to Darwin, 7 Sept. 1881
Can you kindly get me some more tubers of ______, for the Centre de Paris, who ______ Orchids (______) marvellously ______ He tells me that [some genus name] [some species name] is the only species of the genus that ______ (we found [genusname] [speciesname] with us) [with] [him]: all the seeds & most other ______ gradually ______ ______. ______ is a ______, ______ ______ ______, & he tells me that he has at Chateau d’Eau 10,000 plants in flower in May (of terrestrial ______). He has not ______ at all!
______ ______ you sent me ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ & form a beautiful ______, but I ______ not like to disturb it. ______ ______ tells me that ______ ______ formed ______ ______ ______ ______ that he refrained from disturbing it & so has it not in his garden & as he has sent me too ______ of ______ ______ I should like to return ______ him some ______ from you, ______ ______ ______ ______.
Your criticism anent Southern ______ ______ is just. My ______ [statement] was ______ ______ hasty condensation of matter. What I should have said, and did ______ ______ ______ was, – that ______ ______ appearance of [Antarctic] plants on mountains North oftheir [home] r a ______ ______ myth ______ ______, as prooved ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ ______ to that ______.
I have heard that Skertchly is a brave observer, but I should much like to know what he has written on peat-bogs. Though I am so overwhelmed with work must I doubt if I could read it. Yet I do hope to live to work out the relations of the southern temperate plants. I do wish I could throw off my official duties here; I am getting so weary of them; & Dyer does them so well; but I could not nearly afford it yet.
There is a tremendously interesting [point] to be worked out in Azores. ______ huge trunks of Cypresses are found there buried in the ground, yet the Cypress is ______ in this island. There must be other preserved plants where these trunks are found. Whether or no, the history of these trunks wants clearing up.
I shall be very glad to see the mountain plants & name them for your friend. I think 3300 is the [greatest] Azorean altitude.
Lubbock did [capitally] [well] ______ ______ ______.
Darwin-Hooker letters at Cambridge University Library.Transcription of Darwin letters, also the one to Hooker, 21 August 1881.
Hooker’s address to the BAAS, 1 Sept. 1881, York, pp. 727-738.