The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin – Day 106 of 188

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Shrewsbury [1845?].

My dear Hooker,

I have just received your note, which has astonished me, and has most truly grieved me. I never for one minute doubted of your success, for I most erroneously imagined, that merit was sure to gain the day. I feel most sure that the day will come soon, when those who have voted against you, if they have any shame or conscience in them, will be ashamed at having allowed politics to blind their eyes to your qualifications, and those qualifications vouched for by Humboldt and Brown! Well, those testimonials must be a consolation to you. Proh pudor! I am vexed and indignant by turns. I cannot even take comfort in thinking that I shall see more of you, and extract more knowledge from your well-arranged stock. I am pleased to think, that after having read a few of your letters, I never once doubted the position you will ultimately hold amongst European Botanists. I can think about nothing else, otherwise I should like [to] discuss ‘Cosmos’ (A translation of Humboldt’s ‘Kosmos.’) with you. I trust you will pay me and my wife a visit this autumn at Down. I shall be at Down on the 24th, and till then moving about.

My dear Hooker, allow me to call myself
Your very true friend,
C. Darwin.

Charles Darwin to C. Lyell.

October 8th [1845], Shrewsbury.

…I have lately been taking a little tour to see a farm I have purchased in Lincolnshire (He speaks of his Lincolnshire farm in a letter to Henslow (July 4th):–“I have bought a farm in Lincolnshire, and when I go there this autumn, I mean to see what I can do in providing any cottage on my small estate with gardens. It is a hopeless thing to look to, but I believe few things would do this country more good in future ages than the destruction of primogeniture, so as to lessen the difference in land-wealth, and make more small freeholders. How atrociously unjust are the stamp laws, which render it so expensive for the poor man to buy his quarter of an acre; it makes one’s blood burn with indignation.”) and then to York, where I visited the Dean of Manchester (Hon. and Rev. W. Herbert. The visit is mentioned in a letter to Dr. Hooker:–“I have been taking a little tour, partly on business, and visited the Dean of Manchester, and had very much interesting talk with him on hybrids, sterility, and variation, etc., etc. He is full of self-gained knowledge, but knows surprisingly little what others have done on the same subjects. He is very heterodox on ‘species’: not much better as most naturalists would esteem it, than poor Mr. Vestiges.”) the great maker of Hybrids, who gave me much curious information. I also visited Waterton at Walton Hall, and was extremely amused with my visit there. He is an amusing strange fellow; at our early dinner, our party consisted of two Catholic priests and two Mulattresses! He is past sixty years old, and the day before ran down and caught a leveret in a turnip-field. It is a fine old house, and the lake swarms with water-fowl. I then saw Chatsworth, and was in transport with the great hothouse; it is a perfect fragment of a tropical forest, and the sight made me think with delight of old recollections. My little ten-day tour made me feel wonderfully strong at the time, but the good effects did not last. My wife, I am sorry to say, does not get very strong, and the children are the hope of the family, for they are all happy, life, and spirits. I have been much interested with Sedgwick’s review (Sedgwick’s review of the ‘Vestiges of Creation’ in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ July, 1845.) though I find it far from popular with our scientific readers. I think some few passages savour of the dogmatism of the pulpit, rather than of the philosophy of the Professor’s Chair; and some of the wit strikes me as only worthy of — in the ‘Quarterly.’ Nevertheless, it is a grand piece of argument against mutability of species, and I read it with fear and trembling, but was well pleased to find that I had not overlooked any of the arguments, though I had put them to myself as feebly as milk and water. Have you read ‘Cosmos’ yet? The English translation is wretched, and the semi-metaphysico-politico descriptions in the first part are barely intelligible; but I think the volcanic discussion well worth your attention, it has astonished me by its vigour and information. I grieve to find Humboldt an adorer of Von Buch, with his classification of volcanos, craters of elevation, etc., etc., and carbonic acid gas atmosphere. He is indeed a wonderful man.

I hope to get home in a fortnight and stick to my wearyful South America till I finish it. I shall be very anxious to hear how you get on from the Horners, but you must not think of wasting your time by writing to me. We shall miss, indeed, your visits to Down, and I shall feel a lost man in London without my morning “house of call” at Hart Street…

Believe me, my dear Lyell, ever yours,
C. Darwin.

Charles Darwin to J.D. Hooker.

Down, Farnborough, Kent.
Thursday, September, 1846.

My dear Hooker,

I hope this letter will catch you at Clifton, but I have been prevented writing by being unwell, and having had the Horners here as visitors, which, with my abominable press-work, has fully occupied my time. It is, indeed, a long time since we wrote to each other; though, I beg to tell you, that I wrote last, but what about I cannot remember, except, I know, it was after reading your last numbers (Sir J.D. Hooker’s Antarctic Botany.), and I send you a uniquely laudatory epistle, considering it was from a man who hardly knows a Daisy from a Dandelion to a professed Botanist…

I cannot remember what papers have given me the impression, but I have that, which you state to be the case, firmly fixed on my mind, namely, the little chemical importance of the soil to its vegetation. What a strong fact it is, as R. Brown once remarked to me, of certain plants being calcareous ones here, which are not so under a more favourable climate on the Continent, or the reverse, for I forget which; but you, no doubt, will know to what I refer. By-the-way, there are some such cases in Herbert’s paper in the ‘Horticultural Journal.’ (‘Journal of the Horticultural Society,’ 1846.) Have you read it: it struck me as extremely original, and bears directly on your present researches. (Sir J.D. Hooker was at this time attending to polymorphism, variability, etc.) To a non-botanist the chalk has the most peculiar aspect of any flora in England; why will you not come here to make your observations? We go to Southampton, if my courage and stomach do not fail, for the Brit. Assoc. (Do you not consider it your duty to be there?) And why cannot you come here afterward and work?…


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    TurtleReader wrote:

    Proh pudor
    Latin: For shame

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