Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Government House, Calcutta [Kolkata], India
JDH/1/10 f.274-276
Darwin, Sir Charles Robert
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Indian Letters 1847-1851
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
10 page letter over 3 folios

Charles Darwin [CD] has not been absent from JDH's thoughts during the long break in their correspondence. He probably spoke too strongly about CD's species work & barnacles. speculates that CD was once prone to theoretical considerations about species & unaware of certain difficulties which JDH thought a more intimate acquaintance with species might clear up. Hence was pleased CD took up a difficult group like barnacles. CD's theories have progressed but JDH is not converted. He thought the transitions from one form to another in Sikkim would be more apparent. CD reasons rightly about JDH's Yangma valley; it is undoubtedly a vast moraine. He rejects the Himalayas as an independent chain of mountains & seeks the axis of the great mountain system between the Yarou river & the plains of India. He considers the glaciers of the Himalayan range unrivalled & is convinced they are receding. Explains that it is a double chain likes CD's Andes. [Thomas] Thomson [TT] & [Hugh] Falconer [HF] both regard the greatest Asiatic axis as a sub meridional one. The whole mountain system is incredibly complicated & he exceedingly doubt's Humboldt's system of six Mountain chains. Letter continues under date of 7 Apr. JDH now with HF at Honorable East India Company Botanic Gardens. HF had kept all his letters & overland parcels for five months due to insane procrastination but is now forgiven. HF's society is as ever delightful. HF no longer associates with the Asiatic Society. JDH received CD's Feb letter today & learned that the cold water system has done him much good but is not a cure, JDH sends congratulations on the Darwins' seventh child. JDH came to Calcutta [Kolkata] to persuade Jung Bahadur [JB] to let him travel in Nepal but JB cannot guarantee his safety while absent in England. JDH will therefore go instead to Sylhet then the Khassya [Khasia] Hills & Munnipore [Manipur] with [TT].


persuade Jung Bahadur to give me leave to travel in Nepal but he cannot guarantee me safety during his absence on a mission to England -- & I therefore am off at once for Sylhet then Khassya hills & Munnipore. Thomson joins me.
This is post--day & we are dreadfully busy, so you must excuse my saying more. Best regards to Mrs Darwin & love to the children | from yr ever affectionate | Jos D Hooker. [signature]

Page 1

Govt. House Calcutta *1 Address HC. Bot. Gardens as usual *2
April 6. 1850
My dear Darwin
Here at last I take up my pen to write to you again, & to assure you of my thoughts of you not having slumbered during this long interval in my correspondence. I enclose some scraps though hardly worth the Postage to England. I received your kind & full letters 2 months ago & deeply I sympathize with your wifes & your own pleasure in knowing your health to be really improving -- It is most kind of you to give me the details you do, which interest me exceedingly, allowing as they do of my drawing my own conclusions as to your bodily health.
Probably I spoke too strongly about your specific work & Barnacles, but really I was in periculosis when I

Page 2

wrote & much harassed in mind & body.-- was in short seeking & finding a very great comfort in wrapping you round with all my thoughts. I remember once dreaming that you were too prone to theoretical considerations about species & unaware of certain difficulties in your own way, which I thought a more intimate acquaintance with species practically might clear up. Hence I rejoiced at your taking up a difficult genus & in a manner the best calculated to throw light on specific characters their value &c. Since then your own theories, have possessed me, without however converting me & interested as I am in the Barnacles & felt desirous of knowing in what direction they had carried your other views.
I have been somewhat disappointed in my expectations of finding that the Sikkim would tend to clear up your doctrines to my mind. I thought that the transitions from form to

Page 3

one form to another would be more apparent in a country where with under a perfectly equable climate the floras of the tropical temperate & Artic zones blend in the same Longitude & Latitude. Such has not been the case I think. As a flora it is one of better marked species than most countries possess. Its many willows are all well marked species, which is not the case with their congeners of excessive climates (N. Am. for instance) & the same is far more palpable with its Rubi, Senecios, Gnaphalia &c &c. All these being very large genera in both the Himalaya & Europe & N. America (except Rubus.)
You reason rightly about my Pons petrosa of Yangma valley -- & shew[sic] how far better superior a philosophical mind is to a careful eye -- It is undoubtedly a vast moraine, 4 or 5000 ft below the present level of glacier Ice. But I have seen so much since then, that I scarcely know where to commence & how to give you any idea of the nature of the objects (let alone their grandeur) which have at last led me to I hope

Page 4

definite views on the subject of Himalayan Geology, & geography. Rivers & Mt chains met with where least expected & flowing where they should not, have obliged me to reject the Himalaya as an independent chain of Mts -- & to seek the axis of the great Mt system between the Yarou river & plains of India, far North of beyond the Snowy chain. Our rivers all rise beyond the Snows & flow through them Southward. The Snow is deposited & retained on the lofty inosculating Southern spurs of the Mt. mass, & being all brought by a S[outh].E[ast]. wind Snow does not reach the rearward ranges, of which these form a part. Then too a NW. wind prevails perennially which being dry admits of a cloudless sky, & unequalled evaporation supervenes, hence the main cause of the Snow line ascending to 20,000 ft. beyond the Snowy range whilst it rests at 16000 & below that, where it first meets the chain. That the glaciers of the Himal: are unrivalled in the Tropical or temperate world I am now convinced, as

Page 5

also that they are receding remarkably -- I have traced old moraines continuously up many valleys for 20 miles from 9000 to the average level of the recent glacial level at 16 or 17000 & 18000 in these valleys down which those streams flow which arise from beyond the Snow. -- The great Himal. rivers all rise beyond the snowy so called Himal: from the far less snowed axis behind. The mean elevation of the said posterior axis is far greater than that of the country along the line of Snow, but individual peaks of the latter rise much higher than any of the great mass behind. Hence it is in some part a double chain like your Andes, or as Falconer expresses it the Snowy chain is an outcrop along the Southern face of a stupendous

Page 6

broad mountain mass, occupying all central area of unknown dimensions. -- Thomson & Falconer both regard the greatest Asiatic axis, as a sub meridional one, & running from Mansarovar to Lake Lop -- from which chains branch off E[ast] & W[est].-- Himal -- Karakoram or Mustagh -- Koen--Lun -- Tian--schan &c &c. The rarity of glaciers & their small size is [1 word crossed out, illeg.] towards the southern edge of the belt of perp[etual]. snow is I am now sure the simple result of the excessive steepness of all elevations of 15000 ft -- As Leaving the plains of India & advancing North through Sikkim -- we find the greatest steepness at of the mountains at 12--17000 ft.
Above that & beyond the Snowy range the country is far more

Page 7

open— This is most remarkably seen in following any of the main streams which meander above 12 10000 ft or 15000 ft flanked though flanked by excessive steep mts. -- Ascending they meander still more, & if we follow them, a gradual transition from the rugged Snowy cis nivean regions to the open rocky trans nivean Thibetan region is found. Generally however the roads cross the Snowy spurs in preference to winding along the rivers & hence the apparent precision with which Thibet is defined. The whole Mt. system is however incredibly complicated & I exceedingly doubt Humboldts system of 6 Mt chains -- 4 transverse, the Himal. Koen Lun Thian schan & Altai -- & 2 vertical, the Boloor

Page 8

& Chinese range whose name I forget.
H[onorable] C[ompany]. Bot[anic] Gardens. April 7th. 1850
Dear Darwin Here I am staying with Falconer! he played me another sad trick since last mid summer keeping all my letters & overland parcels for 5 months: deaf to all my letters whether written from Camp or prison till I had to come down on him after due warning by the intervention of powerful friends in Calcutta. He sent 7 of Miss Henslows letters, of as many months -- & various overland parcels -- he had no excuse to offer & plead none -- I flared up & forgave all, & visited him immediately on my arrival in Calcutta. Here I find him in capital health & spirits, living by rule enthusiastic in his pursuits as Botanist horticulturalist & Landscape Gardener. He is fat & looks far better than he did in England -- is as great a favorite as ever & most liberal with his garden duplicates. His conduct

Page 9

dilatoriness in the affairs I allude to incomprehensible as it was arose from nothing but insane procrastination. I never mentioned it to any one at home but you -- & now we are together it is never alluded to in any way. His society is as ever delightful & a more amiable fellow never lived. He never goes to the As[iatic]. Soc[iety]. & has dropped all his interference with their ways & doings. for the better or worst.
This morning brought your kind letter of February, whereby I learn that the cold water system has wrought you much good but not a cure -- as also that you are the happy father of 7, upon which I wish Mrs Darwin & yourself all congratulations.
I came down to Calcutta to

Page 10

persuade Jung Bahadur to give me leave to travel in Nepal but he cannot guarantee me safety during his absence on a mission to England -- & I therefore am off at once for Sylhet then Khassya hills & Munnipore. Thomson joins me.
This is post--day & we are dreadfully busy, so you must excuse my saying more. Best regards to Mrs Darwin & love to the children | from yr ever affectionate | Jos D Hooker. [signature]


1. The city formerly known as Calcutta is now called Kolkata.
2. The Honorable East India Company Botanic Garden.

Please note that work on this transcript is ongoing. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document where possible.

Powered by Aetopia