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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Jackson Hooker   17 February [1851]

Down Farnborough Kent

Feb. 17th.

My dear Sir William

You will no doubt like to see the enclosed letter of your son,1 which, whenever perfectly convenient you can return to me.— I am heartily glad to think that he will pretty soon now be at home again.2 What work he will have on his hands; it is enough to make one fear to think of it. Everyone will, I suppose, be quite astonished to hear of the Oaks & Birches of the Tropics;3 it strikes me as almost disheartening; almost as bad as if some geologist were to find Tertiary shells in a Silurian formation.— Falconer’s conduct is enough to make one swear at him.4

Pray believe me with my respects & kind remembrances to Lady Hooker: | Your’s very sincerely | C. Darwin


Joseph Dalton Hooker had spent three years botanising in India and was at this time on his way back to England. He arrived in England on 25 March, having left Calcutta on 7 February (L. Huxley ed. 1918, 1: 332).
Correspondence vol. 4, letter from J. D. Hooker, 26 November 1850. J. D. Hooker had found that oak and birch trees were common in the tropical valleys of India, facts that he considered ‘disturb our preconceived notions of the geographical distribution of the most familiar tribes of plants, and throw great doubt on the conclusions which fossil plants are supposed to indicate.’ (J. D. Hooker 1854, 2: 336 n.).
Hugh Falconer, superintendent of the Calcutta botanic garden, had neglected to forward J. D. Hooker’s mail (Correspondence vol. 4, letters from J. D. Hooker, 26 November 1850 and 6 and 7 April 1850).


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


Encloses letter from J. D. Hooker. Glad he will soon be home.

Everyone will be astonished at oaks and birches of tropics.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Jackson Hooker
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1390,” accessed on 22 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5