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Darwin Correspondence Project

From E. D. Smith   16 May 1872


16 May 1872.


When reading yr. Naturalist’s Voyage round the World the account of a Hail Storm at P. 115 interested me much.1

As regards the size of hail stones I hope you will not think me forward in writing to tell you of the largest of three that I measured the other day (the 12th. April). The stones all fell on a thatched roof and thus escaped breaking   they were brought to me by a Havildar of my Regt and I only thought of measuring after some little time had elapsed.

In shape they were like a Pine Cone blunted at the top and flattened at the bottom   the resemblance in other ways was very great having all the separate fronds (I know no other word) clearly traceable and distinct, but closer packed together than in the cone, the centre was much more opaque than the fronds and very large   Had these stones fallen on the hard ground each frond would have formed an ordinary sized stone as seen in common hail-storms and the opaque centre would have been larger than a pigeons egg.— The shape is not accurately represented for I tore the paper round the base as best I could. I will answer for the size being in no way


exaggerated—the circumference was 14 of an inch longer than this sheet of paper.2

The Natives do not remember ever having seen such a hail-storm— I have however heard of no accident to man or beast, although the cattle had not yet been housed for the night   Petoraghur is 5500 feet above the level of the sea, in the Himalaya on the Western Frontier of Nepal close to Almorah (60 miles) and 90 from Nynee Tal.—3

Hoping Sir you will excuse this liberty I have taken | I am with every feeling of respect | Yrs ffthy. | E D Smith.

I enclose my card as a guarantee.4


In Journal of researches (1860), p. 115, CD gave an account of hailstones as large as small apples, which reportedly killed wild animals, including deer. This edition has the spine title Naturalist’s voyage round the world.
Smith’s notepaper is seven inches long.
Petoraghur (now Pithoragarh), Almorah, and Nynee Tal (now Nainital) are in northern India, west of Nepal.
The card has not been found.


Journal of researches (1860): Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle around the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. By Charles Darwin. Reprint edition. London: John Murray. 1860.


Reports and describes massive hailstones which fell in Petoraghur [Nepal].

Letter details

Letter no.
Edmund Denman Smith
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 190
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8334,” accessed on 19 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20