Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', Hobarton, Van Diemen's Land [Hobart, Tasmania], Australia
JDH/1/2 f.34
McGilvray (nee Hooker), Maria
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Correspondence from Antarctic Expedition
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
4 page letter over 1 folio

JDH assures his sister, Maria Hooker, that she & their family are often in his thoughts during his time away from civilisation, enduring difficult conditions & ship's rations. Having been months at sea with no word from home JDH describes the joy he felt when they sailed up the Derwent River to land at Hobart, Van Diemen's Land [Tasmania], in the shadow of Mount Table or Wellington. The letters he received in Hobart brought JDH the news that his brother, William Dawson Hooker, was dead. He describes how he mourned as others celebrated their landfall. He had thought that Jamaica would improve his brother's pulmonary complaint. He is reassured that their parents have Maria with them in Glasgow to rely on in their grief. All JDH's shipmates, especially Mr McCormick are being very kind to him. Soon JDH will have work & duties to distract him from his sorrow, he will study the cryptogamic plants of Tasmania. JDH has had a visit from Dr Johnstone & will call on Jorgen Jorgensen, though he is a drunkard. Explains why he approves of his father, William Jackson Hooker's plan to leave Glasgow. Though he does not particularly like Glasgow it does have childhood memories for him & as long as his family are at Invereck he will long to be home there with them. He has sketches of Invereck on his cabin wall & everything he sees reminds him of Scotland & home, the cornfields & woods of Tasmania remind him of highland scenes at Loch Eck, Loch Lomond & the Trossachs. Sends his love to all his family.


Miss Hooker
Care of Sir William J. Hooker
Woodside Crescent
N[orth]. B[ritain].

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

Page 1

HMS Erebus[,] Hobarton[,] V.D. Land [Tasmania]
August 16th 1840
My dear Maria
As the vessel which takes this home was only heard of by me as about to sail late last night, & as she starts at 12 today, you must not expect much from your affectionate Brother. Did you but know how often you & all of my family were in my thoughts during the last 5 months that we have been banished from civilisation, much of the time on the most tempestuous latitude & that in the worst season of the year, you would not then suppose I could have forgotten you. Never having for 11 months heard from home, you may guess how anxiously the days were counted till reaching this port. heartily sick of alternate rations of salt beef, salt pork, & pea soup for breakfast dinner & supper, with the ship rolling so heavily that I could scarce read & write[.] you cannot guess the joy with which we hailed the land. And as we sailed up the magnificent Derwent, with the first gentle breeze we had had for months slipping along under the wooden cliffs & hailing each hamlet with rapture, each picturing his own home, as we clustered on the gangway. And when Hobart Town surrounded with wood, & backed by Mount Table (or Wellington) did open upon us, the green point of the cove in which it lies jutting out into the river as clam as a lake, the lofty trees reflected on it & the snow capped top of the mountain just reaching our ship by its image in the water. The familiar sounds, the smell of shore that greeted us & above all the proximity of news & letters served to make all look happy. None but a sailor knows what it is to see the first boat pull along side & oh how my heart pounded when Captain Crozier pulled along side & handed up the huge wash--beaten letter bag. A few minutes more & I should be happy[,] 15 or 16 letters were handed out for me (among my surveying companions), the black seal & margin passed my eye quite unnoticed & so did the first lines "my only son". I went below to my cabin the only sorrowing one on the ship. The men forward were merrily singing when work was over, & I heard the merry laugh of my messmates kindly checked when I appeared among them. Our fellow voyagers came on board & renewed greetings were passing every minute with congratulations on a safe delivery from our late dangers. At night I went on deck & a lovely night it was[,] I saw the light shining from windows of happy parties, & the song of a boatman, the moon rose gloriously & it was such a time that I have enjoyed so often in the Tropics, the military band, the first music I had heard came swelling over the bay each note sounded most melancholy to me. Often when the rolling of the vessel prevented our sleeping in our aftward ship cabins have we lain indulging in day dreams of the future, & how delighted I should [be]

Page 2

when I should return, to tell William tales of what I have seen[,] but now he is gone & there will be none of my childhoods playmates when I return to talk over bye gone time with, for he was at school my only companion. Mr Nelson & Swan[?] have now I trust met with him & little as wordly affairs have to do with the state above, I never can divest myself of the idea that one though a small share of the pleasures that attend the good, is the meeting of those whom our God & duty have sanctioned our loving. You may remember that I never thought W[illia]m had really a confirmed pulmonary complaint & fully believed that Jamaica would cure what little ailed him, though I was never sanguine enough to expect that as a medical man he would succeed so well as he on arriving promised to do. From what I saw of him at Invereck he seemed much changed for the better, & knowing him as I do I feel certain that he would never have behaved with the strength of mind he did on the passage, towards his fellow passenger, had not some most decided change been worked in him. Do not think I repine at this dispensation nor at the additional & not the less felt one of my grandpapa's illness, I have far too much to be thankful for[,] both for myself & for those that are left & if there is one thing that cheers my thoughts of home it is having a faithful sister of my own age. You perhaps do not know how responsible your situation at home is & it is my great happiness to think that when sorrow weighs down my parents, they can put full confidence in you. Were I not sure that this is the case it would make me miserable indeed, to think so, & that they were left alone in Glasgow deprived of your companionship which I feel sure is their present relief.
Your many good letters to me, I thank you beyond every thing for, pray tell Mama the same, perhaps though indebted to you both, this letter should have been to her, but I cannot trouble her, already so afflicted, with my selfish sorrow; to one of my own age I feel it most proper to write though not more dear to me. I may be wrong in troubling you on the same grounds but here I am alone. Much as all feel for me & express themselves so their kindness is no consolation nor should my sorrows affect them, they show me many little attentions, Mr McCormick especially, & now I can feel what a happiness it is to have lived on perfectly friendly terms with all hands hitherto.
A few days in the natural course of things will alleviate my grief, when I shall commence my duties here with the cryptogamic plants of the island. Dr Johnston called on me this morning & stayed a few minutes, he will remain here perhaps two months, he told me that you & Mama had had the influenza but were recovered. Jorgen Jorgensen is a sad drunkard & has just lost his drunken wife, he is about to publish the continuation of his life. tell Papa I shall see him, but take care of him. I have given my father a faithful account of my health, I need not repeat it to you. You are a naughty girl to suppose I forgot you or any at home, but I am

Page 3

sorry that the omission of a mere form of words has affected you.
My father talks of leaving Glasgow, I sincerely hope he may for his own sake, for my own I am quite indifferent, except Jas. Mitchell I have no friends I care about there but Adamson, now that Thomson and the Stewarts are gone. I shall however always look upon the dirty town as the only place connected with old associations, & whatever attractions other places might have for me, none can have localities so endeared to me as that town which is the same as my birthplace. It is true I have no friends there but equally I have none elsewhere, wherever he & you all live should circumstances favor my living at home on my return there I shall be too happy to find you; though now no spot on earth is dearer to me than Invereck. two sketches of it hang in my cabin & bring it constantly before my eyes -- W[illia]m his wife & your}my dog figure in one, & little Mary sits sketching in the other with Skye & W[illia]ms cat. It was there we fished walked climbed & sketched together, & I far more often figure you to myself in Glasgow Invereck than in Glasgow. A sailor has always one spot to fix his thoughts upon, if he can paint it with the charms of nature so much the dearer it is; to it he refers every thing he sees, & as I passed the sorry little hamlets surrounded with smiling cornfields & embosomed with wood they call up old highland scenes to my mind, especially those of Loch Eck, Loch Lomond & the Trosachs [Trossachs] where I last was with W[illia]m & where with him we walked 110 miles in three days, his & my last long walk.
I must close abruptly[.] Best love to all Father[,] Mother[,] Bessy & Mary & believe me your most affectionate Brother Jos D Hooker [signature]
I need not add that I never write without Mr Cormick adding his kindest messages to my father & all of us he knows[,] he has indeed been my kind friend ever since sailing.
God bless you dear Maria.
I have no time to correct. The books were not sent to Dr Johnstone's agent before he sailed I much regret it. they are to follow. Thank dear Bessy & Mary for me. & when you write do so on a sheet of paper with the Crescent at the head of it such as grandpapa used to use.

Page 4

Miss Hooker
Care of Sir William J. Hooker
Woodside Crescent
N[orth]. B[ritain].

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