Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', Falkland Islands,
JDH/1/2 f.85-88
Hooker, Sir William Jackson
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Correspondence from Antarctic Expedition
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Contemporary MS copy
14 page letter over 4 folios

JDH last wrote to his father, William Jackson Hooker, from Bay of Islands. Expedition omitted Chatham Islands & has been in open sea for 135 days but now nears Berkeley Sound, Falkland Islands. Before reaching an ice barrier they went to a record latitude south. Discusses Sargasso weed, seaweed propagating in open sea, e.g. Macrostaysis pyrifera, & implications for plant distribution. JDH will write to Ward re. New Zealand moss. Heard from Sinclair about WJH's move to Brick Farm House, that RBG Kew is to be a public park & that Balfour got the [botany] chair at Glasgow University not Arnott. Recalls that the Hookers were shunned by most Glasgow academics but he has fond wishes for some of their true Glasgow friends. Is glad James Mitchell is working for Lord Eastnor. Discusses publication of ICONES [PLANTARUM], Gardner's return to England, MONOGRAPH OF SOUTHERN FRAGI & a new sp. found by Bidwell. Describes distribution of Ballia brunoni in Kerguelen's Land & Auckland Islands. Discusses mosses of Campbell Island: new Sclotheimias, Holomitrion perichaetiale, & an Andreaea whose unusual structure he describes. Mentions a NZ Polytricha like Dawsonia, Sprengel's Maschalocarpus ciliatus, a new Hookeria from Van Diemen's Land [Tasmania] & endemic H. cristata. Pities Swainson going to NZ, explains the shortcomings of the colony & notes some disreputable emigrants: Baron Thierry, Mr Macdonnell & Mr Polack but praises the missionaries esp. Colenso. Letter continues dated 8 Apr [1842] with a description of East Falkland incl. birds: Cormorant, Cape Pigeon, Albatross & Cook's blue nosed petrel. Describes procuring skins of birds, but says he never lets ornithology overtake botany. Has some NZ shells for his sister, Maria Hooker. Hopes to go to Rio de Janeiro & collect Cryptogamia for Harvey. Reports landing at Port Louis, a mining town in a desolate landscape where the purser met with Governor Moody. Expects to be home 1843 after crossing D'Urville's Barrier in Weddell's track.


HMS. Erebus off the Falkl[an]d Isl[an]ds
April 5. 1842 -- (rec[eive]d Sat[urda]y July 9.) (Copy) *1
My dear father
I cannot tell you with what great pleasure I sit down to address you, after so very long an interval; & the more especially as I fear that my unavoidable & long silence may have caused you anxiety, if not fear, on my account. In my last letter, dated from the Falkland Bay of Islands & sent to Dr Sinclair, onboard the "Favorite", I told you that you should again hear from me from the Chatham Islands. Had not I felt pretty sure that such an opportunity would be afforded, I should not so have counted upon it. The elements, however, forbad any communication with that Groupe. Whether the "Favorite" went thither or not, I cannot tell; but if she did, you would, of course, hear that we could not; & this, unfortunately, could not have the effect of divesting your mind of the idea that some accident had befallen us & prevented our reaching the place of rendezvous.
This morning at 5.a.m, we made a little Island to the Southward of the Falklands; the first land of any description that has greeted our eyes, now for 135 days! During all this time we have been on the sea, either under sail or among the Pack Ice, to the northward of that open sea which again intervenes between it & the Barrier. Being now under the lee of the land, the water is beautifully smooth; & for once & away, we have a most

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HMS. Erebus off the Falkl[an]d Isl[an]ds
April 5. 1842 -- (rec[eive]d Sat[urda]y July 9.) (Copy) *1
My dear father
I cannot tell you with what great pleasure I sit down to address you, after so very long an interval; & the more especially as I fear that my unavoidable & long silence may have caused you anxiety, if not fear, on my account. In my last letter, dated from the Falkland Bay of Islands & sent to Dr Sinclair, onboard the "Favorite", I told you that you should again hear from me from the Chatham Islands. Had not I felt pretty sure that such an opportunity would be afforded, I should not so have counted upon it. The elements, however, forbad any communication with that Groupe. Whether the "Favorite" went thither or not, I cannot tell; but if she did, you would, of course, hear that we could not; & this, unfortunately, could not have the effect of divesting your mind of the idea that some accident had befallen us & prevented our reaching the place of rendezvous.
This morning at 5.a.m, we made a little Island to the Southward of the Falklands; the first land of any description that has greeted our eyes, now for 135 days! During all this time we have been on the sea, either under sail or among the Pack Ice, to the northward of that open sea which again intervenes between it & the Barrier. Being now under the lee of the land, the water is beautifully smooth; & for once & away, we have a most

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lovely day, with the sun shining, so that we feel ourselves already in harbor[sic], (Berkeley Sound), from which we are but a few hours sail. though, from the intervention of night, we shall probably not be snug till tomorrow. Extraordinary, however, as the sensations are on approaching land, after so unheard of a cruize[sic] & to such a distance, mine are doubly enhanced by the delight I experience in talking, though it be but by letter, to you; & feeling that we are nearer old England by many degrees than we have been for 2 years. I hardly expect to receive letters from home tomorrow as I hard think you would probably not write, till you heard from the Chathams; & also because I am sure your time must latterly have been so much taken up, as to put correspondence almost out of the question. Much as I long for tidings of you all, I cannot but feel sure that they must be woeful: & to own the truth, one of my reasons for beginning this letter before we cast anchor, is that I may be able to communicate to you some of the cheerfulness I can now feel & that my letter shall not be tinged which that sorrow & moroseness which I fear may have characterized some of my former epistles; -- these were written on the spur of the moment, when, to my shame, present griefs obliterated the recollection of past mercies[?], & whilst pining over what had occurred, I had forgotten how much I, of all others had to be thankful for, & how little it was my duty to trouble you with such complaints. Whatever the tidings may prove to be, I have too long suffered from hope delayed, & been, kindly, by you all, too well prepared, -- ever to feel again the poignant anguish with which I received the first letters that awaited me at V. Dieman's Land.

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Our last cruize[sic] has been, in some respects, a most unprofitable one; although, all things considered, we have done much more than we had any right to expect, & far more than (considering the difficulties we had to encounter) anything but Capt[ain] Ross' undaunted[?] perseverance could have accomplished. In Latitude we beat ourselves by a few miles; & a little to the Eastward of where we left off last year, we were brought up by the identical inflexible Barrier, forbidding all farther progress South; & at a very late period of the season we turned back & after a weary voyage have at last arrived here. As far as Botany is concerned, this voyage has afforded me nothing but time & opportunities for examining my New Zealand plants, which opportunities I hope I have improved as far as lay in my power. It has farther whetted my appetite for collecting most amazingly, as I hope my stay in these Islands will show, -- sed praeterea nihil. (There is, however, one curious fact, connected with the Geographical Distribution of Plants, to which I have paid much attention; but of which I have found no mention:-- it is the existence & vegetation of 2 species of Seaweed in the open sea & at an immense distance from land. The only analogous case, that I know of, is the famous Sargasso weed, regarding which it still appears to be a matter of dispute, whether it is propagated at sea, or at the bottom of the Ocean. My own opinion is that it was at first propagated ashore & then increased & continued to propagate itself in the Ocean, in the same way as the Macrocystis pyrifera & a Laminaria (radiato?) extends in the Southern regions to the limits of the Antarctic Circle, farther South than any vegetable production with which I am acquainted

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by 2 degrees (further?), & undoubtedly (of the former I speak with certainty) propagates itself at sea. They cannot be said to form a feature on the Ocean as the Sargasso weed does; for they are met with only in scattered masses; but these are as fresh, in every particular, as similar specimens picked up in the Bays ashore, they are furnished with delicate young leaves, of all sizes, & the distance from land & slowness of the currents show that a very long time must, -- & ages may, have elapsed since they left the parent plant. I have kept an accurate register of the dates, long & lat in which these specimens have been seen; & the way in which they avoid the Burgs & keep in water of a certain temperature, never under 32º, is very remarkable, indeed: especially when it is considered in what remote degrees of longitude they have been observed.
Among the New Zealand plants, the Mosses have pleased me most. I have many new species among them which I am sure will gratify you vastly. I shall however, make them the subject of a letter to my kind friend Mr Ward, who, though he knew little of me before my leaving England, has never lost any opportunity of writing to me. Could he but know the pleasure his communications give to one so far removed from the scientific world (in which I fain w[oul]d dabble) he would have a far better reward than any poor letter of mine can bestow.
I believe I have already told you what a pleasure I derived from Dr Sinclair's society. Knowing so little as I can do, of your new house & home, you will not wonder that I received with greedy ears the particulars he could give me respecting Brick farm house (a most plebeian name, by the way) & its nice garden &c. -- Also, a guess at what the emolument of your new situation would be, now that Mr Hume is going to patronize (in the Houses public improvement

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in the shape of a public Garden, & that Kew is to be raised to that dignity under your superintendence. All these have occupied my mind in the dreary watches of midnight; though where to picture you & especially the rest of the family, I can have no idea. My only regret is that I am not there to help you to pack up; nor am I able to imagine how you will manage the flitting. If it was my case, I should hire a smack at Port Dundas, load it & seat myself atop of the luggage, & then, as my messmates say, "Up Helm & bear away for the Thames" -- It is no use at this date, saying what I should have liked, seeing that I hope you are by this time, come to snug moorings at Brickfarm; but if Sir W[illia]m Symonds could let you & your baggage come round in a Man of War Steamer, though your passage might be slow, it would be the surer & more comfortable; especially as my dear old grandfather (to see whom I have yet some lingering hopes) could have a snug & quiet cabin on board. 'Tis strange, how news, good or bad, flies. Before leaving Sydney, I heard from two persons of your appointment to Kew: & twice before quitting N. Zealand I was told (what may not be true), that Dr Arnott has not obtained the Chair in Glasgow, but that Dr Balfour (?) has. Of this I am truly sorry: most so upon my kind & excellent friend's account; & also, because I had a lingering affection for Glasgow University, which I now cast off with scorn. She never loved you, nor your scions (W[illia]m & myself) whom she might have loved for your sake; & in rejecting our good friend Arnott she has hurt herself, -- & serve her right! I wish her no harm, though I cannot wish her much good without belying my feelings. I never cared for attention in Glasgow: still, in some several cases, I could not help feeling the slight which attended it's[sic] not being conferred by some. -- As long as I lived under your

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roof, & during the 8 years I attended the Professors there, I had not an opportunity of darkening the doors of any of their houses but Ramsay[']s Thomson's & Meikleham's, until Nicol joined. To these 4, & to them only, I owe a debt of kindness which I shall never forget; to Prof[esso]r Ramsay especially, my warm gratitude is owing. His friendship for us all was sincere & it is often counted[?] upon by me, when I think of the possibility of my revisiting the scenes of my childhood. Meikleham & Ramsay were the only two who congratulated me on your honors in 1836, & they did so on the spot & in the warmest & kindest manner. Dr Thomson had, I believe, a sincere liking for me: why I know not; & whether he had occasion to reprove or to praise me, he was always the same. It is seldom that two bearish persons like one another; but so he & I did, & despite his gruff exterior, he had a most feeling heart. I cannot forget the tears trickling down the poor old man's face, when he lectured after his wife's death & told his students that "as a matter of course, domestic affairs could not interfere with his public duties." Poor old man, he is now far more effectually bereaved than you are, my dear father.
I do not think I ever mentioned to you before that I have felt, & not a little, the want of any kindly feeling on the part of the older, or indeed any the majority, of your fellow Professors, towards my brother & me. Nor should I ever have done so, if you had not cut their connexion; but this I do hope, that whenever you have the opportunity of communicating with any of the 4 above named professors, you will assure them that I bear a grateful remembrance of their many kindnesses. And as to the others, -- from the Principal downwards, -- if ever I live to be, by unremitted attention to Botany at home, a Botanist (which is my ardent hope), -- & if ever my acquaintance be thought

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worth the seeking, I shall go to Glasgow, on purpose to cultivate the friendship of those few who cared for me in my obscurity, when a little attention is worth so much, -- & to demand from the others some little submission, before I condescend to acknowlege[sic] them.
You are no less sorry for quitting Inveresk than I am: nor need I trouble you with my reasons for liking it. Of other people in Glasgow there are but the Adamsons, Smiths of Jordanhill, -- & Wilsones of Benmore, -- never forgetting the Revd Mr Stapylton & Mrs Mack & the Tattnalls, who really, at bottom, cared anything about me. To these & to any whom you may think I have forgotten to enumerate, please to remember me on all convenient occasions. To Jas Mitchell I always write myself, & generally during a voyage. He was always an affectionate friend of mine, & is, I doubt not, much pleased with the "nerving incidents of flood & fell" with which I can regale him during a cruize[sic]; though I never trouble you with such things. I thanked you before & do so again, for your goodness in thinking of me when you recommended Mitchell to L[or]d Eastnor. He never was quick or brilliant; but a good worker & well grounded in his profession, of excellent principles, & I doubt not will give satisfaction to his noble employer. Poor fellow, his "humble lodgings" were opposite to mine & taken very properly: because, when visiting in town, he did not see the occasion for putting his friends to greater expense than his necessarily costly education & travels demanded.
As you are leaving Glasgow, Khull's refusal to continue publishing the Icones cannot affect you much: -- getting another publisher was, I fear, a hard job; even at the terms you offer. It would be as a

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thousand pities to stop a work, so useful in itself, & which, judging from my own experience & that of those who correspond with you, is a source of so much gratification to others; nor can I see why you should not devote some of my Gov[ernmen]t Bills to its use, as a tribute from me to a Science, to which I am so much indebted.
Gardner has arrived in England, I presume, long ere this will reach you. He owes me a letter; but he ought to be too busy to write to me; especially since you always gave me the benefit of all he said & I now receive the same by means of the Journal.
The Monograph of Southern Fragi is excellent & you have now another to add, found by Colenso in New Zealand, but of which I had previously received a specimen from Bidwell at Sydney:-- it is a very nice thing. The Ballia Brunoni I have found abundantly at Kerguelen's Land & L[ord]d Auckland's Groupe[sic]; it does not however grow at the Bay of Islands, from which I have a very fair collection of Sea--weeds, but not set out. Nor did I meet with it at Campbells Island, though I do not doubt its existing there, but our stay was too limited to allow of my devoting much time to the Marine Flora. While in the Ice, I examined the Mosses of that island, among which are some new Sclotheimias & a beautiful Holomitrion[?], which, together with Menzies H. perichaetiale & another new one, found by me at the Bay of Islands, increases that genus to 4 species. I have also 2 more Andreaea from Campbells Isl[an]d, -- the specimens of one, though mere scraps, bear male flowers which I never saw before & they are very unlike the general character of Antheridia. The ordinary development of the theca & calyptra I have now traced very distinctly, in many Mosses, from the paraphyses, & if my observations be correct (of which I feel pretty certain), the former descriptions are very incomplete & faulty. The nature of the auricles[?], too, I think is, for the first time, traced, & seems to me nothing but the natural consequence of the dehiscence of theoperculum, in such Mosses as it exists in,

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being a single row of cells from the operculum, leaving, in the latter, a corresponding hollow all round its mouth. The genus Codonoblepharum is nothing but Zygodon obtusifolius, the membranous cone being the continuation of the columella up the axis of the capsule, to the summit of the operculum. Among the N. Zealand Polytricha is a small one, with a theca exactly resembling that of the Dawsonia when ripe, & when young triangular. I also have a lovely Moss, which I long took for new, but which I suspect is Sprengel's Maschalocarpus ciliatus. It is not in your collection if my memory serves me: the fimbriated leaves are no less beautiful than curious & the antheridia are all axillary! It is one of the few non--Hookerioid Mosses, with distichous leaves & stipules. From V. Dieman's Land you would receive a drawing of a new Hookeria, near the Leskea (now Hookeria) cruciarea[?], but different (quoad fig. in ME.), the V.D. Land specimens have truly dimidiate calyptra but, in the only one of those from N. Zealand that has a calyptra, it is mitriform. The Hookeria cristata grows at some distance from the Bay of Islands, only in one spot, & is a most splendid moss.
Mr Swainson I did not see in N. Zealand, but I wrote to him. He has made a bad choice in coming out. Of all wretched colonies, N. Zealand is the worst, -- & of all the departments of it, the N. Zealand Company is the lowest. The soil is generally bad, nor does any one of the 3 islands afford half the facilities for colonization presented by Australia or V. Dieman's Land. In the last Edition of Murray's Encyclopedia of Geography, you will find a most accurate view of the present prospects of the Islands. I never saw it till the other day & was surprized[sic] to find how it tallied with all I had heard & seen. Poor Swainson, I cannot but look upon

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him as a ruined man, though I heard no news of him. Dear Willy [William Dawson Hooker] could have done nothing there. The Natives too, are beginning to feel their strength & to find out our weak points. I saw that precious rascal, the Baron Thierry, & much did I wish to have fallen in with that Mr Macdonnell, whom we met at Mr Lambert's, that I might give him a little of my mind about the yarns he spun me on that occasion. Mr Polack is another specimen, who has no honor[sic] in his adopted country. Macdonnell is living, in any thing but splendour, at Hokianga. As a Class, the Missionaries are the only good emigrants: though they do feather their nests rather too well, considering their calling. Our excellent friend Mr Colenso is indeed an ornament to the cause he has devoted himself to. Though only a printer to the Church Miss[ionar]y Society, he is more useful than any two others; perfectly indefatigable, both among the heathen & his own countrymen. With only a paltry pittance of a salary, he refuses to make another farthing, either by land or by selling fresh Beef & Poultry, by which latter means (Mr Williams at their head) most of his brethren realize, by their extravagant prices, very handsome profits from the shipping. Williams supplied both our Ships, with Beef every day, at 8d per lb(!); but never asked one of us to his house; never offered to preach, even once, on board: nor so much as sent a goose or a fowl for the Mess. All these Colenso did, -- giving us fresh Eggs, -- & milk whenever we liked to send for it, from his only cow. Before he we sailed, he started for the East Cape (where he will get some glorious specimens for you). As a parting gift, he sent me some Porter & Wine, with a most affectionate letter, the former were, I am sure, the whole contents of his cellar. Every evening which I spent with him whether at his own house or in the country,

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he alluded to my circumstances & to the late afflictions of our family, in his prayers:-- For this, if for nothing else, I could never forget him. --
April 8th noon -- My dear father. as I expected, we had to keep off the land last night, & fortunately with light winds, or we might have been blown off our Port. We have now a fine N.E. breeze & have just opened Berkeley Sound on our lee, so that in a few minutes we shall be running up the harbor[sic] & we are just in time, for the Barometer is falling & the weather looks dirty. The land seems low & tolerably green, with white cliffs of Quartz(?), undulating hills, 1,--2,000 feet high, rugged at the top, very bare, but with no snow. The Island is full of Bays, nice quiet little creeks for Seaweed, & there must be plenty of alpine Mosses on the hills which I see. Lichens, of course, will abound. The Cormorants are flying in numbers about the Ships, as do Gulls, Cape Pigeons, small Albatrosses, & a beautiful Blue Petrel (Cook's blue--nosed Petrel), of which I have lately skinned some specimens for you;-- & we constantly pass masses of the Macrocystis (some of great size) & a large Laminaria. Down to the Southward I procured some beautiful White Petrels; this bird never leaves the sea for any distance: also of a Brown--backed Petrels like the Cape Pigeon, but quite distinct. These birds must be shot, as they will not take the bait, so that to procure tolerably clean specimens is very difficult. The Cape Pigeon (Procellaria Capensis) & Ash--colored Petrel with the black--backed & the large Albatrosses, may all be captured with a baited hook. I have good ones of these species; though so loaded with fat as to render the skinning them as sinecure job. I never let Ornithology intrude on Botany ashore; but can generally find time to skin a few birds during the week in which I have got them, for I seldom shoot any myself. My N. Zealand Birds are fair: about 30; --

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someone may be glad of them at home, & I think you will share my interest in them as a collector, if only for their habitat & the associations connected with them.
I have made a tolerable collection of N. Zealand Shells for Maria. None of them, however, are at all polished, the fish being merely taken out.
We hope to go to Rio for a short time, where I want very much to collect Sea weeds, Mosses & other Cryptogamia: of the former tribe I am very ignorant & as Endlicher is my only guide along with Harvey[']s Cape Flora, I am in sad want of books on the subject. Will you therefore buy for me a copy of Greville's Alga Britannia colored: I shall keep it so carefully that it may do to give away upon my return. Harvey begs me to collect Seaweeds here beyond any other place: him I hope to meet at the Cape, after my return from the Southward next winter. I shall not finish this letter till we drop anchor, soon after which I shall begin another to you. My mother also hears from me by this opportunity, & the rest shall do so in due time: for the present you must give my love to all, -- To my grandfather, if alive to receive it; he is often in my thoughts & somehow I always hope to see him again:-- to my good sister Maria, who, I trust, camphors my Insects & goes on collecting Shells,-- to Elizabeth, who is in my debt a letter:-- in short to all.
At 5.p.m. we anchored at Port Louis, having run up the Sound in a thick mist & pouring rain, which had they come on before, would have rendered it impossible for us to get in. The stiff Westerly breeze now blowing would have kept us at sea all tomorrow, so that we are not a little delighted to be fast by the nose ag. Such a wretched place as this is, you never saw. Kerguelen's Land

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is a paradise to it. Utter desolation stares in our faces, except a few houses at the settlement, where there are about 60 souls, including his Excellency the Governor (a Lieut[enant]. of Engineers) & some Sappers & Miners. The Purser has just been on shore & returned with no good news, but that there are lots of Beef & innumerable Wild Ducks & Geese: but no flour or anything eatable whatever, except Turnieps[sic]! It was dark when he went & he found his Excellency in a room without a candle & with a pompous Secretary, but though drenched with rain, he had not the offer of a glass of wine or grog. However, I am perhaps judging hastily of Lieut[enant]. Moodie; he has proffered the use of Horses & Dogs (no service to me, but which may help us to procure eatables for the Mess). The only plant the Purser brought off, he grappled in the dark, & it turns out to be Thlaspi bursa pastoris! Tomorrow I shall get something better.
You are just got into Kew before the Tories came into power. Capt[ai]n Crozier is posted -- Mr Bird made a commander, & our messmate Smith elevated to the Gunroom as Lieutenant, for which I do not envy him, as our mess is more comfortable than theirs. So, now that we have lost Dayman (whom we left in the Observatory at Hobart Town) only three remain, Oakeley a mate, Yule, second Master, & your son. All this news are learned from a Navy list his Excellency sent us & his latest intelligence is of Oct[obe]r 1841. Of course there are no letters, no newspapers, no society, male or female, no nothing, but plenty of Beef, as aforesaid, with wild geese, Rabbits & Foxes, Seabirds innumerable Titlarks & Hawks. A Man of War, the "Arrow" Ketch, belongs to this station, but she is now at the West

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Island & not expected here for some time. The harbor[sic] is covered with the Macrocystis, & there is every appearance of abundance of Sea weeds. Capt[ai]n Ross is still a capital good friend of mine & I am as snug as possible here & do not care for any change, but to get home, which will certainly be next year, after crossing Mr D'Urville's Barrier in Weddell's track.
The Governor says that our late success caused an immense sensation of triumph in England! These are the first flattering words we have received from home; nor can you conceive how welcome is the news, after having penetrated beyond even our former Ultima Thule of Latitude. We have had hitherto no tidings from England to cheer us, which has rendered our last cruize[sic] far more wearisome than if we had known that the former one had given satisfaction.
My dear father, I close this letter to begin another in a day or two, which will go by the same conveyance, whenever such an opportunity presents itself. In the meantime, believe me your most affectionate son
(Signed) Jos. D. Hooker
Double letters all the same to you now, with a penny postage.


1. This letter is a 19th Century manuscript copy written in a hand not that of the original author, Joseph Dalton Hooker.  The copy was probably made by Hooker’s mother or sister so that a version could be circulated amongst family and friends.

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