Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', Berkeley Sound, East Falkland, Falkland Islands
JDH/1/2 f.140-141
Bentham, George
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
6 page letter over 2 folios

JDH thanks George Bentham for writing to him. The geography of plants is one of JDH's favourite subjects. JDH shares his observation that Leguminosae & Labiatae are completely un-represented in the flora of the Antarctic regions, which are far from barren. Scrophularinae by comparison are prominent. One such conspicuous genus in the Auckland Islands is Veronica, he describes the presence of a arborescent species, a sp. known as 'Sodjer Plant', & a blue flowered sp. he calls 'the most Antarctic'. In the Bay of Islands, New Zealand the Veronica are fruticose. V. decussata is common in Fuegia & Hermite Island & is the largest tree in the Falkland Islands, JDH describes its habit in each location. One of the only flowers JDH has seen in the Falklands is the indigenous Calceolaria fothergilli, also Gaudichaud's V. serpyllifolia. On Kerguelen Island there is a Limosellla which grows under ice & water similar to L. tenuifolia. Refers to Bentham moving to Herefordhsire, also his contribution to JOURNAL OF BOTANY. JDH recalls De Candolle asking why he was going to 'barren' Antarctica, JDH does not regret it but the plants he has collected have been hard won. His collections are strongest in Cryptogamia. Mentions the death of De Candolle senior & whether his son will continue his work. JDH praises Endlicher's work at Vienna & Lindley's ELEMENTS OF BOTANY, a more thoroughly illustrated manual would be useful to JDH who is slow at identifying plants. JDH would like to spend some time at home before botanizing in the tropics as Bentham suggests. Next the expedition cruises south again, then goes to the Cape of Good Hope & Rio de Janeiro. Speculates on what he will do once home; will work in his Father's herbarium & then travel again, maybe to the Society & Sandwich Islands [Hawaii] or the Himalayas. Mentions the Niger expedition, asks if Hind's plants from the New Hebrides [Vanuatu] are similar to Australian flora. Requests Bentham propose him for membership of the Athenaeum.


After your brother in law has got into the Athenaeum if you have no other friends perhaps you will not think me too bold in asking for you kind countenance when an opportunity occurs: my name is down I believe.
Please to give my kind compliments to Mrs Bentham whom I congratulate on living near her own friends & on your continued good health. I send this letter through my father as I cannot read the habitat you have assigned yourself.
Believe me, dear sir, with much respect, yours sincerely.
Jos. D. Hooker[signature]
To G[eorge] Betham Esqr

Page 1

Copy *1
H.M.S. "Erebus" Berkeley Sound, E[ast] Falkland Nov[ember] 27 1842
My dear Sir [George Bentham],*2
You have gratified me much by writing again:-- among my numerous correspondents few are so interesting & none more acceptable than yourself. Since addressing you last I have been enabled to do more in the way of Botany than for many previous months, of which I hope not only to show, but to give you some proofs, which may be acceptable.
The Geography of Plants is a favourite subject with me & for your sake the Leguminosae Labiatae & Scrophularinae often come into my mind & always recall you; so that I sometimes wonder whether you will not take a sort of interest in seeing one, who has visited the only climates that do produce many plants yet from which, the two former natural orders are totally excluded. I apprehend this to be the case, without any exception in the Antarctic Regions:-- not a single individual belonging to Leguminosae or Labiatae could I find in either Auckland Island, Kerguelen’s Land, Campbell’s Island, Fuegia, or the Falklands; & this absence constituted one of the most remarkable features in the vegetation of those parts of the world. Scrophularinae are however abundant, comparatively speaking, & attain a size & importance on the face of the country unequalled elsewhere. The arborescent Veronica of the Auckland Islands is a very fine & common tree, producing highly fragrant pure white blossoms, & is of such frequent occurrence as to be very conspicuous: one of them grew near the sea on a lofty inaccessible cliff, & was nearly 30 feet high, covered with flowers. Another white flowered species is also extremely sweet

Page 2

scented & the leaves much more regularly decussate than in Veronica decussata so that we called it the "Sodger*3 Plant". The 3d is the most striking of all, it is a shrub, growing on hill sides & producing large blossoms of an intense blue color[sic] it is the most antarctic species of any, & inhabits the hill tops as well as low down. In the neighborhood[sic] of the Bay of Islands, the Veronica are all fruticose, & in such plenty as to form a large portion of the green clothing of the country. V[eronica] decussata is exceedingly common in Fuegia & on Hermite Island, whence we have just returned: it attains a height there of 6, 8 & even 10 feet, much branching from the base with branches long, erect & ascending, mostly clothed uniformly with leaves of nearly the same size almost all the way down. I procured a few old capsules, but no flowers: it only grows there close to the sea. Singularly enough, in the Falkland Islands, the largest known tree, indeed the only thing deserving that name, is this Veronica decussata. I am told that it grows 10 feet high on the seashore in a very few localities of the Western Island. I yesterday saw a specimen, brought thence by HMS "Philomel" of which the foliage struck me as rather shorter than the true plant though perhaps not more so than in some of its varieties. The officers of the "Arrow" inform me that it is confined to the mouths of valleys near the sea, which have a certain exposure, & in the direction of the W[est] S[outh] West or Fuegian winds but this report is not confirmed by the "Philomel" which brings specimens from Port Egmont & Burnt Island. One of the only flowers I have seen here is the Calceolaria fothergilli a very pretty little species not uncommon along the maritime cliffs & only now coming into blossom. It is the first & sole species of the genus that I have met with in an indigenous state & it has delighted me accordingly. Soon I shall get plenty of specimens, but since

Page 3

our arrival here my time has been so occupied with arranging the collections from Hermite Island, that I have only been out of the ship twice. A little Veronica, very similar to V.serpyllifolia & so called by Gaudichaud, is common along the beach. Limosella or an allied genus, is also Antarctic, Kerguelen's Land producing a singular one, which flowers & fructifies under ice & water. At the Bay of Islands was a closely resembling species, & here the L. tenuifolia (Pers.) of the ingenious M. Gaudichaud, undoubtedly belongs to the same genus, though I have not seen it in flower & only gathered it close to where the officers of the 'Uranic' had encamped & where it was probably found. My notes are not at hand for reference, but I think the 2 former species both had unilocular anthera & were otherwise different, as to their stamens, from the European plants.
I was extremely sorry to hear that you were burnt out of your home in Queen Square Place, & no less glad to be informed of your removal to Herefordshire; for a country residence, within a tolerable distance of London, appears to me peculiarly eligible for a working Botanist. My father mentions with pleasure having been to see you & also that you have visited him. Your publishing in the Journal of Botany must be a great assistance to that work & though I have not yet even skimmed over your paper on the Aeroid[?] I cannot doubt of finding it excellent. It does sometimes make me sigh, to hear of & to see the rapid strides which Botany is taking both at home & abroad & to contrast it with my present narrow sphere for exertion; nor can I forget how young De Candolle asked me at your house 'why I was going to such a barren country as the Antarctic region'. I am far from regretting that I joined this expedition & I shall always look back on its progress with infinite

Page 4

pleasure;-- still, the few plants I have obtained are dearly won & unless my friends will kindly help me by allowing all the Antarctic plants already in England to be added; the results wi be meagre enough in Phonogramic Botany. Of the Cyptogamic I do not despair, but this tribe is now sadly neglected & finds sma favour[sic] in the eyes of most Botanists.
The death of poor De Candolle is a heavy loss to our favorites[sic] & I am concerned to observe that the Eloge in the R[oyal] S[ociety] Obituary makes no mention of his son: who is surely going to follow his father's steps(?) & whose labors[sic] entitle at least to some notice under such afflicting circumstances. Does he succeed to his fathers chair? Endlicher appears to be working very hard at Vienna: he must be one of the best living Botanists. Dr Lindley's Elements I like extremely:-- that is so far as I have had time to look at it. A similar work with more extended wood--cuts of all the National Order & their groupes[sic], would be an invaluable book to every travelling Botanist especially to such as like myself are not quick for you can hardly imagine how long I may be in making out the Natural Order of a plant, though that order should be most extensive, just from its not existing in the countries which [I] have visited.
You wish that I should see a little of Tropical Vegetation af my Antarctic herborizations & I am much obliged to you for your kind desire, which I doubt not is good:-- but, please Sir, I would rather go home & have no notion of jumping from cold to hot & cracking like a glass tumbler. Have not you, botanists, killed collectors a plenty in the Tropics? And I have paid dear enough for the little I have got in a healthy climate.

Page 5

From our next cruise to the south, which we hope will be short, we shall go to the Cape of Good Hope where I intend to give my attention to Cyptogamic plants & to the more extensive Natural Orders of which I am still ignorant; Leguminosae & Labiatae among the rest. Thence we proceed I believe to Rio where also the lower tribes are most interesting:-- & after that I have no idea where, & no choice.
On my return to England I shall have plenty to do working in my father's herbarium, & when I can get enough money I should like to visit the continent & especially North America. If entirely my own master, I would not object to embark once more for a distant climate for the purpose of Botany & to explore the Islands of the South Seas, especially the Society & Sandwich groupes[sic]. I might prefer the Himalaya Regions; but these ought to be investigated & are in progress by the officers of the Hon[or]ble E[ast] India Company besides the expense of travelling there is dreadful. The only circumstance which has disappointed me in this voyage is the not having visited the S[outh] Seas. Poor Western Africa remains still unknown & the Niger Expedition is worse than a total failure. Are Hinds' plants from the new Hebrides at all like the Australian ones? If I remember D. Entre Casteaux's Voyage aright they should be. Capt[ain] Belcher was a sad[?] fellow & well known in the service.
Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to pay you a first visit out of town, soon after my arrival in England: but you will have to teach me the name of the commonest garden productions for I am sadly ignorant of most branches of Botany.

Page 6

After your brother in law has got into the Athenaeum if you have no other friends perhaps you will not think me too bold in asking for you kind countenance when an opportunity occurs: my name is down I believe.
Please to give my kind compliments to Mrs Bentham whom I congratulate on living near her own friends & on your continued good health. I send this letter through my father as I cannot read the habitat you have assigned yourself.
Believe me, dear sir, with much respect, yours sincerely.
Jos. D. Hooker[signature]
To G[eorge] Betham Esqr


1. This letter is a contemporary 19th century copy, not written in the hand of the original author Joseph Dalton Hooker, and not signed by him. The copy was probably made by Hooker's Mother or one of his sisters to be circulated amongst family and friends.
2. George Bentham (1800--1884). British Botanist. Co--author, with Joseph Hooker, of Genera Plantarum: an influential work on plant taxonomy which is the foundation of many modern systems of classification.
3. A Scottish regional pronunciation of 'soldier'.

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