Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Darjeeling, India
JDH/1/10 f.78-81
Hooker (nee Turner), Lady Maria
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Indian Letters 1847-1851
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
12 page letter over 4 folios

JDH is staying with Brian Houghton Hodgson[BHH], former political resident at the Nepalese court who was forced from that position by Lord Ellenborough but continues his zoological & ethnological work & has made significant donation to the British Museum, as catalogued by [John Edward ] Gray. Describes very wet climate. Praises his Lepcha servants. Discusses prospect of being allowed to travel to snows in Sikkim Rajah's kingdom given the current political situation with Bootan [Bhutan], China, Thibet [Tibet], Nepal & the Rajah's past dealings with the British, including Colonel Waugh the Surveyor General. JDH is being assisted in negotiations by Lord Dalhousie & Dr [Archibald] Campbell but cannot go now until Oct because of the season. Major Jenkins invited JDH to Bootan & the Mishmee hills of upper Assam. Will go to the Mishmees tea districts incl. plantation under Jameson at Kumaon, also to get the vegetable products & implements of the Mishmee tribes & determine the true course of the Burrampooter [Brahmaputra]. Will meet Thomas Thomson[TT] in Assam & go into Thibet towards Mansarovar Lake. The Chinese mission has broken up, Captain Cunningham recalled, Strachey in Thibet & TT to continue his researches with help of Sir Fred Currie. Falconer is ill which has delayed the transmission of the first part of the Niger Flora to WJH. JDH now working on copying out the Leguminosae for the Niger Flora. Has received various books from WJH incl. Lindley's which JDH needed to refer to for order Helwingiae. Found Balanophora at 8000 ft. Is sending live plants to Kew via Calcutta [Kolkata] incl.: Rhododendrons, Arums, Palms & Magnolias. Frederick Drummond, son of Lord Stratheden, has died of Jungle Fever caught on a tiger shooting trip & many of his servants died of Cholera. JDH is busy with his collections, making drawings & notes incl. a Journal & 'carte geognostique'. Will send WJH Ceylon [Sri Lanka] notes & Frances [Henslow's] father notes on Himalayan agriculture.


I hope by this mail to supply his pressing desideratum: the Ceylon *10 notes & to go on with my work I break this off sans ceremonie
As I wrote a fortnight ago to Frances I hope she will forgive my not answering the long & kind letter I have just received from her. I am making notes from readings &c on the agriculture of the Himalayah for her Father which I will send him in the rough.
Best love to Betsy & all[?]
Your most affectionate son | Jos. D. Hooker. [signature]

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June 10th. 1848. *1
My dear Mother
I have now many letters to thank you for, all of which have arrived in good time & safely. Two indeed came in the same week though posted at intervals of a fortnight owing to more rapid passage of the Steamers. I now write from the home of B. H. Hodgson Eqr. *2 a very nice place & belonging to one of the most liberal of people a man too of great attainments & accomplishments. Mr H[odgson]. was Political Resident at Neapul [Nepal] for many years, when he lived like a prince at the Nepalese Court. From this position he was forced by Ld Ellenborough during one of the mad fits of that nobleman when bent on overturning all that Lord Auckland had previously done, good & bad. Hodgson not only threw up his position but most foolishly his commission in the E.I.C.S. *3 in disgust went home for redress & was assured by the court that had he retained his commission they would have replaced him at Nepaul! -- Hodgson thus thrown in the world & on scanty pensions for he never laid by 1/ of his enormous salary retired hither where he lives in seclusion carrying on his Zoological & Ethnological pursuits. The Hodgson collection at the Brit[ish]. Mus[eum]. was all his formation at a most enormous expense -- Gray *4 as is well known published the appended catalogue of genera,

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families & species much of the later new as his own, so you may expect him to abuse Hodgson who further quarrelled furiously with G[ray]. who wanted to grab more than his share of the species: Hodgson is a great friend of the Colviles & of Ld Auckland whose principles he praises more than his ability or policy. Here I am good 800 ft above my former residence & consequently more like Olympian Jove in my attributes, daily surrounded with clouds. The rains of have fairly set in & it sometimes pours 8 or 10 (they say it will 50 or 60) hours consecutively. The ground is so high however that the drainage is excellent & the dampness of the atmosphere is more than that of the ground. Good as this climate is for Europeans it is death to natives of the plains of whom I have now none, having been only too glad to get my two collectors off my hands alive. My Portuguese serv[an]t remains with me & I have 5 Lepchas as the natives of these Mts are called, a horribly dirty good natured active & kind hearted race who are always collecting & helping me to dry my papers.

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My prospects of reaching the snows are somewhat shadowy. The Sikkim Rajah whose territories were once the prey of the Nepalese was replaced on his throne by us (who thus keep the warlike ghorkas from overunning[sic] Bootan [Bhutan]). The relative positions of the countries being thus *5. Unluckily we did not demand tribute even minimal from the Rajah who at once fell under the influence of China, whose policy is to rule the councils & heads but not the people of their three border powers & by learning them a wholesome dread of the English exclude them latter from their several states & prevent [one word crossed out, illeg.] our interference with the Chinese trade from the East into Thibet [Tibet]. Darjeeling is a narrow strip of land running N[orth]. into the heart of Sikim[sic] about half way to the snow. It was bought from the Rajah to be a sanatorium for rich Europeans (as Simla Mussoorie, Ninne--Tal [Nainital], Almorah &c are) we paid 3000 Rup[ees] for the freehold, also stipulating that merchants should have

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a right to trade Sikim[sic], but made no agreement of the sort for travellers surveyors or any other class of people whom the savvy Rajah excludes from his kingdom. Had we proceeded with any vigor in our policy, we might have still have retained power over the Rajah, but I look on the conduct of the local gover[nmen]t at Calcutta *6 & the Pol[itical]. Resid[ent]. here as weak to a degree & prejudicial to the interests of the country. The Rajah who has not a soldier to his name refused to allow the Surveyor general (a man whose Indian power & appointments would astonish an Englishman), to visit a mt. 20 miles from this & not only the S[urveyor]. G[eneral]. but the Gov[ernmen]t who applied for him, only granting it when Col[onel] Waugh, disgusted, both with the Rajah & gov[ernmen]t went (as I did a few days ago) without the permission of either.
I have explained all this to Lord D[alhousie]. & asked him to send me to the snow whether the Rajah likes it or no, offering to be the means of making any overtures to the Prince that might render my mission less unacceptable than the appearance of any Feringhi *7 must be[.] Dr Campbell the P[olitical]. R[esident]. recommended that the

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Rajah's permission be asked, knowing as well as I & Ld. D[alhousie]. do that, though the Rajah dare not refuse he dare withhold any answer at all, & thus place our gov[ermen]t in the quandary of putting up with an insult or sending me with an armed force. This Ld. D[alhousie]. saw as clearly as I did such is the Rajah's dread of English that he has refused to receive an ambassador loaded with English presents & when the hot headed Col[onel] Lloyd (who bargained for Darjeeling) hunted him like a hare to strike the bargain in person he only met him with a river between. In pushing my own way there is nothing to dread but want of provisions, the Rajah is too weak even to put a traveller in confinement as China does, & too much afraid of England, but they withold[sic] supplies & frighten your servants. Hence all my wanderings have been hitherto only so far as I could carry provender for myself & the men, & through the least inhabited parts of the country. Towards the snow the country is more populous, the convents nunneries & villages numerous (though small) & the people Booteas, a disagreeable & morose race, immigrants, from the East into Sikim[sic]. What Ld D[alhousie]. will do I know

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not & he declares he cannot see his way. Elliott the Secretary to gov[ermen]t, proposes "douce violence" with the Rajah & insisting on his behaving like a friendly power; but this view cannot be supported in council. My own conviction is that were the Rajah to allow me to visit the snowy passes China would punish him, not ostensibly but indirectly, & the only profitable part of his revenue is derived from Darjeeling (which did not yield him 200R. when we bought it) & a property called Chumbi in Thibet, which he rents from China & is a fruitful place, yielding turnips radishes & pine wood!
To proceed with Oriental crooked policy, Sir Herb[er]t Maddock (a Gover[erno]r of Bengal during Ld. Hardinge's absence) in a fit of spleen, took it into his head that the Rajah's rent received for Darjeeling (3000 Rup) was too low, blew up Dr C[ampbell]. the Pol[itical] Resid[ent]. for allowing the poor prince to be treated so shabbily by England, & voted the 3000 to be increased to 6000, without Rhyme or reason, & more than that without stipulating for the Rajahs behaving more civilly to Europeans. Campbell who

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ought to have flung the reprimand back in the Gov[erno]r's teeth & complained of the injust[sic] treatment to the board, took it all quietly; doubled the Rajahs income & thus threw away a fulcrum which would have moved the Himalayah to within our reach. The Rajah is consequently more persuaded than ever of our foolishness & desire to take his once valued kingdom, (of which we would not accept the gift). Is it not almost incredible that a man can be so weak as to fear the very power which placed him on his throne & to this day maintains him thereon from then being trisected as Poland was, by the Ghorkas, Bootanese & Thibetans, any one of which would swallow him up in an hour. -- Ld. D[alhousie]. has plenty of time now to think of the affair as I cannot go till October, the rains & the unhealthiness of the intervening valleys both precluding the attempt.
Major Jenkins writes me from Assam hurrying my visit there & assuring me of the feasibility of visiting the snow in Bootan or at any rate by the Mishmee hills in upper Assam. The latter is feasible, the former impossible, the Booteas being as jealous as the Sikim[sic] Rajah, & with them as with Nepaul, we have no right to interfere. To the Mishmees as but

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little beyond the Tea districts I shall certainly go with the objects of visiting the Tea; getting complete collections of the vegetable products, arms & implements of the tribes inhabiting those hills; reaching the snow if possible, & ascertaining the true course of the Burrampooter [Brahmaputra], whether that be the Thibetan Tsampo or not. To the N[orth]. W[est]. I can always get into little Thibet but that has now been well explored by Thomson, so that I do not intend to go further N[orth]. W[est]. than Kumaon, where the new Tea plantations under Jameson are, & where I shall met Thomson next year & with him ascend the Niti pass & then into Thibet towards the position of the Mansarovar lake, the loftiest table land in globe most probably. That I shall do this is more probable from the necessity of leaving Assam in March or April when it becomes unhealthy, & my desire to see Thomson & the Tea plantations in Kemaon [Kumaon] which are making a great move.
The Chinese mission is broken up, Capt[ain] Cunningham recalled, Strachey is

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in Thibet, no one knows where, & Thomson is allowed to prosecute his researches for another year. This latter I am very glad of as I wrote to Sir Fred Currie, who is thus I see taking an interest in him. I sent by last mail (or previous) Tom's last letter to me for insertion in the Journal *8 & will communicate any further ones.
Falconer is, I grieve to say, very ill in Calcutta having had to come up to the city for advice & treatment: he wrote to me by an amanuensis, regretting not being able to forward Niger Flora by that mail; it will go next, with the continuation down to the orders intervening between Rhamneae & Leguminosae, of which I sent a sketch for Planchon to work out. The Leguminosae I am now copying as fast as I can.
Tell my Father that Falconer forwarded me the acceptable packet sent free up here & I cannot tell how delighted I am with it. Bennett has printed Galapagos very carefully many thanks to him. Hodgson is delighted with the Kew guide. Lindley tumbled open at the very page I wanted most to see oddly enough. The description of the order Helwingiae of which I was sure

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I had a second species. Lindleys book is invaluable, no book half so useful for a traveller, but the location of the Nat. Ords. miserably bad. How so clear a head can have allowed analogy to guide him in place of affinity is most marvellous
I have again found Balanophora at an elevation of 8000 ft!. Tomorrow three loads of live plants go down to Calcutta for Kew they include Rhododendrons, Palm, Arums, Magnolias & very many other fine things; but all depends on the weather in the plains below. We have been much[?] distressed at the death of poor Fred[eric]k Drummond who I met in Purneah [Purnia] district on my way up: he & his party were kindly anxious that I should accompany them Tiger shooting (I to botanize) last April, I refused on the grounds of the unhealthyness of the season & anxiety to get on with my much delayed passage to Darjeeling. Well! 7 of their servants died in one day of Cholera & 4 days after his return Drummond took ill of Jungle Fever & was dead in as many more. He was a very fine fellow & most deserving favourite with all. We had just invited him to stay with us (Mr Barnes & myself) at Darjeeling & he would have come had his live[sic] been spared. He is a son of Ld Stratheden, a Scottish nobleman of small property who has many sons in India *9.

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The post is just in with letters from yourself, my Father, Francis & Eliz. Rigby alack their receipt is damped by the enclosure from Calcutta written by one of the Garden men & telling me that Falconer is very ill & suffering much. Should he be taken away I do not know what I shall do about living plants which must be unpacked & repacked in Calcutta. I have written to Gurney asking him to see him & execute some little commissions for me.
My Father commences with the Niger Flora, a terrible heart sore with me & I only long for the 6 weeks to be over which will place the first part in his hands. I am extremely busy with my collections drawings & mss. now getting up sketches of Rhododendrons & a good Journal for the Journal [of Botany], a "Carte Geognostique" of the vegetation of this place from the plains to 10,000 ft (like Humboldts of Chimborago) besides copying out the Niger Flora Leguminosae. I have no excuse for my delays of the Niger Flora & only wish that throwing myself on his mercy could do any good in speeding it to his hands.

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I hope by this mail to supply his pressing desideratum: the Ceylon *10 notes & to go on with my work I break this off sans ceremonie
As I wrote a fortnight ago to Frances I hope she will forgive my not answering the long & kind letter I have just received from her. I am making notes from readings &c on the agriculture of the Himalayah for her Father which I will send him in the rough.
Best love to Betsy & all[?]
Your most affectionate son | Jos. D. Hooker. [signature]


1. Additional annotation records that the letter was received Aug. 27.
2. Brian Houghton Hodgson (1801? -- 1894). Naturalist and ethnologist who worked in British India and Nepal. He lived in Nepal as a British Civil Servant and studied the country's culture, language, architecture & religion.
3. East India Company Service.
4. John Edward Gray (1800--1875. Keeper of Zoology at the British museum from 1840--1874 published catalogues of Hodgson's collections, the first in 1846 and another in 1863.
5. A small sketch map appears here showing the positions of British India, Nepaul [Nepal], China Sikkim & Bootan [Bhutan] with an 'x' marking a small region delineated within Sikkim.
6. The current name of the city Calcutta is Kolkata.
7. A European, especially Portuguese, born in India.
8. Probably referring to The London Journal of Botany.
9. The last part of this sentence has been obscured by the binding of the letters into a volume and is not visible on the accompanying image.
10. The country formerly known as Ceylon is now called Sri Lanka.

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