Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', Simon's Bay, Cape of Good Hope, [South Africa],South Africa
JDH/1/2 f.192-193
Turner, Dawson
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
7 page letter over 2 folios

JDH has received a letter from his Grandfather, Dawson Tuner, dated Feb 1842. He apologises for not writing sooner, but Turner will have seen other family letters from JDH. Regrets Turner has been ill. Has heard from Aunt Elizabeth[ Palgrave nee Turner] about Hannah [Brightwen nee Turner's] marriage & Ellen [Eleanor Jane Jacobson nee Tuner's] children & Gurney [Turner's] prospects. JDH & Gurney are both surgeons with military commissions & JDH sympathises with Gurney's need to travel & support himself. JDH hopes Dawson Turner junior finds a job more fitting to his education than teaching. Regrets that Uncle [Francis] Palgrave was rejected for Town Clerkship of London. He does not have recent news of his family & has to read about them in the 'Red Book'. He does not know why his father, William Jackson Hooker, is not listed as Director of RBG Kew or indeed in any position under the Commissioner of Woods & Forests. JDH believes John Smith is Kew's head gardener. JDH tells his Grandfather how he has found the Antarctic Expedition, Captain Ross has been very considerate, JDH likes life on ship but prefers being in harbour & would not spend more summers in the Antarctic ice because of the monotony & discomfort with no chances to make natural history collections as there is in the Arctic. The expedition is now preparing to return home, where JDH will devote himself to the study of Botany. He would like to travel again, as a naturalist if he can afford it, on a land expedition or if Ross goes to the North Pole. JDH never liked medicine, he hopes to work assisting his father, or will stay in the Navy after taking further exams. He could stay in the Navy on half pay & resign when assigned to a ship but feels that would be dishonourable, as he only took the commission to be useful to science. JDH gets on well with his shipmates & has met friends all over the world during the expedition. JDH does not think that the expedition will gain him more than 'a fair name'.


my return, you will be disappointed. I cannot think either the Voyage, my situation, or much less what I have done, is at all likely to ensure me anything beyond a fair name for having performed my duty.
Again, allow me to thank you for your most kind letter & the interest you take in me, which has allured me, perhaps, into being too diffuse on the subject of my own affairs. With best love to all my relations at Yarmouth & Irstead, not forgetting Mr & Mrs Brightwen, believe me ever,
Your affectionate Grandson | Jos. D. Hooker

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Copy *1
H.M.S. Erebus Cape of
Good Hope
Ap[ri]l 17 1843. (rec[eive]d July 14.)

To Dawson Turner Esq[ui]re
My dear Grandfather
Your kind letter, written in Feb[ruar]y 1842, only reached me the other day, on our arrival at this Port; & though it gave me the greatest pleasure still I could not but take the kindness with which it was worded, as a tacit reproof. You know that I must feel myself much to blame, for not having written to you before; & my only consolation is to think, that when you peruse my letters, (which, though addressed to others, are meant for all) that we still, in this indirect manner, keep up a correspondence.
My latest intelligence from home reached me at the Falklands, & nearly 6 7 months ago, I then heard, with true regret, that you had hurt yourself; & I hope your health is long ere now restored. My kind aunt Elizabeth *2 always writes to me about your family & though late in the day, I must congratulate you on many events; none more happy than aunt Hannah's [Hannah Sarah Brightwen nee Turner's] marriage, & the accessions to aunt Ellen's [Eleanor Jane Jacobson nee Turner] family. The news you so regularly receive of Gurney's [Turner's] prospects cannot fail to be most gratifying to you, who, I am aware, rather dreaded his expatriation. I, for my part, always feel more inclined to look upon him as a contemporary than an uncle; his kindness to me was so hearty & affectionate; living so much with him as I did, it was impossible not to observe the many fine points in his character: he has a strong head & good heart to balance it, were it not for his restlessness, which, now & then, kicked the balance. One cannot wonder at Gurney's desire to go abroad in the public service: you little know the drudgery of attempting

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to practice ashore; nor the disagreeableness of being dependent on a father, however wealthy & generous that parent may be. For my part, I would rather continue a naval Surgeon, on the very moderate income thus yielded, than be a wealthy practitioner ashore. I do not, by any means, look back to my schoolboy days as the happiest of my life, being as you are aware, very properly kept under restraint; & I know no emotions more agreeable to a young man than the pride of being able to support himself & feeling loose, but safe, in the world. Those were quite Gurney's opinions; & though I could not recommend India to him, being acquainted with your views of the subject, yet I may truly say there was nothing in the position he held, which I could myself have liked. He has a thorough knowlege[sic] of his Profession; is a long, long way my Master in it; & I can imagine no drawback to his present situation, save its distance from home. It must also be remembered, that the very education, requisite for a Surgeon, is that which suits a Traveller, & which, above all, excites young men to go abroad. Gurney's prospects appear now, to me most promising. His promotion cannot come till it is his turn to be made, & the removal now from Barrack Duty & Barrack Mess especially, is the finest thing for him. I know full well what those Messes are & many happy hours may be so spent, where the Regiment is a good one; but the luxuries are so enticing, that I am always apt to make too free with them myself. Officers must be hospitable & kind; but the Mess is [1 word crossed out, illeg.] not what the most sensible portion of the Military really enjoy; & I am sure Gurney must greatly

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prefer the select society of the Commander in Chief's table, to the conversation of young Cadets &c.
Dawson has written me two long & very kind letters since my leaving England, for which I have only thanked him once. Surely some better employment will turn up for him ere long; not that any fault is to be found with his present work, except that his industry & education deserve a more independent situation, where his head work might be applied more pleasantly in the manner of lecturing (for instance) than teaching.
I am was very sorry to hear of uncle Palgrave's being rejected as a Candidate for the Town Clerkship of London; -- but rejected indeed, I should not say he was, for I understand that it was given to another person, because Uncle came forward too late. My ignorance of all Law Courts is so great that I hardly know to what his present Office is; since he has recently given up the Chapter House. In my Red Book for 1839, I only find his name as "Keeper of Records for accompts of Abbey lands"; but in one for 1843, which I purchased yesterday at Cape Town, he is designated Deputy Keeper of the Rolls; -- perhaps a better situation? This seems an odd way of getting news of my friends & relations; but my latest letter is 8 1/2 months old. My father is not mentioned in the Red book at all, either as Gardener or anything else; so he may be kicked out, for aught I know. Kew has no gardener set down; but I thought Mr Smith was at the head of the tilling & sowing Department & my father Director: & yet he is not named, either as Ranger or Keeper or Officer in under the Comm[issione]r of Woods & Forests, or Queen's Botanist, or any thing else. Now, I

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would not care what they called him, if I might thus only find out he was alive; for which purpose I bought the book.
My own situation on board this ship is very comfortable. I am seldom interfered with, & Capt[ain] Ross treats me with a great deal of consideration. I like the sea very well, but harbour better, & the South not at all. No consideration could tempt me to spend 3 more summers in the Ice; not that I fear the danger; but the monotony, perpetual state of discomfort, & bad climate are most tiresome. The only time of peace is when we are in the Pack Ice; for it is always blowing, or else thick, when [1 word crossed out, illeg.] out or inside of it. If we could have landed, to pick up the productions of Natural History, or see anything to amuse us, so which was the case with Northern Voyagers, the matter would be quite different; but all our Arctic Cruizers[sic] say they would rather spend one 3 Northern seasons than a single Southern one. As it is, we are happily now well out of it & preparing to make a slow homeward passage. Except to see my friends, I am in no great hurry for the termination of the Voyage, since we go South no more. When I do get home, I must stick hard to Botany, for I am extremely ignorant of the most important, nay fundamental parts of the Science. If I could afford it, I should certainly travel again, especially if any Land Expedition were to offer me a good responsible situation, such as Dr Richardson held: or were Capt[ain] Ross to attempt a N. Polar Voyage, for 8 months, like Parry's last, & he willing to take me with him as Naturalist, I would surely go; but I could not afford to spend 3 years on any such Climate, for there is not novelty enough: nor should I be able to quit home

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again for such a length of time. My father will, I hope, find me useful & at least willing to learn. As to Medicine, he knows I never did like it; & if I cannot be so serviceable to him, as to cover my food & clothing, in his house, I will stick by the Navy. My present desire is to leave the Sea, as soon as the Ships are paid off. I am strongly recommended to pass for a Navy Surgeon, by which I might, perhaps, put a little money in my pocket, for so long as the Admiralty would chuse[sic] to let me remain on half pay. To do this, I must study for 3 or 4 months & at a school. I have lost all knowlege[sic] of my profession & should have to pass the College of Surgeons again, before being eligible for the 2d Examination of the Navy Boards, & their examinations are not light: already I have been subjected to 3 of them & I feel no inclination, after this 4 years of banishment, to sit down & slave at Anatomy, instead of enjoying myself at home & working upon my plants. I cannot be made (full Surgeon), by any means, except an order in Council, until I have worked 4 months & passed. And where is the éclat of being a a young [1 word crossed out, illeg.] Surgeon, at such a late period after the paying off of the Ship? By throwing up the Service, I shall forfeit the half pay of 3/ a day, as Assist[ant]. Surgeon; but then, if the Navy Board has a guess that I do not intend to serve again, they will soon appoint me to a Ship. Again, I joined this Expedition, & became an Assist[ant]. Surgeon at great expence[sic], & held a situation of no consideration, either in or out of the Service, solely to follow natural History & be useful to the Expedition, & with no hope or expectation of any reward from the Admiralty. My most honorable[sic] course will therefore be to quit the Navy, with the Discovery Ships; so that Scientific men shall not have it to say that I benefitted

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by holding the Assist[ant]. Surgeon's appointment, nor the Admiralty allege that a healthy active man skulks along on half pay, ready to leave, as soon as he is called to a Ship. This is the course I sh[oul]d prefer to follow, always considering, as my father does, that I made a sacrifice, though unfortunately a necessary one, in taking my present office. That it is a sacrifice for a scientific man & especially a Collector, to become as Assis[tant] Surgeon, I can too easily prove, spite of all that Capt[ain]. R[oss]. said before sailing. I have no fault to find with my appointment, except its interference with leave (for the duty is nothing); but that time would comprehend the whole. In my Mess all goes on most smoothly & throughout the Ship too: I am excellent friends with all my brother Officers, both of this vessel & our Consort.
I must however be tiring you with this long detail, spite of your deep interest in my welfare. In time, we shall meet & you will let me yarn[?] & growl over the hardships of the Service, which, happily, however has not yet so soured me as to make me quarrel with any one on board. I have spent many happy days in this Ship, even to the Southward, & seen many friends, with whom I had no previous personal knowlege[sic]. It is the case with all Travellers, that they are the objects of great kindness & disinterested attention -- so it has been with us, from persons who never saw or heard of us before, & probably never may do either again, & yet have put themselves to great inconvenience, when it was necessary to do a service to the Travellers Voyagers. To meet such individuals has been delightful indeed.
You have formed far too high an opinion, my dear grandfather, of my success as connected with this Expedition & I fear that on

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my return, you will be disappointed. I cannot think either the Voyage, my situation, or much less what I have done, is at all likely to ensure me anything beyond a fair name for having performed my duty.
Again, allow me to thank you for your most kind letter & the interest you take in me, which has allured me, perhaps, into being too diffuse on the subject of my own affairs. With best love to all my relations at Yarmouth & Irstead, not forgetting Mr & Mrs Brightwen, believe me ever,
Your affectionate Grandson | Jos. D. Hooker


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.
2. Elizabeth Palgrave nee Turner (1799--1852). Joseph Dalton Hooker's maternal aunt, daughter of Dawson Turner.

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