Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', James Town, St Helena
JDH/1/2 f.214-215
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
Contemporary MS copy
6 page letter over 2 folios

JDH writes to his sister Maria Hooker, thanking her for a backlog of letters he received when at Simon's Bay [Simon's Town, South Africa]. Mentions Maria's visit to Dr Richardson at Haslar & his letters to Mrs Richardson going astray. At Cape Town JDH saw Baron Ludwig, who gave JDH a box with disappearing lid for Maria. Ludwig will send Elizabeth, JDH's other sister, some 'embroidery work of the Hottentots' [Khoikhoi]. JDH got no shells [for Maria] at Simon's Bay, he was promised a harp shell but sailed before receiving it, the species is the same as sent to their father, William Jackson Hooker, by Mr Telfair from Mauritius. Mrs Helps or the Wyldes may give JDH some shells at St Helena. Mr Helps is a chaplain whose daughter drowned on the 'Reliance'. JDH encourages Maria in her pursuit of singing & drawing & wishes his own drawing skills were better. Mentions the ATHENAEUM'S good review of their Uncle Francis Palgrave's HANDBOOK FOR TRAVELLERS IN NORTHERN ITALY. JDH prefers the ATHENAEUM to the LITERARY GAZETTE though the latter takes more notice of the Ross Antarctic Expedition. Has read about Joan of Arc, Tribune Rienzi, the Duke of Sutherland & agricultural chemistry in the QUARTERLY REVIEW & about British, French, American relations & the slave trade in the EDINBURGH REVIEW. He was also interested in an account of glaciers, having lived so long amongst the ice, but was less impressed by the views on education & a review of Moore's works. JDH now has only one 'messmate', there are advantages & disadvantages to the reduced number. There are few animals left on board, only sheep & goats. JDH had a kitten & two rabbits from the Falkland islands as pets, the kitten & one rabbit have died but he is bringing the remaining rabbit home for Elizabeth. JDH will soon be home to tell his family & friends about his travels, but fears he has got very little from the 'howling wilderness' of 'the South' except cold fingers & does not think another expedition will ever go there.


You must give my best love to grandpapa & my particular regards to all our friends who are interested in the fate of this Expedition. Before long I shall be at home, to give you viva voce an account of how little I have seen & done, during 4 years. that South is such a howling wilderness, nothing is to be got, but cold fingers. I can hardly conceive another Expedition being sent out there.
Do not forget my regards to the Christy & Booth family & others who know & remember me. Your most aff[ectiona]te Brother | Joseph D. Hooker

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(Copy) *1 James Town St Helena
H.M.S. Erebus. May 13. 1843. (received July 6th)

To Miss Hooker
My dear Maria,
When I was in Simon's Bay*2, the other day, my time was so much occupied, that, much as I desired it, I could not secure what would serve me to thank you for the many kind letters in your handwriting that I had received. Several of these were old, but nevertheless very good, & the "Samarang" brought others of quite recent date. Had I begun properly, by addressing first those friends who most deserved to hear from me, then you would have come in very soon; but, as it was, I wrote to many persons, who, before I quitted England, had expressed a kind desire to hear from me, but to whom I had not written. I also sent letters to my cousins & aunts, (the one to aunt Ellen is yet unfinished). These were old scores, which I much desired to wipe off & I did so, but at the expence[sic] of sacrificing my mother, Elizabeth & yourself.
I often think of the visit you paid to Dr Richardson's house at Haslar & am glad you enjoyed it so well. How it has come to pass that my letters to Mrs Richardson are gone astray, is quite a mystery to me, for others sent at the same time, have been received. I feel sure she is offended, because you say nothing about it, & she is so very good & kind a friend to me, that I do not like the thought of it at all:-- not that my epistles were worth anything, except to assure her of my grateful recollection. If possible, I shall write to her again from hence.
At Cape Town I saw no one who knew anything of our family, but old Baron Ludwig, who was very glad to see me & made many

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many enquiries about you all. He has given to me for you (& another for my mother) a beautiful box, made by the Natives, whose lids in opening, go nowhere, vanishing altogether in a very mysterious manner: they are quite pretty, beautifully polished & finished, & have excited great marvel on board here. He rummaged everywhere to find something for Elizabeth too, but could not; he, however, bade me tell her that he would try & procure some of the embroidery work of the Hottentots, to send home to her, on a future opportunity. I think this was omitted to be mentioned in my letter to her.
I could not procure any shells at the Cape of Good Hope, though I tried hard to beg some out of a Brig, lately arrived from the Eastern coast of Africa & had the promise of receiving some specimens of Harp shells, which were to have come on board the very day we sailed. As the species, however, is identical with that which my father received from Mr Telfair of the Mauritius, the loss is not great. At St Helena I can hardly expect any, though if I see Mrs Helps she may give me some. Mr Helps is the Chaplain, & a very kind friend of mine; but I am sorry to hear that his daughter was drowned, when going home in the "Reliance", to finish her education, & that her body is the only one not yet found. This was told me at Simon's Bay: here, as we have not yet anchored I have had no information. I mean to leave a card for Mr Helps, for I wish to give him a few things. Mr Wylde, Harvey's friend, is still here & Mrs W. has also a Cabinet of Shells. I do not like to ask for any; but, if offered, I shall not scruple to accept a few for you.
I feel truly obliged to you for learning to sing, for you do so very much on my account. You may be quite sure I shall like to hear

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you; for I enjoy music of all sorts & especially duetts[sic]. You possess a most excellent voice, & in time, ear & taste will follow, together with fondness for the pursuit. I long exceedingly to see some of your drawings, especially those in Watercolors[sic]. There will not be an artist in the house but yourself & you have an exceedingly good talent for drawing; if I possessed half so much I would cultivate it more than I do; but I have neither freedom of touch, imagination or an eye for coloring[sic]. Few & bad as are the sketches I have made, on board ship, I value them highly; & if you ever come to go abroad, you will feel it a great advantage to have learned to draw. I am sure aunt Elizabeth would will help you much, for hers is a most graceful pencil, & if I only were better versed in History, there is nothing would delight me more than going over her little Sketchbooks. I suppose you have read Uncle Palgrave's Handbook of Italy*3, which is very handsomely reviewed in the Athaeneum[sic] (generally a harsh critic), & copious extracts given,-- the surest sign that a work is approved. All my knowlege[sic] of what goes on in the world is picked up now from that inestimable Athaeneum & I am always sorry when I get to the end of a Number; after which I send it to Davis or Smith, the only persons who care to peruse it, for Sailors are not very literary characters. The Literary Gazette, which I do not like half so well, takes much more notice of our Expedition than the Athaeneum.
I have lately been reading a most interesting number of the Quarterly Review, which my father sent me. It contains an account of Joan of Arc, with many particulars, not in Hume (my only reference) -- also a paper on the Tribune Rienzin, another on the Duke of Sutherland's improvements, & a most curious article on Agricultural

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Chemistry, which would not probably interest you much, though it did me extremely. Also a Number of the Edinburgh Review, whiggish as ever, the first article of which is on the relations between France, America & England, very temperate & fair,-- accurate, too, I suppose, but have not means of knowing; the details about the Slave Trade are striking,-- a clever account of the Theory of Glaciers, written by some one who appears to have a consummate knowlege[sic] of the subject. I should much like who, for I have lived so long among the Ice that it possesses peculiar attractions for me -- then come a stupid yarn on Education, & a sorry review of Moore's Works. this last I had expected to find full of anecdote & interest, with references to those varied political subjects on which the poet had exercised his sarcastic pen, & allusions to the many distant travels in those countries where the scenes of his most beautiful Poems are laid. But there is nothing of the sort, only German Philosophy & a concluding dissertation on of the difference between Fancy & Imagination, which had better been omitted, since it is plain the Reviewer possessed neither & could not speak from experience. The perusal of these books & writing down in[?] quotes have afforded me employment since leaving the Cape.
You are aware, I believe, that our Mess is diminished to 2 members instead of the 5 there used to be. We get on vastly well together & have not quarrelled yet: when we do, we mean to get a bulkhead or screen put up & divide the berth in halves; whereby but as we shall still be enabled to fight about our respective shares of the Bull's eyes on deck, it may be better to stay friends, after all. The chief disadvantage of so small a mess is that we cannot keep such a good table without great expence[sic], nor invite more than one person

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to dine, without getting silver, which is always inconvenient & sometimes impossible. Still I prefer being Monarch of a whole half of our berth than of one fifth, (it is big enough for 8 or 10), & in the Tropics the coolness is an advantage.
We have but few dumb shipmates now; only sheep & goats; one of the latter has been [on] all our Voyages to the South, & belongs, of course, to Capt[ain]. Ross. It is a great rawboned ugly old beast & has several children only one of which survives. I had a very pretty little kitten on board the "Terror" destined for Elizabeth; but the poor thing was accidentally killed in the hold. Two Rabbits from the Falkl[an]d Islands are my only pets & I kept them during the whole cruize[sic] in my cabin. they were the most merry little creatures, always happy & quite tame, they never knew or cared where the Ship was, & used to divert me highly with their exquisite antics; but one of them was seized with fits & I was obliged to have it killed; the other is still alive & well, I keep her on deck now, the weather being warm & she comes when I call her to be fed. I hope to bring her alive to England for Liz. instead of the cat. The poor thing got into a bucket of sand the other day, in the vain idea that it was again among the sandhills of the Falklands where I caught it, & began digging & burrowing & would not give up the attempt to make a hole. I am afraid my mother will think it very bad of me not to have sent her a letter before now: I have nearly finished it & as I have truly much to do, & always mean to include all of you in the letters I address to anyone, I have delayed longer than I had intended. She writes to me so fully & at such length, that she does not merit an ungracious return.

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You must give my best love to grandpapa & my particular regards to all our friends who are interested in the fate of this Expedition. Before long I shall be at home, to give you viva voce an account of how little I have seen & done, during 4 years. that South is such a howling wilderness, nothing is to be got, but cold fingers. I can hardly conceive another Expedition being sent out there.
Do not forget my regards to the Christy & Booth family & others who know & remember me. Your most aff[ectiona]te Brother | Joseph 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. The settlement formerly known as Simon's Bay is now called Simon's Town, South Africa.
3. Palgrave, Francis, 'Handbook for Travellers in Northern Italy' (1st ed., 1842).

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