Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
HMS 'Erebus', Berkeley Sound, East Falkland, Falkland Islands
JDH/1/3 f.275-283
Hooker (nee Turner), Lady 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
9 letter over 5 folios

The HMS 'Erebus' has just returned from a 136 day cruise south on which they reached a more southerly latitude than the French or American expeditions. This is the first opportunity JDH has had to reply to his mother, Maria Hooker's, letter. He describes being confined to ship & how the vessels bear up in rough conditions in the Southern Ocean. JDH hopes his family is now settled in their new home at Kew 'Brick Farm House'. Comments that it has been so long since he saw a woman that they have become mythical creatures to him. Writes of his feelings at the illness of his sisters Elizabeth & Mary & the likelihood that Mary will die while he is at sea. The expedition will go south once again via St Martins cove near Cape Horn, following [James] Weddell's route, they hope to get further south than [Jules] D'Urville. The 'Erebus' will have to go to Rio de Janeiro for repairs. They will spend some months at the Falkland Islands & JDH will study the mosses, lichens & seaweed as recommended by [William Henry] Harvey. Discusses the prospect of becoming a member of the Athenaeum Club & Linnean Society. Despite the cold conditions JDH reports his health has been perfect. He was sometimes hungry during the voyage south as food supplies had to be carefully managed to make them last their time in the ice. Some bad tinned food was sold to them, they had livestock on board to slaughter for fresh meat & overall provisions were better than on their previous trip southward. They named one of the pigs Miss Franklin, which they considered an honour & compliment to the lady. JDH owes letters to various family members & scientific correspondents, whom he lists. Discusses some 'jewels' sent to for him through [Ronald] Gunn. Mentions Archibald Smith & 'little Minah' of the Smith family, his Scottish friends. JDH would rather send home his surplus pay than waste it in expensive ports. They have few newspapers but JDH has seen his father listed as on the council of the Royal Society.


which argues his being alive at least. This will go in our Mail bag, for I do not like troubling Capt. Beaufort *29 too much[,] our movements are again so uncertain that you had better send the letters for me to him. We are making a new boltsprit here. Give my best love to my Grandfather & all whom I need not mention | & Believe me ever | Your most affectionate Son | Jos. D. Hooker

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Copy *1 H.M.S. "Erebus" Berkeley Sound Falkland Islands April 5, 1842
My dear Mother,
You, I know, forgive me for having long neglected you amongst my relations at home, if so be that you have yet all assembled again; but as often as the long weeks rolled on & on, without the possibility of my redeeming my character, I grew more & more impatient & every succeeding month, & upbraided my conscience for not having forced me to thank you in kind for the long letter you wrote to me. I only hope that you were not alarmed at not hearing from me during the projected stay at the Chatham Islands; the more especially as no other opportunity could turn up by which I could relieve your minds, before our departure on the long cruize[sic], from which we have but just returned; we have this day cast anchor for the first time for 136 days, & thus my first offering is to write you a letter[.] It is indeed a curious life to lead, to be boxed up with only three messmates for such a length of time, without any object to occupy the mind but what our own minds can afford, no walks to take, but a few steps on deck when the weather permits, no news, & no comforts of any description; the only wonder is that we do not quarrel, which would always, be a change; but somehow, although we cannot but know a great deal too much of one another, we get on most amicably together; nor, for my part, could I ever say

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in the morning that I wished for the night, for want of some imployment[sic]. You will be glad to hear that we have again beaten the French & Yankees by many degrees of latitude, & ourselves by a few miles, a great thing, though it be by a very few weeks; we have had, however, no ordinary struggle with the stubborn ice & the unruly elements to accomplish this; for we have had a most stormy season, & surely these high latitudes are the temples of Eolus[sic]. Nothing, however, could be more snug than our ships in bad weather, & from their build it is almost impossible for the winds & seas to hurt us, though they wash our decks, split our sails, & carry our boats away, & for the time; from the rolling motion of the clumsy craft, they make us very uncomfortable. As, however, I intend to give my father *2 a detailed account of the voyage, I need not trouble you with it here. So long a time has now elapsed since the date of your last letters, that I trust the worst of all turns--out, as it is natural to expect, is over, & now I cannot but look upon you as all comfortably & quietly settled in "Brick farm house", as our new mansion is dubbed, & I only wish I were there to keep you all alive, although in truth, my banishment from civilization & especially from ladies society, is now of so long a period that I fear me I should blush & feel awkward at the sight of a petticoat; nor am I sure that I could recognize one, seeing that they are talked of in the abstract so to speak among us so as things believed to exist, like Mermaids or unicorns, & of which we have but a faint recollection, chiefly associated with the Island of Great Britain & the scenes of our childhood. From Your kind letters have indeed been a source of great grat--

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ification to me; although the accounts of my dear little Mary *3 are so sad & of Elizabeth *4 so doubtful; still, for the latter I do not fear & the happy state the former is in much lightens the pain of separation; to have to part with her is, however, a great grief & though the ultimate pain of hearing of our her removal will be to me a sad shock, the light of hope has been so slowly extinguishedly by the tardy letters, that I am quite prepared to rejoice for her sake, & to smother my own feelings on the belief, that, when I shall know of it, your grief will be in a measure past, with you she is one year sick, but to me two before the worst arrives; & when the news does come it unfortunately unhinges one & is a sad obstacle to doing my duty properly; these regrets must not, however, prevent my working; though I cannot but vainly wish that the affection would come to me when far from any land, & not when the prospect of a little enjoyment & of making myself useful ashore, after so many tedious months at sea, is to be so sadly marred by it. These regrets, as I said before, are useless & as God pleases to send His visitations, so shall I always take them, truly thankful that they are no worse & without grateful remembrance of his past wonderful mercies to those that remain, & to myself in particular. Now that I expect an answer to this letter before we go South again (for the last time) I feel myself quite at home, & all the more so, as I feel sure that you will answer this letter, if it be only by a single line, immediately on its receipt, & dispatch it at once for the Falklands. What our next movements will be, I do not know. [W]e expect to have to go to Rio de Janeiro for a new boltsprit, & to repair a few

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trivial damages, which cannot so well be done here; after that to return here to the "Terror"; then to go to St. Martins cove close to Cape Horn, from which we shall go to the Southward in Weddel[l]'s *5 track, push through the pack, & get as far South as we can; at any rate we hope to beat M D'Urville *6, who has twice essayed the pack where poor Weddel[l] passed through, & now has the impudence to say that that intrepid navigator "pretends to have gone to 74". If we only do get south there, only a few degrees beyond M. D'Urville, we shall come home with flying colors, & none so glad as I shall be,. [A]t any rate the cruize[sic] will be a short one, for we are close to the Ice here, & we have not the weary long voyage in such stormy latitudes as we had first to V[an] D[ieman's] L[and], & then here; for we shall go to the Cape of Good Hope & thence home. If we do not go to Rio, we shall remain here for three months or more, probably 6 or else return here after going to the Horn, to pick up answers to our letters. However that may be is immaterial to me, for I shall have lots to do here in the Mosses, lichens, & Seaweeds, to which latter Mr. Harvey *7 recommends me most earnestly.
It is quite annoying to receive your & the other letters from home all together, in such heaps, as they come, & yet it cannot be helped; during our last 3 months stay at Hobartown, I received hardly a letter, but your kind one through Mr. Power *8; which whilst at New Zealand, England's Antipodes, a most unfrequented place, they actually showered in, though dispatched from home at different dates; it looks as if the several letters kept up a private correspondence together, &

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were afraid to come by themselves to my hands; they are on that account none the less welcome. My Father, I much fear, puts off other things to write me such long Epistles as he does, dated from the Athenaeum club *9, of which he proposes making me a member,. I need not say that I hope my name is already down, for it is so first rate an establishment that it will be long before my claims talis qualis can ever come under consideration; & if I live near London, as I hope to do, with my father already a member I must be one too; perhaps too on our return they may consider my having belonged to this expedition a claim in their committee; you have always more to do with money matters than my father; & so, if you do not know any better purpose to put the enclosed to, I beg of you to reserve from out of it the admission fees for the club; next to being a member of the Linnaean *10, I do count upon belonging to a club of scientific men.
You will ask about my health, which is perfect in every respect,. except being rather stouter in build & limbs, more like what poor Willie *11 was, you would not know me from what I was when we last met to part,. Since leaving V[an] D[ieman's] L[and], I have not even had a headache, not a cold or cough of the most trifling description. Jack Frost & I get on uncommonly well together; only I am at times troubled with hunger, though our stock, which we took to sea had lasted us uncommonly well, by dint of much management,. We managed to lay in an immense stock, quietly smuggling them on

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board at Sydney, & stowing them away in obscure corners,. [W]e have lost much, however, from the infamous manner in which the grocer supplied us with Tea, hams, Maccaroni, cheeses, &c which are our great stand--byes at tea & were packed in tin; they, however, had to be thrown overboard; to examine such things before leaving port is impossible; for to open the air--tight boxes is to expose them to ruin before they are wanted; so we have to take the word of some resident who believes such a dealer to be an honest man & after we get out of his way he turns out to be a rogue. We were allowed, however, to take 4 sheep & 6 pigs to sea, which fared very ill in the bad weather we always get to the Southward; the decks being constantly wet with the seas washing over them, so we killed them on entering the ice, & hung them up in the rigging, & this very day we ate our last piece of fresh pork killed 4 months ago,. [I]t was a New Zealand pig, a very clever one, a pig of parts, & so was christened Miss Franklin; you may laugh at this, but, if you did but know the value of a pig in the Antarctic circle, you would then appreciate the honor done the young lady; it is, like a very high mountain or very large lake, only to be called after some great man. During our former cruize[sic] we took to the South nothing but corned beef, hams & Potatoes; the first was dreadfully tough, the second too rancid to eat, & the last all decayed; so we were thrown upon ships provisions, & used to get very hungry so much so that we cast longing eyes upon one another, & I had anxious serious thought of applying to Capt. Ross *12 for a Marine

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with a drawn bayonet to mount guard over me; for of an angry man I am not afraid, but a hungry one is a different thing, & much more dangerous.
The news of your own friends, my dear Mother, seems to be of a very checquered complexion; for Aunt Vavasour *13 I am exceedingly sorry, as poor Willie's Godmother, if for no other reason, I felt as much attached to her as if she had been a nearer relation; & I still often look back with great pleasure to the short visit she once paid us, & with greater to the shorter return one I made when at Manchester. I owe a great many letters, particularly to your dear Mother *14 2 letters, to my own Aunt Palgrave *15, & Dawson *16, & I hope to return redeem some of them. I have, however, a great many letters to write to persons who will not so easily forgive my neglect, to Mrs. Boott*17, Mr. Lyuell *18, Mr. Dalton *19, Arnott *20, Brown *21, & Bentham *22 especially, also to Colenso *23, McLeay *24, Gunn *25, & Dayman *26, to Wilmot *27 at the Cape & some others, far more than I shall accomplish for some time; for I do not like sending short letters, though my affectionate aunt, Elizabeth, always keeps up with me a small--paper correspondence not on my part (nor I am sure on hers) because we grudge larger sheets, but because I do not fear sitting down to a small sheet, knowing I can fill it, however unworthily, & as it does not demand more than its equal in return, the correspondence is sure to last. I do not know who I have to thank for what Mr. Gunn took to be some Jewels sent to V[an] D[ieman's] L[and] for me, which that gentleman retained to return to you, not being able to forward them for post to New Zealand[.] from whoever they came, let them accept

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my best thanks. I fear they may have been some tokens of poor Willie, & if so, I regret the more not receiving them, though I never wear any jewels at all. I have long intended to write to Archy Smith *28, but always have been prevented. I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear of the death of my poor friends & quondam playmates; half my associations of childhood & pleasure are connected with that family [the Smiths of Jordanhill]. If the little Minah has not yet had a silver mug, will you get a very good one for her, as a gift from me, with the names on & the date of her christening. I beg of you to do this as a favor to me, & let it be a good size & substantial one; or, if she has that, a good silver knife or fork for dessert in a case, or anything you think best; so let it be useful, & good for her when she may be older grown as well as now. The money I enclose is of no use to me or it should not be sent; & I should take it very kind of you to use it as you think best. Your family expenses must now be enormous, & I am sure my father ought to see the propriety of my sending home my surplus pay, instead of squandering it at the first oversized civilized Port we arrive at. Coming off such long voyages & having such expensive places to winter in causes us a great deal of waste, nor can one well help running riot a little on first stepping ashore, & as I cannot keep money, I have no alternative but to send it home. April 26th No opportunity has yet occurred of sending this home, but H.M.S. "Arrow" arrived yesterday, & the Captain dispatches here on the end of the week to Rio, to take our dispatches & to bring the return ones down. We have seen very few papers here & know very little of what is going on at home. But I see my Father's name in a November paper as on the council of the Royal Society;

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which argues his being alive at least. This will go in our Mail bag, for I do not like troubling Capt. Beaufort *29 too much[,] our movements are again so uncertain that you had better send the letters for me to him. We are making a new boltsprit here. Give my best love to my Grandfather & all whom I need not mention | & Believe me ever | Your most affectionate Son | Jos. D. Hooker


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. Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785--1865). Appointed the first director of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in 1841, father of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
3. Mary Hooker (1825--1841). Sister of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
4. Elizabeth Evans--Lombe née Hooker (1820--1898). Joseph Hooker's sister.
5. James Weddell (1787--1834). British sailor, navigator and seal hunter.
6. Jules Sébastien César Dumont d'Urville (1790--1842). French explorer, naval officer, botanist and cartographer.
7. William Henry Harvey (1811--1866). Irish botanist.
8. Sir William James Murray Tyrone Power, KCB (1819--1911). British Army General and Governor General of New Zealand.
9. The Athenaeum Club, a private members club in London, founded in 1824.
10. The Linnaean Society of London, a society for the study and dissemination of taxonomy and natural history; founded in 1788.
11. William Dawson Hooker, 1816--1840, older brother of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
12. Sir James Clark Ross, 1800--1862, British naval officer and explorer, commander of the Antarctic Expedition, 1838--1843.
13. Anne, Lady Vavasour (unknown--1845). Married to Sir Henry Maghull Mervin Vavasour, 2nd Baronet (1768--1838).
14. Mary Turner nee Palgrave (1774--1850). Mother of Maria Hooker and Elizabeth Palgrave, grandmother of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
15. Elizabeth Palgrave nee Turner (1799--1852). Sister of Maria Hooker, aunt of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
16. Dawson William Turner (1815--unknown). Brother of Maria Hooker and Elizabeth Palgrave, uncle of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
17. Mary Hardcastle Boott, wife of Francis Boott, American physician and botanist residing in Great Britain.
18. Sir Charles Lyell (1797-- 1875).British lawyer and the foremost geologist of his day. He is best known as the author of Principles of Geology.
19. Reverend James Dalton (1764--1843). Rector of Croft, English botanist. Patron to William Jackson Hooker and godfather to Joseph Dalton Hooker.
20. George Arnott Walker--Arnott, 1799--1868, Scottish botanist.
21. Robert Brown 1(773--1858). Scottish botanist and palaeobotanist, discoverer of Brownian motion.
22. George Bentham (1800--1884). English botanist.
23. William Colenso (1811--1899). Cornish Christian missionary to New Zealand, printer, botanist, explorer and politician.
24. Alexander McLeay (1767--1848). Colonial Secretary for New South Wales.
25. Ronald Campbell Gunn (1808--1881). South African born Australian botanist and politician.
26. Mate Joseph Dayman, H.M.S. 'Erebus', appointed as an assistant at the magnetic observatory in Hobart, Tasmania.
27. Frederick Marow Eardley--Wilmot (1812--1877). Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, set up a magnetic observatory at the Cape of Good Hope.
28. Archibald Smith (1813--1872). Lawyer and mathematician.
29. Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort ( 1774--1857). Irish hydrographer, officer in the British Royal Navy, creator of the Beaufort Scale for indicating wind force.

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