Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
JHC429
Castellammare di Stabia, Napoli, Italy
JDH/2/16 f.73
Thiselton-Dyer, Sir William Turner
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
23-3-1881
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Letters to Thiselton-Dyer
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
English
Original MS
8 page letter over 2 folios
 

JDH writes to Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer from Castellammare, where he & Lady Hooker have just arrived after spending some time in Rome & Naples. At Naples he visited [Anton] Dohrn's aquarium. He describes some animals of particular interest he saw there: Crinoids, Sepia [cuttlefish], Octopus & Loligo [squid]. He also mentions seeing fish, Ascidia, Corals, Madrepores, Melobesias, Diptera, Beroe, Crustacea, Meduseus & Ulva. In the Naples museum JDH admired the statuary especially a head of Homer & a Venus after Milo. He found the collection of paintings inferior to those at the Vatican & preferred the murals & artefacts from Pompeii, especially: a pane of glass, a surgeon's instrument, a glass plate & a blue glass flagon. JDH has visited Pompeii & tried to understand exactly how it was preserved by the volcanic eruption, he is puzzled why there are not more charcoal remains of the wooden upper stories of buildings & speculates that the town was only partially buried & the exposed material later carried away. Castellammare is where Pliny the elder died during the eruption. JDH is keen to see Herculaneum & understand how its artefacts were not all destroyed by the lava. He also wanted to see Professor Luigi Palmieri at the observatory on Vesuvius but Palmieri is in Rome. JDH intends to ascend Vesuvius the next day. JDH visited the Naples botanical garden but did not see Vincenzo de Cesati or Giuseppe Antonio Pasquale. JDH calls the garden 'wretched' but he did learn something there about Mediterranean Pini. JDH will next go to Amalfi, Salerno & Paestum but not to Capri or Monte St Angelo because of the poor weather. Odoardo Beccari was in Rome appealing against the removal of a herbarium in Florence. JDH comments on the news of Mrs Meade's death & on the poor botanical knowledge of Sir John Lubbock. JDH has asked [John] Smith to give Dyer a list of all RBG Kew garden staff. JDH comments briefly on vegetation in the area, including sour oranges.

Transcript

positions they take up. -- flattening themselves against the rocks by their arms with the bag-like body pendulous & quivering all over with the respiratory movements, changing color[sic] & waggling about: the two great eyes protruding from one side in front from near the lip of the bag. Sepia too astonished me, flattening itself out, half-buried in the gravel of the bottom, so as to be almost imperceptible undistinguishable, & when disturbed resuming its recognizable shape in the twinkling of an eye, & darting across the tank & sending out a cloud of coloring[sic] matter. -- Loligo swims like a skate with an undulatory movement of its lateral fins, & goes backwards or forwards indifferently. -- Fish, Ascidia, Corals, Madrepores, Melobesias, Diptera, Beroe, Crustacea & Meduseus[?] immeasurable swarmed in the tanks. Of plants except Melobesia, Ulva & one or two of the Olive series I saw few -- & no red ones[?].
Turning to art, the statuary in the Museum is marvellous, -- A head of Homer I thought the finest thing I ever saw in

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Royal Gardens Kew
Castellamare
March 23d/[18]81
My dear Dyer*1
I received your letter last night -- it said nothing of your health, so I hope that you & Harriet & the children are "all right". We came on here after a day at Rome, & one at Naples, of which places we have seen but little as yet -- though we have made two visits to the latter from here, seeing the Museum on both occasions & Dohrn's Aquarium on the last. Dohrn himself we also saw, & he was very polite showing us round & asking us to come again; his Aquarium is really magnificent. -- I never saw one so well kept nor (of course) so rich[?]. The Crinoids were in grand condition, with stems a yard high -- Octopus were in perfection -- a yard across the arms or more -- their ordinary habits are most curious quite unlike any case I had formed of the

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positions they take up. -- flattening themselves against the rocks by their arms with the bag-like body pendulous & quivering all over with the respiratory movements, changing color[sic] & waggling about: the two great eyes protruding from one side in front from near the lip of the bag. Sepia too astonished me, flattening itself out, half-buried in the gravel of the bottom, so as to be almost imperceptible undistinguishable, & when disturbed resuming its recognizable shape in the twinkling of an eye, & darting across the tank & sending out a cloud of coloring[sic] matter. -- Loligo swims like a skate with an undulatory movement of its lateral fins, & goes backwards or forwards indifferently. -- Fish, Ascidia, Corals, Madrepores, Melobesias, Diptera, Beroe, Crustacea & Meduseus[?] immeasurable swarmed in the tanks. Of plants except Melobesia, Ulva & one or two of the Olive series I saw few -- & no red ones[?].
Turning to art, the statuary in the Museum is marvellous, -- A head of Homer I thought the finest thing I ever saw in

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sculpture -- Of Venus' there are no end, but only one of them seemed to me to excell[sic], it is after the manner of she of Milo.
The Pictures are too mixed a lot to interest, or rather I should say to please, for there are many of [1 word crossed out, illeg.] great excellence & some as curious in a historical point of view. -- still one or two of them in the Vatican (of which more when I shall have seen more) are worth all all at Naples put together.
More valuable by far are the mural decorations removed bodily & successfully from the walls of Pompeii. & the collection of domestic utensils from the latter city beat any thing else in completeness, perfect presentation & comprehensiveness. You might really furnish several Pompeian gentlemen[']s houses from cellar & kitchen to the attics besides shops, warehouses & professional men[']s abodes studies in laboratories with the relics & render it them quasi--habitable. It is impossible to give you an [1 word crossed out, illeg.] idea of the number & variety of these articles, or the marvellous artistic beauty of many

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of them. Many are recent discoveries, as panes of glass from the windows of one of the wealthiest houses. & a capital dilatator with the three movements from that of a Surgeon! The glass objects recently dug out are wonderful, some of them quite equal to any thing that Salviati*1a turns out. I mean in point of the skilful manufacture. One glass plate is it looks as if formed of a sheet of transparent[?] Madrepore, the stars all coll coalescing of a lovely sepia color[sic] & with a gold & cobalt centres to each star. It is tremendously smashed, but the workmanship was perfect from centre to circumference -- then there is a most lovely flaggon of blue glass covered with cameod[sic] cupids & vine leaves, of the same make as the Portland Vase but infinitely more elegant in shape & rich in its ornamentation.
Pompeii we have twice visited; it is exactly what you read about, but I got extraordinarily interested in the manner of its interment, which I do not quite

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understand. After examining the surroundings I cannot take in the theory of its being covered up by the same eruption that practically destroyed it & drove out the inhabitants; nor in that of the "red-hot" lapilli[?]. & destruction of the woodwork by the fire thus communicated. The town was a very large one, & stood on a long eminence -- its' houses were all 2-- & [1 word crossed out, illeg.] some 3-storied buildings. these upper stories being of wood. Scarce a fragment of these upper stories remain: -- if they were burnt, as supposed, they must have left quantities of charcoal amongst the debris below. & in the holes where the joists went, but I could find none; nor any in the sections of the cliffs where the excavations are being continued on a level with that of the upper stories. & yet these cliffs are full of broken roof tiles & bricks & the cliffs are formed of lapilli[?] of pumice, in layers of greater or less fineness.
The appearance to me is that the great eruption filled the town half or three quarters full of stifling lapilli[?] & ashes

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leaving the upper stories exposed, & that the wood & transportable materials of them were removed subsequently by the [1 word crossed out, illeg.] late inhabitants & other people, & that the final covering up of the town was gradually or rapidly effected during the many subsequent eruptions of the mountain. Castellamare where we are, is *2the old Stabiae where the elder Pliny died, suffocated by the vapors[sic] as the story goes, but of apoplexy & old age or illness according to an analysis of the statements respecting his death which I have read in a pamphlet by Bigelow & which I will turn up when I return to Kew.
We have not yet seen Herculaneum, which presents another problem to my mind. It, (as you know), is bona fide buried under a thick stream of lava, -- & I want to know how its statues & articles bronze silver copper glass &c escaped being utterly destroyed by melting or roasting.
[1 word crossed out, illeg.] I wrote to Prof. [Luigi] Palmieri of the Met[eorological]. Obs[ervatory] on Vesuvius, but hear he is gone to Rome, I am most anxious to see his instruments -- If the weather holds good we shall ascend V[esuvius]. tomorrow but the Equinoctials have set in, with a furious cold N.E. wind. & I am writing with very cold fingers.
We called at the Bot[anica]l Gardens for [Vincenzo de] Cesati but did not see him or [Giuseppe Antonio] Pasquale but shall again at Naples

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The Garden is a wretched affair, but I have improved my knowledge of Mediterranean Pini a little already.
We go on Friday to Amalfi Salerno & Paestum & so to Naples on Saturday. It is too windy for Capri & the "White Grotto" & too cold for Monte St Angelo which I was very anxious to ascend (5000 ft), just above this.
[Odoardo] Beccari turned up at Rome, where he had gone to see the Florentine M.P. & argue his case, which he has done in so far successfully in that the Minister has stayed his hand & has requested [1 word crossed out, illeg.] Beccari to draw up a report on the subject. -- All the Florentine Botanists except [Teodoro] Caruel have signed a protest against the removal of the Herbarium.
We saw the death of Mrs [Caroline Georgiana] Meade in the Times & it made us miserable for many a week; -- he [Robert Henry Meade] lost his first wife in the same way some 15 years ago leaving an only daughter; his 2d wife seemed in every way a most excellent choice both for his sake & for his young daughter's. he had purchased & furnished his home in Grosvenor[?] street & refurnished Englemere for her & they seemed a most devoted couple. I wrote at once to Mr Herbert asking him to

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convey our sympathy as soon as it is thought fit, & Lady H[ooker] is writing to Mr Branstone[?]. I fear that this 2d blow will crush the poor fellow.
I am not surprized at what you tell me of [Sir John] Lubbock, -- I had the same trouble with his book on fertilization: he seems quite indifferent to any real knowledge of Botany even elementary -- I could not however have conceived his now making Errors so gross as those you point out as samples: -- it is really too bad of him. -- he certainly would have been plucked at the old Matric[ulatio]n Ex[a]m of L[ondon]. U[niversity].!
Did I tell you before I left that I charged [John] Smith to give you a list of all the Garden employees. I told him we should want ages (approximate if not acertainble[sic]) & dates of entries &c. & that if he would give a rough list at first you (or I) would arrange it with headings & spaces for blanks to be filled up by him or [George] Nicholson & have it hung up in the Office & corrected periodically.
With united best love to Harriet & the children
Ever aff[ectionatel]y y[our]s | J. D. Hooker[signature]
Kindest regards to Bentham, Oliver, Baker & Smith if [2 words crossed out, illeg.] any of them care to see this page page let them do so.
Address c/o Magnai, Hooker, & Co
Rome.
*3The weather is just the same, the landscape fuliginous -- without a trace of green on the trees -- a dull smoky grey, no better than Vesuvius itself to look at. Oranges abundant but horribly [1 word crossed out, illeg.] sour. I began with cold fingers & now my toes sympathize -- & yet it is 11 AM

ENDNOTES


1. Sir William Turner Thiselton--Dyer (1843--1928). British botanist and third Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1885--1905). He succeeded Joseph Hooker in the role after serving as his Assistant Director for ten years. He previously held professorships at the Royal Agricultural College Cirencester, Royal College of Science for Ireland and Royal Horticultural Society. He married Hooker's eldest daughter Harriet in 1877.
1a. A family called Salviati were glass makers of Murano, Venice who also had premises in London.
2. The text from here to "return to Kew" is written vertically down the right hand margin of page 6.
3. The text from here to "11 AM" is written vertically up the left hand margin of page 1 and across the top of page 1. It is not clear where it should appear in the reading order of the letter.

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