Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Dacca [Dhaka, Bangladesh]
JDH/1/10 f.283-287
Hooker, Sir William Jackson
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
20 page letter over 5 folios

JDH describes his journey so far with Thomas Thomson [TT]. They have collected species of weeds, & fruiting branches of Calamus for RBG Kew. Discusses identification of plants with Martius & Griffiths descriptions. Lists species collected: C. rotang of Roxburgh, C. fasciculatus, rose of Bengal, R. involucrate. JDH sent 40 baskets of Orchideae & Rhododendron plants from Rampore to Bell in Calcutta [Kolkata]. Many plants died in Calcutta Gardens, including Jock Smith’s. JDH recommends a cool frame to grow them in England. JDH left larches at Darjeeling growing well, but sent all Rhododendron to Falconer. Comments on Thwaites’ new position [at the Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, Botanic Garden]. JDH suggests [George] Gardner neglected the gardens for the dried specimens. Discusses Thwaites’ plan for a collection of Cinghalese plants. Discusses Lord Torrington’s character. Describes sketches from Cathcart he is sending to Fitch in London: one of Kinchinjunga [Kanchenjunga] & the range around it from Major Crommelin, & a scene of a tree fern & Caryota with K[anchen]junga behind. Mentions the death of Mrs Turner. JDH expresses doubt about identification of R. thomsoni B. JDH hopes the dry specimens will allow Fitch to draw them. Discusses naming a plant after Strachey. Commends Dalzell's descriptions. Briefly mentions Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] & Bombay [Mumbai]. JDH is disappointed African teak is not a Vitex. Discusses changes at Woods & Forests Department & Lord Seymour's appointment. Tells WJH of Mr Francis, an Assistant Surgeon in the East India Company, who claimed to know botany, this JDH found to be false. Cathcart began a drawing of Helen Campbell but failed to finish.


What I saw of Griffiths Khassyah, Mishmi & Bhotan plants were woefully bad specimens & some few of them, but there may be more of them. McLelland McClelland] writes that the ferns are with in London. What a horrid story about Kunth. Tom & I were trying to dig out one or two [of] his grasses & Cyperaceae from the Enum[eratio] just before the news came in your letter.
Dalzell's descriptions appeared to me sound & good. There must be loads of novelty between Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] & Bombay [Mumbai], but it is a horrid climate. I am sorry that the African teak is not a Vitex as it ought to have been.
Mr Phillips Philips with my best

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Dacca [Dakha]
May 29 1850 *1
My dear father
Thomson & I have got so far upon the route I have detailed to my mother, & here we are kindly cared for by one of Tom's Indian friends.
We have passed no botanizing ground of any consequence, the banks of the rivers being especially poor in plants, & at this season dreadfully so. Still mainly by Tom's activity, we have got together some 4 or 500 species of weeds; including however fruiting branches with leaves of two fine Calamus for Kew.

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The C. rotang of Roxb[urgh]. [is] a little known palm, & not a Dorjiling [Darjeeling] one at all -- & the C. fasciculatus. The C. rotang is Roxburgh's, not Rumphius['s] plant, & even unknown to Martius & Griffiths[.] We only found one fruiting sp. of each & the seeds far from ripe. The real wild Rose of Bengal, R. involucrata I also found for the first time on the banks of the Mahanuddy & literally in as hot a part of India as could be, a more thoroughly tropical plant cannot be, & what excuse the genus can urge for

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planting one of its species in such a climate & confining it there, passes my philosophy. I suppose you have it at Kew if not Falconer can send it from Calcutta gardens, so I did not collect roots & the plant was barely out of flower.
I sent from Rampore to Calcutta 40 baskets 4 feet long of Orchideae, in wonderfully fine order so far, & flowering out of the chinks in the baskets. Bell (my friend there (a friend of Decimus Burtons) was to send them at once on to Calcutta where I doubt not

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they will arrive in excellent condition. Many young Rhodo[dendron]. plants went too. These I had intended to unpack at the foot of the hills & put into a Ward's case, but could get no soil but marsh sand, & the temp. being 106˚ in the shade I thought it a needless waste of labor planting already debilitated plants. I therefore sent them to take their chances with the Orchideae. Many Rhod[odendron]. plants are alive at Calcutta Gardens, but far more have damped off as was expected, & as Jock Smith's certainly will if he steams them up at 70°.

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I would wager to grow any quantity in England in a cool damp frame & rear 9/10 of what sprout. I left lots of seedling Larches at D.[Darjeeling] growing superbly but I sent home every grain of Rhod[odendron].
My dried collection has all arrived at Calcutta, vast as it is I could not expect that it no harm would befall it, & good Falconer now writes that wet has got into one box & soaked two bundles to pulp. As not a drop of rain has fallen this must be some egregious carelessness of the person in charge of the boxes but I could not get tin, & I paid £6 for the boxes making for the a part of them only. I heard from

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Thwaites last mail, who is greatly contented with his position & prospects; & disappointed only with the state of the gardens, which do not seem to have been of so garden a character as he expected nor as the public wish. I had heard something of this before, & that [George] Gardner paid too much attention to the dried plants & too little to the industrial & ornamental part of the gardens in so much that the Gov[ernmen]t were recommended to abolish them on his death as useless. Be that as it may Thwaites asks me whether I approve of his present proceedings toward

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making the gardens as ornamental & attractive as possible by getting a named collection of all the Cinghalese plants & by inviting the attention of the public to distribution of seeds of useful[,] rare & ornamental plants from Europe & India. He has written to Wight & to Falconer, has given himself up exclusively to the garden duties & the study of Cinghalese genera & species. Of course I highly approve all this & my impression is that with his good sense & honesty of character, nothing will be left wanting. Lord Torrington writes well of him to Byng; but really poor Lord T[orrington]. is but a base[?] alter all. At the same time

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that he writes to you saying how that his brother gets great honor for the Sikkim affair he was telling Colvile[?] he thought Govt. were treating his brother abominably. Colvile is a friend of Ld T[orrington].'s too & you must not talk of this, which C[olvile]. tells me of privately. I got another sketch of Kinchinjunga [Kanchenjunga] & of all the range about it from Major Crommelin, which for truth & accuracy beats all Taylers. C. kindly gave me one small picture for myself, a remarkably faithful one of the scenery -- Tree fern & Caryota[?] climbing the trees with K[anchen]junga behind both go home the other you will please get copied & sent as directed to his brother in London.

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I hope that Fitch if he copies will not do other than copy, as I do not think he can improve them without my being by -- the distances are so excellently preserved & the minute features of the snow almost microscopically perfect. Taylers pictures were of a different style altogether & those Fitch has no doubt wonderfully improved. Crommelin's are not first rate but unrivalled for accuracy of outline & the precision with which the perspective of the back & front ranges of the snow are kept is quite marvellous. These are the only drawings the lazy fellow has done during his 10 years residence at Dorjiling! Now to answer your long & good letter of April 7th which I received

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here, as also the melancholy one of poor Mrs Turners death, which I received at Maldah on the 10th. I have written a note to poor grandfather, for whose disconsolate condition I do feel very much indeed.
I am very glad that I have given satisfaction about the Rhododendron drawings & seeds. The descriptions I sent from Calcutta by the April steamer. I was very doubtful about R. thomsoni B., mainly from you & Lindley always harking upon the difficulty of distinguishing the species &

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your suspicions that all mine could hardly be good. I therefore confined my species to the most flagrant species & you will I hope agree with me that however difficult it may be to separate them by leaf, the flower & fruit, give ample characters & I do not at all believe in their hybridity in Sikkim. Under any circumstances it deserves a drawing to itself & people may judge for themselves. I hope Fitch will figure the print of all as far as the dry specimens allow. R. virgatum I could not find[,] found it but once in flower & the weather was so bad that

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that[sic] I could not get on with the drawing. I named none after Strachey, not knowing his claims as a botanist & feeling that I was overdoing it in the personal namings but you may do it if you please. I do think the Indian species will hardly bear another personal name.
Falconer is down on Bellenden Ker, who is a dirty, mean, dishonest dog, for whom I would not do any thing if Lord D[alhousie]. were to ask me without telling him. However I will say nothing to Courtenay. I must post this & will finish tomorrow on the chance of being in time.

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What I saw of Griffiths Khassyah, Mishmi & Bhotan plants were woefully bad specimens & some few of them, but there may be more of them. McLelland McClelland] writes that the ferns are with in London. What a horrid story about Kunth. Tom & I were trying to dig out one or two [of] his grasses & Cyperaceae from the Enum[eratio] just before the news came in your letter.
Dalzell's descriptions appeared to me sound & good. There must be loads of novelty between Cape Comorin [Kanyakumari] & Bombay [Mumbai], but it is a horrid climate. I am sorry that the African teak is not a Vitex as it ought to have been.
Mr Phillips Philips with my best

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regards, on no account to bother himself writing to me, I neither wish nor ever expressed it. I get all the news from you & abundant proof of his kind feeling toward me. I saw the changes proposed in the appt. of W[oods]. &.F[orests]. but not Ld Seymour's app[ointmen]t.
Did I forget to tell you about Mr or Dr Francis, he is an Ass[istan]t. Surgeon in E.I.C.S. [East ndia Company Service] who pretended to know a good deal of Botany[,] said to the Campbells that his uncle had given you great assistance in your work on ferns. He begged with great humility to be allowed the honor or making my acquaintance, a privilege

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which I often did not think myself very condescending to grant. Then came a most exuberantly periphrastic note begging the singular favour of being allowed to look over some of my plants, with 10,000 apologies for the liberty & so forth. I begged him to come whenever he pleased & make no ceremony. He came & rather started at 75 large bundles, told me he was only a physiological botanist – a distinction I confessed[?] envying him the possession of. After much hovering[?] I begged he would mention any tribe or nat[ural] ord[er] he wished to see wherein he begged for the "Tree--tribe". I was greatly diverted & answered that not being [part of mss. missing] physiologist enough to

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be able to follow that arrangement I stuck to the Jussieuan & offered any nat[ural] ord[er] from DC. [De Candolle] or Lindleys books, he asked for Oaks, Toon, Caryota, Betel nut & Sal. The oaks occupied him an hour, turning over the papers, to my grievous discomposure, as all my Phaenog[ram]s were packed & camphored ready for the boxes. He was merciless however & would have each of the others dug out, seeing, as Brown would say, that he did not know a cabbage from a cabbage--palm, or a carrot from a Caryota. I had more difficulty (extremely busy as I was under his nose at packing) in keeping

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my temper than you will give me credit for. There gaped at, the leech would have more & called for the cherry tribe -- by the greatest good luck I had a whole bundle of 100 sheets of the one species of cherry itself. I put all before him without a word, when to my inexpressible relief I gradually saw him [1 word illeg.] -- utterly bewildered with the mixture of flower fruit & leaf, which he took for diff[eren]t genera at the least -- & he dropped his pursuit in a great hurry. I begged him to stop & look over the Cyperaceae, or Compositae the fine genus Symplocos, & my Incertae Sedis, all in vain, he was off & I never saw his face

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again, but by accident on my way down to Calcutta, in a Bungalow, he wrote me a most grateful letter however, I was wicked enough to tell the story in the station & got dubbed "Cherry--ripe" by Judge Cathcart for my pains. The man is a goose & a charlatan & nothing worse, except a bore & nothing can be worse than that. Not content with proclaiming himself a Botanist he must needs set up for artist & begged the privilege of drawing little Helen Campbell, of which picture great things were expected & I was to have a copy, he however bottled after the first

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sitting, would not show the result, & never as much as called to bid the Campbells', who were very kind to him, good--bye. So much & too much for Dr Francis.
The "private application" for Strachey's plants should be made to the Court, -- I expect you are confounding the 2 brothers Strachey's still & no wonder. Madden will have put you right ere this.
Cathcart's drawings I have surely explained, are all now going on with being made at Dorjiling, of D[orjiling]. plants. He has 5 artists at work, who turn out together about 3 plants a week,-- it costs him more than all my pay together

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which is much better than gambling the amount as he used, at loo. He is a son of the late Ld Monnypenny, & a great friend of the Gibson Craigs & my Edinburgh friends. He faithfully promises me the sole use of all the drawings & will I hope keep his word, some are excellent, others vile, all useful in a greater or less degree.
Ever your most aff[ectionate] son | Jos D Hooker [signature]


1. An annotation written in another hand records that the letter was "rec'd July 25."

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