Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
The Camp, Sunningdale, Berkshire, United Kingdom
JDH/2/16 f.110
Thiselton-Dyer, Sir William Turner
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Letters to Thiselton-Dyer
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
6 page letter over 2 folios

JDH is about to leave for France. His party will travel via Le Havre, meet Asa & Jane Gray in Rouen & then go on to Caen, Coutances & Avranches visiting the churches[?] on the way. JDH will return in September, the Grays earlier to attend the British Association for the Advancement of Science. JDH has also been to Devonshire to visit his sister & Lord Blachford [Frederic Rogers] & to see Wistman's Wood. Describes the landscape of Wistman's Wood & instructs that the First Commissioner should ask for a specimen for the RBG Kew museum so they can determine whether the Wood is ancient. The Grays visited the Dukeries [in Nottinghamshire], York & Edinburgh. JDH reports that painting & varnishing has been going on in the herbarium, he is worried about the risk of fire. JDH is painting his own shed with asbestos paint & has great faith in its properties. Is glad Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer enjoyed his holiday in Switzerland & recalls his own trip there, specifically Kandersteg & Gemmi Pass. JDH hopes that Bale, an [herbarium] employee will recover. Discusses [Isaac Bayley] Balfour teaching his advanced botany class by the didactic method, a 'modern' kind of teaching JDH does not agree with. JDH thinks that there should be 2 branches of botanical teaching; 1 for biological research, the other for practical purposes. Comments that the needs of medical students regarding botanical knowledge have changed. JDH notes that he has been before [John] Lubbock's committee. JDH reports on his family. His sister Maria McGilvray has been seriously ill. JDH's children Joey [Joseph Symonds Hooker] & Grace Ellen Hooker are accompanying him to France. Frances & Georgie[?] are not coming because of the heat. [William Samuel] Symonds is getting weaker, he is staying with his sister Mrs Tennant. 'Frank' [Henry Francis] Symonds has been ill in Samoa.


Symonds*9 gets weaker, he is at his sister's Mrs Tennant. Frank Symonds*10 has been very ill at Samoa with Typhoid followed by pleurisy, but we hope he is recovering.
Your news of Harriet is excellent, I am so glad that she could enjoy her trip so thoroughly. With love to her from both, & Lady Hooker sends regards to you. Ever y[ou]r affe[ctionate] | J D Hooker [signature]

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Aug[ust] 1st [18]87
Dear Dyer*2
Your letter just arrived is very welcome, as we start this afternoon for the long projected Norman tour. We go via [Le] Havre & Rouen where we expect the Grays*3 will meet us & so to Caen, Coutances & Avranches with the Xes*1a[?] by the way, & shall be back: the 1st week of September -- the Grays before that, as he is bound for the British A[ssociation] [for the Advancement of Science]. We made out a 7 day tour to Devonshire (Lord Blachford's)*4 & back visiting my sister for 2 out of them. -- Blachford took us to Wistman's Wood,*5 with which I was very disappointed; -- nevertheless it is curious, & as half is burnt down there should be no difficulty now in getting sections of trees

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(the trunks of which are uninjured) & so settling the disputed question of the real or supposed antiquity. -- the F[irst] C[ommissioner] should apply to the [Department of W[oods] & F[orests] or Duchy of Cornwall for specimens for Mus[eum]. -- My father & I never could get permission -- to have a tree cut down -- they are afterall nothing but big-trunked bushes, occupying a mass of ice driven blocks on the slope of a shallow valley. -- The big stones have been their protection, & abundant springs at the spot keep a succession growing:-- the up valley wind regulates or rather determines their stature.
The Grays spent a few days here, & were off last week for the Dukeries*6 & York & Edinburgh -- they are indefatigable & wonderful people.
I have been pretty constantly at the Herbarium where the men have been painting & varnishing: -- the latter an awful temptation for fire. I wish I could think that building at all safe.

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I am painting the inside of my shed & the woodwork in my cellar with Asbestos paint, in which I have great faith. I will bring you some lathes painted with it.
You have had a delightful tour & I am glad you so enjoyed the vegetation, which had immense charm for me. I remember Kandersteg very well -- a wild & lovely spot. I had a day botanizing there some 30 years ago. I have not seen the Gemmi since 1853 when I found it very rich. I crossed what was then a blood-curdling Pass at the head of the Kandersteg pass valley. As you say it is very Pyrenean.
Poor old Bale (he is younger than I am.) I hope he will recover. We cannot spare him.
I have had a long conversation with Balfour*6a, who asked my opinion as to his prepared plan for teaching his advanced class, -- he proposes following the didacticism method, & to begin by teaching the homologies of Spores & Pollen grains & so on. & phylogenetic[sic]

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principles so as to imbue them with philosophical ideas of the Vegetable Kingdom[?]. I tell him he will make prigs & Grant Allens*7 -- He has no idea of the time it takes to get a working idea of the [1 del. word illeg.] details of Morphology & Bota Physiology upon which alone can such a superstructure of teaching be usefully raised. My impression of this kind of modern teaching is, that far too much is crammed into the 60 lectures. It is forgotten that the attitude of 99/100 of the students is absolutely child-like, add to which that they have scores of other subjects to attend to simultaneously.
I almost think there should be two branches of botanical teaching. -- One for the higher purpose of biological research:-- the other for the practical purposes to which Botany is subservient, at present these are muddled together. Med[ical] Students now want the first -- In old times it was the second object, in the knowledge of their drugs & how to get them.
I have been before Lubbock's Commitee.*8

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& he is charmed with my evidence -- I wish I could see[?] it -- I was asked if you would agree with me -- & I had to answer that I did not remember your Evidence, --but hoped so!
I have little family news, my sister Maria McG[ilvray] has been & is very ill, & had a trained nurse for 6 weeks, who however is replaced by a less experienced attendant, & so I hope is better -- she is admirably cared for by the Lady she lives with.
We take Joey [Joseph Symonds Hooker] with us to Normandy, his English History is really very good for his age. Gracie [Grace Ellen Hooker] goes with us en route to Paris -- she cares for nothing but work, & plays beautifully. No news from Brian [Harvey Hodgson Hooker], & little from Charlie [Charles Paget Hooker].
We made a dead set to get Frances & Georgie[?] here, but Missie was afraid of the heat for them; & I dare say she was right. They look well however, & are always pleased to see me.

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Symonds*9 gets weaker, he is at his sister's Mrs Tennant. Frank Symonds*10 has been very ill at Samoa with Typhoid followed by pleurisy, but we hope he is recovering.
Your news of Harriet is excellent, I am so glad that she could enjoy her trip so thoroughly. With love to her from both, & Lady Hooker sends regards to you. Ever y[ou]r affe[ctionate] | J D Hooker [signature]


1. Joseph Hooker had a residence built in Sunningdale, Berkshire called 'The Camp'. Completed in 1882 he lived there full time, with his second wife Hyacinth and their family, after retiring from RBG Kew in 1885.
1a. It is possible that the character inserted her is an 'X', sometimes used an abbreviation for 'church'.
2. 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 the Royal Horticultural Society. He married Hooker's eldest daughter Harriet in 1877.
3. American botanist Asa Gray and his wife Jane Gray née Loring..
4. Frederic Rogers, 1st Baron Blachford (1811--1889). British civil servant, and a contemporary of William Ewart Gladstone at Oxford. In 1860 he was appointed permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and served under six successive Secretaries of State.
5. Wistman's Wood is one of only three remote high-altitude oak woods on Dartmoor, Devon. It lies at an altitude of 380--410 metres in the valley of West Dart River.
6. The Dukeries is a district in the county of Nottinghamshire, so called because it contained four ducal seats.
6a. Isaac Bayley Balfour (1853--1922). Scottish botanist, son of botanist John Hutton Balfour. He was Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Glasgow from 1879 to 1885, Sherardian Professor of Botany at the University of Oxford from 1884 to 1888, and Professor of Botany at the University of Edinburgh from 1888 to 1922.
7. Charles Grant Blairfindie Allen (1848--1899). Canadian writer and novelist, and a proponent of the theory of evolution. He thought all science could be explained by one theory.
8. John Lubbock, 1st Baron Avebury (1834--1913). banker, Liberal politician, philanthropist, scientist and polymath. He was influential in 19th Century debates concerning evolutionary theory.
9. Reverend William Samuel Symonds (1818--1887). English geologist; father of Hyacinth Hooker.
10. Henry Francis Symonds (1855--1887). Son of Rev. William Symonds and brother of Lady Hyacinth Hooker. He was the British vice-Consul in Tonga from 1880--1886, when he transferred to Samoa where he became gravely ill. He returned to Tonga, where he died in the mission house at Nuku'alafa in October 1887, aged 32.

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