Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Marocco [Marakech, Morocco
JDH/1/9 f.582-584
Hooker (nee Henslow), Frances Harriet
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Moroccan Letters
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
12 page letter over 3 folios

JDH informs his wife Frances that he has arrived in Marocco [Marrakesh] after a 4 day journey from Mogadore [Essaouira]. He, John Ball & George Maw, are not good horsemen. The Argan forest they rode through was hilly with evergreen trees full of flowers & olive like fruit. They rode through a fertile hilly region then a vast stony plain. They saw Artemisia & Salicornia. Zizyphus & Withania frutescens. Springs from underground streams create oasis where some barley fields grow & straw & mud villages develop around them. JDH describes the wildlife. They saw the tower of the great mosque in Marocco from 20 miles away. They saw Atriplex, Zizyphus, Salicornia & Lycium barbarum, & Oleander. Irrigation wells mark subterranean streams but more of the city cannot be seen until it is reached, apart from some date palm groves & a few other mosque towers. Palm tree stems are used for lintels & rafters in mud houses, the leaves used for sweeping. It takes 3 hours to ride around the city walls which have figs, olives, poplars & palms & Celtis growing over them. JDH describes the tile-covered mosques. Inside of the city is mainly ruinous. JDH describes the population as poor, diseased & lame. JDH has been granted an audience with the Governor, El Graoui [El Glaoui], whom the Sultan has ordered to help JDH. JDH describes El Graoui & his palace. They are staying in Sir Moses Montefiore's on-time house, which has a garden with fruit trees. He lists the principal authorities as the Viceroy; El Graoui & Ben Daud, Governor of the City proper. JDH describes the Atlas mountains as lofty but not very rugged. The Sultan is opposed to Europeans, so the access that JDH has been given is unique. He describes the extent of the Sultan's authority & the government. The Sultan will not have the mountains worked for their copper, iron, lead etc. The party are well, although Edward Crump is variable in his work. JDH invites Daniel Oliver to share his letter with General Council.


Marocco [Marrakech]*1
May 5/[18]71

Dearest F[rances].*2
Here we are at in Marocco at last, after a 4 days rather hard journey from Mogadore*3; for though the weather was fine & not over--hot, we did so much botanizing on the march (of about 30 miles a day) & this kept us up so late at night putting our plants in paper, that we Ball*4 & I were all getting very fatigued towards the end. Neither Ball nor Maw*5 are horseman either, [word crossed out, illeg.] & so they fared worse than I did, who can sit a horse for 10 hours without fatigue. Ball too is the most indefatigable collector I ever met, & nothing escapes his keen eye.
Our route for the first day & a half was through the Argan forest; a remarkable little tree, of which Mr Oliver*6 will find you an account -- the country was hilly & often picturesque; though the trees are all small & scattered, they are evergreen

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Marocco [Marrakech]*1
May 5/[18]71

Dearest F[rances].*2
Here we are at in Marocco at last, after a 4 days rather hard journey from Mogadore*3; for though the weather was fine & not over--hot, we did so much botanizing on the march (of about 30 miles a day) & this kept us up so late at night putting our plants in paper, that we Ball*4 & I were all getting very fatigued towards the end. Neither Ball nor Maw*5 are horseman either, [word crossed out, illeg.] & so they fared worse than I did, who can sit a horse for 10 hours without fatigue. Ball too is the most indefatigable collector I ever met, & nothing escapes his keen eye.
Our route for the first day & a half was through the Argan forest; a remarkable little tree, of which Mr Oliver*6 will find you an account -- the country was hilly & often picturesque; though the trees are all small & scattered, they are evergreen

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& at this season loaded with flowers & olive--like fruit. Curiously enough no other other sort of tree is found throughout the greater part of the Argan forest. -- Many of the trees are gnarled & stunted from being browsed by the goats, & it is no uncommon sight to see a misshapen knotted & gnarled tree, 20 -- 30 feet high inhabited tenanted by Goats, perched on the branches like birds, shaking their ears & nibbling away at the young foliage.
Beyond this forest was a few miles of a very fertile hilly region, & then nearly 100 miles of vast stony plains, reaching from the foot of the Atlas on the South, to the horizon on all other sides the N[orth]. & East, -- brown & yellow stony rocky & sandy desert land it is broken here & there by low isolated hills in short ranges of naked flat--topped hills with horizontal stony strata near the summit & sloping sides. Sometimes these plains are white with an Artemisia, or yellow with their withered grass, or pa spotted green with Salicornia & other saline plants.

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The Zizyphus (a kind of thorny jujube, like the Nebbek of Syria) It Withania frutescens, a small evergreen bush are often almost the only green bushes, or small tree things of 6 --10 feet high to be seen, occurring in scattered patches individuals. Here & there a spring issues, fed by underground streams from the Atlas (50 miles off) & produces an Oasis with indicated from a distance by a a few clumps of olive & many a date palm & some fields of Barly[sic] now being cut. On the grey slopes around these Oases there is generally a village, so called by courtesy, consisting of a square area fenced with cut dead & [word crossed out, illeg.] grey branches of Zizyphus, piled up as a low wall -- & enclosing a few wretched straw hovels like bee--hives blown on one side, & a few black Arab tents of the looking as usual like bloated red brown spiders, for their squat form & long black tent ropes of hair.
More rarely we meet a Caid[']s or Governor[']s house, a low black square mud--walled building with low towers[?] at the angles, no windows & desolate looking beyond conception.
We see few birds or insects but sluggish black beetles, no wild animals but holes grubbed by wild boars & holes of of[sic] a field rat or mouse, with which the ground

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is riddled here & there. Scorpions are abundant, ugly yellow creatures 2--3 inches long, which career along the ground with great rapidity after their prey, in curious circular sweeps. Of Snakes we have not seen one! Storks occur in every village. There are no jackalls[sic] & the dogs wonderfully quiet.
As we approached the city & when still a days [word crossed out, illeg.] 18--20 miles off, the tower of the great mosque appears on the horizon, see the description of Morocco in the Imperial Gazeteer[sic]. the ground is more covered with bushes of white Atriplex with Zizyphus[,] Salicornia & Lycium barbarum a few streams lined with glorious bushes of Oleander in full flower, wind across the plain, & the subterranean courses of others are marked out by series of wells sunk down to them through the gravely soil by the Arabs for purposes of irrigation but nothing of the city is seen till it is quite reached, its position only[?] is marked out in the near distance by groves of Date Palms (which do not ripen well), & by a few more mosque towers.
The days on these plains are dry warm hot & dusty & must be intensely hot in summer. The

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nights are superb & dewless or nearly so at this season such moon & stars! Lightening up the whole heavens. It would do an English gardener[']s heart good to see how wild Oleanders grow & flower or rather should put all him to shame, for his gross mismanagement of so superb a plant; which wants lots of water in the wet season & almost drought in the flowering one followed by a thorough drying off.
Marocco itself is the most wretched [word crossed out, illeg.] city I ever beheld -- the stronghold of fanatic mussulmen[sic], & a most unpleasant place for a Christian to inhabit. There is but one in it now, & he leaves tomorrow!
The palm trees around it are magnificent, both in stem & foliage, & whilst the former are used for lintels, rafters[,] beams &c, & the former for sweeping floors. Except on the side where these Palms grow & where are many gardens (so called by courtesy)[.] Enclosed by low mud walls, the [word illeg.] of Marocco are bare[,] hot & dusty, & not safe by night on account of robbers -- The extent of walls is enormous, 3 hours mule's ride

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in & out, of yellow brown crumbling ruinous masses of brick rubbish -- crumbling into dust, covered with lizard & spiders, too dry to prevent anything green at this season though crowned with withered grass Hyoscyamus albus & other weeds. The gates Over the walls however everywhere peep rounded masses of bright green figs, silvery olives, tall grey poplar, & feathery palms, -- with here & there a Celtis. Except a few cubical topped outhouses near the walls, roofed tiled with green enamel tiles & much like those on the bastions walls of the Kremlin, you do not from any out side see a house over the walls. from the outside
The towers of several mosques are very beautiful square towers, with the faces covered tesselated with blue & green tiles, but they are much cracked, the & partially on the restored present great paths of yellow mud or brick where the tiles have fallen out. I think Fergusson*7 figures one of these towers as sentry at Seville.
The inside of the parts of the city we have seen beggars description, the walls are lofty, cracked & absolutely ruinous in many places; the huge barracks & shapeless fortifications crowned or rather crested with Storks & their nests are literally tumbling down, masses of

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brick & mud rubbish several feet high encumber the streets, open swamps of fetid sewage load the air with noisome stenches -- here & there a beautiful moorish gateway is seen, piercing a blank misshapen wall 50 feet high, with neither beginning or end. Much of this part of the city consists of square mudhouses[?] made of mud & pebbles or boulders or brick tiles, & crowned with withered herbage, entered by low apertures & displaying within heaps of square hovels lower than enclosing area the walls, so low that one cannot stand half upright in them, without windows doors or other breaks of surface & all squalor within. The population of these quarters is wretched, half naked[,] diseased[,] maimed, lame, hideously ugly, Moors[,] Arabs[,] Negroes & intermediates of all castes of countenance. Cutaneous complaints abound.
Today we have had an audience of the Governor, El Graoui [El Glaoui]*8, the most potent chief in Marocco, who rules all the Atlas provinces, & to whom the Sultan has given orders to provide us with entertainment[,] guards & every facility [word 'facility' misspelled and crossed out twice]. We went to his house through the scenes I have

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described entered it over by a courtyard with a mud wall, full of filth & rubbish, left our mules then [word crossed out, illeg.] stooped low under a low door, & mounting a very narrow steep staircase, were ushered into a gem of a room about as large as those in the C[rystal]. P[alace]. Alhambra, covered with hexagonal tiles of the loveliest pattern & colour & crowned with a lantern with perfectly ornamented wood walls. -- El Graoui [El Glaoui] is almost a Negro, of some 60 years, utterly ignorant, cannot read or write, -- he was simply dressed in a white Haik & turban, received us most graciously, gave us mint tea (or rather sour tea with mint) in English China coffee cups, & several dishes of food, -- chatted pleasantly through our interpreter, promised us every facility for starting in a couple of days & to leave us free to visit every part of the Atlas that was safe & under his rule & letters to parts that were ruled by his friends.
So much for the Quarter of the Town we inhabit, our individual residence is a charming one, situated in a garden choked with Oranges, Pomegranates, Figs, Pear, Apricots Olives[,] Vines, Mulberries, & here & there is cypress Date Poplar, & Celtis, -- the weeds that wind up every part are immeasurable & almost

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smother the Hollyhocks which are the only flower it boasts except a few Roses. The House itself is large & commodious with good upstairs apartments & windows opening to the garden outside & a central court with a fountain.-- No one has been in it since Sir Moses Montefiore*9, & there is sketch of a part of it in Hodgkins*10 account of Sir M[oses]. M[ontefiore']s visit mission to Morocco. This book is probably in the Geog[raphical]. Soc[iety]. & Mr Bates*11 would I think send it you in my name.
Of the rest of this large city I will write when I have seen it, which will be tomorrow -- when we visit it with a [word crossed out illeg.] of couple of Graouies [sic] Soldiers, or the fanatic population would otherwise insult a Christian.
The principal authorities here are 1) Muley [Moulay] Hassan*12, the Viceroy, son of the Sultan*13, to whom the Sultan recommended us. 2 El Graoui[sic] Governor of the Jews Quarter of Marocco [Marrakesh], & of the Atlas districts; to whose special protection by the Sultan's order! we are consigned by the Governor of Mogadore to whom I brought the Sultan's letter ordering him as it were to forward ed us here. El Graoui[sic] sends us a Mona (a[?] i.e.food) of 4 meals a day, each of 4--6 great cooked dishes, each enough for a dozen people besides Milk, Eggs, fowls, Dates, oranges & fodder for our Animals, servants and Muleteers. -- 3 Ben Daoud, the Governor of the

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City proper (exclusive of the Jews Quarter) a fanatical Mussulman, & of whose evil deeds to me, the copy I send herewith of my letter to Sir J[ohn]. Hay*14, will greatly inform you. -- he has been of no further annoyance.
The people are curiously uncurious, no one not even the boys crowds of whom were playing about came even to stare at ourselves & camp when we pitched it close by the Great mosque, & yet -- few ever saw a European before. -- all they do is to curse you aloud as you pass if you have not a Guard -- & in their hearts if they have, they not even turn their heads to look at you.
And now a word about the Atlas; it presents a long range of rather lofty M not very rugged topped topped Mountains, which we guess at 10--12000 feet with very pre steep faces, to the North, deeply seamed with de gulleys that are full of snow & which extend downwards for apparently half their whole height -- none are snow capped, nor present any fields of Snow or glaciers. nor do the snow streaks reach to the tops. -- in this respect of the long far descending lines of snow, not connected with more snow above, they are quite unlike any mountain range I have seen -- I see no sign of a forest region, but the distance is too great to judge if It is possibly their flanks are too dry for forest. We are all very

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curious to ascertain the structure of this chain both superficially topographically & Geologically. The maps are ridiculously wrong Morocco is an unknown region [in] every sense and a very difficult one to get any knowledge of. The Sultan & all his officers are violently opposed to Europeans, & the English, whom alone they respect are only tolerated. The permission granted me to visit the Atlas [is] regarded as unique & it could only have been gained by very strong representations.
The Sultan's authority is very limited & does not extend over more than 1/3 of his kingdom. He is a the nearest lineal descendent of the prophet alive, & hence is his vast power -- his most rebellious subjects venerating his person. The people are as ignorant as Negroes, & the upper classes utterly debased, the town populations are vile, the rural are very decent people except some tribes that are so bigoted that no xtian [Christian] can visit them. -- & who dread any interference with their independence. The government is corrupt & cruel to the last degree. -- The Governor & Chiefs are allowed to oppress the people as they choose, till, getting rich themselves, they are seized on some pretence by the Sultan, & either "squeezed"

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by himself or Ministers till they disgorge, or are sold to some one rich enough to buy them who then imprisons them slaves or tortures them to death, & is then appointed Governor in their place. Torture & the bastinadoe are rife, the Moor being cruel to his kind. The Mountains abound in Iron, Copper, Lead & other metals but the Sultan will not have them worked on as it would admit European capital and influence. So too there are heavy export duties on all produce. In their habits the people differ from other Arabs known to me in never using Coffee, always green Tea & this before every meal. This must be a recent custom, & how it grew up so quickly to be an integral part of the daily meal of a people so slow to change is a wonder. Both Tea & Sugar come from England as do the Tea--pots & cups, though small glasses are often used.
This goes to Mogadore by Courier tomorrow. We are getting on very comfortably, though Crump*15 is at times dull[,] low & unutterably stupid, at others quite bright & fairly useful. I fear that there is nothing in him, but he may improve yet. He has to be told the same thing every day. Lots of fleas & other beasts here, but the Insect powder is very useful: few mosquitoes[?] as yet. It is very hard work & I have much to do in a general way, Ball keeps accounts, Maw the chief stores. I had hoped to have written to the boys ere this, but am too busy. Love to them all & kind regards to the Jerymns[?]
Ev[er] Y[our]s affe[ctionately] | J D Hooker[signature]
*16If Oliver thinks any part of this fit for G[eneral]. C[ouncil] may copy such news[?] -- it is not my Journal which is behind hand[?]!


1. 'Marocco' refers to the city which is almost certainly Marrakech, rather than the country of Morocco.
2. Frances Harriet Hooker née Henslow (1825--1874). First wife of Joseph Dalton Hooker.
3. Mogadore or Mogador, now Essaouira, a city in the west of Morocco on the Atlantic coast.
4. John Ball (1818--1889). Irish politician, naturalist & traveller.
5. George Maw (1832--1912). Manufacturer, geologist, botanist & antiquarian.
6. Daniel Oliver (1830--1916). Botanist & Keeper of the Herbarium at RBG Kew from 1864--1890.
7. James Fergusson (1808--1886). Architect.
8. El Glaoui was the title of the chief of the Berber Glaoua or Glawa tribe of Southern Morocco.
9. Sir Moses Haim Montefiore (1784--1885). British financier, banker, philanthropist & activist.
10. Thomas Hodgkin (1798--1866). British physician & pathologist who first gave an account of Hodgkin's disease. He was a friend & travelling companion to Sir Moses Montefiore.
11. Henry Walter Bates (1825--1892). English naturalist & explorer. From 1864 he worked as Assistant Secretary for the Royal Geographical Society.
12. Hassan I (1836--1894). Sultan of Morocco from 1873--1894.
13. Muhammad IV (1830--1873). Also known as Moulay Muhammad ibn Adb al--Rahman, Sultan of Morocco from 1859--1873.
14. Sir John Hay Drummond Hay (1816--1893). British Envoy Extraordinary at the Court of Morocco.
15. Edward Crump (d.1927/8). Gardener at RBG Kew.
16. Written in the right-hand margin of the letter at right angles to the main body of the text

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