Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Darjeeling, India
JDH/1/10 f.262-267
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
22 page letter over 6 folios

As a result of Rajah's tricks & climate JDH lost many parts of collections, now replacing. Thomas Thomson [TT] & Maxwell are surveying Rumman river. Lord Dalhousie has not settled TT & JDH's future route. Madden & J.M. Grant are leaving. JDH has sketch book for WJH, a Mrs Lydiard[?] insists on making a large coloured drawing for WJH. Discusses expenses for the FLORA ANTARCTICA. Sceptical of Mr Archer's plant, supposes it cannot be female Huon pine. Discusses leaving West Park for Aiton's house. Discusses instruments; telescope, azimuth compass, theodolite, barometer, actinometer, sextent watch, chemical box & mentions Thuillier's kindness. Parcels sent to Calcutta [Kolkata] containing seeds, items from Snows, Lhasa purses, Larch, Brunoniana, Khutrow cones, & whole specimens of R. nivale. Tchuka rhubarb & Rhododendron manuscript will go next mail. Falconer planted Webbiana seeds in Calcutta & the boxes go to England with JDH's 1848 dried collection & museum specimens. Vegetable bellows to follow & also 100 kinds of wood. Mentions bulky specimens, gunny cloth, lutea fibre, knife & cloth died red with munjeet from the Rajah, cloth died yellow with Symplocos, & fibres of Sterculia. Thinks Lushington & General made inconceivable mess of Sikkim affair & discuses this in detail. Hodgson delighted with 'Hodgsonia'. JDH sorry he cannot send drawings of anthers, has written to ask Cathcart. Discusses Wightia. Has recommended Thwaites to Wight. Royle[?] sent Tea pamphlet. Sends fragment of Cypress unlike Staunton's drawings. Thanks WJH for offer of money to travel in Nepaul [Nepal]. Mentions Bellender Ker [Kerr]. Thinks Greenough[?] very kind & will work on Geographical Society map. Discusses: the Donkiah [Dongkha La] pass, excellent coloured sketch of Thibet, Bhotia servant & profits for the Linnean Society. Has no acorns so far. Sends more Larch seeds by Secretary India House & has planted some.


I send you the principal items of my expenditure up to this time which I hope will be sufficient, if not do tell me & I can put in minutiae with a good deal of trouble. As you say these should be signed by those receiving the payments by which I understand that you do so, if not send it back & I will put it into official form & sign it, but I cannot copy it now. --
I remember floundering about the Microcachys myself, but am rather sceptical about Mr Archer's plant. Winged seeds are hardly a specific character with sense Microcachrys Callitris & I should doubt that even being a generic one in such Coniferae. I suppose Archers plant cannot be the ♀ of the Huon Pine? --
I am rejoiced to hear about your getting into Aiton's house & on such

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Feb 28./ [18]50, *1
My dear Father
Here is post day near at hand again, & I have three three famous long & newsy letters to answer of your's[sic]. Though having been hard at work packing ever since the last mail I have little of interest to communicate to you. Happily I have nearly done & as usual am heartily sick & tired of the job. I shall keep a boy when I get home for all such work whatever it costs, though useful & helpful as Hoffman has become (by dint of much perseverance on my part). I should not complain so much as I do.
Altogether my collections are very handsome, though what with the Rajah's tricks & the horrible climate I have lost a great many of my large things, as Palm plants & fruits &c which were to have been

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dried whole for museum specimens, these I am replacing as fast as I can, & Thomson being in the jungles get on very well[.] Of him I have not heard for a long time -- he went with Maxwell to survey the Rummun[?] river as a new boundary for our territories & examine healthy places for our military supports. It has rained cats & dogs ever since & other than crouching in a hut I do not see what they can have done -- the General & Mr Lushington wanted me to go but I declined unconditionally & told them that except in cases when my services were absolutely essential I could not grant them & I thought that in this case the Govt. had plenty of services of its own. I lent Maxwell all my Instruments & he is clever enough to do it all

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better than I could. It is a good chance for Thomson to see the country & it gives him pay, which is of importance to us both, till Lord Dalhousie can settle our route. Of the latter nothing more has been heard & until he reaches Calcutta *2 to sail in March nothing can be settled about Nepaul [Nepal] -- April is quite too early for me to start as I do not propose going through the malaria district.
Madden goes home by this mail also J.M. Grant a man high up in the civil service who retires, is a great microscopist & friend of Griffiths. He once sent you some little things & is a very nice person indeed I believe. Has a wonderful collection of Botanical odds & ends I am told, & so I hope you will find him a profitable friend to Kew. He has estates in Scotland whither he returns. i.e. retires.

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I had finished a little Sketch book for you & was going to have sent it by Madden but Mr Lydiard caught it & insists upon making a large coloured drawing of one of the scenes for you. As she draws very boldly & fairly well, I clinched the bargain offer volunties[sic]. I have sent a good many overland parcels to Calcutta for you with museum labels & such, but fear these rains will prevent their arriving in time for the mail.
Now I answer your delightful letters: Thanks for your xmas congratulations you did not know how welcome they were, thought of just as I had got out of the Rajah's clutches. Anent the Flora Antarctica money £1000 was granted expressly to provide 500 plates at the rate of £2 per plate.
There are published upwards of 200.

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plates (some of the numbers are double vid Myzodendron).
I drew £200 after the first 100 plates were published & again £200 -- or all £400 at once, I quite forget which. but no more. I was told that before I drew more I should supply a voucher for the expenditure of the first 400, which was to be, the production of the plates published & voucher that the money was spent upon them. If they insist that I have drawn more than £400, of course I must refund, but I cannot recollect having done so, & if I have my receipt is of course forthcoming. Perhaps the best way is to apply first to the Bank whither I no doubt sent the Treasury drafts between 1843 & 1847.
I of course intend to make the completion of the work my first duty on my return, & at the same rate as

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I send you the principal items of my expenditure up to this time which I hope will be sufficient, if not do tell me & I can put in minutiae with a good deal of trouble. As you say these should be signed by those receiving the payments by which I understand that you do so, if not send it back & I will put it into official form & sign it, but I cannot copy it now. --
I remember floundering about the Microcachys myself, but am rather sceptical about Mr Archer's plant. Winged seeds are hardly a specific character with sense Microcachrys Callitris & I should doubt that even being a generic one in such Coniferae. I suppose Archers plant cannot be the ♀ of the Huon Pine? --
I am rejoiced to hear about your getting into Aiton's house & on such

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advantageous terms too. In every way it is far best, as to the extra botheration of visitors, we may well set against that the long walk to & fro the gardens, & you must & ought to receive visitors in the office. The charging you so paltry a sum as £100 interest on the new Herbarium house is stingy to a degree & all my Indian friends here lift up their hands with astonishment, but the times are said to be (though as usual when most said to be, not as all so) hard. It is an immense advantage that the Govt may have to say you put them to no expense, & on the contrary give them what interest they chose to ask for their money, & in every other respect the bargain is a good one.
In some respects I shall regret West Park, a very pretty & nice place, but most of all I shall regret poor Mamma losing her hobbies of Cows, sheep, fowls & lastly pigs, under which last I include the Kings. Bessy will miss the garden too, & I the wall fruit & long walks which I cherish the memory of in dear old Grandpapas Mt.[?] But really I never

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could endure the big house without Serv[an]ts enough to answer the bells, & in whose rooms 10 persons could not collect without the maximum of discomfort. The big stables without horse or carriage, the unkempt garden with its hungry soil, the unswept pantry yard, the pessima odors of the uncleaned piggey[sic], & all the thousand & one evils of an establishment too big to look after one's self & for whose proper maintenance we could not pay: Evils no doubt await our new hearths, but not I think of that cumbering description. Then too there was the difficulty of getting to town, of sending to hire a fly & that recurring sore on my temper, the missing the omnibus or waiting an hour in the rain or both. Then there was hiring a fly with a grudge or walking to a party at Richmond with an odoriferous shoe in the pocket of each tail, to the ruination of the coat's cut, & my equanimity, the weary walk to & in the mud not a neighbour to come & see poor Bessy of an evening. My midnight trudges from the omnibus (all the way from Hammersmith perhaps) when I staid

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late in Town -- and to conclude the constant state of uncertainty as to whether we should really continue to inhabit the big house or no, & the impropriety of doing so with an adequate regard to the increase of the Herbarium.
I have no idea what accommodation for yourself Aitons house affords, what bedrooms &c there are; though perhaps fewer (I suppose much so) they cannot well be worse or so cold as those of West Park. The public rooms are surely much better i.e. larger & as light & high. The road along side the house will be a nuisance at first, but the want of a private garden for fruit & vegetables is the real draw--back. if the W & F [Woods & Forests Department] won't give you such piece of ground as Robinson had for that purpose. Is the small garden into which the bow window looks to be fenced or walled off from the B. garden? I guess Papa & Bessy will have a fight about that.

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Will the Wisteria have to be cut away? I hope there are no b--gs in the house & that the drains will be properly looked to & all the inside & outside offices properly arranged. That was a grievous nuisance in the West Park house & kept one in a chronic ill--humor.
If you have no garden, the riddance of rent, repairs & boy, tools, seeds &c &c will be a saving of I should think nearer £400 than £300 -- against which you must place the £100 curtailment of your income & in part the purchase of milk butter & vegetables. Be that as it may, £700 & a reasonably good house is a very nice situation indeed & you surely deserve it. [1 word crossed out, illeg.]
Pray continue to give me particulars of how you go & get on with it & send little sketches of the internal & external economy -- I should like to be in at the warming but cannot expect to be home before the very end of this year or beginning of next. As soon as the Nepaul trip

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is done in short.
The telescope &c. is on its way up from Calcutta 10000 thanks for that & all the good things you send me[.] The azimuth compass is just in time for the Sepas smashed Thullier's & it was a £14 affair in Calcutta & yet not so good as that you have got me for £7, or rather put the same I believe. Thullier flatly refuses to take any recompense or the new one in return when I shall go home though this is a private instrument of his own & says it is well expended. That good fellow sent me a splendid theodolite from the military Board, with which I measured all the inaccessible Mts about Thibet [Tibet] with perfect ease & rapidity -- sends my delicate instruments up in little carriages that go on men's shoulders & is unremitting in his attentions -- do not trouble about the Barometer, my old one is all right & I have spare tubes & mercury to cobble it if any thing goes wrong. I am extremely well off for instruments. The Actinometers are

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all safe & sound. Sextant watch & all else[.] Adies Instruments are very bad. I am sorry to say. Cheaper than Newmans. but all out of order & useless. My Chemical box I find very useful & the resilient property of my Urtica diaboli is not owing to an ammoniacal salt, as they say that of the European species is.
I have sent the small overland parcels to Calcutta for this mail if they get in time which I cannot hope now as the rain continues to pour. You will find seed in one only -- in others various odds & ends from the Snows, some purses from Lhassa for the museum, good webbiana, Larch, Brunoniana & Khutrow cones -- whole specimens of Rhod[odendron] nivale from 18000 ft, the loftiest of all shrubs, & hitherto of any known plant, but I have several species of plant from above that curious forms 1/2 spherical balls of an Alsineae growing in Thibet at 18000 ft like

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an old friend Bolax. -- I am too late to send the Tchuka rhubarb drawing by
this mail, it shall go by next. I have sent a fine dried root also root of the other species which is twisted & shaggy, as long & thick as the arm. I am truly glad it is growing at Kew. Does the rose seed germinate? The Rhod[odendron]: mss shall go by next mail the drawings will I hope remove your scepticism as to the species, & the set of dried specimens which Falconer has sent on to you. Falconer at my request planted some webbiana seeds in Calcutta & the boxes he says go hence by the Queen (Capt Mc Leod) free he hopes. Also all my 1848 dried collection goes by the same with museum specimens. The vegetable bellows I fear got eaten up for I can hear no tidings of them -- I will try to get another apir by writing the Mirzapore but doubt the probability.
I have 100 kinds of wood including all the Pines & many Rhododendrons they are well labelled are now being packed. Of Sal (Shorea) P. longfolia

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& Caryota urens, the specimens are each a man's load -- my specimens of Palms were each 12 feet long & the new ones I am getting are as large, but the old ones almost all rotted though kept in a room with a constant fire, during last rains. They are
Wallichia Plectocomia Himalayana Areca gracilis Phoenix Caryota urens Calamus tenuis ---------- Royleanus ? ---------- schizospathus ---------- collinus ? ---------- ----- sp ?
I have besides two stems of the Cycas & two beautiful cones as long as the fore arm now drying by the fire but shrinking much -- one of the stems is dichotomous -- I have two immense long tree ferns that take 4 men to carry each & three of a smaller species. A trunk of Pandanus is also terribly bulky but I am determined all shall go to Kew.

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only give me time they are now being packed in the thickest material I can find, a very coarse cloth called gunny[?]. I got a mass of fibre of the Urtica (like but not I think) heterophylla, of these parts, (not Boehmeria -- a true Urtica). Also today the Rajah's Meepo[?] sent me a present of a knife & cloth died red with munjeet & I have a piece died yellow with Symplocos. Also Fibre of Sterculia & sundry odds & ends for you.
Lushington & the General have made a most miserable mess of the Sikkim affair, & I expect that Lord Dalhousie will be very angry when he comes to hear of it. Still the affair is settled by taking all the Rajah's property south of the Rummun & Gt Rungeet rivers & all thence between the Teesta & Mechi rivers. Getting troops in has cost well in to £30,000 & nothing has been done with them, for the annexation of the territory required no troops but what were here. The Rajah will not give up the culprits, we have been

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fools enough to demand his doing so on pain of losing his throne, & then to withdraw our alternative. Lushington & the general got to loggerheads -- I should never have advised that threat but once given its retraction is the height of folly -- the troops being all out on purpose & the Sikkim people longing to belong to us, both Lamas & Kajis on our side, the Dewan & a truculent Bhothea or two alone holding out. I firmly believe & told Mr L[ushington]. so, that the affair might be easily settled by summoning the well affected & not the culprits into Dorjiling [Darjeeling]. Instead of that he says to the Rajah & offenders "come to be killed" would not believe Campbell's & my assurance that neither one or other would come to such a call. Thereon he blusters & swaggers, sends troops across the boundary, & then recalls them -- before they have got a stone's throw. Having done so he asks the Rajah now to come to terms, & gets the very sorry answer of, "give me back my land & then perhaps I will confer with you". To conclude Mr L[ushington]. begs the Rajah to consider himself on the

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same friendly terms with us as before we took the land, & to send his political agents to Dorjiling! -- where Dr Campbell, who is reinstated with all honor into his old post with a larger authority than ever will continue as the Gov[ernor] Gen[era]ls agent Lushington is said to be & probably is a very good revenue judicial & magisterial office, but such an ass of a politician never stepped -- Such a set of mistakes you never heard of, & a more narrow escape than the govt. have had in our case could not well be -- You know that we took Sikkim from the Nepalese, gave it to the Rajah & bound ourselves to protect it, against all enemies solely for the purpose of keeping the Nepalese out of Bhutan, who thirst for possession of the whole Himal: & over & over again have asked permission to march troops through Sikkim & conquer Bhutan (very easily done) well, in profound ignorance or forgetfulness of all this, the govt: were on the point of, as a punishment to the Rajah, offering the Gurkhas all N. Sikkim -- Campbell luckily heard of it in time to prevent it by a short note to govt. which made them stare -- How we are to carry on a friendly alliance with a Rajah who

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openly harbors offenders who really tried to & all but murdered Campbell is a mystery to himself Hodgson & myself. To this hour he has some of our property & people, & won't give them up. As to the land we have taken, the only person who is thereby materially hurt is our particular friend the Tcheba Lama.! the most upright & best man in the country. for the Rajah never getting a tithe of the rent of the rent his portion will not feel much the worse. The rest was Tcheba's.
It's an ill wind that blows nobody good, & most heartily glad I am to be out of the political way -- Campbell too is returned to his old post with all honor, an increased jurisdiction & more pay! To our unspeakable comfort: the bubble of Chinese interference & of our having brought all on ourselves by our imprudence has all burst & we have come out all the brighter.
The main body of the troops are already in orders to march down again to the plains.

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& I am inexpressibly pleased to get off marching into Sikkim with them. I have packed three more small boxes of museum articles for you today & sent them off to Falconer for next mail. I think it only fair that you, i.e. the Gardens should pay for some of the 6 or 7 boxes ready for next mail. & I will give instructions accordingly. I have three more small boxes which will be in Calcutta in time for next mail, one contains tin boxes with dried leaves of the odorous Rhododendron -- these should be corked tight in bottles, that some portion may be analysed on my return.
I am writing to Mamma, my thanks to you for the boxes just arrived which are quite charming. Hodgson is delighted with Hodgsonia it is a superb drawing. I greatly regret that I cannot send you drawings of the anthers by this mail & have written to ask Cathcart it does not flower til May. What a superb plant Wightia is, it is not properly a climber but an epiphyte

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sending clasping roots down the trunks of the largest Forest trees. Its scarlet blossoms are gorgeous in autumn. Wight is really an excellent fellow. I recommended Thwaites to him & he immediately writes inviting him to Coimbatore; promises him a set of all his duplicates & if the govt do not buy it for him, a complete set of all his works.
Royle very civilly sends me his Tea pamphlet, by far the best thing I think he ever wrote. & very interesting. I tried to inoculate Lushington with the fact that a peaceable settlement with the Sikkim people would open up the shortest route from India to Thibet, & one mighty advantageous for our new Tea trade, but there is as little go in Mr L[ushington]. as in the 5th, wheel of a coach.
I send a fragment of my Cypress it is not the least like the drawing in Staunton. Again thanks for your offer of money to do the Nepaul journey properly, but in Toms company I shall hope not to want any at all -- & my great expense, the instruments is all defrayed now. Bellenden Ker is a wretch about whom I am sorry to have troubled you. The Khasya reach 8000 at the outside.

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Greenough is very kind, my best compliments & thanks for the Table of measures he sent, which is most commendable & useful. He shall be most welcome to a copy of my map for the Geogr[aphical] Soc[iety] & any thing else he pleases as soon as I can get them & draw them up. I am so busy with my plants that I grudge working at the map, & yet it must be done whilst the materials & references & my note books are fresh in my mind.
Donkiah is a wonderful place 19200 ft is the alt: of the pass, & plants to 200 ft of top. Lichen to all but 20000 ft wait til you see my coloured sketch of Thibet Jorgen Jorgensen's works are moonshine to mine.
If Lord Reeve would really lithograph the picture of your Bhotia serv[an]t well Tayler would not object. I am sure that I do think the profit should go as L.R. desires to the Linn[ean]. Soc[iety]. Tayler intends returning it to you at

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once -- for my sake put more expression in the face, whatever you like, squinting, crusty, dirty any thing rather that wax hair--dresser's dummy
Most strange it is there is not such a thing as an acorn thus far! whilst last at this season I could not ride my pony along the ground but be stumbled at every step -- I have picked up all I saw & sent for others, but every one is empty, literally, I have cracked 10 at a time & they are all spongy inside.
The Hodgsonia plate is superb. I have written to Reeve Greenough & Royle -- I send more Larch seeds by Se[cretar]y. India house. & have planted some myself.
Your affectionate son | Jos D Hooker [signature]


1. A note written in another hand records that the letter was: "Recv. April 17" [1850].
2. The city formerly known as Calcutta is now called Kolkata.

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