Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
Hotel de Londres, Rue des Petits Augustins, Paris
Hooker (nee Turner), Lady Maria
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
2 Feb 1845
© The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Letters from J D Hooker: HOO
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
6 page letter over 6 folios

orderly, decently and reverently performed in the Rue Chaillot. The chapel was very full. Pray give my best love to all. I will write again soon. Please let Mr. Planchon*6 look out a few flowers of the plant mentioned by Mr. Gay*7 and send them, the poor man has stuck at a monograph for want of them; he is very poor but takes my books. The Delesserts are extremely kind. Ever your most affectionate son, | JOS. D. HOOKER.

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HOTEL DE LONDRES, Rue des Petits Augustins, Paris.
Sunday morning, February 2nd, 1845.
My dear Mother,
Two days ago I sent a letter announcing my arrival in this city to my Father, which I do not doubt went quite safe. Since then I have seen a very great deal, so much indeed that it is very confusing. My first call was upon Baron Delessert*1 who lives close by the Rue Richelieu, the way I found perfectly easily by following the explicit directions that Mr. Brown gave me. I found him very glad to see me indeed, and extremely kind; he introduced me to his factotum, La Legue, and invited me to dinner as yesterday. I told him that I wished to change my quarters and he recommended me here where I am but and ben with Baron Humboldt*2. I had great difficulty in forcing an entrance as the whole house is full, but they have given me a diminutive, and for this part of the world clean bedroom, they have sitting rooms public and private, but they bring me my breakfast of coffee and egg in the morning. There being no fire it is very cold, though being out all day it saves 3 francs

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per diem to have a room without a fireplace, in a few days I am to have a pair of rooms, which I shall not be sorry for. Why this house is called de Londres I know not, as there is not a trace of or pretension to anything English about the whole house, which is large and as quiet as if empty. Leaving Delessert I went to Webb's*3, a long way off, but the whole town is so simple that one finds the way with perfect ease anywhere. I followed the Boulevards which resembles the Strand, but has better houses on it and the shops are uniformly better, the streets and pavements however very much more dirty. The Madeleine is a most beautiful Greek building, which stands at an angle of the Boulevards (facing an oblique continuation of that road, Rue Royale); it is built of white stone but the columns are made of such small pieces and the joining so evident that much of the effect is frittered away, which the beautiful row otherwise presents. I suppose it is meant for very pure Greek and is certainly a very fine object indeed. The frieze which runs along the façade is beautifully cut, but the designs are horribly French. Immediately on passing this the Place de la Concorde opens which did strike me as most beautiful; the sun was immediately at the back of the obelisk and of the fountains, which sparkled in its rays. The lamp posts are rather heavy, but gilt or bronzed throughout; its form is

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diagonal and at each angle is an equestrian statue, raised on a square pediment, the horses are very spirited indeed. From the obelisk in the centre are three very grand views, 1st, back through the Rue Royale (the continuation of the Boulevards); upon the Madeleine, 2nd to the left through a short avenue to the Tuileries; 3rd, to the right through the immense length of the Champs Elisées[sic] to the Arc de Triomphe, a rather heavy object in itself, but very grand at the distance of perhaps a mile. Straight on is another avenue leading to the Pont de la Concorde and on the other side of the Seine the chamber of Deputies blocks up the view or rather forms a very fine termination to it. My way led through the Champs Elisées[sic], which are very dirty indeed and I soon got terribly splashed with mud. I do not think these town avenues at all in good keeping, they are half rural and that is all. The broad flagged pavements and macadamised roads, covered with carts and coaches, do not suit the noble trees at all, so that I could not in any way compare the Champs Elisées[sic] with the avenue at Bushy Park or at Inverary. The trees look much more to advantage in our parks, where we have not rows of shops at their backs and restaurateurs under their shade. On the contrary the town views here are infinitely preferable to the London ones. The Louvre, Palais Royale and Tuileries are separately infinitely superior as

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wholes than anything we have. The whole bank of the Seine is magnificent, which it would not be were it navigable, or this a manufacturing town, so that the two rivers are not comparable. nor are the effects they produce, or the advantages they offer for embellishing the city. There is here nothing so good as Regent Street, though a little bit of the Rue Rivoli and the Rue Royale are better than any equal portions taken out of that London thoroughfare. All this is however very stupid to you, who have seen these wonders long ago and probably pronounced a very different and more correct judgment on them. Mr. Webb occupies a very elegant house at the upper end of the Avenue de Neuilly in an out of the way avenue called Marbeuf: he received me most kindly and asked me to dine the same day. From his house I went down to the Rue St. Honoré, which is the fashionable street of Paris, and left my card and little parcel for Lord Howden*4. The good houses do not follow one another in a row here as in Piccadilly, nor have they any pretensions, generally speaking, to show outside. You enter a g[reat] door as big and black as Newgate and give your name &c. at a conciergerie inside, in a macadamised courtyard. The street is very narrow so that two can scarcely walk abreast on the pavement and the stoppages of carriages and carts are ten times worse and more numerous than Strand at Temple Inn. This is the season here and the

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quantities of mats and bales are prodigious; they are much confined to the highest classes both of French and English, the middling and lower classes contenting themselves with public imitation of private waste. To-day a carnival commences, which will fill the streets and I sincerely hope that this cold wind will bring snow to cool their boisterous dispositions. On putting up here I sent in my card with Mr. Brown's books to Baron Humboldt: he was not at home but sent his flunkeyx to my bedroom at 8 o'clock yesterday morning to say his master wished to see me at 9. Ten minutes after his lord had grown impatient and sent to say he was all ready, so I went in and saw to my horror a paunchy little German, instead of a tall Humboldt; there was no mistaking his head however, which is exceedingly like all the portraits, though now powdered with white. I expected to see a fine fellow 6 feet without his boots, who would make as few steps to get up Chimborazo as thoughts to solve a problem: I cannot now at all fancy his trotting along the Cordillera as I once supposed he would have stalked. However, he received me most kindly and made a great many enquiries about all at Kew and in England, particularly about Mr. Brown*5 and my father. I had to break this off to go to x; there are two here, one at the Embassy which is conducted by the Bishop, described as a jolly English parson, the other I have just heard, x Scotise[sic] Footman.

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orderly, decently and reverently performed in the Rue Chaillot. The chapel was very full. Pray give my best love to all. I will write again soon. Please let Mr. Planchon*6 look out a few flowers of the plant mentioned by Mr. Gay*7 and send them, the poor man has stuck at a monograph for want of them; he is very poor but takes my books. The Delesserts are extremely kind. Ever your most affectionate son, | JOS. D. HOOKER.


1 Jules Paul Benjamin Delessert, (1773 –1847). French business man, naturalist and industrialist and banker. He became famous for his use of sugar from beet invented by Jean-Baptiste Quéruel. 2 Baron Alexander von Humboldt (1769--1859). Explorer and naturalist who did most of his work in Central and South America. Between 1830--1848 he was often employed on diplomatic missions to Paris 3 Philip Barker Webb (1793-1854) Botanist and traveller. In 1833 he established himself in Paris, where he collected a library and herbarium. 4 2nd Baron Howden John Hobart Caradoc (1799-1873) 5 Robert Brown (1773-1858) Scottish botanist and paleobotanist 6 Possibly Jules Emile Planchon (1823-1888) French botanist who worked for a while at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew 7 Possibly Jacques Étienne Gay (1786-1864) Swiss-French botanist, civil servant, collector and taxonomist
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