Harper's New Monthly Magazine,  8 (1884), 832–41.

A Day with Sir Joseph Hooker at Kew

Joseph Hatton


Essay, Biography, Dialogue, Travelogue

Relevant illustrations:

eng. [9]


Botany, Scientific Practitioners, Aesthetics, Exploration, Botanical Gardens, Imperialism, Biogeography, Acclimatization

People mentioned:

Alfred R Wallace , John Torrey

    Describes a trip to the semi-rural London suburb of Kew to see Joseph D Hooker, 'the modern master of Kew Gardens, and the world's best authority on botany, theoretical and practical'. Notes that, as well as a portrait of the 'characteristic head of Professor Darwin', Hooker's study contains 'several Wedgwood plaques and bits of old Nankin "blue". It is the room of a man of taste, of a busy man whose avocations lie among beautiful things'. (833) In a brief dialogue, Hooker, when asked what he regards as his most important work, responds 'The raising of plants and seeds for the colonies and for other countries', and goes on to declare that 'We do not wait for the colonial or Indian governments to ask us for plants; we send them whatever is good for them'. Claims that among the numerous buildings at Kew, 'the most interesting to the general sight-seer, and probably not the least to the scientist, is the Palm House', which is 'heated by six boilers, connected with a system of 20,000 feet of hot-water piping' and 'has an underground railway for the conveyance of coal and the removal of ashes' (837). Avows that 'I have seen many stove-houses, including those of Chatsworth and Brussels, but none where the plants give such evident proof of thorough acclimatization as at Kew' (838). Observes that Hooker 'never seemed more pleased than when discoursing upon the benefits that accrue from the propagation and cultivation of the economic plants, though he was equally at home among the more curious and eccentric specimens of nature's handiwork' (839). Also tells American readers that 'Sir Joseph spoke with great satisfaction of his visit to America' in 1877, during which 'he saw nearly every form of natural phenomena' (841).

© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020

Printed from Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical: An Electronic Index, v. 4.0, The Digital Humanities Institute <http://www.sciper.org> [accessed ]