Ellen: Letter to Dawson Turner

Here is the text of the whole of one letter written by Ellen to Dawson Turner and images of the original letter. Seventy of Ellen’s letters to Turner have survived, and fifty of his to her.

The Ellen Hutchins Festival are very grateful to the Milwaukee Irish Fest Foundation Inc for a grant that has enabled nearly forty of Ellen’s letters to be transcribed and typed. This means that for the first time nearly all of her letters to Dawson Turner are available to researchers on Ellen in typing rather than in her handwriting and with cross hatching (writing over a page of text with a second one).

In the letter text [square brackets] indicate where text is missing or illegible, or contain a note from the transcriber.

Ellen’s letters to Dawson Turner are held in bound volumes of the Dawson Turner Correspondence in the Wren Library of Trinity College Cambridge, and the text and images are shown here by kind permission of the Master and Fellows of Trinity College Cambridge.


Ellen to Dawson Turner: 28th September 1811

I thank you very much, my dear Sir, for your kind & interesting letter. No part of it gave me so much pleasure as that relating to your family. After the length of time that I have experienced your kindness you [__] feel that I must naturally be interested in the health & happiness of all around you & that it gives me great pleasure to hear that Mrs. Turner is recovering health & spirits [_] make you all happy & enable you to enjoy each other. When she returns from the country & brings all her girls back to you, I shall expect to hear that you are all as chearful [sic] & contented as such minds as yours deserve to be even in this world. I am glad to hear my little child is getting on so well, tho’ one cannot give credit to the whole of what her Nurse says. I hope I may please myself with believing that she is advancing as fast as she naturally ought to do. If she has but health she will soon hold up her head & look knowing.
I have been so kept employed for some time past with a variety of little affairs that I have not been able to read, draw, or go out to the mountains. Next week I expect to be at liberty & return with great pleasure to those employments that please me most. I shall xxxx very soon be able to do the drawing of Fucus fructiculosus for you and some others that I wish you to have. I have a Conferva very near F. fructiculosus but a distinct species. It seems intermediate between this Fucus & Conf. fucoides, having the habit of the former & the jointed structure of the latter. I have got a large Rivularia that I think may be new of which you shall have the specimen & drawing. Some Conferva that I have never yet sent you. The other day I met with the lateral fruit of Conf. elongata in a very fine state. Do you wish for the specimen? If you have not seen it, I think you would like it. No, my dear Sir, it is not partiality for you that blinds me. I am very sure that you would give fine figures & good descriptions of the plants that Dillwyn has but imperfectly represented, and as the whole of the submersed Algæ must be thrown together for a new arrangement, I think it would be a most desirable thing that the whole should be done by one person & particularly by you, who I am firmly persuaded understand more of this tribe than any other person. I am glad you are near the end of the Fuci. You seem to wish it so much & beside I am anxious to see the conclusion.
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The specimens from Mr. Hooker that you sent to Mr. Mackay have arrived quite safe. The Engravings &c you say that Mr. H. sent by post never came & I now begin to fear they are lost. I should regret them extremely on every account & very much on acct. of the specimen of Dawsonia polytri[choides?]. I beg you will return my best thanks to Mr. Hooker. His specimens of Jungermannia are of great value to me. I have examined them very carefully & compared them with mine. I am greatly pleased to find how rich I am, & how few this one spot wants of the whole of the British species. I suppose with the Engravings Mr. H. sent his opinion of some of the species I lately met with which are quite different from any of [__] I think I have met with J. pubescens which I had mistaken for a large vary. of J. furcata. I have a few others that may be new which I shall in a day or two enclose to you thro’ the Bishop of Norwich. I can hardly think the xxxxx moss I sent you with the Pinguicula can be Bryum alpinum. I must send you more. I have all my Jungermanniæ made up to send you and many other things. I would have sent them by Mr. Mackay but could not send them to Dublin in time for him. I shall also send the list of our plants, and of what I want. This I would have done sooner, but that I had not time. The few moments I have had to myself have been spent with poor Tasso. I read his life over & over with fresh gratification. It appears to me very
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…… so able [?] judgement is [___] that I hardly dare to express an opinion. I can say it pleases my feelings but how far they accord with those of other people I can not say. I live so completely retired & from the habit of keeping my thoughts very much to myself I should hardly venture to speak them. I never think of Tasso but with the highest admiration & regard. Your quotation from Marston’s ode is most beautiful. I had not seen it & shd be very glad to see the whole. Burns I delight in, I believe most people do. While his poetry delights, his life pains one. I used to think that superior genious was accompanied by superior virtue, but I find it is otherwise & now believe that plain good sense & virtue are more frequently to be found united. I should like to believe that every perfection was added to genious, it would be pleasing to one’s feelings to think so, but I believe it would be wrong & unjust to those who are not so exalted. I cannot conclude without saying that my Mother is if any thing rather better since the weather has been cool. I am now strong again. Mrs. T. is probably by this time returned from the country. I beg you make our kind wishes acceptable to her & believe me your ever obliged friend.
E. Hutchins
Sept. 28th 1811