In the winter of 1842, a strange ship appeared off Galveston and soon had Texan tongues wagging.
ship was the Dolphin, a British schooner-of-war, fitted out as an armed luxury yacht by Captain William Houstoun (pronounced HOO-stun), a British cavalry officer.
Captain Houstoun had come to hunt and fish.
wife, Matilda Charlotte Jesse Fraser Houstoun (1815-1892), had come to
observe...and record what she saw and heard for the London News.
was her mission to inform the civilized British public about this
distant, dangerous, murderous place called Texas and it's wild inhabitants.
Houstoun was an uncommon woman. As the daughter of noted British
naturalist Edward Jesse and the sister of historian John Jesse, she had
been taught from an early age to observe her world and to think for
This book is the result of her observations and thoughts while voyaging the Gulf and visiting Texas.
"She gives us some exceptional insights into Texas of the 1840's"
- John H. Jenkins.
Jenkins, the famous Texas bookman and bibliographer, considered this
one of the most important accounts of Texas during the Republic era. He
included it in his seminal work, Basic Texas Books, a bibliography of 224 books essential to a Texas history collection.
"No one is stopped in this country by anything short of a Bowie knife or rifle-ball."
tone is lighthearted, but proper, making it a bit like listening to
Mary Poppins tell tales of Texas adventures and intrigue. She mixed with
people of all types while in Texas, from store keepers, to high
officials to slaves and free people of color.
Within these pages she records:
- insight into the plight of the Texas Navy
- the strange methods of house building and maintainence in Galveston
- details of common speech and manners
- observations on foreign immigrants arriving in Texas and their prospects
- details of hunting and fishing excursions
- predictions of the future course of Texas history
Texans are an impatient people; they drive to, and at their end, with
greater velocity than any individuals I have ever seen or heard of.
Nothing stops them in their go-ahead career."
the time they left, Mrs. Houstoun had grown to love Texas and Texans.
She admired the free-spiritedness and good-heartedness of the people.
She hoped that Texas would always remain an independant republic.
she wished the women of Texas would exercise their influence over the
men to stop their constant chewing and spitting of tobacco.
Why This Edition is Different...and Important
- Mrs. Houstoun adhered to Victorian decorum in her writings and only the initials of her sources were included in the text, to avoid "name dropping." We have done the research, and now for the first time, the full names are included in the text.
erroneuos dates regarding the trip that appeared in the original and
have been perpetuated in other books and journal articles since. (Even
Streeter, the Texas State Library and the Library of Congress have it
for the first time, her writings about their second Texas trip in 1846.
They visited with several of the major players in the annexation drama,
including President Anson Jones, and also stayed with Col. Morgan's
family at Morgan's Point.
the first printed representation of the City of Houston which appeared
in the London edition of 1844 (it was not included in the the American
edition of 1845.) Known to scholars as 'The Alpine Houston' it was the
only depiction of the city to be published during the Republic era. It
shows Houston as a European-style hamlet at the base of a mountain. (It
also shows a railroad bridge, though none would exist until 1861.)
- Includes a beautiful description of the yacht Dolphin that appeared in the Houston Telegraph and Texas Register.
- Is annotated to provide context for her observations within the bigger picture of Texas history.
Like all our limited editions, we will gladly buy it back if you decide you don't want it. There is no time limit on that.
Now's the time to order.