From Joseph Hooker   3 June 1857

Royal Garden Kew

June 3d/57.

Dear Dr Müller

I have procured through Pamplin all the books you ordered, except vols VI & VIII of Icon. Plant.1 of which my Father had duplicate copies. I hope you will like the simple microscope which is that which I now use — it cost only £4.4 with 3 lenses, & the latter are from 10/ to 20/ each — I got one extra for you (4 in all) & you can at any future time order others. A balance of £10 or 15 (at least) will remain in my fathers hand of the £25 you transmitted2 even after I added the Linnæan Journal & another book or two which I thought you would care to purchase to the parcel.

I cannot tell you how sincere a pleasure your success in your Botany & travels & Garden gives to my Father & myself: nor the earnest regard my father has for you & your pursuits. It has been a great disappointment to us both that you are not coming home to work out your plants;3 & I do hope that you will be enabled to do so still. My Father & I have the most sincere desire to aid you from here in every way in our power but the plain truth is, that our hands are full of our own affairs, & the little time we can give to aiding such excellent correspondents as you are, has to be divided amongst correspondents from all parts of Europe, Asia, Africa Australia & both Americas. My Father is upwards of 70. His letters would not lead you to suppose this & the enormous correspondence of the Garden alone leaves him hardly time to carry on his Botanical periodicals.4 I have often felt that the best I can do, towards comparing your specimens before publication, correcting the proofs &c &c is infinitely far short of all you deserve & all I would be glad to do — & as it is I feel it is infinitely less than you must naturally expect, for I know that not one half or one quarter of the queries you address to us are answered; nor half the descriptions fully compared. You have no idea of the length of time such comparisons take in this country, owing to the size of our Herbaria, the number of books to consult; & the variable nature of specimens; the imperfection of published descriptions, the number of already instituted bad genera & species. We have also many Floras & their literature to keep in our heads; & it is not so easy for us to remember at once what books &c to go to, for an Australian or Jamaica plant, as it is for an Australian or Jamaican Botanist. All this takes time, & time is the measure of what we can do to help you. You will I can assure you, find that the working out your plants with this Herbarium & Library is a very different & far less easy thing, than you suppose, & that your plants will have given to yourself, a totally different aspect here to what they have in Australia — "circumstances alter cases" — There are besides here a mass of undescribed & unnamed materials that (like your lately found specimens of Grevesia)5 throw a different light upon our old ideas of genera & species. Every Botanist who has come to Kew to work, however experienced, has confessed that so large a Herbarium puts his materials & labors on a very different point of view from what he expected. I cannot therefore too strongly advise you, if there be any possibility of avoiding it to refrain from publishing your Victoria Flora6 in that Colony till you have compared your plants in England. You will find some remarks to this effect, but not addressed to you in particular, in the Introductory Essay to the Flora Indica (p. 11 & 13).7 Again, your own labors & their results are already scattered here & there through upwards of 30 or 40 different volumes of periodicals & published in Germany, England & Victoria You remember book, volume, date & page for all or many of these; — with us it is a laborious search for each individually & much time is lost in the operation. There are inevitable draw-backs to our helping you to the proper elucidation of your plants; & they render it most desirable that you come to Kew to carry out your views. No one is now nearly so well qualified as you are to publish an Australian Flora, & no body else can do it at all.

I thank you heartily for your valuable criticisms on my Fl. Tasmanica8 & beg for more. I am quite sensible of my short-comings & anxious to correct them. I have been keeping up as far as I can a very rough catalogue of Australian plants in Herb Hook. &c: very much in the hope that it would be useful to you here, & save you much time in referring to the Herbarium: it already includes 6040 Dicotyledons & I have now begun the Monocotyledons.

Do you know my dear old friend Fred. K. Adamson Esq in Melbourne? he is a most enthusiastic Botanist & excellent man, very modest & retiring & would be so glad to know you if you could call upon him, or he upon you.

Now I must break off — I hope that you will not think I have said any thing mal-apropos — & that you will come to England & accept my poor services in the Hookerian Herbarium.

Ever dear Dr Müller

most sincerely yours

Jos D Hooker.



W. Hooker (1836-54).
See M to W. Hooker, 11 January 1857.
See M to W. Hooker, 1 February 1857.
W. Hooker (1836-54), (1849-57).
Presumably Greevesia cleisocalyx (B55.13.07, p. 115).
B62.03.03, B63.13.06, B65.02.06.
Hooker & Thomson (1855).
J. Hooker (1855-60).

Please cite as “FVM-57-06-03,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,