From Joseph Hooker   23 August 1858

Kew Aug. 23/58

Dear Dr Mueller

I enclose a copy of a few more suggestions & identifications as to your Australian plants.1 Perhaps you have had some from us before.

We have a large packet of mss &c some V.DL. &c specimens to thank you for. I am perfectly amenable to all your strictures on the Flora Tasmanica — no one has any idea how imperfect all such works must be — Every thing seems clear & easy & accurate till another year over the same ground. I cannot think you right about Eucalyptus Risdoni — it covered the side of a hill on the Derwent; & Gunn found it equally abundant & invariable in other parts of the Island. — I think that Bentham has revised & sent Barklya to the press — as to Dennisonia it is a miserable looking plant to bear the name of the King of Australia & its dependencies!2 Can you find no better plant for his honour? I have no doubt you are right as to several of my Epacris being bad species, & you will do a prodigious service by reducing the species of this & many other Australian plants within their just limits. Leucopogon is a terrible chaos, Melaleuca is worse — as to Eucalyptus I hope your cortical characters will prove as infallible as you think they are, but Brown seemed to think that perhaps you had systematized too much upon it. By the way Harvey suggested the remarkable similarity of Dennisonia to the Cape genus Spielmannia that is in aspect — he sends his compliments & will write soon.3

I do hope you will not be too hasty in publishing. The Grasses & Monocotyledons will lead you into a perfect quag-mire of errors that will seriously damage your reputation eventually — I find that I cannot name the Indian species of Monocots. even approximately without working up the genera. I am now doing Commelynaceae, several of yours are Indian, but I cannot name the Indian ones very accurately. What is now extremely wanted is that resident Botanists should work at the variations of species & a good paper from you on the limits of variation of the Victoria genera — especially such as Epacris, Leucopogon &c &c would immortalize you more effectually than describing new species without proper materials of books & Herbarium. I feel very much that you should desire the honor of publishing your own new discoveries, but the interests of science should be first consulted & what we do now so much want is good observations on previously known plants. I wish too that you could publish in a more methodical form, it is extremely difficult already to refer to your published descriptions & I am sure I omit referring to some that I would not intentionally give the go bye to — but life is short & books are long & the indifference of men of science to the convenience of posterity & contemporaries in publication is leading to unavoidable confusion[.]4 I am sure you will not think me censorious in saying so much, but the subject proper & no one who has not worked in a great library and Herbarium has any conception of the amount of labor & time lost in approaching completeness & accuracy in descriptive Botany.

Have I told you that Lippaya Endl. is Dentella repens of India!

I am sending you another small packet of books to go with the Linneean parcel from Kippist. I think you are right to join that Society; it wants support, & if Botanists will not consent to be taxed for it, it cannot be kept up. As it is the Socy gives the equivalent in journal & transactions annually of fully half the subscriptions; & distributes its trans & journals very widely indeed. The fellows have had to subscribe upwards of £1000 to defray expences of removal5 & we are still badly off for money the library is in a very incomplete & deficient state — & we are giving up entirely a general Herbarium having no funds for it nor space nor curator nor is it required by the members. We retain the Linnæan, Smithian & Wallichian collections & have made a British Herb: but shall go no further in that line.

Our great object is to publish papers that could not be published in England but by such a body, & we shall spend most of our money on publishing. The majority of our Fellows are men of very limited income.6

 

Barklya

Commelynaceae

Dennisonia

Dentella repens

Epacris

Eucalyptus Risdoni

Leucopogon

Melaleuca

Spielmannia

Lippaya

 
Enclosure not found.
B59.02.02.
No correspondence between M and Harvey has been found.
editorial addtion.
The Fellows were asked in 1856 to subscribe to the costs of removing the Society's quarters from Soho Square to Burlington House. See Gage & Stearn (1988) p. 15. Charles Darwin paid £20, and implied that this was the amount expected per Fellow. See Darwin to J. Hooker, 5 July 1856 in Burkhardt & Smith (1990) p. 171.
There is no valediction but the hand is Joseph Hooker's. The text ends at the foot of a page but the verso is blank, whereas the two earlier sheets of the letter have writing on both sides.

Please cite as “FVM-58-08-23,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/vonmueller/letters/58-08-23