From Joseph Hooker   20 December 1858

Kew Dec 20/58

Dear Dr Mueller

I have to day received yours of 15th Oct — many thanks for it — Ere this you will I doubt not have received some seeds, & also sundry books &[c] ordered for you per Pamplin. Pamplin is a slow man, but he is honest & accurate. Now as Reeve is most inaccurate & Bailliere has given great dissatisfaction in many ways I would advise you to put up with Pamplin — I know nothing so difficult as keeping these booksellers in tolerable order. They plague us out of our lives here, with, dilatoryness, over charges incomplete copies, &c &c &c you are the first person who has ever called Reeve an enterprising publisher, Harvey & I complain grievously of him in this respect[.]1 I am sorry that you did not get the Flora Tasmanica fascicles, & must now beg your acceptance of my only remaining colored copy which I shall send to Pamplin for you. I gave the previous 2 fascicles to my father to send you & I doubt not they are gone astray amongst his multifarious correspondences but we really are overwhelmed here with duties of this sort. I am quite prepared to accept your opinion of many of my species being bad ones — I look at all systematic work as approximate only & full of error. I will certainly look again at the Zannichellia, I took the opinion of a person who I thought a good critical European Botanist but I find that the so called critical Botanists are just as fallible as others. I do not doubt you may also be right about reducing the Tasmanian Junci & Luzula, but if so what would you do with the European species as they stand in Fries, Koch, & others? I do not doubt we should look again very closely in our estimates of the European Flora. With regard to Trithuria about wh I see you are annoyed, — you perhaps do not consider that I have been working for 22 years at the Australian Flora & had described Trithuria many years before2 I knew of your plants & mss — this however would not have prevented my adopting your name, had it not been that I found your description to differ very much from mine, also your views of its affinities, & also that the name Juncella did not appear to me good for a plant having in my view no affinity with Juncus.

I have studiously abstained from publishing any of your Victorian plants, though I have a great majority of them from Cunningham, Robertson & others, because I knew you were at work on that Flora & like to have the credit of naming your plants. You again go on naming & describing Tasmanian plants though you know I am engaged on that Flora! Many persons would take great umbrage at this, but I do assure you that I do not at all. You further ask me now to give up to you the Chatham Island Flora! which I do most willingly, though I should not in fairness hide from you that I do not think the request reasonable, as you do not leave the Tasmanian plants to me! All I can say is that I shall always welcome your labor in any form, & beg you to be assured that I hate reclamations & jealousies — so pray describe the Chatham & Tasmanian & Indian plants too if you wish — you must not expect however that when I have occasion to work at unpublished plants to which you have given mss names only, I am to take your names wherever the species are good only! as a matter of course. Hitherto I have done so & have not quoted your mss names when I have considered them as synonymous, both because I thought that it would be unfair to point out your mistakes when there was no occasion to do so, & it would only encumber Botany with mss synonyms to no purpose3

The Chatham Island Anchusa chathami flowered last year in London, & Dr Lindley sent it to me to describe, I called it Cynoglossum (I forget what) you will find the description in Gardeners Chronicle.4

Are you printing a Victoria Flora? We had hoped to see a part out ere this. I am busy now drawing up a general account of Australian Botany for an Introductory Essay to my Tasmanian Flora. I have a catalogue of upwards of 400 Indian Phaenogamic species, chiefly tropical. I cannot distinguish your Rice from Oryza sativa & very many of the grasses are Indian, some indeed of the most peculiar, as that lovely 2-spiked Andropogonea, with ciliated glumes, which is Ischaemum ciliare Nees of [the] Peninsula of India.

What you say of the sacrifices you have made for Botany are no doubt very true, but it is not good to think of these things — non an que peculiare — I suspect there are very few men who have had the ability to distinguish themselves in science but who could have risen rapidly to wealth fame & power, in business, diplomacy, theology, the law or army. — we are all alike perhaps in that respect; & no one knows who has made the most sacrifices — on that point — no one is a judge of himself or his own merits, & I find invariably that those who think most of such things are not the most happy or charitable.

The specimens sent to the Linnaean are hardly acceptable there — for we really do not know what to do with Herbaria at the Society! The society is very poor, never can be rich & its funds are most properly expended in publishing, & not in forming collections — we have no curator nor can we afford one, & a vast quantity of plants are left there to be destroyed by dust & insects. This is no one's fault. The Society did once make collections, but its power of doing so is long gone. We want members very much indeed, as the publications cost a great deal, & our library which is of far greater importance than collections, is sadly neglected The object of such a society is to publish for the use of science, such papers or works as publishers cannot or will not undertake, to supply a good library for the use of members, & to afford reunions for them — The Linnaean has no funded property, it lives from hand to mouth! We shall always be happy to publish your papers & of those published in the Transactions we give 12 copies to the author. The expenses of the Journal are so great that we could not afford that, but allow an author to have 25 copies on paying the cost of printing & paper. I took it on myself to order so many copies of your paper for you & have seen that it is all right. We give all our publications gratis to members & this we make a great point of doing but it is all we can do to afford it.

Bentham will write to you about the Australian Flora as soon as he has time to commence, meanwhile he is working up Brazil Leguminineae for Martius,5 Spruces plants,6 & sundry odds & ends before beginning — he calculates that it will take him 8-10 years & I do suppose that it will.

I hope soon to send you a copy of the list of the Indian plants in Australia which I think will interest you, I expect to increase my list to 500 Phaenogamic, before I have finished it.

Have you any Australian fossil plants? they would interest me much if accompanied with any information as to their age relative to animal remains.

I hope you will never withold from publishing criticisms on Flora Tasmanica I am sure you will always do so in your usual kind & generous spirit, & I shall welcome them in the same spirit. There is nothing so much wanted as systematic contrasts of the results of independent workers. I tremble for the whole fabric of Species under the ordeal! If you, I, Lindley, Brown & Archer7 differ so much about orchids, where is truth? We want to teach that divergence of opinion regarding species is the law not the exception.

Ever my dear Dr Mueller most truly yours

Jos D Hooker


Anchusa chathami



Ischaemum ciliare





Oryza sativa



editorial addition.
J. Hooker (1855-60) vol. 2, p. 78 (published in May 1858).
See Lucas (1995).
Gardeners' chronicle (1858) p. 240.
Bentham (1859-76).
Bentham (1850) and (1851-2) were the first of a series of papers on Spruce's collections that continued into the 1860s.
William Archer.

Please cite as “FVM-58-12-20,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 8 August 2022,