From George Bentham   24 July 1862

Kew July 24/621

My dear Sir,

My letter dated the 14th I believe was finished on the post day (last Saturday) and despatched to save the post via Southampton — That same evening arrived yours of the 23rd May to which I now reply briefly via Marseilles

My former letters will have informed you of the safe arrival of the first second and third cases of your plants and of the redespatch to you of the first (including Pittosporeae or the greater part of the second) per Norfolk

The 4th case per Orwell is not yet arrived. I trust the remainder will follow soon My previous letters will have given you the order I follow as far as I have gone After Caryophylleae come (including only those Orders which are found in Australia where I believe are no Guttiferae Ternstroemiaceae etc):

 

Portulaceae

Elatineae

Hypericineae

Malvaceae

Sterculiaceae (incl. Buttnerieae &c)

Tiliaceae

Lineae

Malpighiaceae

Zygophylleae

Geraniaceae

Rutaceae

Simarubeae

Burseraceae

Meliaceae

Olacineae

Ilicineae

Celastrineae

Stackhousieae

Rhamneae

Ampelideae

Sapindaceae

Anacardiaceae 2

 

All which I hope to include in the 1st vol.

With regard to your view about species you seem to have taken a wrong view of mine[.] I had for a great many years during my continued observation of living plants in a great variety of stations in almost every country of Europe devoted much attention to the subject and had come more and more to the conclusion that species had fixed limits difficult as it is often to find them and that genera and Orders were arbitrary — and though I never wrote much on the subject I collected a great number of facts — and explained my views somewhat generally about genera in a Memorandum published in one of the first vols. of the Journal of the Linnean Society and I believe in a review of De Candolle's Geographie Botanique in the Edinburgh Review.3 But I entered much more in detail into the question of species in a paper read at the Linnean Society in Nov 1858 but which circumstances prevented the publication at the time, but 2½ years later it was inserted in the first vol. of the Natural History Review4 — I had no separate copies of this paper — I have not even one for myself — or I should have sent it you but I have no doubt you have the work. It was immediately after the reading of this paper that Darwin's remarkable observations were first made known — and whatever may be one's opinion of the speculative part of his work, it is very certain that the numerous facts he has observed must cause naturalists to reconsider their previous opinions, and I begin to think that my former views of the fixity of species must be in some measure modified — or at least exceptions admitted — But however that may be, if species are fixed, the evidence of what is a species and what is a race is never positive 5 — always more or less circumstantial and therefore differently appreciated by different minds — and there is no hope of establishing the limits of species so as to admit of no dispute even on the part of the most experienced most acute and most right-judging botanists — without even taking into account that all men tend to attach undue importance to evidence discovered by themselves over that which others have brought forward.

I yesterday went through Brown's Tremandreae and Polygaleae — there was nothing in the former but five sets of queries I had already — in Polygaleae he had Salomonia oblongif.6 from Endeavour River — I had noted that it was Australian but somehow had forgotten on what grounds and should have omitted it again if I had not seen these. — He has also excellent specimens of your Comesperma defoliatum from P. Jackson & Hunter's river7 which we have not at Kew8 a new tropical Comesperma in the way of scoparium and a K.G.S.9 one allied to calymega but with rather longer flowers and very differently shaped fruits. I have not yet seen your C. spinosum — but of course all the Orders I do before your specimens arrive must be gone over again with them which is as well as it serves to check blunders doing things at twice at some interval.

Gypsophila tubulosa must be indigenous Brown found it on Cooks River and Nepean River and it could not then have established itself there from the Levant

I hope you are at work at the second volume of your Victorian Flora and that you will keep publishing that work ahead of me not only as the best way of securing to yourself the priority and credit of your observations, but as a depot of detailed information which there will be no room for in my work, and yet necessary for Victorian Botanists

10No 18 of your Fragmenta which you mention11 has not yet come to hand — Your specimens of Streptothamnus are received — I do not know what to make of them — I have as yet nothing like a climber in Bixineae — If at all of that order it comes into Oncobeæ but is very unlike them.

Your Gunnia had been overlooked — that is originally laid aside as not belonging to Portulaceae proper but to Tetragonieae I had forgotten to mention it among Genera exclusion12

I have this morning been at Polycarpaeae of which we have besides your very good specimens from Armstrong Cunningham Macgillivray and Bynoe — all your species and from the N.W. Coast the 8 Indian and Arabian P. spicata.13 I make out nine Australian species, that is three Planchonias (Gay) with the petals connate in a tube with the stamens two Aylmerias free petals and staminodia — and four Polycarpaceae proper — Tomorrow I begin upon Portulaceae — that is Portulaca Calandrinia and Claytonia

Yours very sincerely

George Bentham

 

Sir William has just received no 18 of your Fragmenta.

I see in No 1714 you have two new Anonaceae Your Uvaria heteropetala from your characters is different from the only Australian Uvaria I have, one from Cape York McGillivray which I have called U. membranacea — but is not your Unona nitens the same as U. nitidissima Dun. or U. fulgens Labill. Sert. Austro. Caled.15 of which there are specimens from Queensland in Cunningham's collections and also in some others — and which is not a true Unona but a Polyalthia having only 1 or 2 erect ovules in each carpel and not several as figured by mistake by Labillardiere. I have very carefully examined Labillardiere's own specimens as well as the Moreton Bay ones.

 

Ampelideae

Anacardiaceae

Anonaceae

Aylmerias

Bixineae

Burseraceae

Buttnerieae

Calandrinia

Caryophylleae

Celastrineae

Claytonia

Comesperma calymega

Comesperma defoliatum

Comesperma scoparium

Comesperma spinosum

Elatineae

Geraniaceae

Gunnia

Guttiferae

Gypsophila tubulosa

Hypericineae

Ilicineae

Lineae

Malpighiaceae

Malvaceae

Meliaceae

Olacineae

Oncobeæ

Pittosporeae

Planchonia

Polyalthia

Polycarpaceae

Polycarpaea spicata

Polygaleae

Portulaca

Portulaceae

Rhamneae

Rutaceae

Salomonia oblongifolia

Sapindaceae

Simarubeae

Stackhousieae

Sterculiaceae

Streptothamnus

Ternstroemiaceae

Tetragonieae

Tiliaceae

Tremandreae

Unona fulgens

Unona nitens

Unona nitidissima

Uvaria heteropetala

Uvaria membranacea

Zygophylleae

 
MS annotation at head of letter by M: 'Portrait'.
A series of dots has been added beneath Hypericineae, Simarubeae, Meliaceae and Sapindaceae.
Bentham (1858) & (1856).
Bentham (1861b).
(Whatever is not positive is not specific F.M.) interlined by M.
i.e. Salomonia oblongifolia. (Flinders voy) F.M. interlined by M.
Both in NSW.
Brown's collections were held by the British Museum.
King George Sound, WA
The remainder of the letter was filed with G. Bentham to M, 24 March 1862. It could not have been written in March, as it responds to issues raised in M to G. Bentham, 23 May 1862.
B62.05.01; see M to G. Bentham, 23 May 1862.
i.e. not included in the list of 'Genera affinia aut exclusa, v. dubia', Bentham & Hooker (1862-83), vol. 1, p. 156. See M to G. Bentham, 23 May 1862, for Gunnia and the other topics in this and the next paragraphs.
Polycarpaea spicata .
B62.04.01.
See Labillardiere (1824-5), p. 57, tab. 56.

Please cite as “FVM-62-07-24,” 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 19 June 2024, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/vonmueller/letters/62-07-24