From Joseph Hooker1    20 November 1872

Kew Novr 20 /72.

My dear V. Mueller

I am again very deep in your debt part cause of which you will no doubt kindly excuse attributing it to the loss I have sustained in the death of Lady Hooker whose illness & decease not only occupied my time & thoughts but threw much work upon me, & I have still many family matters to arrange. Then again I have the struggle between Kew & the Brit: Musm2 going on: the Botanists of all countries have taken alarm at Ayrtons propositions for breaking up the Institution. I do not myself believe that the Govt have seriously entertained this idea, but it has been before them, & is abandoned more I expect through their detestation of Ayrton & the trouble he gets them into, than for any motives of care for this Institution as a Scientific one. Meanwhile the English Botanists are getting up an address to Gladstone, & he has been addressed by D.C.3 on the part of Continental Botanists and by Torrey & Gray4 on the part of America.5

I am delighted to gather from your last letters that your trial is over & that you may now hope for peace.6 You have not wanted for sympathy in England, & I am delighted to see how unanimous your own papers have been in giving praise to your scientific work & travels.

The noble Cycas stems are now in dock and my Curator goes to the ship to day to choose that you so generously give to us & also Booth's, the latter has asked that we keep it here for him through the winter, so I shall hope to be able to forward it in a flourishing state — I remark what you say about Coleoptera in the trunks.7 Your account of the groves of these in their gregarious condition is most remarkable. Pray let me advise that when such things are taken up, the roots be preserved as far as possible; & the fronds not cut off but turned down carefully & tied round the stem.

I should indeed be glad to have one of 20-30 ft.: but except for the Museum I doubt if one of 70 could renew life action along so great a length of stem after disturbing Your whole account of this plant is wonderful.

Many thanks for your defence report which reads capitally & is temperate, & judicious in the main, indeed altogether in as far as I know & can judge from so great a distance. The newspaper comments are wicked when they attack and display a detestable spirit which however you must outlive. I am so glad that the Gard. Chron.8 article was useful. Dr Martin was very enthusiastic about it; & it was wholly his writing — we had many talks about it.

You ask me how to make a present to Berkeley9 — It is very kind of you but I do not think he expects or would wish any thing of the kind — he is a very quiet man — none of his daughters are married. If you feel any necessity to do any thing of the kind, a little ornament of Australian gold, or something of that kind for Mrs Berkeley would be suitable, but not too expensive which would shock him.

I am offering attentions to the Capt. of the Yorkshire but you can have no idea how few of these men ever come to Kew. Their time & thoughts are taken up half in the city & half with their family who generally reside a long way off. We ask them constantly, offer them hospitality, bouquets & so forth in return for their many & great services to this establishment.

The Orchideae 27 fascicles have arrived quite safe, & the supplementary bundle by the Somersetshire.10 Bentham is just finishing Coniferae & Cycadeae. — I have told Mr Bentham about quoting Miss Chaleys11 work; but I doubt the expediency of quoting non Botanical works without dissections — such works being rarely seen in general Libraries & never in Botanical ones.

The axe handles &c for the Museum are splendid, many thanks for them.

I will ask your acceptance of my copy of Reichenbach's12 Xenia — it shall go with the next returned box of your collections.

Mr Clarson has been here twice — he spent last Monday here & lunched with us. I like him very much — he spoke most warmly & kindly of you.

I have printed Rubiaceae; & the translation of Dne &. Maout13 is nearly finished, I shall hope to send you a copy by about Xmas.

Mr Gibbon has just sent to me the largest specimen he can procure of the Cape Todea — it weighs only 90 lbs.

Ever my dear Mueller

Most sincy14 yr

Jos D Hooker








MS black edged. See also M to J. Hooker, 12 August 1872.
British Museum.
De Candolle; his letter to Gladstone has not been found.
John Torrey and Asa Gray; their letter to Gladstone has not been found.

In a dispute associated with that between Hooker and the Chief Comissioner of Works over the administration of Kew (see MacLeod 1974) there was a heated discussion about the future relationship between herbaria at Kew and at the British Museum. There was debate about the desirability of merging them, of making one subordinate to the other, or of differentiating their functions. In an address to Acton Ayrton , Richard Owen of the British Museum had called into question the value of the Kew Herbarium. The dispute was, in part, a reflection of the poor relationship between Hooker and Owen.

The ‘address to Gladstone’ led to a denial by Gladstone of an intention to move the Kew Herbarium to the new site of the Natural History departments of the British Museum that were to be relocated to South Kensington, and an assurance that there would be consultation if any such proposal were considered (Endersby [2008], pp. 295–300). See also the anonymous editorial in the Gardeners' chronicle , 18 January 1873, p. 69, and, on pp 72–3 in the same issue, the text of the address ‘The national herbaria’, signed by the professors of botany at Cambridge, Oxford, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin (from both the University and the Royal College of Science), King’s College London, Belfast, and forty other botanists including Darwin and Bentham.

See M to J. Hooker: 7 August, 10 August (in this edition as 72-08-10a) and 12 August 1872.
See M to J. Hooker, 7 August 1872.
Gardeners' chronicle, 1872 (Saturday, 11 May 1872), p. 633.
See M to J. Hooker, 12 August 1872.
See M to J. Hooker, 12 August 1872, second letter (in this edition as 72-08-12a).
Charsley? i.e. Charsley (1867).
Reichenbach (1858-1900). Hooker sent M at least volume 1, which is inscribed 'Baron V. Mueller with Dr Hooker's kind regards'.
i. e. Decaisne & Le Maout (1873).

Please cite as “FVM-72-11-20,” 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 25 September 2022,