From Joseph Hooker1    2 March 1896

March 2 /96

The Camp.

Sunningdale .

My dear Baron

I have not yet thanked you for your [acceptable] letter of the New Year,2 with its kind felicitations, which I cordially accept & respond to.

Only today I have received your Address3 to the Geograph. Sect. of the Australn. Ass. for A. of Sc. 4 at Brisbane. I have read it with very great pleasure & hot interest. It is capital, & worthy of you; so full of sound matter & of sound sense, & all so well put, that one "runs as one accord"; & what a store of information it contains. The summary of a world's ways & means from an antipodeal point of view, & that a British standpoint, is verily refreshing, & makes one's blood course faster. Thank you very much for it & its contents .

You may guess how doubly welcome your letter was, when I tell you that it as yet the only intimation I hear of Brian's5 discovery of mercury at Coolgardie.6 I had heard from him only very shortly before (I suppose) the happy find. He told me that he had a good billet as manager of the "White Feather mine" with £600 a year.

I am still struggling with the Indian Grasses, & Stapf is preparing the same order for the Flora of Trop. Africa & of S. Africa;7 so we have much work in common. That benefits us both. The chaotic condition of the African Grasses in the Herbarium is inconceivable, & I only wish that I could withhold publication till Stapf's work is over, for I can foresee that his work will throw great light on the Indian that cannot appear till his is completed.

I am also busy with Banks' narrative, which necessitates a great deal of work in detail.8 Happily I am actively assisted in this by my son Reginald (now in the Agricult. Dept), as to which appt I thank you heartily for your kind congratulations.9 I shall have excellent portraits of Banks from that in the R. Sy.10 Rooms, & of Solander from that in the Lin Socy11 Rooms. The valuable feature of the work is, the revealing12 Banks' his right place as a "working naturalist," the pioneer of the illustrious band of Naturalist Voyagers of which Darwin is the culminant. It nowhere appears in the accounts of Banks' life & work that he was a bona fide naturalist, in which respect Hawkesworth13 does him no justice. Banks was further the interpreter of the Expedition; the commissariat-officer so to speak; & the thief catcher to whose energy was due the recovery of the stolen Quadrants, but for which the Expedn would have been a failure. — In short but for Banks the results of Cook's voyage would have been confined to Geograph. discovery. — His subsequent position as the Maecenas of Science14 has eclipsed hitherto all he did in his early days as a scientific worker. Had he but published his collections what a mark he would have made in the scientific world proper! As it was he gave every one liberty to make use of them, & except for the fragment of the Botany published by Brown,15 there was nothing gained by those magnificent collections.

The conclusion of the "Index"16 was indeed a relief, for which, at my age, I am more thankful than I can express: for I had always the fear of Saturn's scythe17 at my heels during the long period of its gestation. In one's 79th year the inevitable stares one in the face so long as unfinished work is in hand — & so it is with the Indian Grasses,18 but as nearly half of this is printed I may hope to see it concluded by midsummer.

I still go three days a week to Kew, & work here for the rest of the week. The medallion of my father goes by next mail.

Ever sincerely yrs

Jos D Hooker.

MS annotation by M: 'Answ 18/4/96'. Letter not found.
See M to J. Hooker, 1 January 1896.
Australasian Association for the Advancement of Science.
Hooker's son.
Stapf and Hubbard (1917-34); Stapf (1897 – 1900).
Hooker was editing the journal kept by Joseph Banks during his voyage around the world with James Cook, 1768-71; see Banks (1896).
See J. Hooker to M, 17 November 1895, and M to J. Hooker, 1 January 1896.
Royal Society.
Linnean Society.
giving deleted and replaced by revealing, but his not then deleted.
Hawkesworth (1773).
Banks was President of the Royal Society of London, 1778-1820.
In Brown (1810).
Index kewensis (i.e. Jackson [1893-5]).
Roman god, represented with a scythe and an hour-glass.
J. Hooker (1897).

Please cite as “FVM-96-03-02,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 21 September 2021,