Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
The Camp, Sunningdale, Berkshire, United Kingdom
JDH/2/16 f.129
Thiselton-Dyer, Sir William Turner
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
© Descendants of Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker
Letters to Thiselton-Dyer
The Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Original MS
5 page letter over 2 folios

JDH writes to Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer [WTTD] giving his opinion of various publications by Alphonse de Candolle. JDH does not intend to write a notice of 'Alphonse de Candolle's [recent] work', as he has a very low opinion of it. JDH criticise de Candolle's descriptions & his systematic work. JDH lists those he considers superior contemporary systematists; Pourret, Saint-Hilaire, von Martius, Bentham, Endlicher, Gray & Engelmann. JDH has a higher opinion of de Candolle's geographical botany. He reviewed his GÉOGRAPHIE BOTANIQUE in the JOURNAL OF BOTANY, concluding that it was full of useful data but lacked philosophical views & was tainted by a belief in multiple creation of species & scepticism towards evolution, though this was before the 'Darwinian Epoch'. Darwin in fact had a high opinion of the work, & [Asa] Gray a modest one. JDH considers THE ORIGINE DES PLANTES CULTIVÉES an excellent book but not comprehensive, e.g. it does not address the cultivation of Amorphophallus campanulatus or Tacca, which is cultivated from Tahiti to Malaya. JDH calls THE HISTOIRE DES SCIENCES ET DES SAVANTS 'very good & instructive' & thinks its highlight's de Candolle's forte, which is as a statistician. He has not read de Candolle's biography of his father [Augustin Pyrame de Candolle] or his methodology of descriptive botany & was unimpressed by his INTRODUCTION TO BOTANY. He summarises that it is impossible to consider the work of de Candolle without appearing to deprecate him though his wealth & leisure have allowed him time to contribute much to botany. JDH suggests that [William Botting] Hemsley take on LOIS DE LA NOMENCLATURE BOTANIQUE. JDH mentions some Tibetan plants of interest & 'securing' George Massee. JDH is working on Indian Eriocaulons, which he thinks is the most minute flowers genus of Phenogams, & grasses. JDH thanks WTTD for some Rhododendrons. Balfour has sent JDH a list of New Zealand Veronicas which they have at Edinburgh [Botanic Garden].


of any extent, & amongst 50 or 60 Indian Species there are no natural sectional characters! I have begun grasses at the Herbarium yesterday. -- (Eriocaulons I have here).
I am glad to hear that Georgie got over his measles so well.
Did I thank you for the most welcome Rhododendrons you sent? They will all recover here.
Balfour*14 has sent me a list of over 40 shrubby N[ew] Z[ealand] Veronicas cult[ivated] at Edinburgh, & of almost all of which they have duplicates.
Ever aff[ectionatel]y y[ou]r | J D Hooker[signature]

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April 9th [18]93*2
My dear Dyer*3
My opinion of A[lphonse] de C[andolle]'s*4 work in the principal branch from which I should authoritatively speak is so low, that I feel I ought not to attempt a notice of it. His descriptive work is worse than feeble, & that he had no notion of what it such work should be is evidenced by his encouraging his sons to do even worse. As a Systematist I cannot remember that he has coordinated any group, or thrown light on even an obscure genus of plants. In these two departments he is immeasurably below Pourret*5, S[ain]t--Hilaire,*6 [von] Martius,*7 Bentham,*8 Endlicher,*9 A. Gray, *10 Engelmann,*11 & many others who were his early on

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In Geographical Botany he takes a far higher place. I have dealt with his "Géographie Botanique" in the VIII vol[ume] of the Journal of Botany, when I honestly endeavoured to do it justice -- but I had reson reason to fear not to his satisfaction. -- I studied it most carefully, & found it very unequal; full of excellent matter, but wanting in philosophic views, & tainted with the heresy of double creations of species (or almost a quadruple, if I remember aright).
Of course the work was published before the Darwinian Epoch. Darwin*12 had the highest opinion of it. A[sa] Gray had I think a more modified one, but still high. I regarded some parts as first class, some as foolishness.

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I am not sure as to whether he even accepted Evolution.
The Origine des Plantes Cultivées, is an excellent book as far as it goes, but no attempt was made to do more than deal with the most conspicuous cults. So the title is deceptive. I found nothing about Amorphoph[allus] companulatus, & I look in vain for Tacca, which is cultivated all the way from Tahiti to Malaya I believe, & there are many similar omissions.
The Histoire des Sciences et des Savants, is a very good & instructive work; it proclaims de C[andolle] as a Statistician, (as does his Géog[raphie] Bot[anique], & perhaps this is his forte.
I am sorry to say that I have never read his Life of his Father [Augustin Pyrame de Candolle] -- nor a work on the methods to be pursued in

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describing, or some such title. His Introduction to Botany I think fell flat.
The "Lois" [Lois de la Nomenclature Botanique] will require careful handling. But why should you undertake so laborious a task? Would not Hemsley*13 be quite enough? A[lphonse] De Candolle's is the case of a man who deservedly fills a large space in the Botany of the middle & later part of the Century, but whose deeds it is singularly difficult to appraise satisfactorily, without appearing to depreciate them. He had great learning begot of leisure & wealth.
The Tibetan plants have indeed interested me. Your securing [George] Massee is an excellent thing.
I am up to my neck in the Indian Eriocaulons, which are half massed & the other half undescribed. I think it is the most minute flowered genus of Phenogams

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of any extent, & amongst 50 or 60 Indian Species there are no natural sectional characters! I have begun grasses at the Herbarium yesterday. -- (Eriocaulons I have here).
I am glad to hear that Georgie got over his measles so well.
Did I thank you for the most welcome Rhododendrons you sent? They will all recover here.
Balfour*14 has sent me a list of over 40 shrubby N[ew] Z[ealand] Veronicas cult[ivated] at Edinburgh, & of almost all of which they have duplicates.
Ever aff[ectionatel]y y[ou]r | J D Hooker[signature]


1. Joseph Hooker had a residence built in Sunningdale, Berkshire called 'The Camp'. Completed in 1882 he lived there full time, with his second wife Hyacinth and their family, after retiring from RBG Kew in 1885.
2. This letter was also stamped as received at Kew on 10th April 1893 and annotated in another hand as 'ans[were]d' 16.4.93'.
3. Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer (1843--1928). British botanist and third Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (1885--1905). He succeeded Joseph Hooker in the role after serving as his Assistant Director for ten years. He previously held professorships at the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, Royal College of Science for Ireland and the Royal Horticultural Society. He married Hooker's eldest daughter Harriet in 1877.
4. Alphonse Pyramus de Candolle (1806--1898). French-Swiss botanist, son of Augustin Pyramus de Candolle. He succeeded to his father's chair at the University of Geneva. He published a number of botanical works. Among them is the formulation of the first laws of Botanical Nomenclature, adopted by the London in 1889. 5. Probably refers to Pierre André Pourret (1754--1818). French Abbot and botanist who did research and teaching in France and Spain. He described and collected large numbers of plant species, especially from the Mediterranean. He amassed many specimens in his botanical garden and herbarium for his research. He was a pioneer user of binomial nomenclature, first developed by Carl Linnaeus.
6. Étienne Geoffroy St. Hilaire (1772--1844). After receiving a law degree in 1790 he went on to study medicine and science in Paris. He risked his life to save some of his teachers and colleagues from the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. In 1809 he became a professor of Zoology at the University of Paris. Later he published some ideas that resemble the theory of evolution by natural selection, but never developed his ideas into a complete theory, as Darwin later did.
7. Carl Frederich Philipp von Martius (1794--1868). German botanist and explorer. In 1817 he was sent to Brazil by the King of Bavaria. In 1820 he was appointed conservator of the botanic garden at Munich, including the herbarium, and in 1826, professor of botany at the University. He devoted his chief attention to the flora of Brazil. His best known work Historia naturalis palmarum (1823--1850), describes and illustrated all the known genera of palms.
8. George Bentham (1800--1884). British botanist who donated his herbarium of more than 100,000 specimens to Kew. He spent 27 years with Joseph Hooker in research and examination of specimens for the work Genera Plantarum.
9. Stephan Ladislaus Endlicher (1804--1849). Austrian botanist, numismatist and Sinologist. In 1840 he became professor at the University of Vienna and director of its Botanical Garden. He wrote a comprehensive description of the plant kingdom according to a natural system. At the time the most comprehensive description.
10. Asa Gray (1810--1888). Considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century. He was instrumental in unifying the taxonomic knowledge of the plants of North America. Gray, Hooker and Darwin were lifelong friends and colleagues.
11. George Engelmann (1809--1884). German-American botanist, instrumental in describing the flora of the west of North America, the Rocky Mountains and northern Mexico. He was a pioneer of education for young women. His friendship with Asa Gray had a beneficial effect upon botanical science in America. He played an important, but little known, role in rescuing the French wine industry after the discovery of Phylloxera.
12. Charles Robert Darwin (1809--1882). English naturalist and geologist best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory. He was a great friend of Joseph Hooker before and after the publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859. Hooker took his Voyage of the Beagle as a model for his own travel journals.
13. William Botting Hemsley (1843--1924). English botanist. He started work at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, as an Improver, then Assistant for India in the Herbarium, and finally became Keeper of the Herbarium and Library.
14. Isaac Bayley Balfour (1853--1922). Scottish botanist who was Professor of Botany at the University of Edinburgh from 1888 to 1922, and Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh. During this time he completely transformed the Gardens, establishing a proper botanical institute, planting an arboretum, building new laboratories and improving scientific facilities.

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