Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton
The Camp, Sunningdale, Berkshire, United Kingdom
JDH/2/16 f.180
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
4 page letter over 1 folio

JDH writes to Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer [WTTD] regarding [David] Prain's selection as a Fellow of the Royal Society, he particularly mentions that Charles Darwin was impressed by Prain & advocated his selection along with JDH. JDH also secured Prain the support of [Sir Michael] Foster but [Dunkinfield Henry] Scott probably supported [Francis Wall] Oliver. JDH criticises the behaviour of [Sir Dietrich] Brandis in trying to swap Prain's candidature in favour of [Otto] Stapf adding that he has always disliked Brandis & his approach to Indian botany. JDH praises [Perceval] Landon's book LHASA & adds that he is keen to hear about the botanical collection Prain is to receive from the expedition Landon was part of, [British Military Expedition to Lhasa, Tibet 1903-1904]. JDH mentions his opinion that the Government will be scared into giving up the Tibetan pass of Chumbi which they had occupied. JDH also reflects on the life of Dufferin [Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava] whose biography he is reading. He recommends WTTD read THE NORTHWESTERN PROVINCES OF INDIA by W. Crooker, 1897, & THE POET GRAY AS A NATURALIST BY edited by [Charles Eliot] Norton. JDH also mentions Algernon Bertam Freeman-Mitford's speech & photographing a sketch of David Douglas for the 'young mens' reading room'. He reports that [George] King's work on Effuseae is slow & he is seeking advice from Genoa.


I am having a photo of a pencil sketch of David Douglas*15 rephotographed. & I should like a copy to be framed & hung up in the young mens' reading room.
With love to Harriet | Ever aff[ectionatel]y Your | Jos. D. Hooker.[signature]
The news of King*16 is not satisfactory. The absorption of the "Effuseae" is very slow, & he is going to get advice at Genoa.
Frank Oliver did not know that his name was put up to the Royal [Society] till he was told of his being selected!

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Feb[ruar]y 26 1905*1

My dear Dyer*3
Thanks for your letter. It crossed the "Times" with the list of selected R[oyal] S[ociety] candidates, which was an immense relief to me. I kept up my efforts for Prain*4 to the last week, & Darwin*5 writes to me that my last "made Prain's election an easy job." I had some weeks ago asked D[arwin] to pay some attention to Prain as a stranger botanist in London (not as a candidate) which he most kindly did, & was very much struck with P[rain]'s knowledge & ability, & as I expected he asked me to draw up a statement of his claim. I secured Mr. Foster*6 some time ago. I suppose that Scott*7

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pioneered Frank Oliver*8 though.
Brandis*9 is a man who I never understood or liked & whose attitude to Indian Botany has been not only wooden but mischievous. In this matter of Prain's candidature his conduct is inexcusable, & in that of your swopping Prain's for Stapf's*10 or vice versa, it is outrageous, positively indecent. I am very glad that you told him so. Not that I suppose he will either see it or feel it. He reminds me of my old friend Crawford's 2 classes of Scotchmen. -- "Scotchmen & damned Scotchmen."
Have you seen Landon's*11 "Lhasa"? It is very good & the illustrations capital. I am

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longing to know something of the Botanical Collections, which are on their way to Prain. Lhasa would make a splendid Panorama. I fear our knock-kneed Gov[ernmen]t will give up Chumbi.*12
I am also reading Dufferin's*13 Life which reminds me of a gilded Teetotum[?].*13a He did enjoy life & deserved to, for he gave as much pleasure as he took -- but the hapless end of it all is tragical. He called & sat for half an hour with me at Glasgow, talking over old times in Syria & of my father.
If you have time for reading get "The Northwestern Provinces of India" by W. Crooker B[ritish] C[olonial Service] 1897.
Did I lend you "The Poet Gray as a Naturalist,"*13b by Norton (of Boston) -- it is an eye--opener into the man.
You have of course Mitford's*14 Address -- I like it for being so much to the purpose.

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I am having a photo of a pencil sketch of David Douglas*15 rephotographed. & I should like a copy to be framed & hung up in the young mens' reading room.
With love to Harriet | Ever aff[ectionatel]y Your | Jos. D. Hooker.[signature]
The news of King*16 is not satisfactory. The absorption of the "Effuseae" is very slow, & he is going to get advice at Genoa.
Frank Oliver did not know that his name was put up to the Royal [Society] till he was told of his being selected!


1. An annotation by hand on this letter records that it was 'ans[were]d 28. ii. 05'.

2. 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.
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. Sir David Prain (1857--1944). Scottish physician and botanist who went to India as a physician/botanist in the Indian Medical Service and in 1887 was appointed Curator of the Calcutta Herbarium. In 1898 he was promoted as Director of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, as well as the Botanical Survey of India. In 1905 he became Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
5. Sir Francis "Frank" Darwin (1848--1925). Son of the British naturalist and scientist Charles Darwin and followed him into botany. He was known for his work on phototropism.
6. Sir Michael Foster (1836--1908). English physiologist. Biological Sciences Secretary of the Royal Society 1881--1903. In this position he exercised a wide influence on the study of biology in Britain.
7. Dukinfield Henry Scott (1854--1934). British botanist who left his position as Assistant Professor in Biology at the Royal College of Science, to become Honorary Keeper of the Jodrell Laboratory at the Royal Gardens, Kew.
8. Francis Wall Oliver (1864--1951). British botanist and Quain Professor of Botany at University College, London 1890--1925. He was Professor of Botany at the University of Cairo 1928--1935.
9. Sir Dietrich Brandis (1824--1907). German forester who worked with the British Imperial Forestry Service in colonial India. He is considered the father of tropical forestry.
10. Otto Stapf (1852--1933). Austrian botanist and taxonomist. He moved to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1890, becoming keeper of the Herbarium in 1909--1920.
11. Perceval Landon (1868--1927). English writer and journalist who was special correspondent of the Times on the British Military Expedition to Lhasa, Tibet 1903 -- 1904.
12. The Chumbi valley in Tibet is at the intersection of India, Bhutan and Tibet and was occupied by the British for nine months in 1904.
13. Frederick Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava (1826--1902). British public servant and prominent Victorian. Starting his public service career as a commissioner to Syria, he went on to become Governor General of Canada, and in 1884 became the eighth Viceroy of India.
13a. A teetotum is a form of gambling spinning top. Known since Roman times it has a polygonal body, marked with letters or numbers, which indicate the result of each spin.
13b. Refers to the published version of the Poet Thomas Gray's heavily annotated copy of Linnaeus's Systema Naturae published in 1904. Thomas Gray (1716--1771) was an English poet, classical scholar and Professor at Cambridge University known for his work Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, 1751. The publication of The poet Gray as a naturalist : with selections from his notes on the Systema naturae of Linnaeus, and facsimiles of some of his drawings, raised awareness of Gray's skill as a naturalist and Joseph Hooker wrote to the editor, Charles Eliot Norton, praising Gray to that effect.
14. Algernon Bertam Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron of Redesdale (1837--1916). British diplomat, collector and writer. From 1874 to 1886 he acted as secretary to HM Office of Works.
15. David Douglas (1799--1834). Scottish botanist who started as an apprentice gardener at Scone Palace, and on moving to the Botanical Gardens of Glasgow University, he impressed William Hooker. When on his third plant--hunting expedition to America he was killed in Hawaii after falling into an animal pit trap. He introduced the Douglas fir into cultivation in 1827.
16. Sir George King (1840--1909). British botanist and superintendent of the Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta, in 1871, and the first Director of the Botanical Survey of India. Recognised for his work in the cultivation of cinchona, he set up an inexpensive system to distribute quinine throughout India by mail.

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