From J. D. Hooker [31 May 1870]1
I am choking with vanity—& behold the reason of it—enclosed—which I cannot resist the pleasure of sending to you—2
I will come & see you as soon as I can, meanwhile your Willy3 is coming to me on Saturday week I hope.
I am going to send my Willy to Mr La Touche in Salop—a friend of Symonds’ & Bentham’s, who has brought up young Colenso, & who will have Frank Lyell.4 I fancy that some of my friends will think I am putting my son into a nest of young Adders!—
Ever yr affec | J D Hooker
Dear Dr Hooker
I thank you very much for kindly sending ‘The Student’s Flora’, which I am right glad to see.5 It will surely prove a success, and be held a standard for many years to come. If asked the prominent characteristics of the S. F. I might sum up in two pair of words:
‘Condensed completeness— Judicious Selection.’ These characteristics appear alike in the plan of the work as a whole, & in the workmanship in detail.
It is a marvel to me how you have got time for it, considering the many other matters you have to look to, official & individual.
Your Appendix list, as a receptacle for plants which uselessly increase and interfere with the general text of our Floras, makes practical a remark already in print for Part iii of my Compendium Cyb. Brit., which thus, some months hence, will appear as a needless anachronism,— a post-factum suggestion.6
You have hit the medium between Bentham’s Handbook & Babn’s Manual, in the uexata questio of species;—avoiding the opposite fault or defect of each.7 Babington places too many very questionable species on equality with the unquestioned. In avoiding that extreme, one way, Bentham too much neglects them, as real though subordinate forms. I doubt whether either of them has fairly realized to his own mind the obvious fact that “species” are widely non-equivalents, & require treatment accordingly,—that it is not a drop at once from “true species” to “mere variety”, as the expressions usually run.
Of course, opinions will diverge very much in special instances,—between true species, sub-species, variety, variation, etc.— But a great step is gained for the rising botanists by training them through a descriptive Flora to recognize and trace gradations. Among others, C. Darwin ought to thank you for that; the stereotype representations of ‘species’ and ‘variety’ in Floras, even more than the like in Faunas, being barriers to the acceptance of Darwinic views.
As a sample how opinions will differ in the special instances, I should about as soon call the Pear a sub-species of Apple, as some of the plants you place in that relationship; ee: gr. Chenopodium album & ficifolium, or Hypericum quadrangulum & undulatum.8 And yet, it must be confessed that some facts side with you, rather than me, in these instances. The Chenopodia & Hyperica have been much confused, or one taken for the other; not so, Pears & Apples, either trees or fruit.
Sincerely Yours | Hewett Cl. Watson
Sends enclosure [a letter from Lady Lyell?]. He is choking with vanity.
Is going to send Willy to Mr La Touche in Salop; he brought up young Colenso and Frank Lyell. Some of his friends will think he is sending his son into a nest of young adders!
- Letter no.
- Joseph Dalton Hooker
- Charles Robert Darwin
- Sent from
- Source of text
- DAR 103: 46; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, DC 105: 236
- Physical description