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Document number: 720
Date: 02 Oct 1816
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: DALTON James
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 10th March 2012

Oct. 2d 1816.

Dear Sir –

You are fortunate in having discovered a good station for Antirrhm cymbalaria. A. Elatine I have often gathered – but never saw the other except under cultivation: – nay I almost doubted its being really a native, ’till your letter proved me mistaken.

Depend upon it, Dear Sir, the period of yr commencing an Herbarium is not very distant. Muscology cannot, singly, make a Botanist; – & the best memory needs frequently refreshing by overlooking the collections we make. I enclose you three mosses, which you will immediately recognise. H: nitens, I believe I have the good fortune to be the first who discovered in fruit. The Splachnum is common enough – the third more frequently found barren than in fructification. the specimens are shabby – but I fear making you pay more than even they can make a letter from me worth. Upon Gilling church, on Thursday last, I gathered 4 Ferns – all growing together. viz. Cyathea regia (is this distinct from C. fragilis?) Aspl: adiantum nigrum Asp: ruta muraria & Asp: trichomanes. I name the circumstance solely from thinking it odd that these shd meet together, within two inches of each other, upon so singular a station. My plan with mosses, is, to attach a specimen to an interleaved Flor: Brit: opposite the description – & to draw magnified leaves &c, from microscopic observation. This facilitates investigation beyond conception. Our friend Hooker <1> did the same, but lost his valuable Book when returning from his Icelandic Tour. Smith’s <2> muscology is not worth fourpence; – you had best, therefore, wait for the work now preparing by Hooker & Doctor Taylor, <3> have it interleaved, & proceed accordingly. Hooker is declining every pursuit in favor of Botany. What advances the science will make under so able & indefatigable an observer, cannot be calculated – but very sanguine hopes may be freely indulged. The union of such a head & hand may work wonders. He attends much to the Natural Orders, & makes daily discoveries towards the renewal of those links in the chain, which, it appears, have been obscured by rust, but not lost. Linnæus, like a niggard, carried the discoveries he had made upon the subject, – (as a miser would do with his cash, were it in his power) along with him to the grave; – for which I doubt not he is now wandering without breeches amongst the brambles which border old Styx. You may find the wild parsnip plentifully in the hedge-row of the road between Ferry-bridge & Doncaster – east side of the road. It was there I gathered it myself, & I doubt not Caucalis daucoides might be found near the same place, as it is a native of dry, limestone land. The yellow flower of the former will point it out to you at a great distance. Wishing you much amusement & success in this & every other undertaking, I am, Dear Sir,

very truly yours
James Dalton.

W. H. F. Talbot Esqre

[on verso:]

Moss inclosed.


1. Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865), Prof & botanist.

2. Sir James Edward Smith who wrote Introduction to Physiological & Systematic Botany (London: Longman, Hurst, Reese, Orme, and White, 1807).

3. Thomas Taylor, MD (d. 1848) and William Jackson Hooker, Muscologia Britannica: containing the mosses of Great Britain and Ireland… (London: Longman, Hurst etc, 1818).

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