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Document number: 733
Date: 21 Dec 1816
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: DALTON James
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 20th September 2010

Decr 21st 1816.

I could almost envy you yr residence in London, my Dear Sir, for here we are buried in Snow, & the weather is unusually severe. As winter commenced at so early a period, we will hope it will depart proportionally early. I have amused myself, occasionally, with looking over my herbarium, & find many duplicates which I shall reserve ’till that period – fast approaching, when Mr Talbot shall commence his collections of phænogamous plants. As to yr mosses, Dear Sir, if you are likely to see our mutual excellent friend Hooker <1> in Town, I shd strongly urge yr shewing them to him first. His knowledge is so very Superior to mine that no comparison can be allowed. Add to this he is fresh off the Irons, whilst I have been for some years a truant to muscology, & from my age cannot see with my quondam <2> acuteness. Have you got the 2d Vol. of Hedwig’s Species? <3> with many blunders it is a good work, & the plates are capital. Above all the little work by Weber & Mohr <4> (Hooker’s is yet a desideratum) is the best I ever saw, & I study it almost daily. A powerful microscope, too, is a sine quâ non. <5> This is an article I cannot boast of – having only the small one called Ellis’s, which is very deficient in powers, tho’ easily managed. Did you ever observe the numerous – almost imnnumerable varieties of Hypnum commutatum? It is a most beautiful tho’ polymorphous plant, & of very common occurrence. Situation, too, has singular effect upon the habitat of mosses; – more, indeed, than I cd have supposed possible, had not innumerable difficulties, attended with laborious investigation, convinced me of the great attention necessarily due to it.

Flora Londinensis <6> will be a noble work – deserving the name of Flora Britannica. <7> English Botany is very meagre indeed when put in competition with it. I cannot afford to buy the former, & have no right to suppose that I shall live to see it completed.

Wishing you every happiness this or any other season can produce,

I am, Dear Sir, very truly yours
James Dalton.

W. H. F. Talbot Esqre
31. Sackville Street


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

2. Former.

3. Johann Hedwig, Species Muscorum Frondosorum descriptæ et tabulis … coloratis illustratæ. Opus posthumum (Weinheim, H.R. Engelmann, 1801). [See Doc. No: 00723].

4. Friedrich Weber and Daniel Matthias Heinrich Mohr (1780–1808), Index musci plantarum cryptogamarum (Kiel, 1803).

5. Essential.

6. William Curtis (1746–1799), Flora Londinensis, containing a history of the plants indigenous to Great Britain… (London: G. Graves, 1817–1828), volumes 4 and 5 by William Jackson Hooker.

7. Sir James Edward Smith, Flora Britannica (London: J. Taylor, J. Davis, and J. White, 1800–1804).

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