1 folder (59 letters).
Correspondence from William Darlington to John Torrey, dated 1817-1853. Darlington's first letter solicits a correspondence with the younger Torrey, whom he hasn't met in person; soon a steady stream of specimens and botanical literature is flowing between the two. Darlington is particularly focused on acquiring books and journals on botany and on building the herbarium of the Chester County Cabinet of Natural Science, an organization with which Darlington was intimately associated. Throughout the entire body of correspondence he remains highly conscious of the state of American botany and its legacy. Early on he asserts the need for a general flora of the United States and proposes Torrey should be the one to tackle it. Once Torrey and Gray begin the task, Darlington helps find subscribers for the work in his area of Pennsylvania. Largely formal in tone, Darlington's writing occasionally breaks its smooth veneer to offer an unvarnished opinion, such as this on their colleague Rafinesque: "I have long considered his busy operations in Botany nearly as mischevious as those of a monkey in a china shop." Darlington, too, is occupied with publications of his own, and gives regular updates on his progress on the Flora Cestrica, a flora of Chester County, Pennsylvania; and the Reliquiae Baldwinianae, an edited collection of the correspondence of his late friend William Baldwin. His disappointment in 1842 at Bentham's invalidation of a genus named for him is happily reversed in 1850 when Torrey re-applies the Darlingtonia genus to a new plant from California; Darlington's characteristic reserve drops once again as he repeatedly declares his gratitude and delight in both the honor and the plant itself: "I would not exchange it for a column in the Place Vendôme," he writes. In his last letter, dated a few days before his death, Darlington tells Torrey he is cultivating some seeds he received from the Mexican Boundary Survey, and happily anticipating the publication of the engraving and description of his new namesake, Darlingtonia californica. Obsolete and unresolved plant names mentioned include Arabis rhomboidea, Arenaria laterifolia, Darlingtonia rediviva, Darlingtonia uliginosa, Gentiana ochroleuca, Hyperpicum sarothra, Hyssopus nepetoides, Hyssopus scrophulariifolius, Sarothra, Talinum teretifolium, and Tullia.
This collection is open for research with permission from Mertz Library staff.
John Torrey Papers (PP), Archives, The New York Botanical Garden.
Digitized under grant #PW-234827-16 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
John Torrey Papers (PP), Series 1, Correspondence, Box 2.
Finding aid for the John Torrey papers available from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library, New York Botanical Garden and online.