To Joseph Elsey   20 May 1858

Melbourne bot. Gardens,

20. May 1858.

My dear Mr Elsey.

The sad tidings of the sudden death of your dear and only son,1 my beloved travelling companion in North Australia, has been received by me with the deepest grief. The recollection of our mutual friendship and his kind remembrance for me I shall cherish to the end of my days.

His multifarious acquirements and his brilliant talents, well appreciated by the famous Professor Owen, had also raised our highest expectation for his future greatness, whilst in my long intimacy with him, when wandering through the solitudes and wildernesses of unexplored country, I had also ample opportunity of observing in his character all that noble generous & pious tendency, which is the greatest ornament of a learned man.

If then industry and talent, knowledge and virtue were blended with a rare singularity in your amiable son, how deplorable must his loss be then to all of us, when called from us florishing in youth, when beginning to earn the laurels due to his merits, and when subdueing all difficulties he had opened for himself an early and honorable career in life!

A wise providence has elevated him now over earthly troubles. Let us hope, that all who loved him here, may be found worthy once to be be reunited with him in a better world.

Gratifying as it once was for me to hear, that he enthusiastically imbibed my love for plants, I cannot now but with sorrow reflect, that without his noble and disinterested zeal to aid in the knowledge of the Antillan Flora, he might have been spared to us for many a year yet. —

Permit me, my dear Sir, to contribute a humble scientific monument to the memory of your beloved son, in attaching his name to a magnificent liana of the virgin-forests of East Australia, to one of the first discoveries since my return from the tropics. With particular pleasure will I forward to you some copies of the dissertation, which includes the, nor shall I fail seeing it soon through the press.2

When your son related to me many a time particulars and incidents of your happy and patriarchical family life, he spoke often of his mothers and sisters predeliction for the lovely and delicate plants of the fern tribe. I regret, that overwhelmed with the manyfold duties of this large establishment, I have not been able to redeem by his life time my ready promise of sending a collection of this tribe of plants to you

I have at last done so, through Mr Thos Moore of the Chelsea-gardens. Pray accept the very scanty collection as a very humble token of my respects for your family.

Believe me, my dear Mr Elsey, that no one but myself can more fully share the loss your family sustained, than your

humble and attached

Ferd. Mueller.


P. S.

The ferns were forwarded last week per "Avon" to Mr Kippist Librarian of the Linnean Soc. of London.


Ripogonum Elseyanum

Joseph Elsey jr died 28 December 1857 (Gardeners' chronicle, 13 February 1858, p. 112).

Please cite as “FVM-58-05-20,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021,