To John O'Shanassy1    19 July 1859

Melbourne bot. & zool Garden,

19. July 1859


Having been informed by Mr Martin Gardiner, that the Royal Defence Commission intends to establish a corps of Engeneers under the Government of this country, I beg leave to recommend to your favourable consideration this gentleman, who studied Civil Engeneering both in England & France and passed his examination as Assistant Engeneer at Queens College Galway. Having had the opportunity to listen to a highly scientific paper on geometry before the Institute read by Mr Gardiner,2 I felt much pleasure in responding to this Gentlemans request of recommending him to your friendly notice.

Most humbly yours

Ferd. Mueller, M.D. & Ph.D.


The Honourable John O Shanassy Esq

Chief Secretary &c &c &c3

On 19 July 1859 M. Gardiner wrote to the Chief Secretary, J. O'Shanassy to complain about his treatment in the Railway Department and to seek fresh employment, stating that he had secured a situation in the civil service in October 1857 but despite superior qualifications and experience had been rebuffed in his attempts at advancement. Moreover he found himself working with uncongenial men.

First, M. Hawkins, a clerk, spread a rumour which accused Mr Duffy (possibly Charles Duffy President of the Board of Land and Works?) of attempted rape. Hawkins' colleagues either agreed to the charge or stayed silent because Hawkins was a favorite of George Darbyshire, Engineer-in-Chief of Railways. Gardiner refused to be quiet in the face of such slander and his stance earned him the enmity of Hawkins and his supporters. After an appeal to Robert Adams, Resident Engineer, Gardiner was moved to another room, only to be returned to his uncongenial colleagues after the interference of Darbyshire.

Second, Gardiner found himself in conflict with Mr Martin, a Draftsman, who Gardiner claimed was a former occupant of a mad-house in England. 'His outrageous doctrines asserting Christ to be a clever imposter & other similar ravings soon caused a virulent feeling of animosity between us'. One afternoon Gardiner learned that Martin had accused him of being the individual who had started the slander about Duffy. Gardiner was so upset that he requested leave for the rest of the day only to be refused by Darbyshire. On returning to his work-room Gardiner found Martin discoursing on religion and refusing to stop. Feeling himself being drawn into physical conflict Gardiner left the office hoping that the minute he had earlier placed on the attendance book about being unable to continue at work for day would cover him. It did not and Darbyshire dismissed him after listening to the testimony of the 'religious discussion-club'.

Gardiner stated that Father John Bleasdale had promised 'months ago, to lay my case before you; but circumstances compel me to wait no longer'. His family was now in debt out of which he feared they would never climb.

Gardiner read a paper entitled 'Improvements in fundamental ideas and elementary theorems of geometry' before the Philosophical Institute of Victoria on 13 July and 3 August 1859. See Gardiner (1860).
On 22 July 1859 the Under Secretary, J. Moore, wrote to Gardiner: 'Referring to yr Le of 19 July bringg under notice yr desire to be re-employed in the public service I am directed by M O Shanassy to refer you to the Defence Commission. The papers which accompanied yr communication are returned herewith.' (No. 1645, unit 4, p. 399, VPRS 1187 outward correspondence, VA 475 Chief Secretary's Department, Public Record Office, Victoria).

Please cite as “FVM-59-07-19,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 20 September 2021,