To William Thiselton-Dyer   20 July 1878



I recognize, dear Mr Dyer, your and Sir Joseph’s consideration, in sending me the seeds of Dactylis caespitosa, not only because as Gov Botanist I like to be the first in the field to introduce any kind of important utilitarian plant, but also because I may thus be enabled to test through the aid of intelligent colonists, how far this important grass may accommodate itself here to the highlands & to moor & bogs &c

Unfortunately the Colonists have been so misled, by the Adelaide bot. Garden, from whence the common Holcus lanatus was sent out as the Tussock Grass, just as now Andropogon Haleppensis1 is sent even to Victoria from Adelaide as the Coapim Panicum!2

I was immensely cheered with Sir Joseph’s timely Note under Grev. ericifolia in the May Number of the Bot. Magazine.3 I have brought this graceful and generous allusion of the Chief of Botanists at once through our Undersecretary to the notice of our Prime Minister, Mr Graham Berry.4 He Has however as yet done nothing to resuscitate my Department and merely placed my Salary and the few other trifling votes on the estimates. Whether even they will be passed by a misled Parliament (misled by the Argus)5 seems very doubtful. We have as yet only a temporary supply vote for 2 months.6 It seems however yet undecided, whether I get perhaps a building vote, my House, which it took me 17 years to build being taken also from me in 1873.7 It seems the Department is to remain permanently ruined! I cannot even push any publications through the press of any extent, the print of the English Edition of Wittsteins Chemistry of plants8 having absorbed my last wordly9 means. For the Cousin of Mr Casey, the so called Director of the bot. Garden,10 enormous sums are again on the estimates, the difference of my former votes (so very much smaller) being studiously suppressed by the Argus &c.


F.v. M


Dactylis caespitosa

Holcus lanatus

Andropogon Haleppensis


Grevillea ericifolia

Andropogon halepensis?
‘Coapim de Angola’. See M to J. Hooker, 28 May 1879.
H ooker (1865-1904), vol. 104, t. 6361: ‘ Grevillea ericifolia and the equally beautiful Grevillea Thelemanniana ... have proved very attractive ornaments ... of Kew for some years past. … G. ericifolia was raised from seeds sent by our indefatigable correspondent Baron Von Mueller, F.R.S., of whom it is not too much to say that he is the greatest Colonial Botanist that has ever lived, alike eminent as a traveller, a collector, and a describer of the vegetable products of his adopted continent.’
Letter not found.
For example, the long article beginning 'There is a comic as well as a distressing element in the steady reappearances of Baron von MUELLER in the political life of Victoria …' argues that 'It may assist Mr BERRY to be firm if we point out that the request made by Baron von MUELLER for gardens in connection with the work with which he is engaged is founded on a delusion. Baron von MUELLER is Government botanist and a botanist wants no experimental grounds.' It asserts that 'Some gratitude is due from Baron von MUELLER to a colony which has enabled him to earn many honours and to acquire whatever celebrity he has attained' ( Argus , 6 July 1878, pp. 6-7).
Whether even they will be passed ... 2 months is a note in the central and right margins on the back of the folio, its position in the text indicated by asterisks.
1873 above 1857 deleted.
Wittstein (1878).
William Guilfoyle.

Please cite as “FVM-78-07-20,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 26 October 2021,