To Michael Hicks-Beach   29 September 1879


29 September 1879.

To the Right Honorable Sir Michael Hicks-Beach,

Baronet, M.A., M.P.,

Minister for the Colonies.



Having received through the most noble the Marquis of Normanby, G.C.M.G., Governor of Victoria, the Royal grant and warrant, accompanied by the splendid decoration, transmitted by yourself, through which her Majesty has raised me to the dignity of a Knight Commander of the most distinguished order of St. Michael & St. George, it devolves on me to express to you, as Her Majestys Ruler of the British Colonies, the deep sentiments of gratitude, which I owe to our most gracious Sovereign for this high mark of Royal favor from the British throne.1 It is and ever will be to me a source of inexpressible joy and honest pride, that the Sovereign of the greatest and mightiest nation on earth has condescended to view with encouraging benignity, what may have aidingly been accomplished by me, to develop the resources of the fifth Continent; and altho' I am now long beyond the zenith of life, I trust that providence will grant me health and strength to continue on the path, which in her Majestys Australian Dominions I commenced nearly a third of a century ago for special professional researches.

In a continent nearly as large as Europe, and finally destined to support hundreds of millions of prosperous inhabitants, the pioneering torch of science is much needed to shed light on the paths of progressive and increased settlement; — if this in itself is a fascinating task more particularly in this century of main-discoveries for the natural sciences, this task must become still more glorious when carried on for the greatest of all empires, under the encouragement of a most august and generous Queen, and under the auspices of enlightened British Statesmenship.

I feel, Right honorable Baronet, that to you as Her Majestys adviser in the Government of the Colonies, I owe particularly my promotion to the high dignity, which I now enjoy through her Majesty's grace; — and pray, let me therefore also express to you my assurance, that so far as my strength and my worldly resources will carry me, though feeble and slender they may be —, I shall not rest in my endeavours til the end of my days, to show myself worthy of that confidence in my earnest will, to serve also in future the interests of Australia, which the bestowal of so high a British dignity, as that conferred on me, most encouragingly manifests.

I have the honor to remain, Sir Michael,

very reverently and gratefully


Ferd. von Mueller.

For the way that M argued his own case for the award, see Lucas (2013a), p. 23.

Please cite as “FVM-79-09-29,” in Correspondence of Ferdinand von Mueller, edited by R.W. Home, Thomas A. Darragh, A.M. Lucas, Sara Maroske, D.M. Sinkora, J.H. Voigt and Monika Wells accessed on 7 October 2022,