To William Thiselton-Dyer1    10 January 1887



The mail just brought, dear Mr Dyer, the new fascicle of the icones plantarum, containing ferns, for which I beg to express my best thanks. I see in it Diplora, which came from the collections of the late Will. Sharp Macleay, which rich set of chiefly Polynesian ferns was gained for Kew on a solicitation suggested in first instance and supported by me.

It is delightful, to see hundreds after hundreds of specific forms thus illustrated. How the means of recognition of the species is facilitated for the next generation! and the younger workers now. Old people like myself cannot have much benefit from these great exertions in iconography any more.

Speaking of ferns, let me say, that I feel much beholden to the excellent Mr Baker for his generosity of offering, to let me name the new Trichomanes, gathered by my emissary, Mr Sayer. But it is evidently right that Mr Baker should name it,2 as he worked out the specific details, altho' I certainly did not recognize it as known Australian. I would however suggest, that it be named after Mr Sayer, 3 as he incurred not only endless toil in a season of unusually heavy tropical rains, but nearly lost his life through the hostility of the black savages, who are quite unsubdued and very numerous in the seclusions of the Bellenden-Ker Ranges.4 Moreover he just writes,5 that through the swollen state of the Russell-River,6 his boat capsized, and he and his companions, though both good swimmers were nearly drowned, and lost everything except their revolver and one blanket. having to go almost naked to the nearest settlement. I shall bring some incidents of their ascent of Mt Bellenden-Ker before the Royal geograph Soc here this month,7 when I shall have as President to aid also in a new enterprise for Mr Giles into Central Australia. The antarctic question will then also come up again.8 Speaking of ferns, let me ask, are the Todeas out of the South Austral Court of any size? During 1847-1852, when I explored in S. Austr on my private expense, I met only in two vallies (near Mt Lofty) any Todeas at all, the largest of which would weigh only a few ctw.9 Of course an other place for Todeas may have been discovered there since. I was the first to export Todeas.

How sad poor Scortechini's death, just when he wanted to go to Kew with his immense treasures.10 It was myself, who placed him first with Sir Joseph Hooker in correspondence, though it was the Rev Jul. Ten. Woods whose scientific zeal and particular influence with Governor Weld secured for his lamented colleague the chance of exploring in the Malay-Peninsula, every facility for the same purpose being offered to me, when I returned with Mr Gregory from the discovery of the Kimberley-district in 185711 by the then Judge of the Peninsula, G. Windsor Earl.12 My accepting the Directorship of the Melbourne bot Garden frustrated this scheme.

I really trust, that the Rev. Jul. Ten. Woods is not again in vain seeking the fellowship of the R.S., for which poor Scortechini in London would have interested himself personally out of gratitude to his friend Woods. The latter, after an other three years field-work in India, particularly for geology, is just returned with "impaired eyesight and benumbed hands."13 It has been quite an enigma to me, that such a man, so varied in his accomplishments, so active in science since 30 years, so labourious in field-work under great danger (not mere commodious and safe house-work for science in settled places) could not even a couple of years ago be elected F.R.S.14 I have written to Sir Henry Barkly15 to seek for this worthy the powerful aid of Sir Joseph Hooker, were it only out of respect to the "Manes" of Scortechini!

Regardfully your

Ferd. von Mueller


Unfortunately we are again at a standstill in picking out the particular specimens, yet wanted for the Kew-Museum. The manual Assistant here16 is ill; and anyhow it is a tedious undertaking to select odd pieces out of about 200 000 sheets of Australian plants; but the matter shall have early attention, so early as ever possible

It will be best in future, to send always at once a specimen of any newly discovered plant; but then, there is often only one specimen, as you may readily imagine. This year I actually worked from the 31 Dec. into the first January. Could not spare time to go to friends.

What does Mr Baker make of the Schizaea, figured by M[r]. Guillemin at plate 20?17

I am grieved to learn also of the death of Dr Wil[helm] Hillebrand, a friend of my youth,18 who only lately sent me on my request splendid specimens of the Hawaian Myoporum. Perhaps I am the next, whose necrologe19 is to be written!20

Woods Essays are numerous, many on fossils.21 His 2 large volumes on Austral explor. appeared 1865.22

Sir Rich Owen would be sure to support Scortechini's23 candidature, if asked.







MS is stamped 'Royal Gardens Kew 21 Feb 1887', and annotated by Thiselton-Dyer: 'An[swere]d. 23.2.87' [letter not found].
Named under joint authority as Gymnogramme sayeri (see B87.14.01, p. 163); M later listed it in B89.13.12, under Grammatis sayeri (p. 234), and Trichomanes sayeri (p. 230).
be named after Mr Sayer is underlinedand annotated by W. Thiselton-Dyer: 'Mr Baker', and annotated by Baker: 'Answer at end'.
Letter not found.
See M to A. Macdonald, 4 January 1887.
See Home et al. (1992).
cwt. Abbreviation for hundredweight.
B. Scortechini died in Calcutta, India, on 4 November 1886.
WA, during the North Australian Exploring Expedition, 1855-6.
Letter not found.
See Press (1994), ch. 14.
J. Tenison Woods' candidature for the Royal Society was no more successful in 1887, or in 1888, than on earlier occasions, after which he was not nominated again.
Letter not found.
J. Minchin.
This sentence is marked in the margin with a line. For Schizaea dichtoma see Guillemin (1827), pl. 20, and also pp. 13-14.
Hillebrand, who knew M in Adelaide in 1849, died on 13 July 1886; see Meier (2005). Hillebrand arrived in Adelaide on 1 March 1849 as surgeon on Godeffroy ( South Australian Register , 3 March 1849, p. 4, passenger list, as ‘Hildebrandt’.
MS annotation by Baker: 'I am sending a note on the new Trichomanes to Journal of Botany and have called it T. sayeri, F.M. & Baker. Schizae dichotoma. We have a specimen precisely like Guillemins tab 20 from Moreton bay Walter Hill I call it dichotoma I find I have note of about 700 new fern-names published since last edition of Synopsis Filicum J G. B.'
A bibliography of Woods' scientific writings is in O'Neill (1929), pp. 399-406.
Woods (1865). The paragraph and the following one are marginal notes on f. 215.

Please cite as “FVM-87-01-10,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 16 October 2021,