To Arthur Lucas   10 August 1889



Having learnt, dear Prof. Lucas, that some members are eager, to get the name changed of the Field-Naturalists Club, I think, that I shall not step out of my proper position, when I advise, that such a change not be made. I offer such objections, as occur to this (according to my views) in writing, as my severe cough does not allow of my going out, particularly at late evening-hours in this cool season. The very word "Club" implies an union without rigerous ceremonies, a freer coming together, than in abstract science-societies, as evinced also by the membership of our Field-Naturalists Club being happily open to Ladies. By the change of the name, as far as I can see, nothing would be gained for our particular work, while much to us in our free scientific intercourse and in our unrestrained field-operations might be lost. I further have heard, that some members of the Club are anxious to establish grades in our union, according to greater or lesser accomplishments and experiences. This proposition came up formerly in more than one science-society of Australia, but I gave my advise against such a measure fully thirty years ago. The question in such case arises, who is to adjudicate? The member, to be raised to a higher grade, can as regards his merits only be judged by the few, who are engaged in the same speciality, — whereas the whole of the Club would be voting on such a proposition. But this is not the gravest ascect1 of the question. The danger is of envey and discord being generated, and a harmonious union, working for a common purpose, being split up into factions. We have already the power to reward very distinguished workers in the Club with an honorary membership, which need not be restricted to persons beyond the colony. This seems to me quite sufficient for an organisation of ours. If still more is demanded and a separation-system is to be introduced, then the Royal Society offers very considerately for such special aspirations the best scope among us, without the Candidates for higher grades thereby being lost to us for united work, the sectional system of the R.S.V.2 being exactly what would meet the case.

Regardfully your

Ferd. von Mueller.

The Royal Society of Victoria at this period had several special-interest Sections — including one for microscopy, formed when the Microscopical Society of Victoria merged with the Royal Society; see W. C. Kernot (1888). The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria later also introduced Sections.

Please cite as “FVM-89-08-10,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021,