To William Thiselton-Dyer   19 February 1890




Let me say, dear Mr Dyer, in reply to your last letter,1 that Mr Bailey is nearly as old as I am. I knew him as an apprentice in his fathers nursery 1847 in Adelaide, but from 1847 til 1852, when I left, he never came to me for any information, as Stuart2 and others did.

In New Zealand, where for a dozen years the field was open for him, he did nothing for Botany, he still carrying on gardening there Late in life he commenced at Brisbane, a rich field for Cryptogams also, S. Queensland is.

I have spent on him for the last 12 years far more time for initiating him through correspondence into the Austral Flora (his name only being quoted in the 7th vol. of Bentham3), than the loss to my own labor would balance, and now after so much attention shown in hundreds of letters him,4 he will not cooperate, but I shall only spend my time to help him or to confirm his own determinations. He sent more dried plants to an unscientific adversary of mine here, who sets on public expense up a rival herbarium collection,5 than I ever got after all my trouble from Bailey. So he uses the knowledge instilled, against me! He has only colonial ordinary school-education; otherwise he would have been able, to read RBr.'s prodr. & not attack even in print the Flor. Tasm. & Flor. Austr. about Monotoca lineata, on what was settled 1810 by RBr.,6 what he took for it in N. Queensland being probably a common Acrotriche.7 It is not so very long ago, that I saw a specimen glued down and named by him Kochia brevifolia which was the ordinary state of Salsola kali. I have spent even more time on him through years than on the Rev. Dr. Woolls, but their gratitude stands in relation of moon to sun! You must be therefore quite misinformed, when you urge me to take an interest in him. To a large extent he is my disciple, but I see no piety shown me in the manner, which I could expect towards a preceptor. Not long ago he called Melbourne in a letter to me8 without the slightest provocation the "City of the Pines" ironically, because I planted so many. Of course he is ignorant of medical hygienics and of the antiseptic exhalations of Pines. He is discontent, that I did not adopt all his species in the new Census, but many of them, like lots of Fitzgerald's9 (likewise omitted) are quite untenable. His Bellenden Ker plants10 came too late for the new Census,11 but will go into the next suppl12 If I should suddenly die, my Assistant, Mr Luehmann, who worked under me for a series of years, will be my Successor, according to laws, a few years ago established here by Parliament. No Appointment can be made here of an outsider, so long as an Officer is in the Department, able to carry on the duties. Mr Luehmanns status of education also is much higher than B.'s.

The man, who in Australia can take a really high place in Botany is Prof Tate; he also has an European foundation to his studies. Of course — as I am a public Officer — and like to live in peace, your will consider this a confidential communication.

Ever regardfully


Ferd. von Mueller


My works he uses daily, without much recognition.

He went only up to Mt Bellenden Ker, after I had shown the importance of that Mt (seen by me 1855) by sending Sayer.13

He is the only one of my numerous correspondents, with whom I have had unpleasantness.

I cannot always leave my own work to enlighten him especially when there is no gratitude.

The tone of Bailey's letters to me has often been very uncourteous

14My action towards Kew through so many years m[igh]t15 be a proof of my willingness to help, where I can, if I do not get discouraged. B.'s material is often so scanty, that it is a mere waste of time to work on it. 16On one occasion (exempli causa) I gave him in manuscr. 42 names of plants, shown by me through a season to be new for Queensland. In very few instances he gave the source of information, then by me unpublished, in an early publication of his, for which I had purposely written out the msc, so that it appeared, that the knowledge had come through correspondents of his own, and my own trouble of getting the material and identifying from many correspondents of my own, was so far lost for my Department, the interests of which I am bound to watch.17

18Best thanks for sending the publication on Sparrows.19 I was from the very commencement totally against their introduction, and so also against that of Rabbits from early European Experiences of my own.20



Kochia brevifolia

Monotoca lineata

Salsola kali

in reply … letter in central margin of f. 304, front. Letter not found.
Charles Stuart.
Bentham (1863-78), vol. 7.
letters last word on p. 2(f. 304, back),him first word on p. 3(f. 304, front, left page).
Presumably William Guilfoyle, who had a small herbarium in the Melbourne Botanic Garden.
on what … RBr in left hand margin of f. 305, back, with intended position indicated by asterisk.
Bailey (1889), pp. 47-8, commented on J. Hooker (1855-60), vol. 1, p. 250; Bentham (1863-78), vol. 4, p. 230; Brown (1810), p. 547. See M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 1 December 1889; also M to W. Thiselton-Dyer, 1 December 1889.
Letter not found.
R. D. Fitzgerald; for examples of M's judgment, see M to J. Hooker, 25 April 1888, and M to R. Tate, November 1882.
Mt Bellenden Ker, Qld.
His Bellenden … suppl written in the left margin of f. 306 back, with intended position indicated by asterisk.
See 'Mount Bellenden-Ker', Gardeners' chronicle, 23 April 1887, p. 544 (B87.04.05). M would have seen the mountain on the voyage from Brisbane to the Victoria River at the beginning of the North Australia Exploring Expedition, 1855-6.
The postscript paragraphs above are marginal annotations on ff. 304-6, where there is also the struck-through passage 'His irritable temper let him even into dispute with his father in Adelaide. So I was told'. The remaining text is on ff. 307 and 308, included here as these are the next pages numbered in the sequence of M’s letters.
editorial addition — page is torn.
End of front of f. 307. The next sentence begins on the front of f. 308 but is placed here as it follows more closely from it than from the back of f. 307, which is transcribed below.
Department … to watch in left margin of f. 308, back, with intended position indicated by asterisks.
Following paragraph on f. 307, back.
Not identified.
See M to J. Hooker, 18 May 1873, and M to R. von Fischer-Benzon, 16 December 1887. M's supposed role in promoting the importation of sparrows is described in Beauvoir (1870), p. 182: 'every morning he sets free hundreds of his subjects; they are common sparrows, which come to him from Germany in cages of three hundred, and every ship which anchors in Port Phillip brings him thousands of these little birds, which we detest in Europe, but which in Australia destroy swarms of noxious insects'.

Please cite as “FVM-90-02-19,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 27 November 2021,