To Thomas Hart   16 August 1896

S. Yarra,1 16/8/96.

 

In the quietude of the Sunday, dear Professor Hart, I bring up arrear correspondence, accumulated last week, when I was extraordinarily busy in the Department, and now first attend to you, offering my best felicitation to you at your auspicious promotion to the Ballarat Professorship.2 You have with natural abilities also honorably striven, to win a prominent scientific position; and as you are yet far from the zenith of life, you can hope to work as one of our Leaders in knowledge far into the next century with the charm also of identifying yourself with the independent and progressive elucidation of forms in nature here at a time, when enveyably so much of organic and inorganic objects in the division of our planet can first yet be rendered known.

Let me advise you, to start at once a Field-Naturalists Club in your important and prosperous town. You can soon in youthful enthusiasm bring together some few bright spirits there, as all such organisations even the Royal Society of London commenced with the gatherings of merely some few members. You will then have locally at once a number of Amateur-Collectors, both Ladies and Gentlemen, and an immense impetus will be given to local research and elevating thoughts on Nature's riches there. Litterary Gentlemen, such as the hon. Mr Vale are sure to support such a movement. In the German Association of Ballarat you are likely to find also some, who will share in this new action. In two or three years, therefore before the end of the Century you can have already in a Florale of Ballarat the descriptive records of the several hundred of indigenous plants then [A] "Fauna of Vertebrata" could soon follow, — of Invertebrata later. Discuss the subject in the press, to test public feelings thereon. It will be a glorious initiative of a wide scientific career of yours there. When the warm weather sets in, I shall redeem a promise to the German Association there, to spend a day or two in Ballarat once more, but the weather is for me too cold yet to travel.

As regards your Pimelea, I think it is only a form of P. axiflora.3 A similar variety I have from Mt Cole4 which seems to be the N.W limit of this species. The bisexual flowers may be sterile The crucial test for the exact specific position of your plant will be the examination of the perfectly ripe fruit. Thus the allied P. drupacea, which I found only on one single place outside of Tasmania has the fruits outside black. The Bible word, ye shall know them by their fruits5 is very applicable in plants science also!

I will be happy to aid you in the examining of any plants, which may remain to you doubtful after your own investigations. But now I like to invoke also your early aid for the promotion of special studies of mine. I am thus eager to get from as many places as possible in the far interior during this spring particularly any kinds of the minutest plants, in which Australia is richer than any other wide region of the globe. The6 can be easily collected, put into flat- or bag-envelopes, such as carries this letter, and the postal arrangements are so excellent in all these colonies that 1 lb weight of plants by sample-post can be sent for 8d, and such package would convey many hundreds of specimens. The third "Census of Australian plants" is due next year,7 so that I like to make that issue as full as possible up to the time, and as ordinary Collectors and Amateurs generally proved inattentive to wee plantlets, though a simple lense will reveal also in these ephemerous children of Flora very perfect floral structures, an ampler display of rarities for noting geographic distribution will yet be found among these smallest beings, than among any other forms of Australian vegetable life, although of uncommon other plants should neither be lost sight of. As you are aware, every finder gets credit in my works for new localities of rare plants and for the discovery of novel forms. Will you kindly make soon free some few hours of your valuable time for pleading with distant thoughtful friends this cause of mine? As I am to celebrate my 50 years Dr Jubilee next year, my worldly career must soon come to a close, so that I may not live during other springs to repeat this solicitation

With regardful remembrance your

Ferd von Mueller

 

Can a small piece of meteoric iron be spared from the Mines-Departments Collection there?

I gave it as my opinion, when adressing the Field-Nat Club here at its last annual gathering that every town throughout Australia ought to have some such Association

The new locality of the Pimelia shall be recorded under your honored name.

Would you like to join the Linnean Soc. of London? I will gladly be your Sponsor. 8

 

Pimelea axiflora

Pimelea drupacea

Melbourne.
Hart had just been appointed science lecturer at the Ballarat School of Mines, Vic.
MS annotation by M on one of two herbarium labels attached to the letter: 'Pimelia axiflora FvM Mt Buninyong 1896 Prof Th. Hart.'
Near Ballarat, Vic.
Matthew, ch. 6, verse 20.
They?
Never published.
Would … Sponsor is written on the second of M's attached herbarium labels. The Linnean Society has no record of receiving a nomination for Hart.

Please cite as “FVM-96-08-16,” in Ɛpsilon: The Ferdinand von Mueller Collection accessed on 23 October 2021, https://epsilon.ac.uk/view/vonmueller/letters/96-08-16