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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, [31 December 1756] n.s.
Dated Undated but written in 1756 or 1757. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.


I have sent you inclos’d a specimen of a Carolina Shrub, calld by Catesby, Vol. I p. 64, Frutex Padi foliis non serratis, floribus monopetalis albis campaniformibus, fructu crasso tetragono. This I rec’d last year from Doctor Alexander Garden, M[edicinae] D[octo]r of Charlestown, South Carolina, who collected it on the Hills, 200 miles to the North West of that City, at a place calld Saluda, desiring me to get it engrav’d and give it a name, but as I am very sensible your judgment in these matters far exceeds either the english Botanists or those of any other Nation, I submit the description of it to you, begging the favour of you to honour it with the Name of Halesia, from that worthy man, D[octo]r Stephen Hales, author of the Vegetable Staticks. D[octo]r Browne by my desire had made an Halesia, but M[iste]r Collinson tells me you had remark’d that it was only the species of a genus already describ’d. You’ll find it a Monodelphia monogynia, and quite different from any thing you have already describd, the Stamina in general are 12, but often 16. Though there should be four nuclei in the nut, yet rarely but one comes to perfection, the sulcated nut when ripe is as hard as a cherry stone. If the war does not prevent it, I expect some of the ripe fruit soon, if I get them, will send you some. I study your sexual method of Botany, as finding it preferable to all other systems. I send you a proof print of this Halesia designd by Ehret; it is not yet finished by the Engraver; I shall wait for your description to perfect it. You will observe folia leviter serrata sunt.

I return you my hearty thanks for your good opinion of my endeavours to investigate the Nature of Corallines, which you have so kindly expressd in your letter to our worthy Friend M[iste]r Peter Collinson. I wish I had began a correspondence earlier with you. I should rec’d great improvement from your universal knowledge, and many things might have given you pleasure through my hands; but now it is began I hope you’ll continue it. Excuse my writing in English, though I read Latin familiarly, yet I cannot write it to please me.

I am endeavouring as much as in me lies to establish your System here, and from some hints I gave out among Friends how agreeable it would be to the Publick to have it in English, some Booksellers who are greedier of money than Science, have proposd it to D[octo]r Hill to translate it. But as that Gentlemans performances are not in my Esteem and indeed I believe with few of the Royal Society, I have proposed it to the Publisher of M[iste]r Millers Gardeners Dictionary to employ some skilful person, to translate as much of your Botanical System as would tempt young beginners to study this art, for if there was too much to be learnt, few would attempt it.

The Bookseller will spare no exspense in having the Plates well engraved, and I believe will have the best assistance among the few Botanical gentlemen that are here. Millers Dictionary is the chief Book that is read by Gentlemen who study the art of Gardening, and that author of late has found himself oblig’d to change most of his obsolete names and descriptions of Plants, to your more intelligible and accurate ones. On this account it will be necessary that a compendious description of your method in familiar English should be publishd, to understand your terms.

I should be glad of your advice in this affair, as I promisd the Bookseller to write to you. I had thoughts of recommending the translation of your Clavis Systematis sexualis with the Classium Characteres as in your Systema Naturae, 6th. Ed. publishd at Lipsick, with the proper plate shewing the 24 Classes. To this I would add the two Chapters of the Plantae and Fructificatio with the proper Plates to explain them as publish’d in your Philosoph[ia] Botan[ica] from pag. 37 to pag. 85 and when the new edition of your Genera Plant[arum], or the contractid one in your Systema Naturae comes out, to publish that at the End.

Though our M[iste]r Miller is a good Gardiner, he is of opinion that he is a most excellent Botanist which all the world will not allow him. He has been a little severe upon the Abbé Mazeas, in a letter published in our Transactions last year, addressd to D[octo]r Stephen Hales, relating to the discovery of staining linen black with the juice of certain Rhus or Toxicodendrons. I have venturd to vindicate the Abbé Mazeas; how far I am right youll be a judge when I send you the account. I have in this differd from some Synonyms you have adoptid, but I hope to satisfie you Im right. I cannot agree that the Oepata of the H[ortus] Malab[aricus] is the same with the Anacardium orientale[a][a] : MS1 [There is an illustration
with the text
: Oriental Anacardium
on it’s receptacle]
. You, I observe, have calld it Avicennia. I have lately rec’d some fabae of this Oriental Anacardium, growing on a small fruit not unlike the Acajou of Tournfort and I do believe it to be a species of Rumphius’s Cassuvium Sylvestre, Vol. I. Tab. 70 which you will please to turn to in his Herbar[ium] Amboin[ense] by Burmann. I have many other hints to give you, but am obligd to break off at present and conclude my self

Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant, John Ellis.

Please to direct to M[iste]r John Ellis, Merch[an]t, in London.

To Sir Charles Linnaeus


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 89). [1] [2]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 82-85   p.82  p.83  p.84  p.85.
2. The Letters and Papers of Sir John Hill (1982), p. 70-71 .


MS1 [There is an illustration with the text: Oriental Anacardium on it’s receptacle]