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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, 24 October 1758 n.s.
Dated . Sent from London (Great Britain) to (). Written in English.

Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure of your favour of the 29th Sept[ember] and I am very glad you received the letters I sent you. My letter of the beginning of August gave you an account of the dissection of M[iste]r Warner’s Jasmine by D[octo]r Bierken and me, wherein we found three distinct styles, each style sitting on a loculament, so that we plainly could, without glasses, perceive three loculaments full of seeds, of a roundish form, about 30 or 40 in each. The valves which adhered to the spongy substance of the pericarpium appeared to be hard and fibrous; and when they were separated from the seeds, we could plainly discover the partitions or parietes that formed the several loculaments. This account I sent to M[iste]r Warner at the same time that I sent you my last letter, but he has desired me to write to you to beg you would not call it Warneria, and which I believe I did in my last letter. I believe he is convinced that it differs from the Jasmine; but he has such an esteem for M[iste]r Miller, that he would not appear to differ from him in so capital a plant by adopting another name. M[iste]r Ehret is now engraving an elegant plate of it, and I suppose will give a dissection of it, and intends to call it by a name of his own, for we agreed when we examined only the stamina and styles at M[iste]r Warner’s together, that it was by no means a Jasmine.

The lobes of the Corolla are obliquely bent, which I have never seen a Jasmine. There is but one flower on each small branch. It is not in the least milky. I carefully examined both the leaves, branches, and flowers, and could not perceive the least lactescent appearance when I cut them. In those flowers, where the stamina appear, there are as many of them (generally) as the lobes of the corolla. When the flowers come out first in summer, if the weather is warm, they have six divisions or lobes; but towards the latter end, the blossoms are smaller and the lobes but five. So that I believe it is Hexandria Trigynia, though most of the flowers have but five lobes.

I must therefore desire you would call this plant Augusta, which I think as well deserves that title for its elegance in every aspect, as the Methonica does to be called Gloriosa. This will not offend our friend Warner’s modesty, nor his particular delicacy to M[iste]r Miller. The description and characters you may collect from what I have wrote to you.

Your compliment to me on the print of the Pipy red coral is more than I deserve. I should not have shewn this specimen of coral to the Royal Society, but that I thought it would clear up the manner of the growth of these kind of bodies, beyond any other that I had met with.

I have inclosed you a proof print of the naked Lepas of the Concha anatifera kind, which is much better done than Edwards’s. I have had all the species of that kind as well as the Balani added. I will endeavour to get you a specimen of this extraordinary animal. Something of this kind has been observed before, vide Act. Angl. N. 308. p. 2314, in a letter from Sir Robert Sibbald to Sir Hans Sloane; but the description and figure are so bad, that it is impossible to make any thing of them.

I thank you most heartily for your first part of the Systema; I am much pleased with it. I lately received it from a gentleman that is going to reside among the Swedes in Philadelphia.

I have lately wrote to Carolina to Doctor Garden to send me the Cochineal insect, together with the Opuntia that it adheres to; for I have been spoken to by several of your friends for that purpose. I wish we may be able to get it from Jamaica, for I am told they do not cultivate that plant now for this purpose. It chiefly is in the hands of the Spaniard. I can assure you there have been many letters wrote in order to procure it for you if possible.

I am at this time endeavouring to find out a method to bring exotic seeds from China, and other distant parts of the world, in a vegetative state.

I should be obliged to you for our opinion in these matters. You, no doubt, have given your pupils proper instructions on this head, when they went abroad.

Likewise the best method to preserve the plants alive, in so long voyages and so many different climates.

I am now smearing over the Acorns of the Quercus, that bears the Cork, with a thick solution of gum arabick, which soon dries; others I cover with wax; others I inclose in clay and gum arabick; each acorn is covered or smeared singly. I shall inclose others in clay and tow, or flax, worked up together and then dried. Others I cover with a mummy made of pitch, rosin and beeswax, in equal quantities. They are afterwards to be put into jars, some in sand, some in paper, and some in boxes, and then covered up close, and kept cool on board the ship. This is the method I propose, to bring seeds from China; and am now trying the experiment only for a short voyage to Charlestown, South Carolina, to D[octo]r Garden; but am in hopes the gum arabick will preserve seeds from the most distant places, provided that when the seeds are enveloped in it; it is soon dried, and after placed in jars in the coolest part of the ship.

I hear your pupil M[iste]r Solander intends to come to England. Pray desire him to study English immediately, and in a month after he comes here; he will speak it fluently. I should be very glad to do him any services that lay in my power, as I find you have a great esteem for him.

I am, Dear Sir, most truly your affectionate Friend,
John Ellis


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1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 104-108   p.104  p.105  p.106  p.107  p.108.