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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, 13 June 1760 n.s.
Dated June 13. 1760. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.

To Charles Linnaeus

I have sent you, by a friend of Professor Ferner’s, a collection of Seeds which I rec’d from our Mutual Friend Doctor Garden, some of them are cover’d with tallow, and some with Myrtle-wax; I believe the latter will preserve them better than the former. Since M[iste]r Ferner went to Scotland, I have rec’d from D[octo]r Garden some specimens of dried Fish, with their characters, in a Letter to you, also the specimen & Characters of a new Plant. These I shall forward to you by the first opportunity.

In answer to the Letter of the 29th of April, I desire you would please to call M[iste]r Warners Jasmine Gardenia, which will satisfy me, and I believe will not be disagreeable to you.

What you say is right in regard to the keeping up to the rules you have laid down in your Philosophia Botanica, and therefore I submit.

I shall endeavour to get you a Specimen of the Morea of Miller and send it with the other specimens.

I shall write to D[octo]r Garden this day, that I have desired you to give the Name of Gardenia to the Jasmine, which I am persuaded he will esteem as a favour; at the same time I shall send him M[iste]r Ehrets curious Print of it[a][a] : MS 1 it [added above the
, colour’d by himself. If the dried plant which I shall send you from D[octo]r Garden proves to be a new genus, I hope you will have no objection to the calling it Schlosseria, from my worthy friend D[octo]r John Albert Schlosser of Amsterdam.

I am yet endeavouring at new methods to preserve seeds on long voyages. I am persuaded your method of immersing the bottle or Jar (in which they are inclosd in sand) into a mixture of Salts, is a good one. I shall soon, I hope, have a trial of it compleated, for I expect a friend from the East Indies to whom I communicated it and who has promis’d to try it and several other methods which I have proposed. I sent you in the last parcel some of the Opuntiae, with the fruit on them, from D[octo]r Garden. There were on them some webs wove by the female cochineal Insect, and I hope that you will find some of the Insects themselves. D[octo]r Garden has promisd to send me some of the Male Insect. I observd, among some that he sent me a year ago, the Male Insect had two long Setae proceeding from their Tails.

I propose to continue my discoveries in the Corals, Corallines, &c. as soon as I have finishd some experiments I am making on seeds that were preservd after different manners.

It is a great loss to the Curious here that we are so long before we can receive your works; they are delayed full 6 months in Holland. I should be glad, when you write to your Bookseller, M[iste]r Lawrence Salvius, that you’ll recommend him to correspond with the Booksellers here directly. M[iste]r John Nourse, a Bookseller of great reputation here who sells most of yours and other Foreign Books has wrote to him, and has recv’d no answer. He has desir’d me to write to you, that we may purchase rather the Stockholm Edition than the Dutch or German Editions of your works, if you mention this when you write to D[oct]or Bierken, he will speak to Salvius and perhaps write his answer to me.

I am much concern’d that your Friend Solander is detain’d by Sickness. If he comes, I shall introduce him with pleasure to all my Friends, who indeed have long expected him; for it now is above a year since you wrote so warmly in his Favour.

A friend of mine has sent over a leaf of the True Cinnamon with some of the Bark from Goudaloupe. I expect to receive a specimen of the Blossoms. No judgment can be form’d by the leaves, nor is the taste of the Bark sufficient to distinguish the Genus, but there is a probability that it is the true Cinnamon of the Shops.

There was shewd at our Society for Arts and Sciences, &c. some very strong filaments like hemp, said to be found on the Muskito Shore, near the Gulph of Honduras. The plant is said to be a species of Aloe or Pinguin of the Ananas kind. But I believe this is a mistake; for I think[b][b] : MS 1 I believe [added above the
it must be a Species of Yucca, this kind of plant being used for the making thread of various kinds in North America, by macerating the leaves a few days in water, and afterwards beating and combing it, treating it in the same manner as we do hemp. – It is said they have a species of this kind in the East Indies, which they dress so fine as to form filaments as glossy as Silk. I shall send you a specimen of it with the rest of your things, I mean what was laid before the Society. D[octo]r Garden is of opinion that the arborescent Yucca of Carolina is a different genus from the common Yucca. I have sent with the Seeds a fruit[c][c] : MS 1 a fruit [added above the
of the tree Yucca, which I hope you have rec’d long before this. [d][d] : MS 1 this [added above the
The Dutch, as Van[e][e] : MS 1 The ... van [added above
the line
Royen, call the Yucca’s Cordyline, and some species are call’d in America SilkGrass, which points out[f][f] : MS 1 out [added above the
the uses they have been before applied to.

D[octo]r Browne, of whom you enquire, I hear is[g][g] : MS 1 is [added above the
at Santa Crucce, one of the Danish Islands in the West Indies. He informed me that they use the fibres of the Agave, or great American Aloes, instead of Hemp, to place between the Sheathing of their Ships, and that the bitter juice of the Leaves, mixd with Pitch, would prevent the Teredo eating into the Planks, but I have not heard it confirm’d, but it is worth enquiring into. Perhaps upon enquiry we may find that all the species of Agave have filamentose leaves, and that this Silkgrass[h][h] : MS 1 Silkgrass [added above
the line
from Honduras, may be from one of them. If you have met with any observations on this subject be so good as to communicate them to me.

I am, Sir,
with the utmost regard,
Your Most Obedient
& affectionate humb[le] Serv[an]t
John Ellis

I cannot as yet get you a Specimen of the Morea; they were out of flower before I rec’d your letter.

I have just now heard that my friend M[iste]r Peter Woulfe the Chemist is collecting Fishes in Guadaloupe for you. I expect many curious specimens from him, what ever is curious you shall know concerning them as soon as I receive them.

I hear a Swedish Ship is soon expected here, by her I intend sending your things if she sails first.


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 102-103). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 129-133   p.129  p.130  p.131  p.132  p.133.


MS 1 it [added above the line]
MS 1 I believe [added above the line]
MS 1 a fruit [added above the line]
MS 1 this [added above the line]
MS 1 The ... van [added above the line]
MS 1 out [added above the line]
MS 1 is [added above the line]
MS 1 Silkgrass [added above the line]