M[iste]r Solander informs me he has acquainted you that I have now in my possession a curious recent Encrinus, lately fish’d out of the Sea near Barbadoes in the West Indies. It seems to agree with the petrification describ’d in your Systema under the title of Helmintholithus Medusae ramosissimus &c. &c.
This animal being entirely compos’d of crustaceous joints, united by fine fleshy ligaments, renders it so difficult to handle, that it is not so perfect as we could wish, many of the ramifications being broken off, particularly those large ones that compose the head.
I have desir’d him to describe it in your method for your better understanding it, I propose to write a description of it, and all the class that we find fossil, in order to make a little dissertation of it for our Society.
Stirps radicata, crustacea, pedalis, adscendens, 5-angularis, glabra, ramosa, articulata: articulis dense approximatis, superne ad latera plana sulco notatis, punctoque impresso distinctis.
Rami quini, simplices, verticillati, teretes, glabri, articulati, patuli, apicibus acutis reflexis. Spatium inter verticillos unciale, superne angulare. Rami in medio caulis palmares, superne et inferne paulo breviores.
Stirpem terminat flos seu Caput, eodem modo ac Asterias caput Medusae, in ramis per dichotomiam divisum. Rami patuli, articulati, superne emittentes ramulos simplices, teretes, adscendentes, inflexos.
Centrum tegitur membrana crustacea concava, in cujus fundo apertura oblonga, minima, in sicco specimine.
Obs. Singulus caulis articulus substantia interna fibris stellatis constat, uti in fractura apparet.
As soon as it is engrav’d I will send you a Print of it. M[iste]r Solander is going with a Danish Gentleman to visit Oxford, Bath, Bristol, and the mines in Cornwall. I have given him some Letters to my friends, and don’t doubt his being very well receiv’d by every body.
I must now inform you that my experiment in order to the preserving of the Tea
seeds has so far succeeded, that by this time you will have receiv’d a capsule inclos’d
in wax, which when you come to open you will find in a vegetative state, as I have
experienc’d by sundry which I cut open before the Royal Society. At the same time I
cut open several acorns of our English Oak, that had been enclos’d in wax since
October 1759, which was the same time that the Tea Seeds were inclos’d[a][a] : MS 1 enclosed [added above the
line] in China. You are to remark that these Tea Seeds were collected at Limpo or Ningpo, near the Lat[itude] of 30 degrees North in China, and I am well inform’d that the weather there from the middle of December to the middle of February is attended with severe frost and snow, but that the Summer is excessive hot.
I remember in a former letter where you press my getting Tea plants from China, you remark they are so hardy as to bear the cold even of Sweden. I find that Wax is preferable to Tallow and wax; for unless the fat is taken from the kidneys, which we call suet, and melted directly with the wax in equal parts, it is apt to putrify in long voyages. There were many of the Tea Seeds spoild by using the Ship’s Tallow, and mixing only a quarter part wax so that if wax is to be be got, I should prefer it to all other substances.
I have, by the desire of our Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Sciences, & Commerce, transmitted a Capsule of Tea Seeds inclos’d in wax, to each of our Governours of Provinces from New England to Georgia so that I hope to establish Tea in America by that means in time.
I have got a few seeds of the Croton sebiferum, which grows in the same place with the Tea, which I expect to raise here. Great Care is to be taken when the Capsules or Seeds are put up that they are perfectly ripe and dry.
I suppose M[iste]r Solander has informd you that I have presented the Characters of the Gardenia to the Royal Society here.
I expect some seeds soon from America; as soon as I receive them M[iste]r Solander shall have a share for you.
If you can procure me some seeds of the true Rhubarb, I shall be oblig’d to you and any rare Siberian or Tartarian seeds, particularly those of trees and shrubs.