Your very kind letter of the 15th of August I receiv’d yesterday, inclosing one
to D[octo]r Garden, which I shall forward, with one of my own to him by the first
opportunity which I daily expect. The Provinces of the two Floridas afford most
certainly an ample field for the wonderful Productions of nature and if one of your
pupils was to travel through them, they might be properly discrib’d, but to my
misfortune the people that are there are totally ignorant of natural history; however I do
not despair, as there is now going out a Lieutenant Governor that seems to have some
taste, and has promis’d me faithfully to send me what curiosities he can. I have a letter
very lately from thence, from a person who liv’d long in Georgia, who informs me, that
the plants about Pensaeola and Mobille are much the same, but that the climate is
worse, and that they do not come to so great perfection. I have the greatest hopes
from the Banks of Missisippi, or from the Southern part of East Florida, which extends
to 25 degrees, & is[a][a] : MS 1 & is [added above the
line] more Southward.
I have just now rec’d a letter from Doctor Garden, he has left off his business to
take care of his health, and promises to be a very good correspondent for the future. I
am sorry to tell you he sent me no specimens of the new Genera of Plants,[b][b] : MS 1 of Plants [added above
the line] only the Descriptions, which I shall take the Liberty to tell him will not answer your End. I found he has sent them to an Ignorant fellow here in Botany, one Robertson, Gardiner to our Queen; so that I must desire him to send you other[c][c] : MS 1 other [added above the
line] specimens with the Descriptions, if he expects you to take notice of them. His new[d][d] : MS 1 new [added above the
line] animal, which he calls “Mud Inguara”, is no more than a larva of a Large kind of Lacerta, he has[e][e] : MS 1 has [added above the
line] sent me a dried specimen that is[f][f] : MS 1 is [added above the
line] 30 Inches & ½ long, and has yet but 2 feet, his other specimens, which are preserved in Spirits, are about 9 Inches long. Having last year met with some Larva’s of the Lacerta vulgaris, I observ’d little fins like wings come out on each side[g][g] : MS 1 on ... side [added above
the line] a little above the forefeet; and that after I had kept them some time in Water, they cast their skins, and then crawld out of the water, and became terrestrial animals, the fins soon disappearing. The fins of the large dried specimen exactly agreeing in Shape and Situation, confirms my opinion, that they will not leave the water till they get their hind legs. As soon as I can get a drawing made of this animal, I shall send you this specimen, however, when I send you the one preserv’d in Spirits, you will plainly discover that it is a larva.
I calld just now at our Museum Britannicum on Solander, he desires me to assure you, that he never rec’d those letters, nor M[iste]r Lee the one, that covered them.
I have not yet been at the Seaside, but still hope to get there this year before Winter
comes on. We have had the hottest and driest Summer that I remember. We have
good Wheat, but are[h][h] : MS 1 but [added above the
line] scarce in Hay, Oats, Barley, and Peas.
There is no growing, at the Museum Garden, a plant of the Mirabilis, between the Ipecacuanha and the long-tubed one. I leave this to you whether this is a variety or New Species; for my part I am puzzled much at these Sportings of Nature. The leaves have stalks not so long as the Ipecacuanha, and the long- tub’d one’s are sessile.
I have often wish’d to know from what tree or Plant the Russian Matts are made, of
which commodity an infinite Number are us’d in England. Some say it is from the
Tilia; some from the Betula,[i][i] : MS 1 Betula [added above the
line] Birch; some from the Salix Viminalis. You can determine it, which will do us pleasure, when we receive your Authenticity to the account.
I have got a few seeds of a new Genus, No. 7. of D[octo]r Garden’s, which I inclose
you in this Letter. Solander takes it to be a Gerardia. If they are sown now,
[j][j] : MS 1 now [added above the
line] and kept in shelter all winter, they may come up in Spring.
I rejoyce to find that your Tea Plant is alive; you are much in the right to protect it from severe weather. I have made another attempt to get the Tea Seeds from China, preserv’d in common bees wax.
I should not have fail’d the last time, but that I forgot to tell my friend to expose them awhile, to take off the superfluous moisture. This I have done now, and if he can get them, I am sure he will send them by the Ships that are expected to arrive here in June next.
I wish you would make experiments this year on Oak Acorns wrapt in wax, involve some before they are sweated, others after, and you’ll find the experiment to succeed infinitely better in the latter manner than the former. I have now an Oak growing whose acorn was inclos’d in Wax in February, and not planted till the February following; whereas those that were inclos’d in the beginning of November all rotted, from the moisture that was thrown on the Surface, under the wax.
Your method of thi Salts sav’d many curious Seeds that were inclosd by your directions; but I believe Mangoes stones, and the Tea Seeds, with many more, may be preserv’d better in wax. I wish Doctor Russel would direct his friends at Aleppo to send some of their rare Seeds in this manner, such as the Arbutus Andrachne, & many other curious Seeds, which loose all Vegetation by the time they come here, as much as East India Seeds.
I should be glad to obtain seeds or a plant of the Ficus Sycomorus for our American Plantations; this might be worthy our attention: but few people have the same Warmth for extending Natural Philosophy and History as I have.
If Providence had made us so unhappy as to have plac’d you here, we should long ago have exceeded all the World. I shall write to our mutual friend D[octo]r Garden to attend to your Correspondence, which I am sure he will do, esteeming it the greatest honour of his life. My best Wishes attend you; may you long live, a true light, to point out to us the only and best method to investigate nature.