I have had the pleasure to receive your very kind Letter of 24th of Sept[em]b[e]r, wherein you express the regard and esteem of a true friend. I have rec’d more honour and encouragement from your good opinion of me, to pursue natural history, than from the Royal Society of London, or any person else.
I am greatly obligd to you for supporting my character against that insolent Plagiary
Buttner, and thank you most kindly for your promise to write to Baron Munchhausen,
this will be of more service to me, than the certificates I have got from the Secretaries
to the Royal Society, that he did not give in any paper to the Society relating to
Corallines, or any of those marine bodies which he says he did; and it is well
known to all the Members of the R[oyal] Society, lovers of Natural History, that during
the time he was in England, nor at any other time whatever, did he[a][a] : MS 1 he [added above the
line] ever give in any acc[oun]t whatsoever. Your friend Peter Collinson particularly knows this to be true, and knows that he is a bad Man.
I have been confin’d this month to my Chamber by a violent Catarrh; but I hope, by
the advice of D[octo]r Fothergill, my good friend, to reestablish my health. I am now
looking into the Nature of Sponges, and think by dissecting and comparing them with
what I have seen recent, and with the Alcyonium Manus mortua, that I can
plainly see how they grow; without trusting to Peysonell’s acc[oun]t of them, which is
printed in our Philosophical Transactions, wherein he pretends to tell you, that he takes
the animal out of them, that forms them[b][b] : MS 1 them [added above the
line] ; and that he put it[c][c] : MS 1 it [added above the
line] into them, and it crept about through the meanders of the Sponge. This kind of Insect, which harbours in Sponges, I have seen; but Sponges have no such animal to give them life, and to form them. Their mouths are open tubes all over their surfaces, not furnishd, like the tubes of the Alcyonium Manus mortua, with polype-like mouths or suckers. With their mouths they draw in and send out the water; they can contract and dilate them at will, and the Count Marsigli has (though he thought them plants) confirm’d me in my opinion, that this is their manner of feeding. If you observe what he has wrote on Sponges in his Histoire de la Mer, and the Observations he has made on the Systole and Diastole of these holes in Sponges, during the time they are full of water, you will be of my opinion. Take a lobe of the Officinal Sponge, and cut it through perpendicularly and horizontally, and you’ll observe how near the disposition of the tubes are to the figure I have given of the sections of the Alcyonium Manus mortua in my plate of the Sea pens.
I am collecting all those zoophytes you call Corallinae. I have met with several Species & Varieties from the Bahama Islands. It is to shew D[octo]r Job Baster that he does not know the difference between a Coralline and a Conferva, when he says, he can prove, that all which you call Corallines are no more than Confervas.
D[octo]r Walker of Edinburgh is now here. He tells me he has collected a great variety, in his voyage round the sea Coast of Scotland, of all the submarine productions. I believe he has a view to writing a Natural History of Scotland, the people of that part of this island, seem fonder of it than the English.
I wrote a week ago to M[iste]r Lee about the letters you sent him, and likewise beg’d of him to send you the Sanguinaria.
Our Friend Adam Kuhn is now at M[iste]r Pitcairn’s, a Merchant’s in Edinburgh, Scotland; I do not doubt but he will promote the study of Natural History there.
By a Swedish ship lately saild to Stockholm, you will receive a bottle with a Larva of the Lacerta Inguana, and D[octo]r Garden’s acc[oun]t of it.
The Doctor wants much to know your opinion of a specimen of a shrub, which was sent to you about the same time with[d][d] : MS 1 <that> with the Specimens of the Fish, in the year 1760, at the latter end of the descriptions of his Fishes, he describes the plant. D[octo]r Solander & I both saw the Specimen, and I have by me now a good drawing of it and some seeds – it is decandria mongynia; to give you some idea of it, I shall copy his friends drawing [illustrations]. The seed is a nut. The flowers are white, and grow in spikes like the Ribes, the leaves of the Plant are like the Styrax.
I should be glad to know if you continue in the same mind about disposing of your Tea Tree, and what I shall call the value, that you put upon it. I do not doubt but that there are many persons here who would be glad to purchase it, if they knew the price.
Pray is the plant of the true Ipecacuana yet known? If it is, I should be glad to know what it is.
Lord Hillsborough rec’d last summer from Madeira, seeds of the Dragon Palm, and they are as they are describd, about the size of a pea, quite round, and horny, like the seeds of the Palmetto from S[outh] Carolina. I shall write for some specimens of the flowers. I am not of M[iste]r Loeflings opinion that they belong to the Asparagus.
My best wishes attend you, and when you have leisure to write, nothing can be more agreeable than your elegant and instructive Letters.