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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, 5 June 1767 n.s.
Dated June 5. 1767. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.


D[octo]r Job Baster asserts positively in the Philosophical Transactions vol. 52. p. 111, that all the Corallinae, that you and I have described, are Confervae. As he is not acquainted with the different characters of them. I think it necessary to give you my idea of both.

Conferva est planta, filamentis vel simplicibus, vel ramosis, articulatis; fructificationes, vario modo dispositas, habens.

Corallina. Animal crescens habitu plantae. Stirps fixa, e tubis capillaribus ramosis, per crustam calcaream porosam sese exserentibus, composita; saepe articulata, semper ramosa: ramis vel divaricatis, liberis; vel conglutinatis, connexis.

In order to examine more minutely into the nature of some of the fructifications of the marine Confervae, I have had figures drawn from the Microscope of several specimens in water. Among the rest I have met with two kinds that appear to me to be Dioeciae, having some amentaceous like spikes on one sort & capsules with seeds in the other. One kind of these is the Conferva polymorpha, represented at fig. d. & e. and the magnified figures at D. & E. The figure E. 1. represents the amantaceous spike higher magnified. The other is the Conferva plumosa at fig. b. & c., and the magnified figures at B. & C. [see the beautiful and detailed illustration].

Besides these to shew the manner of the fructification of three other kinds, I have given the magnified & natural size of a part of the Conferva flosculosa, with pedunculated flowers, at fig. a. & A. That of the Conferva geniculata, with verticillate flowers, at fig. g. & G. That of the Conferva plumula at fig. f. F & F1., and have added another without fructification at fig. h. & H. on acc[oun]t of the singularity of its articulations, which I call Conferva ciliata. My plates of Corallines are almost finishd as soon as they are, you may depend on Copies of them. If you look into our Phil[osophical] Transact[ions], Vol. 47. tab. 5. you will see on the Mirozoon or Pseudocorallium, &c. which Donati describes (and which Pallas calls Millepora truncata), all the pores coverd with opercula, and likewise when these are open, the polype like sucker is funnel shapd. I have observ’d lately something very like this on the Surface of the joints of the Corallina Opuntia kinds, where all the cells are cover’d with convex opercula, and in each cell there appears to be the remains of a funnel like sucker. There is a figure of this, but not well represented, at Pl. 25, fig. a. A. & A. Ellis Cor. but no figure of the opercula, which I have since had an opportunity, by means of recent Specimens, of describing more exactly. This will shew you how near the Millepora and Corallina approach.

The print which I inclose you is the only one I have, but you shall soon have more when your Swedish Ships return. I have above 30 Species of Corallina (I reckon 36) but no doubt many are varieties.

The insolent manner in which Pallas treats us, will make me exert myself to shew him that he is not infallible.

I have been so much imployd about publick business, that it is with difficulty I can steal this time to write to you, whom I so much love and esteem for Your generous manner of treating, not only me, but all mankind.

D[octo]r Solander (who din’d with me to day) rejoyces that I have found, upon dissection of my Pennatula Cynomorion, that there is a bone in it; but this bone[a][a] : MS. 1 this bone [added above
the line
is not so long as in the other Species. This is another objection to the infallibility of D[octo]r Pallas, who says it is without a bone.

As I find opportunity, I shall examine all his Genera, and shew him that he is a mere compiler, & no inventor.

I have by me,[b][b] : MS. 1 by me [added above the
to send you, a fine Specimen of the Siren from D[octo]r Garden, & some fishes, also a few Specimens of Insects from him,[c][c] : MS. 1 from him [added above
the line
but these are in a bad order.

If I had rec’d them from on board the Ship that brought your Specimens of plants from him, you should have had them sent with them, but I did not receive them till the Ship was saild to Stockholm.

I have likewise a Specimen of the Actinia radicans, which I mention’d before, this, and the plate of it, you shall have the first opportunity, with some other plates that I hope will please you.

I am, My Dear Sir,
Your most assured Friend,
John Ellis.

I shall present a memoir to our Royal Society adress’d to you, shewing the probability that the Corallinae are animals, and intirely differ from Fuci & Confervae, in answer to the Assertions of D[octo]r Baster and D[octo]r Pallas.


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 132-134). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 203-206   p.203  p.204  p.205  p.206.


MS. 1 this bone [added above the line]
MS. 1 by me [added above the line]
MS. 1 from him [added above the line]