I have rec’d your obliging Letter about the Seeds of Fungi being
animated. By your letter, you seem to think, that the Seeds of the Fungi are
animated, or have animal[a][a] : MS. 1 animal [added above the
line] life, and move about; my Experiments convince my of the contrary. I must first let you know, that I am convinc’d that in almost all standing, or even river, water, there are the eggs, and often the perfect animals, of those you call animalcula infusoria. As soon as these meet with their proper pabulum, they grow and increase in numbers, equal to the Musca vomitoria. I often have[b][b] : MS. 1 have [added above the
line] examind river water and pond water, and scarce ever found it without some species of these animalcula, especially in summer and autumn: besides the same animalcula that attack, eat, and move about the farina, or Seeds of the Fungi, do the same with other vegetables, as I have lately been convinc’d of by a fair experiment. I have tried at your request my Experi[ment]s over again, and shewd them to D[aniel] C[harles] Solander. I will keep these infusions according to your desire 14 days, and examine the particulars you desire of the animalcula fixing themselves, first one, then many more, to the bottom of the glass; and will endeavour to find out what you mean by their “growing up into Fungi.” If you mean that animalia infusoria, when they are dead, are a proper pabulum for Mucor I agree with you; for I have many animal Substances that are coverd with Mucor,[c][c] : MS. 1 with class="Uline">Mucor [added
above the line] even between the Muscovy Talcs (or Glacies Mariae) used on purpose[d][d] : MS. 1 purpose [added above the
line] for microscopic animals, in the microscope. But what appears to be most difficult to comprehend is, for instance, I have now a Lycoperdon Bovista, which I receiv’d from our good friend P[eter] Collinson 4 days ago. I put part of it into river water, and in two days time I[e][e] : MS. 1 I [added above the
line] perceived the seeds or farina of it moving about distinctly. The 4 day I[f][f] : MS. 1 I [added above the
line] perceivd the figure of the animalcula that movd them. Are these Seeds, or these animalcula (for they are evidently distinct bodies), to turn into Fungi, Mucores, or Lycoperda? This is what I do not comprehend in this new discovery. If the animalcula, that mov’d the seeds of the Lycoperdon, it would be amazing; and again, it would be as surprising that[g][g] : MS. 1 that [added above the
line] the seeds of one Genus should produce another; for instance, that the seeds of Lycoperda should produce Mucores. However, I have determin’d to go through these experiments with precision, and to call in witnesses of the several appearances.
I have not yet got any of the Ustilago. If you will be so good as to send me a Spike of Corn infected with it, proper for trial, you may depend on me in carefully going through the experiments properly.
I have made some observations lately on a small kind of Lumbricus, which serves as food for the Hydra, or fresh Water polype of Trembley. I cut these small worms into 3 or 4 pieces, and they all have grown into perfect animals. D[octo]r Solander (who is obligd to you for your kind inquiry after his health) has examin’d them, at my Chambers to day, in the Microscope, and was surpriz’d at their Structure. They differ quite from the Lumbricus terrestris, and approach near to the Taenia. I have wrote to James Gordon for some seeds of the Ellisia in their Capsules. As soon as I get them, will send them to you.
I hope you have got the Actinia radicans, and the things I sent you by Capt[ain] Robenius. I long to have your thoughts on this Actinia; it differs very little from the Sertularia.
I find by your last Edition of the Syst[ema] Animale that you look on the
Stem of the Gorgonias to be vegetable. I differ in opinion, and intend to write a Letter
particularly on that Subject, as I have had[h][h] : MS. 1 had [added above the
line] many opportunities, from seeing Different specimens, together with Chemical & microscopical enquiries, to prove them as different almost[i][i] : MS. 1 almost [added above the
line] as the Dendrites, or the Crystallization of[j][j] : MS. 1 of [added above the
line] Sal Ammoniac, from Vegetables. Pray let your Young Gentlemen examine the vesicles, or Ovaries (as Pallas would have them), of the Antipathes; for to me they approach nearer to the Gorgonia, as you have placed them, than to the Sertularia; and what I have seen is no more than some extraneous bodies, which have adhered to them, being partly coverd with their spiny skin, and have formed little irregular turbinated cups, here and there, on the branches, not in that regular shape and manner that the Sertulariae have their vesicles.
You may[k][k] : MS. 1 may [added above the
line] depend upon it I shall always attend to your commands, and shall not make light of these enquiries. You shall always find me your most affectionate friend, and that I shall always acknowledge myself indebted to you, for the many useful observations, that you have seen so kind to communicate to me, by your Letters as well as your writings. My best wishes attend you.