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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, 1 November 1768 n.s.
Dated Novemb. 1. 1768. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.


I received your very kind letter of the 12 of September and now can inform you that I have rec[eive]d a letter from our good Friend D[octo]r Solander from Madeira, dated the 18 of Sept[em]b[e]r. He was then sailing out of harbour of Funchial upon their Voyage to the S[outh] Seas. He says they have met with a great many curious Mollusca, of which they have made drawings and descriptions; he adds they will send what they have got home by way of Lisbon, and promises me a large packet by that[a][a] : MS. 1 that [added above the
way, as no more ships are expected this year to sail for England from Madeira. He has sent me a letter inclos’d for his mother, with orders to deliver it to M[iste]r Lindegren to be forwarded to her; he begs his kind respects to you and all his friends. I have lately rec’d from my Friend, just return’d from China, such a parcel of flowers of Tea as you mention you formerly rec’d; and upon examining them, I find they exactly agree with your description in your Genera Plantarum. My friend says they were sent him from the country where the Bohea grows. The Tea plant here succeeds well from cuttings, under the care of M[iste]r James Gordon.

I hope you have received the print of the Dionaea muscipula. I wish it may stand our winters; as it is the most extraordinary plant that ever I have met with.

I have lately met with the same kind of zoophytelike appearance from bad wheat bruised and put into a watch glass with river water, and covered with another watch glass. I am afraid the season of the year is grown too cold to make observations; this is the same that Needham describes in the Act[a] Anglica. I put some more common house-flies to putrefy, but they afforded no such appearance as the former did.

I acknowledge these animalia infusoria are the most surprising things in nature, but I cannot agree with Needham, that the animalcula in semine masculino are of the same nature. The minute animalcules that appear in a boil’d potatoe, 1 or 2 days after, amaze me. I find that putting grass and other vegetables into Vials [phials] of water, and corking them up close, prevented the appearance of any animalcules, though kept from June to September; but in a few days the corks were taken out of the bottles, and they were cover’d only with white paper tied close down. The animalcules then began to appear, both in the Poa annua and the Rumex Acetosella Infusions.[b][b] : MS. 1 but ... Infusions [added
in the margin
The boild potatoes, corkd up with the water it was boild in, afforded no animalcules. In the gravey of Lamb, though corkd up close, there were a few very minute linear animalcules; but I never could see the various Sorts and Sizes that Needham says he met with: indeed our Summer has been very wet, and but a few warm days. D[octo]r Hill tells the World that he has found out that the Fungus Boletus, or what usd to be calld Agaricus, is a zoophyte as much as any of the rest that are allowd to be true animals. His friend D[octo]r Watson magnifies him and his discovery. We wait for demonstation. I cannot discover the animality of them; but I have seen the Seeds in the cells as plain as Micheli has decrib’d them. I am sure in burning they have no animal smell.

I rejoyce to hear that your 3d Volume of your System of nature,[c][c] : MS. 1 of ... nature [added in
the margin
of the Regnum lapideum, is finishd: we long to see it here. I expect very soon to get the seed vessels of the Illicium anisatum. They write that they have thirteen pods in the form of a Star, agreeable to the Pistillum in the flower; the blossom is red.[d][d] : MS. 1 the ... red [added in the
] I enquired of D[octo]r Fothergill about M[iste]r Collinson’s collection: he says his son keeps them, and does not intend to dispose of them.

I hope you rec’d the Specimen of the Actinia Sociata, which I sent you above a year ago. If you have, pray give me your opinion; though I have join’d it with the Actiniae from its outward appearance, I believe from the inward part or what we discover in the longitudinal section (which is exactly drawn from nature) it may be another genus: but that I submit to you. I am now drawing up an account of the difference between the growth of trees and of Zoophytes, such as the Gorgonia, Isis, and the Antipathes of Pallas.

By comparing the upright & cross section of both, the difference is easily discoverd.

I have removd the Isis Nobilis to the Gorgoniae, and calld it Gorgonia aestimabilis. In my opinion the articulations of the Isis are the only and proper distinguishing Character of this Genus, otherwise it would belong to the Gorgonia. I know you will object that it wants the Medulla. All the Antipathes that I have seen, and I have seen many Species, and dissected them carefully, have spines on their surface, and even in their inner circles. I should not have[e][e] : MS. 1 have [added above the
been at the pains to do this, tho it is very curious, but that I think D[octo]r Pallas seems to treat me too freely, without giving a full answer to my remarks on the Gorgonia Flabellum Veneris. He has seen the specimen in my possession, and he cannot account for it, especially for that part of the top where it grows back upon itself, contrary to what has been observ’d in Plants.

While I was writing this part of my Letter, I receivd your very kind and extremely Complaisant Letter of Oct[ober] 16,[f][f] : MS. 1 of ... 16 [added above
the line
acknowledging the rec[eip]t of my letter of the 23d of Sept[em]b[e]r last, with the Print and description of the Dionaea. I am glad[g][g] : MS. 1 glad [added above the
it has given you and the illustrious Royal Society of Upsal so much satisfaction; be so good as to return them my most hearty thanks, and assure them I esteem it a particular honour done to,

D[ea]r Sir,
Your most affectionate & much Obligd humble Servant,
John Ellis

I have by desire of D[octo]r Solander left a letter for his Mother with Ch[arles] Lindegren to be forwarded to her.

When the King of Denmark was here, there was not a person of any curiosity in Natural history among all his attendants.[h][h] : MS. 1 glad [added above the


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 149-150). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 236-240   p.236  p.237  p.238  p.239  p.240.


MS. 1 that [added above the line]
MS. 1 but ... Infusions [added in the margin]
MS. 1 of ... nature [added in the margin]
MS. 1 the ... red [added in the margin]
MS. 1 have [added above the line]
MS. 1 of ... 16 [added above the line]
MS. 1 glad [added above the line]
MS. 1 glad [added above the line]