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Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, 27 November 1769 n.s.
Dated Novbr. 27. 1769. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.

Dear Sir,

I have been prevented, by many unforeseen accidents, from paying you the regard I owe you for your most polite letter, of the 8 of Nov[emb]er 1768. I forwarded you a letter from our worthy friend Solander, which you have rec’d before now. How inhuman were the Portuguese at Rio Janeiro, to hinder Banks and Solander from making observations in natural History. I have publishd Solander’s letter to me, in our Newspapers, to expose the Governor for his impolite behaviour to our Philosophers.

I send you inclosd some seeds of the Illicium anisatum fresh gatherd, which I believe will grow. I have sent the King some with a Specimen of the Plant, and intend to have it drawn and dissected; it is a different Species, I think, from Kaempfer’s.

I am in hopes it will bear the frost, as they have smart frosts both in East & West Florida, where it grows. John Bartram says it stood a severe frost, in his acc[oun]t of his Journey up the River St. Johns, in East Florida. The smell of this is more aromatic, not rank, with the anise seed smell of the Oriental Species. They drink it with Cassine, as Tea, in Florida.

I have rais’d a Tea plant from a seed that happend to lie in bottom of a tin Canister from China, which I rec’d this time twelve month. I put it into a pot of fresh loamy earth, under a glass cover, without heat, and in March put it into a gentle heat, and by July it was 6 Inches high. There have been a great many rais’d that came over inlaid in wax, and many have been sown at St. Helena, and were brought here in the tubs growing; so that I make no doubt; but by this time twelve months we shall have many hundred plants of the true tea growing in England.

I only wait for the Engraver to publish my explanation of the Plates I have already done. I wish to have it finishd,[a][a] : MS. 1 finishd [added above the
as life is very precarious, and I would willingly shew how far I differ in opinon from D[octo]r Pallas: and how little Corallines[b][b] : MS. 1 Corallines [added above
the line
have (besides form) of Vegetables in them. My amusement of late has been observing the effect of various vegetable infusions, as that study can be carried on[c][c] : MS. 1 on [added above the
in the house. I have seen many new animalcules, such as Wheel animals, one particularly like a duck without its head, and a wheel in its breast.

M[iste]r De Saussure from Geneva,[d][d] : MS. 1 from Geneva [added above
the line
says he has seen one sort divide into 2 parts, and become 2 separate animals. I tried the experiment on many, and found 6 sorts divide.[e][e] : MS. 1 divide [added above the
I have ranged them under your genus of Volvox. The most curious is the discovering of their fins, by an infusion of the Geranium Zonale, which is death to them. Those that die without, or want of, water,[f][f] : MS. 1 or ... water [added above
the line
never shew their bristles or fins. The Seeds of the Illisia are plac’d as p margin [illustrations in the left margin: perpendicular – horizontal). I have given the Royal Society a complete Skin of the Felis, which Buffon calls Coquar, perhaps it is your Onca; but this has no stripes nor Spots. It is the colour of[g][g] : MS. 1 of [added above the
a rabbit, or common fallow deer; a fine smooth Skin. The breast and belly are whitish, and the hairs a little longer; it is 7 feet 6 Inches long from the nose to the tail; the tail has black hairs at the end from the middle of the back to the ground, as it stood when alive, is 2 feet & 6 Inches. They are often much larger, and do mischief, killing oxen & buffaloes, wolves, &c. This was shot near Pensacola. There is one now alive in London, but not so large. Inclosd I send you the Print.

I have discovered salts of the same kind in various infusions besides the Hempseed, as in Sesamum, Linum, Vici, Dolichos, Triticum; and this day a new Salt in the infusion of the Agaricus fimetarius. These are surrounded by animalcules which swim about them, and are not dissolvd by an addition of Water; they are about the Size of the fine Salt used at Table [illustrations in the left margin].

Adieu, my Dear Friend, Yours most sincerely,
John Ellis

To the Honorable
Charles Von Linné
Knight of the Polar Star
at Upsal
Post P[ai]d


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 151). [1] [2]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 241-244   p.241  p.242  p.243  p.244.


MS. 1 finishd [added above the line]
MS. 1 Corallines [added above the line]
MS. 1 on [added above the line]
MS. 1 from Geneva [added above the line]
MS. 1 divide [added above the line]
MS. 1 or ... water [added above the line]
MS. 1 of [added above the line]