-Search for letters
-Search in texts






Link: • John Ellis to Carl Linnaeus, [13 August 1765] n.s.
Dated Undated but presumably written in August 1765. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.

D[ear] Sir,

About a month ago just before I had the honour of transmitting you D[octo]r Gardens letter with the acc[oun]t of his New animal, as he calls it, I was shewn a printed book of the lives of the professors at Gottingen in Germany. Among the rest, to my astonishment, I saw that Professor Buttner has had the assurance to write, or give the following acc[oun]t of himself,[a][a] : MS 1 of himself [added above
the line
relating to my Discoveries of Corallines. “He says besides a considerable number of Sea Plants he discover’d also the manner of generation of many habitations of Polypes, taken for Plants. These Discoveries he[b][b] : MS 1 he [added above the
laid, 1750 at London, after a voyage thither, before the Society of Sciences there, when John Ellis from Ireland, a member of it, communicated ’em afterwards to the world, under the Title, of an Essay towards Corallines, with Copper plates, which he got done at his own expence, besides some additions of his own.”

In the first place, you may from me assure the world, that he never laid any observations at all of any kind before the Royal Society of London, as the certificates of the Secretaries will soon convince the world of his integrity. In the next place, I most solemnly declare I never receivd any information from him of the nature of the animals that belong to the Sertulariae, or any of the kinds I have treated of in my book; for he never went with me to the Sea side, nor never saw them (I really believe) till he saw the figures of them in my plates. He never car’d to talk on the subject to me, and twas only botany was our conversation when we met. Your friend Peter Collinson can tell you what a vile fellow he is, and how ill he has treated me,[c][c] : MS 1 me [added above the
after the civilities I have shown him.

I have been told, and I am now convinced, that if it had not been for your determination to find out the true author of my Book, this man would have [d][d] : MS 1 have [added above the
privately robbd me of all my expences, labour, & merit. To you I owe my fame, and the honour you have done me by electing me a member of Your Royal Society of Upsal, I shall gratefully remember, and hand down to posterity[e][e] : MS 1 to posterity [added above
the line
your kindness and honour done me, in my next Volume, which I am now about. I shall write to Baron Haller, and shew him the iniquity and unworthiness of such a professor; and baron Munchhausen shall certainly be inform’d of it. You and all the world may plainly see, that there are no discoveries worth notice, but those I made at the Sea Side, and at these I always mention who was by, and what company went to the Sea Side with me.

As to the collection of Sertularias, I had them by means of the Secretary of the Gen[era]l Post Office; & my sister, who is curious, and was then at Dublin, so that I do not know, that I am indebted to him even for one single specimen, but he had hundreds of me, both of the animal and vegetable world; but I shall trouble you no more with such an unworthy Creature.

I rec’d the Skin of the Mud[f][f] : MS 1 Mud [added above the
Iguana of D[octo]r Garden.[g][g] : MS 1 of Dr. Garden [added
above the line
This Animal is certainly a Larva. Those that were small, of about 7 or 8 inches long, have 3 appendages on each side,[h][h] : MS 1 on each side [added above
the line
in the room of fins, but they are not open’d sufficiently, as in the large skin, which is 30 Inches & ½ long. Here they look like the fins of the Lacerta vulgaris, in its Larva state, and are pinnated on both sides; but the reason why he takes it for a new genus is, that there is no appearance of the hind leggs in the least, but the fore ones are [i][i] : MS 1 are [added above the
very distinct and plain with bones & nails. It has a remarkable palate, full of rows of teeth. I believe you will find, when I send you a specimen of it, that there is nothing new in it.

I long to have your opinion about Sponges. I am intirely against Peysonells acc[oun]t, in the Philosoph[ical] Transact[ions], Vol. 50, pag. 592. I am persuaded, what ever animal appearance these bodys have, they are never detachd from the body itself, but I never could meet with polype like suckers in Sponges, only papillae.

There are so few people go abroad, that are capable of judging, that I have but one friend I can depend on, who went to Guadaloupe. He declares the Sponges, which are remarkably fine there, have no appearance of protruding any animal-like heads, as suckers. I shall be glad to have your sentiments. My business has kept me close prisoner, so that I have not been able to get to the Sea Side yet; but I live in hopes to be able very soon to obtain that pleasure.

Poor Kuhn has been very ill of a Pleuritick Fever, but is now crawling about. The loss of the Pacquet from Pensacola has deprivd me of many fine & rare curiositys, but I live in hopes of my friends sending me more.

My best & Sincerest Wishes attend
my honourable & worthy Friend.
I am Most truly Yours, &c. &c.
John Ellis

The Right Honourable
Sir Charles von Linné
at Upsala
Post P[ai]d 1s


Not yet available


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 118-119). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 170-173   p.170  p.171  p.172  p.173.


MS 1 of himself [added above the line]
MS 1 he [added above the line]
MS 1 me [added above the line]
MS 1 have [added above the line]
MS 1 to posterity [added above the line]
MS 1 Mud [added above the line]
MS 1 of Dr. Garden [added above the line]
MS 1 on each side [added above the line]
MS 1 are [added above the line]