Letter 4548

Hans Sloane to Mr. Dale – June ye 12th 1692

Item info

Date: June ye 12th 1692
Author: Hans Sloane
Recipient: Mr. Dale

Library: British Library, London
Manuscript: Sloane MS 4068
Folio: ff. 9-10

  • Language
  • Library
    British Library, London
  • Categories
    Botany, Cure, Disease, Fruit, Knowledge, Philosophical Transactions, Preservation, Trade or Commodities, Travel, Vegetables
  • Subjects
    Aztec botany, Cassia, Cinammon, Cochineal, Cortex Winteranus, Costa Rica, Curing, Ebony, Ginger, Guajacum, India, Indian King, Indigo, Insects, Jamaica, Plantation, Scurvy, Sea Lion, Straights of Magellan, Tamarind, West Indies, acacia, materia medica
  • Date (as written)
    June ye 12th 1692
  • Standardised date
    June 12, 1692
  • Origin (as written)
  • Others mentioned
    Delaet Hernandez Clusius Capt. Winter Mr George Handisyd Sr Francis Drake John Ray Margaret Ray Spanish preist Indian King
  • Patients mentioned

Original Page


f. 9

Mr Dale

London June ye 12th 1692

Sr I recd yors of ye 18th of last month, & for answer to it can assure you that I have seen in Jamaica what I concluded to be the cochinile it was being ane insect exactly like it in shape colour &c & xxxx was to be found in the furowes or sulis of the bark of the trunc of a sort of acacia I call Acacia maxima major folijs vel spinnis minimis flore lutes odorantisims, & wch Delaet calls Species Mizquitl quam vocavit Tzintzequam. Hernandez Mizquitl Miahuacan enses & Ximen Mizquitl de mechoacan. I endeavoured to preserve it or use or cute it &; that by a way wch was told me by ane Indian King who came from Costa rica a place countrey on the Maine Continent of America whence it comes, wch was by drying it on ane Iron plate heated, & it succeeded soe well that I question not but that or something equivalent is the way to cure or preserve it was told me likewise by the same person & confirmed by a Capt who had lived long in yt place Countrey that the plants […………….] on wch the cochinile were found were such as I found had been brought to Jam.a by a xxx with Jones[….]  planted in some places [………] in expectation of gain from that commoity, & wch I call ficus India Puna maxima fere glabra, being in every thing like the[..] common Puna of ficus India of these Islands only larger in every part, growing 8 or 9 foot high its leaves being foot & ½ long ½ as broad having no tufts of prickles but in lieu of them small holes in the surface of the leaf filld wt small […..] oblong protuberances or innocent green short prickles. The flours are streakd wt red, & the fruit not soe savoury as that of the ordinary Puna. This plant was brought thither to Jama by accident by some […..] Spanish priest who designed it for some of their own plantations […..] near this Island & affirmed to be that on a […] was bred the cochinile but the ignorance of its culture [……………..] want of its seed or a good & proper air climate was I suppose the occasion of its being unsuccessfull for altho it was planted in severall places I could never hear of any Cochinile from it tho it seems by […. …….. … ….] to be itt tonepl. I doe not in the least question but that ’tis ane animal substance & very likely to be a small scarabus, tho its changes & metamorphoses & I must confesse my observations as to […..] consep ye reducing it to its kind are very defective, it requiring more nicety & time then I was willing to bestow on it: But have been assured that of it by lying making a bed of bags of it on it [……] not well cured much some of it took life & crept away in a great measure from to the great losse of the person who told it me As to ye Arbor baccifera laurifolia, aromatica fructu veridi calyculab raceinoso described by me in the Phil. Trans. no 192, I am sure that tho it has vulgarly the[…] tis not the true cortex Winteranus for you may see by Clusius’s description that

f. 9v ‘tis quite differing from what he calls canella alba & caspar Bauhine makes them 2 when he gives Cinamomum sive canella tubis mineribus alba as a name for our ordinary [..] bark falsely called Winters bark & Laurafolie Magellanica cortice acri for Winters Bark wch is quite another thing. My very good friend & very ingenious & sagacious Gentleman Mr George Handisyd practiser of physick who came lately from the straights of Magellan whence Capt Winter who went with Sr Francis Drake brought his has satisfied my curiosity & confirmd my opinion […….] as to that matter, having [..] brought wt him some of the bark leaves &c wch agrees wt Clusius’s description & wt what he sayes of it, & tells me further that it growes as high as ane apple tree & spreads very much both in root & branches, that is flours are pentapetalous & milk white smelling like those of Jasmine, to show 2 or 3 or more of them together on ye same to stalk to wch followes a greenish coloured berry made up of 2 or 3 or more acini in wch lyes severall black aromatick seeds something like the stones in grapes by wch you may see that it [….] is quite in all its parts differing from our common but false cortex Winteranus, tho I think this may be the best succedaneum wee can have for the other wch the above praiseworthy gent. Mr Handisyd assured me was of very great use to him in the cure of his the people committed to his charge of the scurvey, & sevll other distempers, & that he usd only to boile [half a dram] in water wch wt some carminative seeds prov’d a very good sweat, wt wch they were very much relieved & many of them cured after eating of a poysonous sort of seal called a sea lionthey found in these parts by wch many of them had […. ……….] been so ill as to cast loose their skins. He likewise used the leaves wch are like those of saurell amongst fomentation herbs in sevll cases wt good success. I think it will be best to call it periclymenum rectum folijs laurinus cortie aromatico. & you may easily by comparing my description of the common Winters bark & of this from the papers […..] mouth & specimens of that ingenious man (who is now gone into ye E. Indies out of curiositie) find that they are really diffeing from ye true cinamon kind wch is described in the H. Malub. & bears a fruit like so ane acorn wch I have seen in Mr Charletons incomparable collection of naturall curiosities. As to yor Quere relating to Ebony, I believe what wee call ebony in Jamaica is not the ebony of the Ancients […..] and our ebony there is to give its description in a name, suliquosa spinosa lyc ij folio, flore luteo papylionaceo patulo, siliqua strictessima, lata brevi, semen oxiguum reniforine me complecsente. f. 10 whose wood is not so black as ebony but a browner dark color [……] use &c. Wee have in Jama many officinalls concerning wch you are perhaps [……] from other hands but if not if you please to command desire […..] or satisfied otherwise my opinions I shall be very ready to doe give it, the Spainyds having been very industrious in bringing the vegetables of one Indies to ye other by wch means I have seen Tamarinds, Cassia Solutiva, ginger, Indico, & sevll others, besides Guajacum, china & many others that grew there of themselves please to give my most humble service to Mr Ray […. …… … ……..] whose op= =inion if you please to take in showing him this will be very gratefull to me pray give him & his Lady my most humble service, I am yo

Sr Yor most humble servt Hans Sloane

To Mr Dale

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