The Correspondence of
Peter MacOwan (1830 - 1909) and
George William Clinton (1807 ‑ 1885): Part
Edited by P. M. Eckel, P.O. Box 299, Missouri Botanical
Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 63166‑0299; email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
PART TWO B: Additional Letters
After MacOwan's letter to Clinton of April 5, 1874, MacOwan waited
until August 1, and sent the following note to Asa Gray. Gray in turn, sent
the physical note intact on to Clinton in Buffalo, which Clinton
received on September 18. Clinton
responded several months later, writing to MacOwan on the 15th of December
perhaps when he was sure MacOwan was preparing his parcels. Note that MacOwan
paraphrases to Gray MacOwan's earlier note to Clinton regarding the burden of the
Classical professorship and his recreational Latin reading. The renewal of
plant distributions in December perhaps is due to a school recess. The Bay is
a reference to Algoa Bay (Port
The letter to Gray is oddly
sober, compared to his earlier and later style of composition to Clinton.
F.R.S. = Fraternitatis Regiae
Socius, Fellow of the Royal Society.
10 no. 173 [A 107, 108, 109 one sheet]
Cape of Good Hope
Asa Gray F.R.S.
have been perforce a very poor correspondent for a long time both in the
matter of seeds and plants, thro' entire absorption of time by the College.
For some purpose of their own the Trustees declined to fill up the Classical
professorship last Christmas having previously advised themselves that I still
kept up my reading - for fun. So the duty has been imposed on me, wh.
certainly is no fun, - to the utter loss of leisure for Botany on private
account. The arrangement will I fear continue till December after wh. time
there will be a chance of renewing plant distributions. There are now many good things wh. should
be sent for your Herbarium & wh. shall not be forgotten. Meantime, to put
in an appearance only, I forward a few seeds wh. will probably be new to the
garden and am
dear Dr. Gray
I ask the favour of your informing Judge Clinton of Buffalo, that I shall have to ask his faith
& forbearance for a few months? A parcel of plants 560 sp. destined for
shipment to him was destroyed in transit to the Bay by overturning of the
wagon in one of our swollen bridgeless rivers last June, and I have hardly
yet plucked up heart or grace to recommence & see what can be done to
Sept. 18. Dec. 15, wrote to Mr. MacOwan.
MacOwan's reply to Clinton's December 15 letter was written after an
approximately month-and-a-half wait for the letter from Buffalo to arrive in Somerset East 'early
11 no. 39 [J 241]
Gill College: Somerset East C. of Good
letter of Dec. 15, was here early in February, and has been scanned more
times than one for reply. Still the feeling that the best reply would be
inadequate without a contribution to the museum of your society (1), withheld
my hand, till I could report some sort of envoi fairly on its way. At length,
and amid interruptions which have sorely tried my botanical patience, I have
got fairly under weigh a box containing 550 species Austro Africanae (2), not
quite first rate, but the best I can command after full 20 months enforced
absence from the mountains and veldt (3). As the case has been awaiting
shipment for about 7 weeks it is not unlikely that Linnaeus's well named
Ptinus FUR, that detestable beastie, scarabaeus trium literarum (4), of
botanists abhorred, has been doing his mischievous best among the specimens,
tho' I never spare the mercurialized spirit even to duplicates. Still all
plants from Africa seem to require double
vigilance, so fertile is the country in insect life.
you will favour me by withdrawing the labels of any plants that may be found
to have suffered, and enclose them with - if you please, your promised photo!
(5). It will not be difficult some time to make good the mischief done and
the labels thus forwarded will save trouble of making a list expressly. The
"G.T. Kemp" (6) (Messr. Isaac Taylor No. 16 Kilby (7) Street Boston.) is just about
starting from Algoa Bay, and by the kindness of the agents & Captain, she
takes this little box, as she has taken many heretofore, free of charges.
Being directed to you in full - ("Buffalo Nat. Hist. Soc.") it will
be readily identified.
your note it is not quite clear that you have received one of mine, longish
as usual, and written - ay de mi! (8) - a long time ago, for it seems ages
since our College Trustees compelled us
to work double tides and give up to filthy lucre - (very little of it
tho'.) hours devoted to the herbarium & the microscope. Perhaps the
address was not quite sufficient: at any rate I shall forward this to care of
Dr. Gray (9).
was not possible to enclose anything but plants in the present consignment.
The discipline of the oxwagon is pretty severe under the best conditions but
since our last Flood carried away all the bridges in the Eastern Province
(10) and compelled the wagoners drive down into the river-bed, quite
"promiscuous" and trust to luck and the whip to get out t’other
side, equally "promiscuous", it is as well to keep dry goods,
plants & what not apart from pickled snakes.
I have a fairish lot of these Lamiae (11) for you, at least 2 Winchester quarts (12)
full. They look nice - I mean, no sign of decomposition - other niceness I
won't guarantee. If possible they shall when packed go round via Grahamstown
(13) where lives a learned Snake-ist (14) and he shall make out the list of
...giants for you. This is the more needful, for my chief book of reference
is away in London,
- binding. If you have Dr. Andrew Smith's (15) Illusn. of S. A. Zoology for
comparison you can't go astray. It would be rather too much to ask the
"Kemp" to take a second envoi even were it ready, hence I shall
hope to find another opportunity soon.
scarce think that Africa - arida nutrix (16)
[Comic...] - was also a mother of Fungi, but tis even so: The sight of your
splendid series (17) for wh. I cannot sufficiently thank you, has stirred up
one of my disciples here to hunt about in the Kloofs (18) & bush when all
sensible & rheumatic folk are in-doors out of the rain (19). Not
unsuccessfully too: together we have got about 100 species all of which when
time serves shall be sent to you. Von Thuemen (20) & good Mr.
Kalchbrenner (21) have already had a few of them thro' favours of a German
returning hence to Vaterland.
"Flora Capensis" (22) still lies aground & who of gods or men
shall weigh the vessel up & fill her again with botanical thunder is beyond
my prophetic powers to say. Not Thistleton-Dyer, I fancy - tho' he has been
named engineer-in-chief this 2 years. It is possible to have too many
irons in the fire, and possible to let some of them cool completely - as this
poor book still out in the cold, has done.
is April. I have not forgotten that you were looking forward to its coming,
bringing your sixtyeighth birthday (23). My letter will reach you somewhat
late but permit me from this antipodal region to wish you the heartiest
congratulations. We here are somewhat famous or - is it infamous? for
"crush(ing) the sweet poison of mis-used wine", that is, making
good grapes into "Cape
Sherry" (24), but
we do make good wine too, & in some of that same I now drink your jolly
good health. Conceive your honoured corresp.[ondent] making a full libation,
elevating it hostwise & nodding over it America-wards, about NNW., and
then tossing his little finger upside down rapturously as the fluid
disappears in your honour. - Then you have the whole scene.
medii sic mihi saepe dies!" (25)
hope ere long to be free of this extra work wh. stops all but collegiate duty
& get into the old [easy?] groove again. When poor little Brinvilliers
(26), the empoisonneuse, saw the bucket of water provided by the tender
mercies of the "question" for her to drink on the rack, she didn't
think her whole body would contain so much - but she drank it every drop,
poor lost soul! And if anybody had proposed to me to teach 12 hours a day
some 20 months ago I'd have laughed like the Frenchwoman incredulously, yet
somehow I get my teaching done and then my eating done, and then my sleeping
done & so on over & over again like a horse in a mill.
me, dear Sir, my regret at being so poor a contributor to your Science is
very sincere and I earnestly hope your bonhommie will still grant me time to
fetch up the lee way lost these last two years and meanwhile permit me still
to sign myself (26 - two years?)
June 18, June 19 wrote to Isaac Taylor & Co.(27)
(1.) The society was the Buffalo
Society of Natural Sciences, of Buffalo,
New York, USA. April 23, 1875.
(2.) "I have got fairly
under weigh a box containing 550 species Austro Africanae;"
When MacOwan became Director of
the Botanical Garden at Capetown in 1881 (Sayre 1975) after 12 years at Gill
College, he also became Curator of the Cape Government Herbarium (Gunn &
Codd 1981), a herbarium containing some 3000 specimens which he increased to
approximately 44,000 'sheets' by the time he retired in 1905 (Gunn & Codd
1981). These authors indicate that "from 1884, together with Harry
Bolus, centuriae of exsiccata were issued at regular intervals under a joint
label entitled "Herbarium Normale Austro-Africanum." The structure
for issuing the "Herbarium Normale" was decided at this late date,
however, in 1875, the specimens MacOwan was sending to Clinton in Buffalo had
a printed label, and, as he says in his letter, these were 'species Austro-Africanae,'
the adjective epithet modifying the plural feminine noun 'species.' They are
not part of the more organized efforts made from 1884 where 14 centuriae were
ultimately prepared and sent out to various major herbaria. Clinton did not receive these later
(3.) It is perhaps 20 months of
extra teaching that detained MacOwan from his (Boschberg) mountains and veldt
- it is perhaps from the 'veldt' that MacOwan collected the grasses presently
(4.) Ptinus is a genus of beetle of the Afro-tropical region. Ptinus fur L. 1758, the Brown Spider
Beetle, is now found worldwide. Spider Beetles are warehouse pests, feeding
on stored cereal products of which plant specimens may be included and are
known to infest libraries and museums,
where it is known to feed on feathers, animal skins and stuffed birds.
MacOwan was concerned whether this pest should exit into Clinton's herbarium from the box(es) sent
to him. Also called the Whitemarked Spider Beetle, covered with yellowish
hairs (in one web site the Brown Spider Beetle refers to Ptinus clavipes). The interest of these beetles in wood makes
their transmission in the hold of ships in the 1870's highly likely where
they probably enjoyed infesting the cargo. They live within the structure of
buildings, and so probably throughout wooden sailing ships, especially if
there are rodent droppings. This is the 'scarabaeus trium literarum' the
beetle of three letters (the epithet 'fur'). In Latin, the noun 'fur,
genitive singular furis' means 'thief,' also rascal, rogue, knave, hence
Linnaeus's 'well named' Ptinus FUR.
(5.) your promised photo!: it
would be interesting to know which of Clinton's
several photographed images he may have sent to MacOwan.
(6) The G. T. Kemp, in an article in the New
York Times dated July 2, 1881 (page 8), sailed as a British ship, but may
have been sold after 1874 by Isaac Taylor, or MacOwan may have been mistaken
('MARINE INTELLIGENCE.; CLEARED. ARRIVED. SAILED. MISCELLANEOUS. SPOKEN.BY
CABLE', archives of the New York Times). Since the first paragraph of this
article is missing, one assumes the Kemp is part of the category 'cleared,'
either for arrival or departure, and that the harbor is that of New York, USA.
Under 'miscellaneous' there is
the 'bark Campbell (Br.,)
from London and the owner, if I interpret the
article correctly, is 'Taylor,' although there
are several Taylors
throughout the nineteenth century shipping literature.
(7.) Kilby Street, in present
day Boston, Massachusetts, is a short street near the
harbor and its wharves, one complex of which being, nostalgically enough,
East India Row. There is even an even smaller street just north of Kilby,
called Clinton Street, in reference to perhaps DeWitt Clinton, George William
Clinton's father and 'father' of the famous Erie Canal of New York State, and
the inspiration of many other canals in various states in the early republic
period of the United States after the Revolutionary War, or, and perhaps more
likely, after George Clinton, G. W. Clinton's uncle and
Revolutionary War hero. Number 16, a low number, perhaps indicates the close
proximity of the shipping office to the wharves in Boston Harbor.
is also near or in the financial district of present day Boston.
(8.) ay de mi, or 'hai' de mi, a
Spanish phrase - oh, poor me!
(9.) Gray, who lived in or near Boston and the shipyards, would be just the person to
care that a letter reach its addressee in the United States.
Cape Province, at
the border of which lay the town of Somerset
(11.) The genus Lamia of Fabricius, 1775, represents
an insect of Russian long-horned beetles, the word lamia also is Spanish to
refer to the Dusky Shark (Carcharhinus
obscurus) but MacOwan was probably only using the literary form of the
word Lamia, an allusion to the mythologies of Greece and Rome where Lamia was
a daughter of the sea-god Poseidon and was conceptualized as a shark (hence
the Spanish name for a kind of shark). In another legend, Lamia
was one of the numerous ill-fated lovers of Zeus who, mad with grief, preyed
on and destroyed children after a jealous Hera destroyed Lamia's own brood. In literature she showed
herself as a sexual predator on men and was a night-time bogey intended to
frighten children into good behavior. However, she was routinely associated
with snakes, and Lamia may simply refer here
to quart jars filled with such reptiles, destined for Buffalo. The serpentine lover of Hermes in
a poem by Keats entitled "Lamia": 'She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue; Striped like a zebra, freckled
like a pard, Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d.'
(12.) The Winchester
quart: (British) a unit of volume equal to half a Winchester gallon, equal to two quarts, or
2.273 liters. (British) a bottle of that size used in laboratories, commonly
holding 2.5 liters. Today solvents and corrosive compounds such as
hydrochloric acid, large quantities of standard solutions are commonly
supplied in darkened Winchesters (Winchester
bottles)." During the reign of the Saxon King Edgar the Peaceful (959-75
AD), there was an attempt to standardize measurements and it was decided that
all measures must agree with a set of standards kept in Winchester
and in London.
Units used at that time such as the bushel, peck and gallon became known as 'Winchester
measure.' One measure, the Winchester quart, was used to denote half a gallon
(2.273 dm3) and it is possible that the Winchester bottle (2.5 dm3) is
derived from a metrication and rounding off of this." by Ted Lister (RSC
Advancing the Chemical Sciences, website Sept. 2009).
(13.) Grahamstown (Afrikaans:
Grahamstad), site of Shaw's College (see above) is located in eastern Cape
Province, or eastern Cape Colony near Somerset East. It was founded in 1812
to secure the eastern frontier of British influence in South Africa against the
indigenous Xhosa people. Harvey and Sonder in their final volume (3) of the
Flora Capensis (1865) thank Peter MacOwan, Esq., "for several hundred
species of the plants of his district, most carefully and beautifully dried.
From none of their correspondents have the authors received more admirably
prepared specimens, and though the immediate neighbourhood of Grahamstown is
not particularly rich, and has already been well beaten over, Mr. MacOwan has
already detected more than one species, and has added to the Flora the Nuxia congesta, of Abyssinia."
(14.) After perusing the entries
for South African herpetologists on the internet, it appears that scientists
who distinguished themselves in this area lived later than the MacOwan period
under discussion. At the end of the year 1861, at a meeting when the Buffalo
Society of Natural Sciences came into being, there was elected a Curator of
Herpetology and Ichthyology - Hiram Ewers Tallmadge, but Tallmadge one year later switched to
Curator of Ethnology (Goodyear 1994). Interest in herpetology in Buffalo did not become
official until the early 1900's, and it is likely that MacOwan's 'Lamiae'
never lingered into the twentieth century in the collections of the Buffalo
(15.) Dr. Sir Andrew Smith, KCB
(Dec. 3, 1797 - Aug. 12, 1872), born in Scotland was a naturalist,
zoologist, explorer and surgeon. He produced 'Illustrations of the Zoology of
South Africa' (1838-1850) in five volumes after serving Britain between 1820 and 1837 in the Cape Colony
as surgeon to soldiers stationed in the Cape.
He was the first Superintendent of the South African Museum of natural
history in Cape Town.
"Illustrations of the
zoology of South Africa, consisting chiefly of figures and descriptions of
the objects of natural history collected during an expedition into the
interior of South Africa, in the years 1834, 1835, and 1836; fitted out by
"The By Andrew Smith ... Published under the authority of the lords
commissioners of Her Majesty's Treasury." (Biodiversity Heritage Library
(16.) arida nutrix, the arid
wet-nurse, the climate of South
Africa. Horace's (1) ODE XXII. TO ARISTIUS
FUSCUS (a comic playwright), with its middle eastern and Arabian allusions,
its wild and lonely places is reminiscent of MacOwan's exposure to the South
African mountains and the open veldt, the 'land of Juba, the dry-nurse of
lions." "Place me in those barren
plains, where no tree is refreshed by the genial air; at that part of the
world, which clouds and an inclement atmosphere infest. Place me under the
chariot of the too neighboring sun, in a land deprived of habitations;
[there] will I love my sweetly-smiling, sweetly-speaking Lalage."
translated by Christopher Smart (The Poetical Words of Christopher Smart:
Volume V: the Works of Horace, Translated into Verse. Oxford). The 'arida nutrix' is a tag from
Horace's Ode, Juba, the king of Numidia, where a wolf fled: "quale
portentum neque militaris Daunias latis alit aesculetis nec Iubae tellus
generat, leonum arida nutrix": such a monster as warlike Apulia doesn't
produce in its broad oak forests and Juba's land (dry nurse of lions) doesn't
spawn," Michael Gilleland, translator.
Perhaps MacOwan has romanticized
his collection of Nuxia congesta "of
Abyssinia," new to the flora of the Cape Province (see note 13).
(17.) The "splendid
series" may refer to a set of specimens, but most likely it is a
reference to the mycological publications of Charles Peck that occurred in
the Bulletins of the New York
(18.) Kloof, in Afrikaans means
'gorge' or 'ravine' as in gorges created by streams or rivers.
(19.) MacOwan's 'disciple' is
perhaps younger than he and has partnered with him in collecting mycological
specimens during the rainy season. In the preface to Harvey and Sonder's
third volume of the Flora Capensis (1865), they acknowledge a student of
MacOwan's, when he was Principle of Shaw College, Grahamstown: "Among
his most promising botanical pupils is Mr. R. W. Beade, who has contributed
many interesting species, especially of Compositae, and whose well dried
specimens do credit to his teacher." Mr. Beade is otherwise unknown.
(20.) 'Von Thuemen' or 'de
Thuemen' is Felix Karl Albert Ernst Joachim von Thümen, 1839-1892 of Austria.
He is the author of the Mycotheca Universalis, which is an extensive
exsiccata of mycological specimens - a kind of mycological 'herbarium.' The
Mycotheca Universalis (1875-1884) had just begun to come to press in 1875
when MacOwan wrote his reply to Clinton (Stafleu, et al. 2009). It ultimately
consisted of 23 centuries (sets of 100 specimens).
Numerous citations in
publications exist, citing the numbers to which South African specimens are
associated in the Mycolotheca Universalis. For example the rust fungus
originally described by de Thuemen, Uromyces
transversalis (Thuem.) G. Winter, 1884. Flora 67: 263, apparently
indigenous to eastern and southern Africa,
"on Tritonia securigera (Ait.)
Ker Gawl., South
East, July 1876, leg. MacOwan 1264;
Thuemen Mycotheca Universalis 1244) II-III, Type of Uredo transversalis Thuem." ;
also "A second rust species on Gladiolus, namely Uromyces gladioli Henn. was originally described from South Africa
and has been reported from several African countries" Gladiolus Rust, USDA Diagnostic Fact Sheet from "Invasive
and Emerging Fungal Pathogens" database.
(21.) Mr. Kalchbrenner (21) is
Caroly (Karl) Kalchbrenner (1807-86), a Hungarian mycologist who collaborated
with Mordecai Cubitt Cooke (England),
Felix von Thümen (Austria),
C. Roumeguère (France),
Ferdinand von Müller (Australia),
John Medley Wood and also P. MacOwan, of South Africa. Kalchbrenner
published several papers on overseas fungi mainly in Cooke's Grevillea and
worked extensively on the fungi and musci of central Europe.
The Index Herbariorum II(3) indicated he published 60 papers, describing more
than 400 fungi from Europe, Asia, Australia
and South America. It is unfortunate that
most of his personal herbarium was destroyed, but specimens exist in the Slovak National Museum,
Bratislava (BRA) and a few in the fungal reference collection of M. C. Cooke
in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (K). Among those he later collaborated with
are John Medley Wood in South Africa,
Mordecai Cubitt Cooke in England
and Felix von Thümen in Austria.
John Medley Wood (1827-1915)
resided in Durban and was a botanist
specializing in the ferns and other plant species of Natal. He also contributed specimens to
MacOwan's 'Herbarium Normale Austro-Africanum' (Gunn & Codd 1981).
Although known for his vascular plant collections, he had an important
mycological collection, and Wood's herbarium 'became a regional station of
the Division of Mycology' (Gunn & Codd 1981).
Clinton and others represented
in his letters in North America also corresponded regarding mycological
matters with M. C. Cooke of London.
(22.) The Flora Capensis,
"being a systematic description of the plants of the Cape Colony,
Caffraria and Port Natal," had, during the previous decade been issued
in three volumes: one published in 1860, 1862 and 1865 (Gunn & Codd
1981), but later increased to seven volumes. The authors were William Henry
Harvey (1811-1866), Chair of Botany in the University of Dublin who had
already published The Genera of South African Plants in 1838 together with
other extensive knowledge of other, exotic floras, and Otto Wilhelm Sonder
(1812-1881), of Hamburg, Germany, who, although never having travelled
outside of Europe, possessed an important reference herbarium of South
African plants and had correspondence with collectors, such as MacOwan.
During the 1850's, W. J. Hooker had initiated a series of colonial floras,
and Harvey was asked to assist with one on the
Cape region of Southern Africa.
MacOwan's contribution to his
series was acknowledged by Harvey
in the introduction to the third volume (Gunn & Codd 1981) in 1865. Harvey died the next
year, in 1866. Gunn and Codd reproduce an autograph letter by Harvey to
MacOwan, when MacOwan worked in Grahamstown in 1864 (p. 180) in which Harvey
seems to indicate that when he completed the 1865 volume, he was going to
'commence 'the Genera,' perhaps with no further volumes of the Flora
Capensis. Harvey and Sonder, in their first volume, had indicated in their
preface that as many as five volumes would ultimately be needed to cover the
extraordinary diversity of the Cape flora.
According to MacOwan's April
1875 letter to Clinton,
continuation of the Flora Capensis had not yet commenced, although since 1873
or so, William T. Thiselton-Dyer (1843-1928) had been named
was at the behest of Joseph Dalton Hooker, Director of the Royal Gardens,
himself "urged upon" by "Sir Henry Barkly ... who was Governor
of the Cape of Good Hope from 1870 to 1877" (Thistleton-Dyer,
introduction to Vol. VI 1896-7). But, as MacOwan suggested in his letter
"the pressure of official duties in which I almost immediately found
myself immersed, left me little time for the task" (Thistleton-Dyer,
1896-7). His lack of activity was putting a damper on professional and
amateur botanical enthusiasm in the Cape. "Thirty years were to elapse before
the next part of the series was to appear, produced by Kew under the editorship
of W. T. Thistleton-Dyer, and the last part appeared in 1933" (Gunn and
Thistleton-Dyer was one of the
directors of the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England,
and succeeded Joseph Dalton Hooker, his father-in-law, in that position. From
the few citations examined in a web-search of his name, he was not a
well-regarded person, his botanical expertise appears to have been limited,
and he seems only well-known as one of two referees who crushed a scientific
paper submitted to the Linnean Society by Beatrix Potter - "Although he
apparently knew next to nothing about botany, he became the director of Kew
Gardens, so was highly respected," according to John Marsden, present
executive secretary of the Society (Spore Prints: Bulletin of the Puget Sound
Mycological Soc. No. 332, May 1997).
Four more volumes succeeded the
first three, during the 1890's and Dyer presided as editor over a series of
specialists and staff members ("various botanists") at Kew and elsewhere who actually wrote the additional
volumes. "During the last twenty years the time of one member of the Kew staff has been almost exclusively occupied with the
determination of South African plants. Upwards of 10,000 specimens have been
named and catalogued for South African botanists and collectors ...."
(Thistleton-Dyer, introduction, Part II, 1896 of Volume IV). Who this staff
member was, if not Thistleton-Dyer himself, is not specifically stated, and
he is not listed as a South African botanist in the list of plant collectors
given by Gunn & Codd (1981), although other systematics workers who did
not collect in South Africa,
such as Harvey's
co-author, Otto Sonder, are.
As to Harvey and Sonder's
intentions, or preliminary work on a fourth volume, Thistleton-Dyer quoted
Harvey's statement in the preface to the third volume that the fourth was
"shortly to be in preparation for the press," although
"practically nothing available relating to it was found amongst
Professor Harvey's papers. Nor did his coadjutor, Dr. Sonder, who died in
1881, undertake any further part in the work" (Thistleton-Dyer, preface
Vol. VI 1897).
Just a further note, W. T.
Stearn (1996 Stearn’s Dictionary of Plant Names for Gardeners, Timber Press.)
wrote that epithets of plants as “dyeri” are “In honour of Sir William Turner
Thiselton-Dyer ..., Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, from 1885 to
1905 [George Clinton died in 1885], distinguished not only as a botanist and
an administrator much disliked by many of his staff but also as a dogmatic
classical scholar interested in the interpretation of ancient Greek
(23.) George W. Clinton was born in 1807 in Brooklyn, New
York - in 1875 he would attain his 68th birthday.
(24.) South Africa is presently the 8th
largest producer of wine in the world. Particularly in the area around
Capetown and the Cape of Good Hope do
vineyards cover shorelines and mountain slopes. The wine industry in the
country owes its excellence from the arrival of French Huguenots in 1688
escaping from their persecution in Europe.
The British were particularly enthusiastic about Cape wine products and
exported large amounts to Britain
during MacOwan's day (World Wide Wine Tours website, October 20, 2009).
Cultivation of the South African vineyards was based on intensive slave
labor. " The cultivation of vines on a commercial scale in South Africa
is chiefly confined to the southwestern portion of the Western Cape within a
radius of about 240 km from Cape Town" (National Library of South Africa
exhibit, on line October 20, 2009).
(25.) From the Amores of P.
Ovidius Naso, from Amores 1: 5:
"proveniant medii sic mihi saepe dies!" that is, May
mid-days often proceed to me in this way. The poem from which this line
derives would rather shock the Victorian sensibilities of MacOwan's day.
(26.) Perhaps in an ironic
association with Ovid's poem, childlike, pretty little Marie Madeleine
Marguerite Brinvilliers c. 1630-1676), of France during the court of King
Louis XIV led a scandalous life that involved an expertise learned from her
lover in applying poison to her family (father and two brothers) in order to
acquire their fortune, after practicing on the poor and sick in hospitals.
She, with her conspirators, was discovered, and beheaded in Paris, and her body burned on the 16th of
July 1676. She did not suffer torture on the rack, but this was the fate of
one of her collaborators. That she suffered some form of torture, however, is
implied by MacOwan, who compares his excessive teaching load with her
torture, and perhaps his gentle sin a satyrical reference to her overblown
(27.) Isaac Taylor, see notes 6
and 7 for this letter.