Correspondence of Peter MacOwan and G. W. Clinton, Part 2b
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
October 8, 2009
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The Correspondence of

Peter MacOwan (1830 - 1909) and

George William Clinton (1807 ‑ 1885): Part 2b


Edited by P. M. Eckel, P.O. Box 299, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 63166‑0299; email:



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 Elizabeth).


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.




Vol. 10 no. 173 [A 107, 108, 109 one sheet]


Cape of Good Hope

Gill Coll. Somerset.

Aug.1, [18]'74


Dr. Asa Gray F.R.S.


My dear Sir,


I 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


My dear Dr. Gray

Yours very faithfully


P. MacOwan


Might 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 replace it.


Rec'd 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 in February.'




Vol. 11 no. 39 [J 241]


Gill College: Somerset East C. of Good Hope

April 23, 1875.


Honbl. Judge Clinton


My dear Sir,


Your 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.


Perhaps 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.


From 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).


It 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.


But 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.


One would 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.


The "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. 


This 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.


"Proveniant medii sic mihi saepe dies!" (25)


I 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.


Believe 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?)


Very sincerely yours


Peter MacOwan


Rec 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 specimens.  


(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 at BUF.


(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. Kilby Street 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.


(10.) Eastern Cape Province, at the border of which lay the town of Somerset East.


(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 Society.


(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 online).


(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 State Museum.


(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 Africa, Somerset 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 "engineer-in-chief."  This 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 Codd 1871).


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 plant-names.”


(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 one(s).


(27.) Isaac Taylor, see notes 6 and 7 for this letter.