Correspondence of Charles Mohr and G. W. Clinton
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
July 22, 2003
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The Correspondence of

Charles (Carl) Theodore Mohr (1824‑1901) and

George William Clinton (1807‑1885)

 

1870

 


 

Vol. 6 no. 199 [L 9 & 10 ‑ two pieces of paper] 

Mobile April 3d  1870

Most esteemed Sir!

 

Having now finished the package of plants wich I have promised to send to you, I comply with my too long neglected duty to thank you for your kind letters of Nov. 1r ... and 9th ultim. the latter of wich was handed to me by Mr. Lee.

 

The year so far did allow me but very little time for my botanical recreations, as I was in the beginning of february attacked with thyphoid fever wich kept me in bed nearly a month and reduced my strength to such a degree, that I was not able to attend to any thing; two of my children fell sick the same way, so that before the exactions of my business and the care of my family every thing else had to give way. I intended to explore during the winter and vernal months more close the bryological flora of this vicinity but I have not been able to make any colections and observations. I hope the same reasons will excuse me with you for having been so tardy in writing to you. I am sorry that I cannot say, that I was able to reduce your list of desideratas to any extent by the package you will receive. I have not been able to obtain lately any plants from southern florida, nor to extend my collection any distance in to the interior of this state. All I could do was to prepare good specimens for your and your society's herbar and perhaps for exchange of our local flora.

 

According to my promise I send you all the duplicates I had of my european herbar; you will find amongst the same a few specimens of rare and beautiful alpine species; as well as some autograph labels of Professor Phili... formerly in Ca... and now I believe in Chili, of Steu... of Esslingen now deceased, of  ... Aghard and ... wich I found with Ridells herbar. collection. And now allow me to draw your attention to the following to me doubtfull species, more extensive notes of wich you will find by the correspond. specimens.

Sium. lineare? Differs entirely from the american & europ. forms of this species.

 

Eragrostis. New to me, rare and beautifully ... only on one spot upon the dry sandy beach of Cedar point on the Mississippi sound, truly maritime plant. I am of course anxious to get your opinion about as soon as possible, ‑

 

Helenium autumnale an undescribed well marked variety, ‑

 

Cyperaceous plant Houston Texas, ex collect. Ridellii. Xyris species A set of the species of this to me somewhat difficult Genus would be very acceptable.

 

no. 3.599 Panicum microcarpon??

 

Panicum viscidum var. glabrum

perhaps a distinct species. ‑

 

Gratiola, collected by Dr. Hale  Alexandria La. ... Mobile Al.

 

Collinsonia, is it the punctata??  Mobile.

 

Scutellaria, it does not accord with the description of Chapman of the S. canescens var. punctata.

 

Herpestes Monieri var.  a well marked variety with long peduncles and punctate bractes.

 

Some Texan Hedeomas collected by Ridell.

 

[second sheet] I am very glad to hear that you have given your attention now to the study of lichens & Fungi. I hope to profit by that. I have collected particularly of the first some very fine species, want of books prevents me to make out the species, and I will be very glad to receive your aid in this respect; I also will be very thankful for well determined species. I will try to collect all what this vicinity affords. I will before long send you a small package Lichenes pr. mail. I made a fine collection of it in the Andes of Mexico, wich is still undetermined. I would like to place the same in the hands of a good Lichenologist. For the study of the geographical distribution of this plants it would afford a much interesting material. Would perhaps Mr. Horace Mann be pleased to get a set for examination?

 

I have visited Mr. Lee and his Lady this afternoon, they apear much charmed with our climate; I will have the pleasure to see the lady and gentleman tomorrow at my house.

 

Hoping to hear soon from you I remain most respectfully

 

Your friend

Chas Mohr

Recd Ap. 12 wrote Ap. 18 ackg packages

[Lower case initials.]

 

[Typhoid fever, unlike the viral, mosquito‑borne yellow fever, is from ingestion of Salmonella typhosa in contaminated liquids, such as water or milk, and in unhygenically handled food. The mortality rate is much less than yellow fever: 7% to 14%]

 

[Note the interest in fungi here reflects Charles Peck's shift from a study of bryology, a field already dominated by William Sullivant, Leo Lesquereux and T. P. James, to the relatively free field of mycology. Peck was Clinton's main source for the verification of both mosses, hepatics and mycological specimens. Lichens would be studied by Miss Mary Wilson under the tutelage of Tuckerman of Amherst College, Massachusetts.]

 

[Horace Mann, Jr. (1844‑1868) prepared a catalogue of Hawaiian plants from an expedition made to those islands with William T. Brigham in 1864‑65. The Enumeration published in 1867 had lichens in the list, with eight new species described by Tuckerman, the mentor of Miss Wilson of Buffalo. Mann was studying with Asa Gray in Cambridge both before and after his Hawaiian trip. His sudden death of tuberculosis may not have been known at

the time by Mohr. Clinton had made a correspondence with Mann's mother Mary Mann regarding purchase of her son's specimens.]

 


 

Vol. 8 [=Vol.7?] no. 47 [E 186 & 187 ‑ two sheets of paper]

Mobile July 8th 1870 My dear Sir!

 

Your kind favor of May 4th & 21st ultima [ultimo?] with the excellent pakage of cryptogams I have received in due time; I tender you my sincere thanks for this to me most intresting gift, the assurance that the receipt of the same has given me great pleasure, might perhaps in slight degree compensate you for the great trouble you have taken in getting this exquisite collection of fungi ready for me. ‑ In the little time at my disposal at present I examined a smal number of specimens of different genera under the microscope, to study their generic character as far as my scanty literary means would admit; and I got deeply intrested, I am sure there is many an agreeable hour in store for me in the careful study of the material for wich I have to thank you.

 

I judge that you have taken a fair hold of this branch of botanical science, wich seems to me of extreme difficulty. ‑ What systematic works are you using in the determination of your fungi? That I did not possess a systematic work on mycologie is the cause that I did not bestow any attention heterfore [sic] for this order of plants; What would you recommend to me? I would like to follow in your wake and I am sure that I could meet many a point upon wich I will draw on you for further information and instruction. I have observed enough here in my botanical rambels to know that this region is abounding in species particularly of the beautiful smaller forms. ‑ All I could look to in getting aquainted with the generic & specific differences was the Sp..enzel... edition of the Systema plantarum, Vol. IV; and Berkelys excellent introduction to Cryptogamic Botany for general information.

 

I am enjoyed to learn that some of the contents of my last pakage I send to you, have been found intresting to you. ‑ I hope to be able in future to extend my collections over a larger area and to find new objects to please you. ‑ I  had to make repeated tours to my farm on West... river (on the Gulf coast). But very little time I did find to collect, observe & take notes. It was every time right down hard work in the full sense of the word, wich in the evening ours of rest, did allow nothing but too rest. ‑ My farm operations upon wich I entred at the begin of this year have added not a little to my cares; it could not be otherwise expected; as I ventured upon the cultivation of a crop wich was never planted here before and where without scarcely any information I had to depend solely upon myself. I am now the pioneer in the culture of the sea [?] is lead cotton, and it was no easy task to find the right path. There was nothing but seeming dissappointment in the beginning, but matters have ben brightening up and it looks now, as if had struck the right track after all; as my crop stands now, I can indulge in the fond hope of a fair success; if the rest of season is propitious and the plant spared from the blighting influence of rust or the ravages of worms, I will succeed and reach the point of my life, after wich I directed my aims for many years, that is the ability to exchange my present mode of life, wich has sapped my health during the best years of my life, with that upon a farm. ‑

 

[next sheet] You can well imagine that I am anxious to get your opinions about the to me new and doubtful plants I have sent you; on the other hand I hope that you will not go to any extra trouble or inconvenience for my sake, in regard of the same. I assure that your kind reports will be received by me with equal pleasure whenever they might arrive.

 

Finally accept my aknowledgement of my gratitude for your kindness in having introduced me in the way of correspondence to Miss Mary L. Wilson. ‑ In the kind letter with wich this Lady favored me she holds out the prospect to me, that I can derive much information in regards of lichens, whose study she seems to have made a specialty. ‑

 

I hope that the present lines will find you in the best of health and spirits, and that you will favor me again soon with some lines however few, I remain yours

 

very truly

Carl Mohr

Recd July 20

 

[For references to Berkely, see letter December 6, 1870 and February 5, 1871 below.]

 


 

Vol. 8 no. 48 [E 185]

Mobile  July 11th  1870 Most esteemed friend!

 

I had scarcely mailed my reply to your kind favor of May 4th & June 21 as I received your wellcome letter of the 6th inst. I will this time not postone [sic] to write to you a.. ... gr... as you have full cause to belief in regard to the protracted answers to your last. Believe me my dear Sir that your interesting communications are like friendly sunbeams always greeted with delight, and that only the pressures and demands of business life hinder me to fulfill the agreeable duty of answering the same as promptly as I should do. ‑ Confirming in general the contents of my last of 9th inst. I take occasion again to beg you, not to trouble yourself about the unavoidable delay in your report upon the undetermined and dubious plants of mine in your hands. I am fully aware by my own experience that material for examination in the hands of great botanical authoritys are, by the manyfold demands upon their time, but slowly returned; so you need not to feel uneasy on my account. I possess plenty of patience. I do not wonder that Miss Wilson finds some confusion in the pakage of Lichens, and several species under one number; this is necessarly the consequence of my want of knowledge amongst that class of plants; To overcome all similar difficultys I have followed your suggestion and sent the whole of all I have collected to you; no doubt the pakage has reached you by this time and is in the hands of Miss Wilson, through your kindness. ‑ I will follow in future the same course with those Lichens and Fungi I hope to collect now for Miss Wilson and for you; at least till I have acquired an closer acquaintance with generic & specific characters of these humble and multifarious forms of the vegetable kingdom. ‑ I have snatched a few hours, during the past week to examine some of your fungi with the microscope. I find it takes considerable practice to open the Peridii of a Sphaeria or Hypoxylon to find asci and sporidii but the observer is richly rewarded; I had no idea of the strongly marked features wich characterise the genera and the great beauty of many species; I was really delighted when I first saw the beautiful cyathiform Peridium of the Aecidia filled with their delicate colored sporidii. As my herbar of phanogamous plants of the cis Mississippi flora N. & S. is now in pretty orderly state and the country open to my excursion offering fewer material to be worked upon I can devote more time to Cryptogams. ‑ Of course only a good student of the fungi and Lichens can be a successful collector, as an superficial one overlooks a great many forms, wich exist as it were only for the practised eye of the close investigator. ‑

 

I should not be as enthusiastic in my love for our scientia amabilis if I should feel insensible to the honor of having a plant however humble or insignificant it may be, introduced to science in connection with my humble name, the role fate has assigned to me amongst the multitude of laborers who strive to have a hand in the ever increasing structure of the temple of science, is that of the humblest of the humble carriers of woods and drawers of water, and watever in my younger years my aspirations have been I am fully content and satisfied now; If amongst the fungi, I will send you in future from this locality, you would find a new species, I would appreciate very highly the honor to stand father in its baptismal. In my boyish years already befallen with the mania colligendi, I had bright visions of having my name imortalised in generas and numberless species of plants wich I thought I would carry to the centres of science from all the distant parts of the globe; When I started not quite in my twentys on my first tour to the impenetrable forrests of Surinam and Cayene I thought myself reaching the pinacle I dreamt of in giant strides, one year later had considerable dispelled my bright visions, the malaria of the swamps in wich I encamped for months, the hardships of our tours of exploration had destroyed my health completely, and finally suffering from an attaque of a dysentery almost incurable in that climate * * and threatened with certain death., I had to return to Europe almost with a brocken heart a miserable cadaverous looking subject. I believe that Professor Miguel of Rotterdam [sp.?] in whose hands our collections had been placed, has put my name to a new species of the 100 and ["x" crossed out, possibly a "2" written above] Cassias of South america. I thought sure to see myself immortalised in one of the splendid Filices, whose collection and study in that time I had made a much beloved speciality. ‑ Since that time my asperations have fallen considerably and have now found their perfect level, particularly since I had to divide my attentions between 3 rollicking boys and couple of inquisitive imps of girls. ‑ But the old spirit is yet alive, and by stating that, you can draw your own inferences about Dr. Torry naming my new Cyperus or Eragrostis after me, ["but" is drawn out] to be candid I must say that if the later plant should be found to be new, to name the same E. maritima would be a great deal more appropriate, (if there is not a Eragr. maritima already existing) than the station of the same "in littoribus maritimis arenosis" is strikingly peculiar to this species of Eragrostis. 

And now my dear Sir I believe I have taken enough liberty with

your time in my scribbling. I hope you will revenge yourself by treating me in the same way. ‑

 

In the hope to hear from you soon again I remain very truly

 

Yours

Carl Mohr

Please remember me to Mr. & Mrs. Lee

Recd July 20

 

[Cayenne is a city, the capital of French Guiana on the northwest coast of Cayenne Island. This island has a circumference of 30 miles and lies in the Cayenne River on the Atlantic Coast of northern South America. There was a penal colony there and was not far from the infamous penal colony on Devil's Island. French Guiana is on the eastern border of Surinam. This is a detailed description of Mohr's experience in the Surinam expedition and the disposition of his specimens.

 


 

Vol. 7, no. 117 [E 114]

Mobile December 6th, 1870 Most esteemed Sir!

 

Now that the reign of terror exercised by the yellow fever epedemic over our community is over, I find again time and leisure to correspond with my friends and right gladly do I avail myself of the same to respond to and to thank you for your kind intresting letter with wich you have favored me on the 29th Septbr.

 

I need not to tell you that the dutys of my calling (Pharmaceutist) absorbed all my time during the sickly season, all my pakages of plants have in that time ben put aside so as not to allure me; it is only since last week that I could look over the Lichens so excellently determined by Miss Wilson. Of course there was nothing collected, and my longings for cryptogams to entrust you and Miss Wilson could not be satisfiyed even in the smallest degree. ‑ Removed from a scientific centre without the assistance of the literary productions of the day an amateur of my stripe has to look for help entirely to those who have ben fortunate enough to reach the Olympian heights and to await patiently to see by those, his modest endeavours in the cause of science put in the place the might be entitled to [sic]. The great risk to burden systematic Botany with a new Synonime, and by this to add confusion to confusion, exacts the utmost caution in the introduction of what is thought to be a new species. The conscientious discharge of the duty to prevent an increase of the havy incumbrance of Synonimie saddled upon the science by the vanity of many of its disciples to parade the glorious "Mihi" behind their discoverys, requires plenty of time and access to herbaria and bibliothetical resources wich are necessarily denied to the majority of botanists. In consideration of the difficulties I am patiently waiting to receive the dictum passed by those in authority upon my smal mite of material I can offer, to see it added to the mass of the known in its true value, however small. ‑

 

I presume your scientific society will hold its anniversary meeting the 9th of this month; I would be happy indeed if it would be granted to me to be present and listen to your deliberations, but I cherish the hope to receive your adress as president upon this occasion and your transactions in general. ‑ The Aspergillum wich intrested you so much I had succeded in growing again; As you see by the dried specimens it makes its appearance in very round crenulated patches with beautiful elevated ridges extending from the centre to the circumference, of course from this its form in relief nothing can ben seen after it is pressed. ‑ It grows upon impure saccarine liquids evaporated to the consistency of a thick viscid Syrup; (best on thik ordinary molasses). The dish containing the last specimens was upset and contents destroyed else I would have send fresh sporiferous specimens to you, so that you might have ben able to grow it. ‑ The atmosphere is now to cool to favor the development of this plant. ‑ I agree with you perfectly that spores under different circumstances develop diversly, as Unger and Kutring [umlaut?] contended two decades ago, the researches of our present days bring forward constantly new facts to confirm the vision of this men (wich Rev. Mr. Berkely stamped as extremely visionary and bare of all soundness) strengthening not a little the Darwinian doctrines. This year drawing to its close has ben most barren in botanical achievements of mine, than any of its predecessors since 1865. The prospect for the future is not a particle more promising, still I hope to be able to pik up somethings here and there in the travels along my road wich might intrest us both. ‑ I have written for Berkeleys Mycologia brittanica wich I hope to receive now soon; your kind contributions of Fungi will increase than hundred fold in intrest when I am enabled to give a nearer insight of the form & structure of these humble productions of the floral kindgom. 

 

Hoping to be favored soon with the news of your welfare I remain very truly yours

Carl Mohr

 

Recd Dec. 11

 

[Unger, Franz Joseph Andreas Nicolaus. 1800‑1870. Austrian botanist; pioneer in plant anatomy, physiology, and ecology, and in paleobotany. Commentary by Ainsworth and Bisby (Dictionary of the Fungi) on Unger's chief work, Die Exantheme der Pflanzen of 1833 was "an important book, but fungi are still taken to be the result of disease". Mohr may be showing a little chauvinism in his attitudes toward Berkeley, although everyone was sensitive to the radical theories of the 19th century ‑ see Mohr's attitude toward Darwin below. Miles Joseph Berkeley, 1803‑1889. English clergyman; author of Introduction to Cryptogamic Botany (1857) and Outlines of British Fungology (1860); see February 5th 1871 below.]