Folio 215


A Memoire from Mr Wray1 upon the Subject of Plants, etc

That the hot countrys afford abundantly more plants than the cold.

That he found almost every \plant he/ had seen in England and Scotland, elsewhere abroad: for that he knew not scarce any one plant which he could call properly English.

He commended the descriptions of John Bauhinus2 and Caspars Pinax3, as alsoe those of Clusius. and questioned not the Authoritie of Prosper Alpinas4  upon the subject of Exotique plants and those of Egipt.5

That he was pretty well satisfied concerning the Plants of Europe and that he believed he had seen the greatest share of them growing in their natural soiles and places of birth.

That Margravis and Piso6 had done excellent work upon the subject of the West Indie Plants etc

That Muffet7 had done well to breake the Ice in matter of Insects. That he would for ever be quoted with honors and that gave \Insects/ was yet a vast subject for any person of judgement to exercise his curiosities and leasure about


What he was not satisfied with any thing that was published \out/ of Aldrovandus save the Tome of Birds which he himself put out whilst in his life-times.8 In the rest of his Workes is great confusion

To the same misfortune befell J. Bauhinus,9 though he had brough[t] them to a greater perfection before \his/ death yet he had observed that when Authors put the last hand to their Workes and delivered them out sheet by sheet to the Presse they corrected many things mistakes

Perhapps its ’cause it gave them more serious thoughts and made them determine of an mistake \errour/ which they were loath afore to acknowledge, cause it pleased them.

That the hills of Languedoc and the country about Montpelier abounded with sweet smelling plants far more than Italie. \and indeed/ there \is/ being nothing soe common in this countrey as Time,10  Lavender, Rosemary, Winter-savory,11 stoecas12  of severall sorts Cistus’s13  etc.

That he had found 40 or 50 plants about Montpelier with he had noe where else seen whither in Italie, Scicilie etc


  1. John Ray, whom Lister met in Montpellier. Ray often spelt his surname with a ‘W’ in his early correspondence with Lister.
  2. Johann,(or Jean) Bauhin, Historia plantarum universalis (Yverdon, 1650-1651). Compiled with the assistance of his son-in-law, this posthumously published work was the first international flora, containing descriptions of 5,226 plants.
  3. Gaspard Bauhin or Caspar Bauhin (1560-1624), brother of Johann, who wrote Pinax theatri botanici (1596) (Illustrated exposition of plants), which describes some 6000 species. ational flora, containing descriptions of 5,226 plants.
  4. Prospero Alpini (1553-1616) directed the Botanic Gardens at Padua (1603-1616). He wrote De plantis exoticis. Libri duo (Venice: G. Gueriglio, 1629) derived from his travels. With Onorio Belli, Alpini carefully studied the flora of Crete and gradually incorporated information about plants from other areas into the manuscript, which was edited by his son Alpino and completed in 1614. A total of 145 plants were described, each illustrated by a woodcut, a remarkable contribution to knowledge of Mediterranean flora.
  5. Presumably a reference to Alpini’s De plantis Aegypti … Accessit etiam liber de balsamo, alias editus (Venice, 1592), later edited by Johannes Vesling (Padua, 1638; 1640). This work was a pioneering study of Egyptian flora included in the writings of Linnaeus, who named the genus Alpinia (Zingiberaceae) in his honor. Among the plants previously undescribed by a European botanical text were the coffee bush (Coffea arabica L.), banana (Musa sp.), and baobab (Adansonia digitata L.). As the result of his studies of Egyptian flora, Alpini also published De balsamo dialogus (1591), a fictional dialogue involving the author, an Egyptian physician, and a Jew, who discussed the source of balsam. See Jerry Stannard, ‘Alpini, Prospero’Complete Dictionary of Scientific Biography, 2008. Consulted 15 August 2012.
  6. Georg Marcgrave and Willem Piso, Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (Leiden: Franciscum Hackium, 1648; Amsterdam, Elzevir, 1648) concerning Brazilian flora and fauna, as well as materia medica.
  7. Thomas Mouffet, Insectorum sive minimorum animalium theatrum (London, 1634). Lister was not nearly so complimentary, describing the work in a later letter to Ray: ‘That having been said, surely the whole of Mouffet’s Insectorum Theatrum has been organized so far indiscriminately, with an exposition that was utterly barbarous. But, to be fair, these great men that do natural history receive so little praise as it is as the ignorant have almost disregarded them. Nonetheless we should be able to give natural history to the unskilled man and well as to the willing, and to this end, I must gather authoritative writings, considering which of then are distinguished and good. But when using other’s writings, I have acknowledged others’ work openly, and I marvel at the insolence of the man (Mouffet), and say with a heavy heart, which especially about the nature of insects, has almost to the word plagiarized from Aldrovandi, yet nowhere does he mention his source (MS Ray, fol. 4, Natural History Museum, London). There is a partial transcription of this letter in Lankester, ed., Correspondence, 11-14).
  8. Ulisse Aldrovandi, Ornithologiae, hoc est, de avibus historiae libri XII (Bologna: Francis Senensem, 1599-1603), a work reprinted four times in the seventeenth century.
  9. Johann (or Jean) Bauhin.
  10. Thyme. This could be Wild Thyme (Thymus serpyllum); Lemon-scented thyme (Thymus citriodrus); or Thymus capitatus.
  11. Winter savory (Satureja montana).
  12. Lavenders, also known as stoechas or stoccas.
  13. These could be several species, but probably sage/holy rose (Cistus salvifolius), C. albidus, or the Gum cistus (C. ladanifer), as all these are Mediterranean species. Cistus was mentioned in the works of John Evelyn, a contemporary of Lister and Ray. See John Evelyn, Directions for the Gardiner and other Horticultural Advice, ed. Maggie Campbell-Culver (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 273.

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