Papers of Ernest Henry Wilson, 1896-1952. Copy of a letter from Charles Sprague Sargent to James Veitch, 1899.

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This letter expresses Charles Sprague Sargent's thoughts on Ernest Henry Wilson's upcoming plant collecting expedition to China, from 1899-1901. This letter is dated March 17, 1899.

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https://arboretum.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/III_EHW_2012.pdf

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Copy of Letter WII 4:2

Arnold Arboretum Harvard University.

Jamaica Plain, Mass., March 17th 1899

My dear Veitch:

I have this morning received your letter of March 8th. It is needless for me to say that I shall be glad to do anything in my power to help your collector when he appears here. I shall be in Washington a few days at a meeting of the National Academy on the 19th of April and I shall be leaving again probably for the south about the 1st of May. I hope therefore that he will come between those two dates, or delay coming here until about the 15th of May.

Dr. Henry is now in an almost semitropical country where there are no mountain ranges and it is not probable, although of course possible, that plants from that part of China would be hardy in England.

It takes about two months and a half to get a letter from Dr. Henry's present station to Boston, so that if your man left here on the 1st of May he would not reach Dr. Henry before August. Probably with delays at HongKong, Tonkin and other places en route, it would be the 1st of September before he found Dr. Henry. In this case I should think it would be desirable for him to remain with Dr. Henry during the autumn and early winter

Last edit 29 days ago by EllaDeer
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at any rate, because if he left Southwestern Yu-nan, where Henry's station is, in September to go anywhere in central or northern China, he would reach a new collecting field too late to accomplish anything this year. In view of all this my idea would be that he might, after seeing Ford, go up the Yang-tse River to Ichang, which is now a treaty post and for many years Henry's headquarters, and collect there during the autumn. In this particular region we know that there are many trees and shrubs which have not yet been introduced into cultivation, and dried specimens of Henry's collecting in that part of China can be seen either at Kew or here; and a list of them could be made out from Dr. BretSchneider's new book which I suppose you have seen. Then in the winter when the collecting season about Ichang was over he might visit Dr. Henry if you wanted him to do so. This of course would take him to the South during the winter, when he could do nothing in central and northern China. My own idea is that the great fields to be worked are from Ichang westward to the mountainous region on the border between China and Thibet, and then northward in the territory watered by the upper Yellow River, and so on to Pekin and northward.

I have been thinking myself lately a good deal about China and have almost determined to try and do something there on account of the Arboretum if I can get hold of the right man for the work. All this is still very vague with me and may come to nothing; if it does, there is no danger of our conflicting, for the field is an enormous one

Last edit 29 days ago by EllaDeer
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and there is work enough for a dozen collectors to do for the next twenty years. Of course my only idea would be to increase the knowledge of Chinese Trees and shrubs and I should expect to share anything I got with you. Although my plans are entirely unformed and probably will amount to nothing, I feel that I ought to mention the fact that I am thinking seriously about China as we have had so much correspondence together on the subject. I do not know if it is a part of your scheme for your man to dry herbarium specimens. Of course it would be a very useful thing if he could do this, making a set for Kew and, if possible, one for me of all woody plants.

Before finally making up your mind about the field to be occupied by your collector I advise you to read those parts of Bretschneider's book which relate to explorations of David and Henry. Delavay of course was in a region of unsurpassed richness and some of his plants appear to succeed in England and Paris, although we cannot do anything with them here.

I am ashamed to say there is no American in China among our consuls of any special intelligence or information to whom I could give Wilson a letter that would be of any service to him. If you have not already done so, I should try and obtain for him letters from Dr. Bretschneider, who can be addressed at the Botanic Garden in St. Petersburg. Letters to Sir Robert Hart from Mr. Chamberlain I should think would be of very great advantage. He no doubt could obtain for Wilson a good Chinese

Last edit 29 days ago by EllaDeer
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passport, more readily perhaps even than the British Minister at Pekin to whom however Wilson ought to take letters from Mr. Chamberlain who will of course be much interested in this project. Bretschneider I fancy knows more Europeans in China than anyone else.

I write to day in a good deal of haste, but am

Faithfully Yours (signed) C. S. Sargent

James H. Veitch bq. King's Road Chelsea London England

Last edit 29 days ago by EllaDeer
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