Sends sketch of Catasetum tridentatum fruit at request of Edward Bradford.
CD incorrectly asserted that Catasetum is male [Orchids, pp. 236–8].
British Vice Consulate, | Whampoa,
10. May, 1863.
Knowing that you are engaged in researches on the influence of domestication on the
external form and characteristics of animals, I take the liberty of inclosing a stuffed
specimen of an albino sparrow from Japan, which I begged the other day from an
acquaintance, in whose possession it had died. I cannot say
whether, the skeleton being absent, it is of the slightest use or interest to you, but I
send it on the chance that it may prove so. I have seen several very curiously marked
& colored Japanese sparrows, but they are very rare here, in the south of China,
& I cannot procure any for transmission to you, nor do I think they would get
home alive, unless very great care were taken of them, for they seem delicate in
constitution, from what I can learn. M
It is not likely that you have heard my name, though I have for many years past worked steadily at the Flora of China; but a quiet student, who writes little, & is located in so distant & isolated a place can of course expect no other lot.
I take advantage of this opportunity to say that an old friend of mine, Edw. Bradford, a Linnaean, formerly Princ: Med: Officer in the Hongkong Garrison, & now head of the medical staff at Sandhurst, who was stationed for some time at Dominica & Trinidad, where he worked hard at Orchids, con amore, & with great skill too, & from whom I was so fortunate as to receive a number of specimens, wrote to me very lately, `a propos of your suggestion (: Fertil. of Orch. p. 236:) that Catasetum tridentatum was ♂, to say that he felt sure he had collected perfect fruit from it in Trinidad! This was about 17 years ago, but his memory was not treacherous, for I found on referring to my herbarium (which I did at his request) a fine full capsule, of which I have sent him a sketch— Thus, your supposition is unfounded. I have mentioned this, because I feel sure it is a fact which will greatly interest you; but, while doing so, I desire to explain in the most explicit manner that the discovery & all the credit pertaining thereto are Mr. Bradford's, not mine.
I am, | Dear Sir, | Faithfully Yours, | H. F. Hance.
My address is:
H. B. M. Vice Consul,
Whampoa, | China.
or/to the care of
3 Brook Street,
- f1 4152.f1Hance may have learned of CD's research from Robert Swinhoe (see n. 2, below).
- f2 4152.f2Robert Swinhoe was an amateur naturalist, who had served with the British Foreign Office in the Far East since 1854, latterly as vice-consul in Formosa, now Taiwan. Swinhoe had corresponded with CD on several occasions (see Correspondence vol. 10, and this volume, letter from Robert Swinhoe, 14 April 1863).
- f3 4152.f3Hance was the author of several articles on the plants of China (Royal Society catalogue of scientific papers) and, in 1871, produced `Floræ Hongkongensis supplementum' (Hance 1871), a supplement to George Bentham's flora of Hong Kong (Bentham 1861).
- f4 4152.f4Hance refers to the army surgeon Edward Bradford, who collected plants in Trinidad in 1845--6 (R. Desmond 1994). Bradford was the surgeon and deputy inspector-general of hospitals at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst; he was elected to a fellowship of the Linnean Society in 1859 (List of the Linnean Society of London).
- f5 4152.f5In Orchids, pp. 236--48, CD argued that Catasetum tridentatum was the male, Monachanthus viridis the female, and Myanthus barbatus the hermaphrodite form of a single species.
- f6 4152.f6The sketch by Hance was enclosed with the letter from Edward Bradford, 31 July 1863.
- f7 4152.f7See n. 5, above. In Orchids 2d ed., p. 197 n., CD commented:
Dr. Hance writes to me that he has in his collection a plant of Catasetum tridentatum from the West Indies bearing a fine capsule; but it does not appear to have been ascertained that this particular flower was that of Catasetum, and there is no great improbability in a single flower of Monachanthus being produced by a plant of Catasetum, as well as a whole scape, which we know has often occurred.
- f8 4152.f8Franz Thimm was a London bookseller specialising in foreign literature (Post Office London directory 1863).