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Dr. Browne to Dr. Merritt.

[POSTHUMOUS WORKS.3]

Norwich, Febr. 6, [1668-9.] HONOURED SIR,

I am sorry I have had diversions of such necessitie, as to hinder my more sudden salute since I received your last. I thank you for the sight of the spermaceti, and such kind of effects from lightning and thunder I have known, and about four yeares ago about this towne, when I with many others saw fire-balls fly, and go of when they met with resistance, and one carried away the tiles and boards of a leucomb window of my own howse, being higher than the neighbour howses, and breaking agaynst it with a report like a good

I set down that occurrence in this citty and country, and have it somewhere amongst my papers, and fragments of a woeman's hat that was shiver'd into pieces of the bignesse of a groat. I have still by me too, a litle of the spermaceti of our whale, as also the oyle and balsome which I made with the oyle and spermaceti. Our whale was worth 500lib. my apothecarie got about fiftie pounds in one sale of a quantitie

canon.

of sperm

I made enumeration of the excretions of the oake, which might bee observed in England, because I conceived they would be most observable if you set them downe together, not minding whether there were any addition: by excrementum fungosum vermiculis scatens I only meant an usual excretion, soft and fungous at first, and pale, and sometimes cover'd in part with a fresh red, growing close unto the sprouts; it is full of maggots in litle woodden cells, which afterwards turne into litle reddish brown or bay fies. Of the tubera indica vermiculis scatentia I send you a peece, they are as bigg as good tennis-balls and ligneous.

The litle elegant fucus may come in as a difference of the abies, being somewhat like it, as also unto the 4 corallium in Gerhard, of the sprouts, whereof I could never find any

3 Where it is published (erroneously) as a letter to Mr. Dugdale.

sprouts, wings, or leaves as in the abies, whether fallen off I know not, though I call'd it ichthyorndius or pisciculi spinam referens, yet pray do you call it how you please. I send you now the figure of a quercus mar. or alga, which I found by the sea-shore, differing from the common as being denticulated, and in one place there seems to be the beginning of some flower-pod or seed-vessell.

A draught of the morinellus marinus, or sea-dotterel, I now send you; the bill should not have been so black, and the leggs more red, and a greater eye of dark red in the feathers or wing and back: it is less and differently colour'd from the common dotterell, which cometh to us about March and September: these sea-dotterels are often shot near the sea.

A yare-whelp or barker, a marsh-bird, the bill two inches long, the legges about that length, the bird of a brown or russet colour.

That which is knowne by the name of a bee-bird, is a litle dark gray bird; I hope to get one for you. .

That which I call'd betulæ carptor, and should rather have call'd it alni carptor, whereof I sent a rude draught; it feeds upon alderbuds, nucaments or seeds, which grow plentifully here; they fly in little flocks.

That call’d by some a whin-bird, is a kind of ox-eye, but the shining yellow spot on the back of the head, is scarce to bee well imitated by a pensill.

I confesse for such litle birds I am much unsatisfy'd on the names given to many by countrymen, and uncertaine what to give them myself, or to what classis of authors cleerly to reduce them. Surely there are many found among us which

not described ; and therefore such which you cannot well reduce, may (if at all) be set down after the exacter nomination of small birds as yet of uncertain class or knowledge.

I present you with a draught of a water-fowl, not common, and none of our fowlers can name it, the bill could not bee exactly expressed by a coale or black chalk, whereby the little incurvitie at the upper end of the upper bill, and small recurvitie of the lower is not discerned ; the wings are very short, and it is finne-footed; the bill is strong and sharp, if you name it not I am uncertain what to call it, pray consider this anatula or mergulus melanoleucus rostro acuto.

4 The ring plover, or sea lark, plentiful near Blakeney; charadrius hiati

5 Names of two distinct species, the godwit, or yarwhelp, scolopax ægocephala, and the spotted redshank or barker, S. Totanus. The description agrees with neither.

6 Probably the beam-bird, or flycatcher ; Muscicupa Grisola.-G. 7 Possibly the goldencrested wren, Motacilla Regulus.

cula.-6.

I send you also the heads of mustela, or mergus mustelaris mas. et fæmina, called a wesel, from some resemblance in the head, especially of the female, which is brown or russet, not black and white, like the male, and from their preying quality upon small fish. I have found small eeles, small perches, and small muscles in their stomachs. Have you a sea-phaysant, so commonly called from the resemblance of an hen-phaisant in the head and eyes, and spotted marks on the

and back, and with a small bluish flat bill, tayle longer than other ducks, longe winges, crossing over the tayle like those of a long winged hawke.

Have you taken notice of a breed of porci solidi pedes? I first observed them above twenty yeares ago, and they are still among us.

Our nerites or nerite are litle ones.

I queried whether you had dentalia, becaus probably you might have met with them in England; I never found any on our shoare, butt one brought me a few small ones, with smooth small shells, from the shoare. I shall enquire farther after them.

Urtica marina minor, Johnst. tab. xvii. I have found more then once by the sea-side.

The hobby and the merlin would not bee omitted among hawks; the first comming to us in the spring, the other about autumn. Beside the ospray? we have a larger kind of eagle, call’d an eruh. I have had many of them.

Worthy deare sir, if I can do any thing farther which may be serviceable unto you, you shall ever readily command my endeavors; who am, sir, Your humble and very respectfull servant,

THOMAS BROWNE.

8 This must be the smew, mergus albellus : which comes on the coast of Norfolk in hard winters.-G.

9 The pin-tailed duck.-G.
1 Several ospreys have been taken near Cromer.-G.
2 Erne ?—The white-tailed or cinereous eagle; falco albicilla.

Dr. Browne to Dr. Merritt.

(Ms. Sloan. 1847.]

Feb. xii, 1668-9. WORTHY SIR,

Though I writ unto you last Monday, yet having omitted some few things which I thought to have mentioned, I am bold to give you this trouble so soone agayne. Have you putt in a sea fish called a bleak, a fish like a herring, often taken with us and eat, but a more lanck and thinne and drye fish?

The wild swan or elk would not bee omitted, being common in hard winters and differenced from our river swans, by the aspera arteria. Fulica and cotta Anglorum are different birds though good resemblance between them, so some doubt may bee made whether it bee to bee named a coot, except you set it downe Fulica nostras and cotta Anglorum. I pray consider whether that water-bird whose draught I sent in the last box, and thought it might bee named anatula or mergulus melanoleucos, &c. may not bee some gallinula, it hath some resemblance with gallina hypoleucos of Johnst. tab. 32, butt myne hath shorter wings by much, and the bill not so long and slender, and shorter legs and lesser, and so may either be called gallina aquatica hypoleucos nostras, or hypoleucos anatula, or mergulus nostras.

Tis much there should hee no icon of rallus or ralla aquatica; I have a draught of some and they are found among us.

THOMAS BROWNE.

The vescaria I sent is like that you mention, if not the same, the common funago resembleth the husk of peas, this of barley when the flower is mouldred away.

Dr. Browne to [Dr. Merritt?]

[us. SLOAN. 1847.]

1669.

SIR,

I crave your pardon that I have no sooner sent unto you. I shall bee very reddie to do you service in order to your desires, and shall endeavour to procure you such animals as I have formerly met with, and any other not ordinary which are to bee acquired, though many of my old assistants are dead and sometimes they fell upon animalls scarce to bee met with agayne.

I wish I had been acquainted with your desires 3 years ago, for I had about fortie hanging up in my howse, which, the plague being at the next doores, the person intrusted in my howse, burnt or threwe away. The figure of the weazell cray was in a long paper pasted together at the ends, and I make no question you will find it; otherwise I would send another, that fowl which some call willick, we meet with sometimes; the last I met with was taken on the sea shore, the head and body black, the brest enclining to black, headed and litle like a crowe, wings short, leggs set very backward, that it move overland very badly. It may bee a kind of cornix marinum.

That litle plant upon oyster shells I remember I have seen, and surely is some kind of vescania or calicularia.

Of what that other electricall body was Mr. Boyle showed; by. this time more tryall hath probably been made, something of jet it might consist of.

I thanck you that you were pleased to enquire of those German gentlemen concerning my sonne. I receaved a letter lately from him, hee hath not been unmindfull of the Royal Societie's concerns, and hath been in Hungaria, in the mines of gold, sylver, and copper, at Schemts, Cremitz, and Neusol, and desired mee to signifie so much unto Mr. Oldenberg

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