Signed Letter & Drawing by Edwin Lees British Victorian Botanist 1856 - Scotland & Church Ministers


A  charming and amusing signed letter from the English botanist and antiquarian Edwin Lees (1800–1887), following a trip to Scotland, with an original amusing ink drawing poking fun at the Scottish ministers of the Kirk of Scotland. Further commenting on local scenes that he visited and mentioning the English romantic poet Robert Southey, and his own publications.

"Summit House
Green Hill
London Road, Worcester

August 22nd, 1856

My dear Sir,

Your kind letter reached me in Glen Cove, Scotland, where I have been on a Botanical excursion with a friend, and xxx in rapidly moving about with plants to arrange at the close of every day's excursion, I could find no good opportunity to write, more especially, I had only one rainy day that could be xxx to such a purpose, & that happened to be a Sunday at St. Andrews, when I put myself "under" the teaching of some of the ministers of the Kirk of Scotland. You will think this a very poor excuse for not answering your very interesting letter before - but in fact I write very little indeed when vagabonding

about, stowing every idea up as botanists do, their plants in the Vasoulum, and arranging and pulling out when more at leisure. By the bye the Scottish Precentors or Clerks rather amuse me, "with nasal twang and lungs so stout, their Scottish Verston thus draws out."

[Drawing of St. Lawrence]

This may help give you the idea, but I want your pencil to carry it out. After the minister has given out the Psalm, the Precenter in his desk below exhibits in large capital letters a label on which is the tune, which on one of the occassions alluded to being St. Lawrence", had rather a ludicrous effect for the notes were pitched in such a key as to make me believe that some saint was really suffering

pangs that ought only to have been inflicted upon a sinner. On my way back from Scotland I looked into the lakes, and it would have suited your pencil well to have picked up some of the queer specimens of verdant life wandering about the lake of Grassmere. If you have not been there, take an opportunity of looking about another year in the season. It would repay you the trouble. I myself much enjoyed some of the scenes of nature in Westmoreland and Cumberland. But everything has been xxx and in many places the simplicity of nature and the original manners of the inhabitants has almost if not altogether disappeared. Laudone Waterfall, has had its water let out by Southey that scarcely any is left and I found it a very dry subject indeed. Xxx, too, along the roads, begging the stranger to turn aside for this sight and the other, takes off much

off the edge of romance, especially when there is a water-rate to pay.

I have to thank you for your kind notice of  my little "Pictures" in the Pictorial, and think myself fortunate that they were not cut out. I admit you are quite right about an Index, but I rather shirked the trouble having got to the end of my book and feeling further delay; but if the public ever require a second touch up of the colours, I will act on the plan you suggest.

I am glad you are pressed for more Verant adventures and no doubt the aftermath will be as good in every respect as the Spring Crop. I am much obliged by your offer of Notes and queries for some of the volumes of which I should like to go over; but as we are now both home, I shall hope to see you soon. From now until the second week in October I expect not to be away from Worcester, so if you can look in I shall be happy to osee you. Believe me my dear Sir, your most truly
Edwin Lees"

He was born at Worcester in 1800, was educated at Birmingham. He began his career as a printer and stationer at 87 High Street, Worcester, and in 1828 he published, under the pseudonym of Ambrose Florence. a guide to the city and cathedral, which contained a catalogue of the plants in the vicinity. He also contributed lists to Loudon's Magazine and to Sir C. Hastings's Natural History of Worcestershire. In 1829, he began to publish The Worcestershire Miscellany, of which, only five numbers and a supplement appeared. It was issued in book form in 1831. On 12 January 1829, he founded the Worcester Literary and Scientific Institute, of which he was joint secretary. He gave up business early in life, and devoted all his energies to local botany.

Size: 20.5 x 13.5 cm approx

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