455 | To Thomas Pownall

    Boston March 17, 1766

    Dear Sr

    I am favoured with yours1 concerning the wild Hemp or Flax I sent you and must observe in confirmation of Mr Shakespears opinion, that some persons to whom I show’d it here, Thought it had the appearance of Flax2. However that will be determined next summer by the Plants.

    I cannot think that there is any probability that this comes from European seed; as there never was any European settlement up the River Penobscot; except that of a Missioner may be called one, whose Chappel remains at Madawankeag3 120 miles above Fort Pownal. much less is the probability that the Indians have been employed by Inhabitants to impose on Us. It could answer no purpose; & the Indians are not used to take Pains for nothing. But it is proper that these things should be e[n]quired into: and for that purpose I have wrote to Captain Goldthwait of Fort Pownal a very careful man, to make diligent enquiry where this Hemp grows and to send one of his Officers to the spot to see it growing.4 I also directed him to procure all he can get the ensuing Year and also as much of the seed as possible, and some of the plants entire, & not to spare a little expence on the Occasion.

    I shall send you a sample of the seed with some of the plants, & the greatest part of the Hemp. All the rest of the seed I will have carefully sowed to the Best advantage: So that we shall know what improvements it is capable of. This is Worth enquiring into; as some of the Best articles of Trade and Manufactures have arose from discovery of wild plants; as indeed all improvements of Vegetables arise originally from the melioration of wild Plants.

    I am &c

    Thos Pownal Esqr

    BP, 5: 95-96.