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Dr. Clarke 
Abel
1789 - 1826


Dr. Clarke 
Abel
, of Halesworth, Suffolk (1815). Had a medical practice in Brighton ca 1808. ]. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11215/11215-8.txt Thomas Gent wrote a poem re the death of Dr Clarke Abel in 1828 - ON THE DEATH OF DR. ABEL Physician and Naturalist to Lord Amherst, Governor General of India, who died at Cawnpoor, 24th of November, 1826. Another awful warning voice of death To human dignity, and human pride; 'Tis sad, to mark how short the longest life-- How brief was thine! Thy day is done, And all its complicated hopes and fears Lie buried, ABEL! in an early grave. The unavailing tear for thee shall flow, And love and friendship faithful record keep Of all thy varied worth, thy anxious strife For fame and years, now gone for ever! Yet o'er thy tomb science and learning Bend in mute regret, and truth proclaims Thy just inheritance an honour'd name! Lamented most by those who knew thee best, Accept this humble, tributary lay, From one, who in thy boyhood and thy prime Had shared thy friendship, and had fondly hoped When last we parted, many years were thine And joys in store--that thy elastic mind Might long have gladden'd life's monotony. Thine was a princely heart, a joyous soul, The charm of reason, and the sprightly wit Which kept dull letter'd ignorance in awe, Shook the pretender on his tinsel throne, And claim'd the glorious dignity of mind! Alas! that in thy prime, when time began To make thee nearly all the World could wish, The spoiler Death should unrelenting come (As though in envy of thy wondrous skill) And stop the fountain of a noble heart. Rest, anxious spirit! from life's feverish dream, From all its sad realities and cares: Be this thy Epitaph, thy honour'd boast-- Thine was the fame, which thine own mind achieved! [Footnote 1: Dr. Abel was greatly distinguished in his profession for his love of it, and for the ardour of his pursuits in useful knowledge. He published many ingenious Papers on Medical Science and Natural History. His account of the Embassy to China, under Lord Amherst, has been generally admired. He practised with increasing respect as a Physician, at Brighton, previous to his leaving England for India; and meditated (as the Author of this article knows) one or two works, which, from the activity of his mind, may yet be anticipated. Dr. Abel was a native of Bungay, in Suffolk (where his father was a banker), and it is supposed was about 35 years of age when he died. It is worthy of remark, that the present eminent and estimable Dr. Gooch, Librarian to His Majesty, and Dr. Abel, should both have been pupils of Mr. Borrett, Surgeon, of Yarmouth The following data has been found on the Internet [various websites] pertaining to Dr Clarke Abel and his travels in China, etc.:- Sir Joseph Banks and the Blackheath Connection: From 1787, Joseph Banks developed a secret plan to plant China tea in India and Ceylon, after tea plants had been stolen from China. In 1778 he had been asked to prepare a series of notes for the East India Company on the cultivation of new crops, especially tea in India. This set him on a search for botanical specimens which could become useful commodities, lending a mercantilist aspect to his disinterested experiments in "science". In 1811, the East India Company imported tea worth £70,426,244. The Chinese however did not exchange this export for imports in return, leaving Britain with a trade imbalance - so the English exported India cotton and opium to China. By November 1787, Banks was assailed by the East India Company and Lord Hawkesbury on matters related to cotton, tea and cochineal - cochineal originally from Mexico and therefore a Spanish commodity, providing scarlet dye. In November 1787 Banks received papers from Thomas Morton, secretary of the East India Company, about a Company desire for an opinion on creating a botanic garden for Calcutta and also publication of a natural history of India. By December 1787 Banks had delivered to William Devaynes of the Company a report on the possibilities for cultivating tea in India. By January 1788 Banks was investigating the amount of cochineal imported to Britain for John Maitland the wool merchant of Basinghall St. By December 1788 a secret plan had been developed to take China tea to Ceylon and India. Such secret plans speak amongst other matters of spreading the risk in finding commodities, such as finding sugar from India, not just the West Indies. (A Mr. Abel was one of Banks' many agents between 1793-1800; Abel once had tea for India on a ship Alceste, but he lost his plants). While the tea transplant plan was secret, Banks also wanted secrecy for any cochineal plan. Spain had a monopoly on handling cochineal handling, which the French called "Dutch scarlet". It was of two kinds, fine cochineal (refined, and a richer dye) and sylvester cochineal. John Maitland had samples of both varieties. Banks had been in communication since February 1787 with Dr James Anderson, later Madras physician-general for the East India Company, about a cochineal insect possibly native to India, that might be useful? Still promoting the cochineal project, Banks next took advantage of the departure of Macartney's embassy to China on 1 October, 1792, to obtain at Rio the cochineal insects (sylvester) from Rio. These samples were shipped on the Enderby whaler Hero Capt. Folger, the samples reaching the Thames by 25 February, 1793. Banks by May 1793 had recommended Christopher Smith as a gardener for the botanical garden at Calcutta, and early in September 1794 Smith sailed with his assistant Peter Good from Kew, on Royal Admiral, Capt. Bond with a consignment of useful plants for Calcutta's botanic gardens. Samples were landed on 27 February, 1795, and it appears Royal Admiral was soon to return to England. However, before she did sail, there arrived at Calcutta Capt. Nelson of the 74 Regt. with two small nopal plants from Rio with plenty of cochineal insects sylvester. The results of this and other experiments resulted in a cochineal dye at least equal to the South America sylvester cochineal. By 18 August, 1796 Banks could report to Sir Hugh Inglis that the cochineal insect could be reared more effectively in India than in Brazil, and now a lucrative trade could supplant that of the Spanish. BOOKS Staunton, George Leonard, Sir, 1737-1801. An authentic account of an embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China ... : Together with a relation of the voyage ... to the Yellow Sea, and Gulf of Pekin ... : Taken chiefly from the papers of ... the Earl of Macartney ... Embassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary ... and Sir Erasmus Gower, Commander of the Expedition, and of other gentlemen ... of the Embassy / By Sir G. Staunton. (London : Printed for G. Nicol, 1797.) 3 vol. : plates. Macartney's visit to China was an official Embassy from George III, bearing gifts and letters to the Emperor, but he was essentially acting as an envoy for the East India Company in the hope of securing more favourable trading rights. The visit failed in this. Far from impressing the Emperor with British generosity, the gifts were seen as tribute, as if from a vassal state. It is usually considered that part of the failure of Macartney's Embassy stemmed from his refusal to perform the full "kowtow" ritual on being presented to the Emperor. The ritual named from "ko" meaning "knock" and "tow" meaning "head", involved kneeling three times while approaching the throne, each time touching the ground three times with the forehead. Macartney refused to do more than kneel on one knee in the same manner in which he would approach his own King. The Emperor seemed to accept this and certainly showed marks of special favour to Macartney and his party, but the negotiations for additional trading rights were unsuccessful. China considered itself not to be in need of trade with outside powers. Macartney understood this and took it into account in his discussion with the Chinese. His Excellency being no stranger to the haughty notions entertained by the Chinese of their being independent in point of commerce, and that every such transaction with foreigners was by them considered as a boon or courtesy, was far from insinuating that they could be advantaged in a mutual interchange of commodities; in the supply of cotton or rice from India; of bullion; or, lastly by the aid of a naval force to exterminate the swarm of pirates from their coasts. The Embassador was not averse to their considering a commercial intercourse as a condescension on their part, and offered to treat on those terms. (item [abridged ed.] , p. 210). Sir George Staunton whose account of the Macartney's Embassy is the one most often referred to, was a long-time friend of Macartney from India and the West Indies where Macartney had served prior to his Embassy to China. Among the English presented to the Chinese Emperor was Staunton's thirteen year old son, also named George Staunton. The young boy had studied the Chinese language and writing under two native Chinese from the Propaganda College at Naples, and was able to converse with the Emperor, who was so charmed that he gave the youth his own purse, a mark of great favour. (see engraving, p.234 vol. 2 Authentic Account.) The young George became an expert on China, playing a prominent role in Lord Amherst's Embassy to Peking in 1816. Abel, Clarke, 1780-1826. Narrative of a journey in the interior of China, and of a voyage to and from that country, in the years 1816 and 1817; containing an account of the most interesting transactions of Lord Amherst's Embassy to the Court of Pekin, and observations on the countries which it visited. (London, Longman [et al], 1819) Clarke Abel was a doctor and botanist appointed as physician and naturalist to Lord Amherst's mission to China. Lord Amherst had been commanded to undertake a mission to China to seek redress for the wrongs inflicted on the English merchants at Canton. He was not, however, received respectfully, the gifts from the Prince regent to the Chinese Emperor, being seen as tribute, in much the same fashion as Macartney's had been in 1793. The "kowtow" was also a problem for Amherst, as it had been for his predecessor. The Chinese insisted on nine strikings of the forehead on the ground upon admission to the presence of the Emperor. They claimed, falsely, that Macartney had done so. Amherst refused; offering only to bow nine times. After a long journey, the Embassy reached the Royal Palace. Amherst was about to retire for the night when he was peremptorily invited to meet the Emperor. He felt this was a deliberate piece of rudeness and refused. The Embassy was ordered to leave China immediately without having obtained the promised audience, and without being able to undertake any negotiations whatever. Abel describes all this in his account. He was outraged on his superior's behalf, and his description of the Chinese and the treatment of their English visitors, was understandably coloured by this disappointing clash of cultures. "Before I take leave of China, I should be glad to state what is the impression on my mind with regard to the natural character of its people, but find it very difficult to form any conclusion respecting it, even to my own satisfaction. Persons travelling in a country in which they are looked upon by the government as objects of jealousy, and by the people as beings in all respects inferior to themselves must have continually to contend with prejudices likely to defeat their attempts at forming a correct estimate of the inhabitants. With the higher or better informed classes of society, for they are essentially the same in China, we had very little intercourse that was not purely official or ceremonious; and on all these occasions found them so cased in the armour of form that it was impossible to reach their natural character, or to depend on the information as the simple statement of matters of fact. My own opportunity of conversing with a man of rank, I have already had occasion to mention in the course of this work, and at the same time to point out his proneness to falsify. He seemed only anxious to please the person he was conversing with at the time, with very little regard to veracity. Our most extensive intercourse was with the trading part of the community, of whom I have little to add to what I have before stated, namely, that in their dealings with the Embassy they generally proved themselves cheats when their interest did not compel them to be honest. It is but fair, however, to remark that the principle of cheating is so legitimated amongst them by the general practice and toleration of their countrymen, as to be considered rather as a necessary qualification to the successful practice of their calling, than as an immoral quality." AMHERST EMBASSY, CLARKE Abel. Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China, and of a Voyage to and from that Country, in the Years 1816 and 1817; containing an Account of the most interesting Transactions of Lord Amherst's Embassy to the Court of Pekin, and Observations on the Countries which it visited. FROM THE PENNY MAGAZINE - Aug. 15, 1835 - THE CITIES OF CHINA. In its principal features, the city of Pekin differs little from the description we have given of it from Marco Polo. Its form, however, has varied from a perfect to an oblong square, and the city only occupies an area of twelve square miles. Its gates are no longer twelve but nine. Its suburbs, so vast in the time of the old Venetian, seem gradually to have been declining in the course of the two last centuries. The early missionaries found them of prodigious extent, and, in 1720, John Bell describes them as "very extensive;" but according to Staunton's account, it took the English embassy, going at a very slow cermonious pace, only fifteen minutes to traverse the suburb by which it entered Pekin, and twenty minutes that by which it departed. The city itself is now divided into two--the Chinese and the Tartar cities. Except in its length of walls*, which are about thirty feet high, and twenty fee thick, its numerous towers flanking these walls, and its lofty gates, the first exterior view of Pekin is rather flat and uninteresting. There are no towers, spires, domes, obelisks, or great public buildings towering about the rest,--not even a chimney to break the uniformity of the house-tops, which being nearly uniform in height, and the streets being all laid out in straight lines, give the city the appearance of a vast encampment, or assemblage of canvass-tents, which would be almost complete if the roofs were painted white instead of red, blue, and other colours, as they are. Very few of the houses, even in the capital, are more than one story high. The city is situated in a plain, fringed at its extremity by the mountains of Tartary, the distant view of which, according to Mr. Ellis, is striking and agreeable. * The materials of which these walls are built are sun-burned bricks and granite. "We reached the city of Pekin," says Mr. Clarke Abel, when describing his abrupt departure with Lord Amherst, "at the close of day, stepped from our carts to steal a piece of its walls;--had just time to observe that they were built of a sun-dried brick, of a blue colour, resting on a foundation of blocks of granite." It will be remembered that the great wall of China is composed of the same materials. Before entering within its walls, we should not omit to observe that the road by which Pekin is approached is paved with fine granite stones, from six to sixteen feet in length, and proportionably broad, and that these enormous flags must all have been carried at least sixty miles, the nearest mountains where quarries of granite are found being those that divide China from Tartary*. * Lord Macartney says, that on his way through the province of Pe-che-li, in which Pekin is situated, he did not find so much as a single pebble big enough to make a seal of. Camellia oleifera was first described and illustrated in 1818 by Dr. Clarke Abel who was appointed the naturalist to Lord Amherst's Embassy to the Chinese Court. This species produces seed capsules which have a high oil content. The Japanese have used this fine grade of oil for cosmetics, cooking and numerous items. This is a fall blooming shrub with mid-sized white flowers. Recently a selection of this species has been used in hybridizing for cold hardiness by Dr. William Ackerman. During the 19th century there was confusion in the literature between C. sasanqua and C. oleifera. In a letter from Sir James Brooke, dated October 1857 in which he acknowledges the receipt of my Papers on the Orang, published in the "Annals and Magazine of Natural History," he sends me the measurements of a specimen killed by his nephew, which I will give exactly as I received it: "September 3rd, 1867, killed female Orangutan. Height, from head to heel, 4 feet 6 inches. Stretch from fingers to fingers across body, 6 feet 1 inch. Breadth of face, including callosities, 11 inches." Now, in these dimensions, there is palpably one error; for in every Orang yet measured by any naturalist, an expanse of arms of 6 feet 1 inch corresponds to a height of about 3 feet 6 inches, while the largest specimens of 4 feet to 4 feet 2 inches high, always have the extended arms as much as 7 feet 3 inches to 7 feet 8 inches. It is, in fact, one of the characters of the genus to have the arms so long that an animal standing nearly erect can rest its fingers on the ground. A height of 4 feet 6 inches would therefore require a stretch of arms of at least 8 feet! If it were only 6 feet to that height, as given in the dimensions quoted, the animal would not be an Orang at all, but a new genus of apes, differing materially in habits and mode of progression. But Mr. Johnson, who shot this animal, and who knows Orangs well, evidently considered it to be one; and we have therefore to judge whether it is more probable that he made a mistake of two feet in the stretch of the arms, or of one foot in the height. The latter error is certainly the easiest to make, and it will bring his animal into agreement, as to proportions and size, with all those which exist in Europe. How easy it is to be deceived as to the height of these animals is well shown in the case of the Sumatran Orang, the skin of which was described by Dr. Clarke Abel. The captain and crew who killed this animal declared that when alive he exceeded the tallest man, and looked so gigantic that they thought he was 7 feet high; but that, when he was killed and lay upon the ground, they found he was only about 6 feet. Now it will hardly be credited that the skin of this identical animal exists in the Calcutta Museum, and Mr. Blyth, the late curator, states "that it is by no means one of the largest size"; which means that it is about 4 feet high! See Clarke's scrapbook pictures for copy of 3 page letter, dated 10.2.1816, to him from Sir Joseph Banks and various other documents and items referring to him. Clarke's book "Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China" - one copy was a first edition in which he had written "to Robert King from his sincere friend Clarke Abel" Details of the ALCESTE:- 1806-1817 (French La Minerve 1804-1806) Taken 25.9.1806 by a squadron off Rochefort; Troopship 1814; Wrecked by striking a rock in the Straits of Gaspar 18.2.1817. 1097 tons; 284 men; 44 guns. From website entitled Sailing Ships of the Royal Navy A2 - details of the Alceste's voyage, shipwreck and subsequent court martial of the Captain, for which he was acquitted, are are the Abel file of digital photos and documents. ------------ was a British surgeon and naturalist. Abel accompanied Lord Amherst on his trip to China in 1816 as the expedition naturalist. As a result of this trip, he wrote and published a Narrative of a Journey in the Interior of China (1818).He was the first Western scientist to report the presence of orangutan on the island of Sumatra.He went on to become the surgeon-in-chief to the governor-general of India.In 1816 while in China, Clarke Abel, a surgeon and naturalist, collected specimens and seeds of the plant that carries his name--now known as Abelia chinensis. Despite a shipwreck and an attack by pirates on the way back to his home in Britain, causing him to lose all of his specimens, Abel still managed to successfully establish the Chinese Abelia. Fortunately, he had left some specimens with an acquaintance in China who was kind enough to return them to him, enabling us to have the Chinese Abelia that we know today --------------- The Trouble with Plants By Ian Shenton Abelia acquired it s name from a certain dr Clarke Abel..... Born in 1780 iN bungay.... grandfather father and brother all called Matthias... ---------------

Born: 5th Sep 1789Baptised: St Mary, Bungay, Suffolk, , England 8th Sep 1789
Died: Cawnpore, India 24th Nov 1826 Buried:
Family:
Abel

Ancestors
[ Patrilineage | Matrilineage | Earliest Ancestors | Force | Force2 | Options ]

1.
Dr. Clarke 
Abel
(
Poole
) 1789 - 1826
2.
Matthias 
Abel
(
Paul
) 1761 - 1827
4.
Matthias 
Abel
(
Horth
) 1730 - 1807
5.
Elizabeth 
Horth
(
Abel
) 1729 - 1804
3.
Elizabeth 
Paul
(
Abel
) c. 1750 - 1826
6.
 

Siblings


1.
Matthias 
Abel
(
King
) 1785 - 1815
2.
William Charles 
Abel
(
Hardy
) 1786 - 1813
3.
Elizabeth Sarah 
Abel
1788 - ante 1790
4.
Elizabeth 
Abel
(
Rackham
) 1791 - ante 1822
5.
Sarah 
Abel
* 1791

Spouses



1. All Saints, Mendham, Suffolk, , England 5th Sep 1810
Martha 
Poole
(
Abel
) 1785 - 1860

Descendants
[ Options ]

Sources

  • Family Archivists: see
    Abel


Timeline


5th Sep 1789Born
8th Sep 1789Baptised Bungay, Suffolk, England
5th Sep 1810Married
Martha 
Poole
(
Abel
) 1785 - 1860 Mendham, Suffolk, England
13th May 1815BANK/ROLE BANKR
24th Nov 1826Died Cawnpore, India
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