So -- off I went to England, to see the specimens that Lawson left behind.
Lawson's specimens (300 or so) are just a tiny portion of the collection -- Sloane had more than 300 named collectors, though some of this is just a specimen here or there from a traveling physician or clergyman. Petiver's collections constitute more than 100 of the volumes in Sloane's collection, and Petiver himself had dozens of correspondents.
But the highlight of course was Lawson's specimens. He included "the celebrated snake root," which supposedly cured snakebite. It doesn't. A recent article in the digital journal Phytoneuron very thoroughly describes Lawson's specimens, connecting them to their current latin names, though some remain uncertain. Most important to me, though, was just to be near Lawson's plants -- to know they were gathered by his hand, labeled with his ink, and survived the centuries because people believe it's worth trying to understand this world around us. I also could not help noting that, like all wonderfully useful things, the pages were absolutely lovely.
All images used by permission of the Natural History Museum.