The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Fortune, Robert
FORTUNE, Robert, a Scottish botanist, born in Berwickshire in 1813. He was brought up as a horticulturist, and having procured employment in the botanical gardens of Edinburgh, attended the lectures of the university professor. He was afterward employed in the botanical gardens at Chiswick, and was appointed by the London horticultural society as collector of plants in northern China, which the peace of 1842 had just thrown open to Europeans. His “Three Years' Wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China” (2 vols. 8vo, 1847), published soon after his return, affords full information of the horticulture and agriculture of the Chinese. After superintending for several months the gardens of the apothecaries' company at Chelsea, he again departed in the latter part of 1848 for China, under the auspices of the East India company, to examine and report upon the nature and method of cultivation of the tea plant, and to collect its seeds and introduce its culture into northern India. After an absence of more than three years, he returned to England and published “Two Visits to the Tea Countries of China” (2 vols. 8vo, 1852). He soon made a third tour to the same country, the results of which were given in his “Residence among the Chinese, Inland, on the Coast, and at Sea, being the Third Visit from 1853 to 1856” (8vo, 1857). In 1857 he was employed by the United States patent office to visit China to collect the seeds of the tea shrub and of other plants, with a view to the introduction of their cultivation into the United States. He proceeded from England by the overland route directly to the tea districts in the middle and northern provinces of China, where he remained until March, 1859, and collected a large quantity of seeds, which he shipped to the United States. He returned to England in May, and has since published “Yedo and Pekin” (London, 1863).