Documentation

Letters

-Search for letters
-Search in texts

Manuscripts

Editions

Links

Contact

C18

Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0098 • Carl Linnaeus to Johannes Burman, c. 25 March 1737 n.s.
Dated Die Mercurii. Sent from Hartecamp (Netherlands) to Amsterdam (Netherlands). Written in Latin.

Viro Amplissimo Celeberrimoque
D[omino] D[octori] Joanni Burmanno
Medicinae Doctori,
Professori Botanices Publico,
Horti Medici Praefecto,
Nosocomii publici Medico Practico.
s[alutat]
Carolus Linnaeus.

Cum Lugduni eram de Tuo praestantissimo opere[2] plurima disseruit D[ominus] BoerhaaviusBoerhaave, Herman (1668-1738).
Dutch. Professor of medicine, botany and
chemistry at Leiden. One of the most
influential professors of medicine of
the eighteenth century. Linnaeus visited
him during his stay in Holland.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, et ut sincere dicam, nec auribus tuis placere videar, honorifice de eo disseruit Vir egregius. Dixit et: nescio cur non placeat omnibus, ego nil vidi nisi quod laborem summum redolet. Ego vero regerebam facile esse cum mysterismo de alius opere verba dare, at manum aratro admovere hoc opus, hic labor est! Praestet alius meliora et tum judicet. Dixi et prae me tuli, me flocci facere omnia judicia privata; det aliquis judicium publice et tum defendet vel revocet; placuit viro optimo spondeo.

Sermonem et injecit de Flora mea,[3] ubi aliquot observationes ejiciebam; interrogabat et quam longe cum ea processerit, dixi me ultimi folii correcturam vidisse; promisi et ipsi primo quo prodiret die exemplar. A Te itaque, Fautor Aestumatissime, qui Amstelaedami vivis et Editorem in manu tenes, veles istam mihi praestare quam soles gratiam et quam primum impressa Amsteliam pervenerit, Editorem persuadere, ut unicum mihi offerat exemplar, quod mox mittam ad D[ominum] Boerhaave, quo beneficio Te praestas quem soles meus.[4] Doluit corrector meus quod vix crederet, quae dudum correcta fuere, adhuc dum impressa esse, quod summa est nequitia Typographi, quae ab Editore justo calamo excipi digna esset.

Audivi et varios de tuo opere disserentes, hos optime, illos parce magis; eadem fata et mea subitura dudum novi, sed qui scribere adgreditur haec ut praevideat antea necesse est; quis fuerit umquam laudatus scriptor, qui non a suis despectus saepe? Nec est Propheta in patria; isti pueri nequissimi, qui iam ludunt in plateis, nostri erint justi judices. Non audivi virum doctum umquam alterius opera vili facere; ars non habet osorem nisi ignorantem; saecula judicabunt. Qui non scripserit semper credit se esse doctissimum, nec vidit se ipsum, antequam speculum paraverit absolutum, sic nec alii.

Literas habui a ScheuchzeroScheuchzer, Johann (1684-1738).
Swiss. Botanist, professor of physics
at Zürich. Brother of Johann Jacob
Scheuchzer. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
,[5] qui Agrostographiam scripserit,[6] easque honestissimas simulque quatuor contra systema meum argumenta; ad quae respondere mihi facile est; si haec sibi servasset soli, credidisset me rem maxime absurdam propugnasse.

Literas et habui e Saxonia a Viro Doctissimo[7] qui secundum meam methodum adgreditur describere lapides omnes Saxoniae,[8] meque consulit de aliquot generibus, meamque uberiorem mentem exposcit.

Transmissas ab HebenstreitioHebenstreit, Johann Ernst
(1703-1757). German. Anatomist and
explorer. Professor in Leipzig in 1729.
Travelled in North Africa 1731-1735.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
ante dies non ita multos habui ejus de conchiliis methodum,[9] de Antiquitatibus Africae, de convenientia classium et virtutum; characteres ejus genericos. &c.

Si quid novi habeas quaeso et communices mecum, qui incarceratus monachi instar cum duabus Nunnis dies noctesque transigo solus.

Salutes Dignissimam Tuam conjugem sociosque quotquot sint omnes Amicissimae vestrae societatis. Vale.

Hartec[ampi] Die Mercurii

upSUMMARY

When Linnaeus was in Leiden Herman Boerhaave spoke at length and with great respect of Johannes Burmanís excellent work, the Thesaurus Zeylanicus. He said that he could not understand why it did not please everybody and that it was clearly the product of tremendous effort. Linnaeus responded that it is easy to have an opinion about another personís work but real work is to try your own hand at producing something. He does not care a bit about all private opinions. A person should give his opinion in public, defend it or take it back. Linnaeus assures Burman that Boerhaave was quite pleased.

Boerhaave discussed Linnaeusís Flora Lapponica and Linnaeus added some observations. Boerhaave asked how far the work had progressed, and Linnaeus replied that he had seen the proof of the last sheets. Linnaeus promised him a copy the first day it appears; now he asks Burman, who lives in Amsterdam near the editor, to send a copy as soon as it is ready, so that he at once can pass it to Boerhaave. The proof-reader was upset because he could hardly believe that mistakes he corrected long ago were still showing up in print. The printer has certainly been negligent, but a sharp editor should have remedied the situation.

Linnaeus has also heard other people discussing Burmanís work, some were praising it while others were more critical. Linnaeus is sure that his own work will suffer the same fate. Anyone who tries to write should know that there has never been a great writer who was not time and again scorned by his countrymen. No one is a prophet in his own country. But those useless boys now playing in the streets will one day be our just judges. Those who despise art are the ignorant ones. Time will judge.

Linnaeus has received a letter from Johann Scheuchzer, who has written the Agrostographia, and he has made four remarks against Linnaeusís system. Linnaeus could easily refute them.

Linnaeus also had a letter from Johann Ernst Hebenstreit, who was going to describe all the stones of Saxony according to Linnaeusís method. He applied to the great knowledge of Linnaeus for advice on some genera.

In another letter some days ago, Linnaeus learned about a method of mussels, African antiquities, the agreement with classes and virtues, the descriptions of gender etc.

Linnaeus, sitting alone day and night imprisoned like a monk with two nuns, asks Burman to write if he has some news.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (KVA, Carl von Linnes arkiv, 0501-0504). [1] [2] [3] [4]

upEDITIONS

1. Epistolae ineditae Caroli Linnaei (1830), p. 9-11 .
2. Bref och skrifvelser (1943), vol. II:2, p. 50-52   p.50  p.51  p.52.

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
This undated letter was presumably written at the end of March 1737.
2.
3.
4.
5.
This letter has not come down to us.
6.
7.
8.
9.
Hebenstreit was not the recipient of this letter, which has not come down to us. Linnaeus probably mixed up the two letters.