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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0111 • Carl Linnaeus to Christian Gottlieb Ludwig, 9 November 1736 n.s.
Dated 1736. Nov. 9. Sent from Amsterdam (Netherlands) to (). Written in Latin.

Viro experientissimo Celeberrimoque,
D[omino] M[onsieur] Christ[iano] Gottlieb Ludwig,[1]
Medicinae Doctori,[2]
In Academia Lipsiensi Botanico Publico,
Rei Botanices Doctissimo,
S[alutem] pl[urimam] d[icit]
Carolus Linnaeus,
M[edicinae] D[octor].

Cum amicus meus D[ominus] AndryAndrew, John (1710-1772).
British. Student and Linnaeus’s friend
in Leiden, doctor of medicine at Oxford,
physician at Exeter. Correspondent of
Linnaeus.
e Germania Lugdunum eodem tempore, quo ego ex Anglia in eundem locum redux fuit, Tuumque, Vir Celeberrime, erga me animum officiosum significavit moxque dein litteras a Te die IX Octobris anni currentis datas[3] transmisit, e quibus, ut ex dissertatione Tua de plantarum submarinarum vegetatione[4] bene elaborata, Te optime novi. A me ad Tuam epistolam responsum urget D[ominus] Andry, utque ad obiectiones transmissas respondeam quam ocissime expetit. Ego ut[a][a] : MS1 ut [written twice according
to Ludwig’s edition
]
Tuam prae aliorum multorum amicitiam maximi facerem, tamen terrent me vestigia.[5] Videris tamen ex epistola transmissa, e specimine praedicto, candidior quam ut ullum rideres. Responsum itaque do Tuamque fidam mihi expeto Amicitiam. Eo quo in Germania commorabar tempore nullum vidi Virum, qui non me summa excepit humanitate, nec vidi in Belgio, Dania, Anglia Galliave ullum Virum Doctum, qui non me summa amicitia excepit. Doleo me Vestris Summis Botanicis placere non potuisse. Eorum gratiam exoptavi; obtinere expetii, frustra licet.[6] Meum non est similia similibus reddere, occasio licet summa adesset pateretve. Vos, qui docti estis, instruite indoctum nec ridete.

Ad Sequentia quaeris responsum:

1) An nova methodus plantarum necessaria sit? Sit omnino, si vel essent decem. Methodus plantarum, si Tuam mentem capio, est divisio Classium et Ordinum seu Generum ad novum systema redactio. Methodus talis, quae consistit in Classibus et ordinibus (Classibus et sectionibus TournefortiiTournefort de, Joseph Pitton
(1656-1708). French. Botanist and
explorer, professor of botany at Paris.
), est clavis generum et inservit pro inveniendo et distinguendo facilius unum ab altero.

2) An Rei herbariae commoda ex nova methodo accedant? Si methodus nova cum judicio elaborata est, habet semper maximam utilitatem. Nec vidi ullam, e qua non multum profeci, excepta Krameriana,[7] quam me non intelligere fateor. Licet novatores summa damna intulerunt arti, non inde negligendus est finis. Non decet vituperare medicinam, licet Doctores essent idioti. Sed observandum duplicem esse methodum, aliam ex observatis conclusam, aliam vero in Cathedra excogitatam. Assumunt enim principia et ex iis, omnem Botanicen exstruere tentant, e.g. si quis assumeret fructum pro principio systematico, divideret plantas in classes uti Capsulatas, coriaceas, bacciferas, &c., deinde procederet hisce principiis ad genera usque negaretque Amygdalum et Persicam congeneres esse, cum altera gaudeat fructu sicco, altera succulento. Genera omnia naturalia sunt nec pro lubito fingenda, coniungenda vel separanda. Haec fixa erint, antequam ordines vel classes struam. Quod si non sint, sed ea ex principiis in classibus et ordinibus recepta dividere tento, male methodum conficio. Genera esse naturalia omnia norunt solum illi, qui plantas ipsas nec semper libros evolvere non recusarunt.

In inferioribus generibus[8] differunt authores, quod maxime dolendum. Differunt enim idiotae ab expertis. Illi assumunt genera naturalia, hi numquam. Ratio clara est.

Quidam enim scropulosiorem signorum disquisitionem in flore et fructu suscipiunt. Cum his non consentio. Sic ego feci. Doleo, quod non consentias. Vellem scire quare.

Ii mihi placent, qui signa characteristica, certa, constitutiva, facile cognoscenda assumunt. Sic omnino; alias signa nulla sunt characteristica. Facile cognoscenda, ubi conditori sic placuit.

Licet ex variis partibus plantae, ex habitu proprio et aliunde desumantur. Non induci possum, quod Te sic putare credam. Nimis multa vidisti et expertus es, quam ut de fructificatione haesites.

Periplocam lactescentia [sic] et habitu scandente a congeneribus seiungere vellem. Hoc posses quodammodo, si tantummodo tres istae vulgares species innotuissent, quod reliquae Americanae ad maximam partem negant.

Si enim determinatio floris requiritur quoad formam, tum aqua haeret et vix finis esset novorum generum. Forte tum pauciora, quam si ab habitu externo. Hoc in casu Apocyna scandentia ad Periplocam referenda essent. Si negas principium fructificationis, me tyronem agnosco. Nec methodum intelligo nec leges nec limites, quos assumere velis, percipio.

Tournefortii et RiviniRivinus, August Quirinus
(1652-1723). German. Professor of
medicine and botany at Leipzig.
Constructed a plant classification
system based on petals.
comparatio in generibus mediis.[9] Per genera media intelligis forte ordines seu sectiones. Genera nobis in botanicis fixa sunt nec ut in philosophicis mobilia. Idem tamen est. RaiusRay, John (1627-1705).
British. Naturalist and clergyman. One
of the most influential botanists before
Linnaeus.
in his quam maxime vagus est. Certe Rai[i] methodus, licet ter redificata,[b][b] : MS1 [read] rectificata nulla est. Certe nullae classes eius, de quibus se iactant Raiani, naturales sunt. Quaeso, ostendas, si possis, mihi unicam talem.

Prostant methodi de figura petalorum, de eorum numero, de fructu. Prostant et de calice MagnoliMagnol, Pierre (1683-1715).
French. Physician and botanist, director
of the botanical garden of Montpellier.
, quam miror vestrum D[ominum] BoseBose, Caspar (1686-1733).
German. Professor of botany at Leipzig.
non vidisse, dum orationem habuit de calyce Tournefortii.[10] De staminibus et pistillo mea est desumta. De foliis, de caule, de radicibus posset adhuc formari, hoc nego.

Ipse meditatus es de methodo quadam a modo florendi, sed nova genera forent innumera. Methodus talis curiosa foret, sed vix possibilis, quantum ego videre possum. E. gr. quis neget quatuor Europaeas istas Pyrolas esse eiusdem generis, licet altera gaudet unico, reliquae pluribus floribus. Vix video unicum genus, ubi non difficultas aliqua sese obiiceret. Sed nova genera forent innumera. Quid Tibi cum generibus? Genera sunt minime arbitraria uti nec species; E. gr. si methodum in Zoologicis a pedibus sumerem et genus monungulatum equum vocarem, ad istud genus referrem etiam sues monungulas? An recte facerem, vel si a cornibus palmatis separarem genere Alcem a cervis? Vel si ob cornuum absentiam genere distinguerem Cervum marem a femina, ut PontederaPontedera, Giulio (1688-1757).
Italian. Director of the botanical
garden and professor of botany at Padua.
He rejected Linnaeus’s system. Linnaeus
named a family of Narcissoides,
Pontederia, after him.
in Papaia, annon sanus forem?

Si omnium Botanicorum uxoribus ac liberis plantas adscripsissem, non sufficerent denominationes. Video Te odio habere nomina a Botanicis desumta. An ratio sufficiens? Vis mutare Asclepiadem, Centaurium, Paeoniam, Euphorbium.[c][c] : MS1 [read] Euphorbiam Fateor haec mala esse. Si modo possis mihi praestare nomina generica apta, quae includerent characterem essentialem. Tentes hoc in umbellatis. Alia occasione ostendas, quae noxa studio Botanico accedat ex novorum generum formatione. Sane ex novorum generum nulla noxa studio accedit, sed summa utilitas summumque augmentum, at ex falsis generibus summum detrimentum. Quis et quae secta systematicorum, falsa ista genera, introduxit? Non Tournefortiana, non Raiana, non Hermanniana, non Magnoliana, nec mea. Ego nolui genera falsa acu tangere, ne aliquem laederem. Fatearis in generibus nullum certiorem esse Tournefortio; fatearis eius genera minus hypothetica esse. Ego in meis generibus eius circiter 170 falsa ad sua genera vera redegi. Potuissent forte adhuc aliqua coniungi, sed defuere mihi quaedam species Americanae, quas videre non potui. Si quis signa luculenta facile cognoscenda assumeret, debeo dignoscere Acharum a notis eius a creatore inscriptis, licet oculum evitaret, licet visum fugeret totum animal. Reprehendis forte me, quod descripserim minimas partes staminum et pistillorum vel nectariorum in cruciformibus et papilionaceis. Cur creavit haec minima aeque figura distincta ac maxima. Ego descripsi omnia absque armato oculo.[11] Dicis Botanicen jam jam redactam esse ad scientias nimis scropulosas, nimis accuratas. Heu longe aliter sentio! Puto, quod nimis negligentes in examinando et diudicando fuerimus.

Si in qua re aliquod gratum praestare potero officium, ad nutum tuum me habebis promtissimum, certissimum. Scripsi ad D[ominum] HebenstreitHebenstreit, Johann Ernst
(1703-1757). German. Anatomist and
explorer. Professor in Leipzig in 1729.
Travelled in North Africa 1731-1735.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, licet responsione indignus judicatus. Quaeso, dicas mihi, quas oras Africae lustrastis et per quam viam. Quando liceat videre a Vobis iter vestrum et quaeque in Botanicis observata sunt? Sitne D[ominus] Bose etiamnum Prof[essor] Botanices extraordinarius? Si posses mihi comparare eius de calyce Tournefortii et Tuam de vegetatione pl[antarum] marit[inarum] Opuscula et ad me Lugdunum mittere data occasione, rem praestares mihi aegregiam. Petas a me quidquid velis. Habebis certo, si potero. Post quatordecim dies erint mea genera absoluta a typo,[12] in quae laboravi per integros annos decem in dissecando omni die flores. Flora mea Lapponica[13] circa finem anni e typographo erit absoluta. Itinerarium Lapponicum[14] non praestare possum, ante quam in patriam pervenero. Itinerarium meum Dalekarlicum prodibit lingua Suecica in Suecia proximo anno,[15] ut audeo.[d][d] : MS1 [read] audio Hortus Cliffortianus sub manus est, qui typum ante 14 dies petiit.[16] Continet species ad genera redacta cum differentiis specificis, novis et realibus, ut a solo nomine species distinguere liceat.

Si a D[omino] WaltheroWalther, Augustin Friederich
(1688-1746). German. Physican and
botanist, professor of anatomy and
surgery at Leipzig.
posses obtinere unicum flosculum yervae Morae, quam depinxit in horti sui tab. X[17] illumque minus bene explicatum et ad me in literis Tuis mitteres, profecto maxime me obstrictum teneres. Vel et si ad quod genus arbuscula illa amandanda sit scias, mecum, quaeso, communices. Nescio, quo malo fato neque hic neque in Anglia umquam flores obtinere potuerim. Si apud vos occurrat Coriotragomalodendrum istud, quod a Walth[eri] hort[o], t. 3, depingitur et quidem mas, quaeso, dicas mihi quot stamina in singulo flosculo obtineat. Femina apud nos frequens est. An liceat plantam Walth[eri] hort[o], t. 2, depinctam Coluteis inserere? Sic putabat DilleniusDillenius, Johann Jacob
(1684-1747). German/British. Studied at
Giessen. Sherardian professor of botany
at Oxford. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. Ego vero dubito flores vel fructus, licet numquam viderim. Si habeas plantam, tab. 9, in Walth[eri] Horto depictam feminam scilicet, mas nobis vulgaris est, quaeso, et eius communices flosculum non bene explicatum vel et fructum. Ego enim non possum, quin credam Pontederam descripsisse calycem pro capsula et apices staminum pro seminibus. Vide Tournefortiam eius in epistola et perpendas, qua in re differt Samolus afric[anus] folio rotundo Walth[eri], tab. 23, a vulgari? Ego nullam video differentiam; Sclarea ind[ica] arborescens calyce campanulato Walth[eri], tab. 15, qua in re differt a Salvia cret[ica] frutesc[ente] pomifera, foliis longioribus, incanis et crispis Tournef[ortii] cor. 10, itin. I, p. 92, fig.[18] Ego nullam video differentiam. Vale, Vir Doctissime! Excuses festinationem! Scripsi enim in scapha Lugduno Amstelodamum petens inter commilitonum turbam.

Vale!

1736. Nov[embris] 9.

Si vixero, in finem Augusti sequentis anni Te Lipsis [sic] videbo.

Ex incluso charactere Hebenstreitiae possis percipere, qua methodo characteres et genera mea data sunt. Si ad me des literas, erit inscriptio et certius ad me perveniant:
Linnaeus
bey Georg CliffortClifford, George (1685-1760).
Dutch. Banker and merchant in Amsterdam,
Linnaeus’s benefactor. Owner of
Hartecamp and its botanical garden
outside Haarlem. Correspondent of
Linnaeus.

Amsterdam

upSUMMARY

John Andrew has sent Christian Gottlieb Ludwig’s letter of 9 October 1736 n.s. to Linnaeus and asked him to answer Ludwig as soon as possible.

Linnaeus’s ideas have been well received in Holland, Denmark, England and France but not in Germany.

Linnaeus answers Ludwig’s remarks:

1) Whether a new method for plants is necessary? Indeed, even if there were already ten methods! If Linnaeus has understood Ludwig correctly, a method for plants is a division of classes and orders or a classification of genera according to a new system. Such a method based on classes and orders (Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s classes and sections) is a key to the genera and serves to distinguish more easily one genus from the other.

2) Whether a new method is of advantage to the science of botany? Indeed! If a new method is well elaborated, it is always of the greatest advantage. Linnaeus has understood all methods except Johann Kramer’s. Even if the innovators have harmed science this does not mean that the goal should be despised. Even if doctors were idiots, medicine should not be vituperated. It should be observed that a method is twofold, since it is both concluded from observations and excogitated from the cathedre. From this twofoldness people take their principles, e.g. if someone assumed the fruit as the principle of a system, he would divide plants into classes as Capsulatae, Coriaceae, Bacciferae. With the help of these principles he would then proceed to the genera and deny that Amygdalus and Persica belong to related genera, since the one has a dry fruit and the other a fleshy one. All genera are natural and cannot be created, brought together or separated without reason. The genera are distinct, before Linnaeus establishes orders or classes. If this were not the case, the method would be bad.

Regarding the inferior genera, the authors differ. This is a pity. The idiots differ from the experts. The former advocates natural genera, the latter do not.

Some advocate a more scrupulous analysis of the signs in the flower and fruit. Ludwig disagrees. But Linnaeus agrees.

Those please Ludwig who use signs which are characteristic, certain, constitutive and easily recognisable. True! The signs are easily recognisable, when the Creator has wanted them to be so, otherwise the signs would not be characteristic.

Signs should be taken from various parts of a plant, from their own habitus and from other parts. Linnaeus cannot be persuaded that Ludwig believes in this principle. Ludwig has seen and learnt too much to have doubts about the fructification.

Ludwig would like to separate Periploca habitu scandente from members of the same genus because of its lactescence. Ludwig could do so, if only the common three species were known, but the American species make this impossible.

If a determination of the flower is required as to form, then we are stuck and there would be almost no end to the number of the new genera. But there would be fewer than if the habitus were considered. In this case Apocyna scandens would be labelled as Periploca. If Ludwig denies the principle of fructification, Linnaeus does not understand his method.

Joseph Pitton de Tournefort’s and August Quirinus Rivinus’s comparison in the middle genera. With “middle genera” Linnaeus thinks that Ludwig perhaps understands orders or sections. Linnaeus says that the genera are distinct in botany and not changeable as in philosophy. John Ray is vacillating greatly in his genera. Ray’s method is useless, though corrected three times. Ray’s classes are not natural ones.

There are methods based on the figure of the petals, the number of the petals and the fruit. Linnaeus adds that there are methods based also on Pierre Magnol’s calyx, which Caspar Bose missed when he talked about Tournefort’s calyx. Linnaeus’s method is based on stamens and pistils. Linnaeus denies that a method could be formed on leaves, stem or roots.

Ludwig has been considering a method based on the manner of flowering, but the new genera would be innumerable. Linnaeus cannot see how such a method would be possible. Linnaeus asks who could deny that the four European Pyrolae belong to the same genus, although the one has only one flower and the others many. But the new genera would be innumerable. Linnaeus says that neither genera nor species are arbitrary. If Linnaeus based a method in zoology on hooves and called the genus of horses one-hoofed, should he then put one-hoofed pigs in this genus?

If Ludwig had named plants after all botanists’ wives and children, the denominations would not have sufficed. Linnaeus knows that Ludwig dislikes that plant names are formed from a botanist’s name. Does he then want to change the name of Asclepiades, etc.? Another time Linnaeus should show what harm there is in botany in creating new genera. Linnaeus considers new genera to be of great use, but not false ones. Linnaeus has in his Genera plantarum corrected about 170 of Tournefort’s false generic names. If somebody assumed splendid signs easily recognisable, Linnaeus would be able to distinguish Acharus. Ludwig will perhaps criticise Linnaeus, because he has described the smallest parts of the stamens and pistils or nectaries in the Cruciformes and papilionaceous flowers. But Linnaeus described everything without a microscope. Ludwig says that botany is reduced to too scrupulous a science, too accurate. Linnaeus is of the opposite opinion.

Linnaeus wonders if Caspar Bose is still extraordinary professor of botany. Linnaeus would like to have Bose’s Calycem Tournefortii explicat and Ludwig’s De vegetatione plantarum marinarum. Linnaeus’s Genera plantarum will be published within a fortnight and Flora Lapponica at the end of the year. Lachesis Lapponica cannot be finished until Linnaeus has returned to Sweden. Iter Dalekarlicum will be published next year in Sweden and in Swedish. Hortus Cliffortianus will be sent to the printer in a fortnight.

Linnaeus would like a floret of Yervamora from Augustin Friederich Walther (depicted in his Designatio plantarum, tab. X). Linnaeus would like to know how many stamens there are in each single floret of the male Coriotragomalodendrum (Walther’s Designatio plantarum, tab. 3). Linnaeus asks if the flower depicted in Walther’s Designatio plantarum, tab. 2, could be grouped with the Coluteae, which is the opinion of Johann Jakob Dillenius. Linnaeus, however, has his doubts as to flowers and fruits. Linnaeus would like to have a female species of the plant depicted in Walther’s Designatio plantarum, tab. 9, and a floret and fruit of it, because Linnaeus believes Giulio Pontedera to have described the calyx as capsule and the apices of the stamens as seeds. Ludwig should look at Tournefortia and consider how Samolus africanus folio rotundo (Walther’s Designatio plantarum, tab. 23) differs from the common one and how Sclarea indica arborescens calyce campanulato (Walther’s Designatio plantarum, tab. 15) differs from Salvia cretica frutescens (Tournefort, Corollarium Institutionum rei herbariae, 10, Itin. I, p. 92, the pict.) with longish, hoary and crisped leaves. Linnaeus sees no difference in either case.

P.S. Linnaeus hopes to see Ludwig at the end of next year in Leipzig.

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
MS1 ut [written twice according to Ludwig’s edition]
b.
MS1 [read] rectificata
c.
MS1 [read] Euphorbiam
d.
MS1 [read] audio

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
The correspondence between Linnaeus and Christian Gottlieb Ludwig is of great importance, because it shows the ardent debate that followed immediately after the publication of Genera plantarumLinnaeus, Carl Genera
plantarum eorumque characteres naturales
secundum numerum, figuram, situm &
proportionem omnium fructificationis
partium
(Leiden 1737). Soulsby no.
284.
(1737) regarding the system of names, the characterizations of plants and their taxonomy. Linnaeus’s great achievement was that he reformed the botanical nomenclature and was extremely methodical in standardising the terminology. At this time, there was great confusion regarding the names of various genera and species. New plants were being found all the time and every botanist gave them names according to his own method. No uniform system existed. Through the letters, we can see the rapid impact of Linnaeus’s work and how it was received. We get a vivid picture of what were considered to be its advantages and disadvantages. In short, we are provided with a unique view of how German botanists regarded the young Linnaeus (see Jönsson, “The early correspondence between Linnaeus and Ludwig”Jönsson, A.-M. “The early
correspondence between Linnaeus and
Ludwig. An example of an early German
criticism”, SLÅ
(1996-1997), 131-178.
, and Jönsson, “Carl Linnaeus and his German critics. Polemics in the Linnaean correspondence”Jönsson, A.-M. “Linnaeus
and his German critics” (forthcoming).
). The other major critics during this time were Johann Georg SiegesbeckSiegesbeck, Johann Georg
(1686-1755). German. Prussian botanist,
doctor of medicine at Wittenberg in
1716, physician and director of the
botanical garden at St Petersburg
1735-1747. One of the most bitter
opponents of Linnaeus’s sexual system.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and Lorenz HeisterHeister, Lorenz (1683-1758).
German. Anatomist and surgeon,
considered the father of German surgery.
Professor of anatomy and surgery in
1720, of theoretical medicine and botany
at Helmstädt in 1730. He rejected
Linnaeus’s sexual system. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
. See their letters to Linnaeus.
2.
Ludwig did not become doctor until 1737, see Ludwig to Linnaeus, 24 May 1737 n.s..
3.
This letter has not come down to us.
4.
5.
I.e., “the traces deterr”. Horace, Ep., I, 1, 74 (Aesop, fable 246, about the fox and the lion).
6.
See above, n. 1.
7.
8.
Inferius genus = genus.
9.
Medium genus = ordo.
I.e. without the use of a microscope.
Linnaeus’s journey to Dalecarlia had taken place in 1734. See Linnés Dalaresa, Iter Dalecarlium, jämte Utlandsresan, Iter ad exteros, och Bergslagsresan, Iter ad fodinasLinnaeus, Carl Linnés
Dalaresa, Iter Dalecarlium, jämte
Utlandsresan, Iter ad exteros, och
Bergslagsresan, Iter ad fodinas: Med
utförlig kommentar
, ed. A. Hj.
Uggla (Stockholm 1953).
.