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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0153 • Christian Gottlieb Ludwig to Carl Linnaeus, 17 March 1737 n.s.
Dated XVII Mart. Anno O. R. MDCCXXXVII. Sent from Leipzig (Germany) to (). Written in Latin.

VIRO EXCELLENTISSIMO, EXPERIENTISSIMO, DOCTISSIMO,
D[o]m[ino] Carolo Linnaeo,
Medicinae Doctori Celeberrimo, Acad[emiae] Nat[urae] Cur[iosorum][1] Socio Dignissimo,
Rerum naturalium Indagatori solertissimo,
S[alutem] P[lurimam] D[icit]
M[onsieur] Christianus Gottlieb Ludwig, Med[icinae] Bacc[alaureus].

Exoptatissimas tuas litteras die 22 Jan[uarii] scriptas tandem die XIII Mart[ii] accepi,[2] eo ipso tempore, quo Definitiones plantarum in usum auditorum[3] conscriptas prelo subjicere constitueram.[4] Parum defuit, quin retinerem opusculum, cum egregios illos labores perlustrarem, quos in re herbaria perfeceras. Cum vero postmodum pensitarem in definitionibus istis nil contineri quam observationes selectiores celeberrimorum botanicorum, usum, quem in excursionibus botanicis percipere possunt amici, non interrumpere volui tandemque prelo dedi. Habebis proxime. Licet enim probe sciam tibi displicere tanquam methodo tuae contraria, tamen pro ratione temporis, quo nunc vivimus, alia meditari haud fuit possibile. Fundamenta Methodi tuae nunc satis cognosco. Perspicio labores non vulgares, quos per decennium sustulisti. Egregie ergo Tibi gratulor de illis exanthlatis. Botanici nostri aevi observationibus tuis carere non possunt. Omnem operam impendam, quo hoc anno omnia magis magisque cognoscam. An vero discentibus methodum Tuam ad imitandum proponere possim, adhuc dubito, quoniam illi, qui botanica tanquam adminicula materiae medicae tractant, mutationem genericorum nominum vix tolerare possunt. Interim characteres tuos evidentiores immiscere non desistam. Dolendum est, quod inter nostros botanicorum nomen Medicis practicis adeo sit infensum. Sunt inter Medicinae studiosos non pauci, qui ad practica abeunt nullam simplicium cognitionem habentes. Sed quid haec ad botanica? Ordo, quem elegisti in generibus summis constituendis, egregie mihi placet. Respondent exacte genera superiora et inferiora. Termini antea barbari mihi visi nunc clariores sunt illosque genio rei accomodatos invenio. Varia tamen adhuc dubia mihi sunt, quae cum nullo alio quam tecum communicarem, qui emendationem studii tanto ardore intendis et objectiones, licet leviores, benigno animo recipis. Transeant nunc illa omnia, quae de parvitate partium examinandarum olim monui. Non video adhuc, cur corollae considerationem minorem feceris quam staminum, pistilli et calicis. De cognitione plantarum agitur. Cur non petala sumsisti, quae et figura et numero varietates evidentiores ostendunt quam stamina et pistilla; ad minimum ea in summis generibus valere possent. Sed stamina et pistilla sunt essentiales fructificationis partes. Haec ad physicam cognitionem spectant et historiam sive methodicam non tangunt. Nunc de notis sermo est, quibus cognoscuntur et in ordinem rediguntur plantae. Objicis petalorum incertitudinem. Hanc et in staminibus, pistillo et calice invenies. Corolla est tantum involucrum interiorum partium floris. Interim crediderim plane singularem ejusdem structuram a summo creatore esse factam, quo differentiae plantarum ex illis dijudicentur. Non ex praejudicio loquor. Evidentiora signa non invenies in ulla plantae parte. Ubi desunt uti in apetalis, ibi tam minuta etiam sunt stamina et pistilla, ut ex illis signa sufficientia sumi vix queant. Sed ad alias partes est recurrendum ut in coniferis vel in capillaribus.

Dividis characteres in factitios, naturales et essentiales. Factitios tantum illos putarem, quae ex accidentalibus plantae sumuntur, e.g. lentibulariam in aquis nasci. Naturales vero omnes dicerem, quae ex corpore plantari desumuntur et semper adsunt. Essentiales sunt, qui soli genus determinant. Praesupponendi vero sunt characteres generum superiorum. Tunc in inferioribus odor Erucae singularis illam essentialiter ab omnibus tetrapetalis regularibus siliquosis disjungere posset. Valeant haec de radice in orchide vel nido avis, de foliis in quibusdam tetrapetalis papilionaceis Siliquosis, e.g. Nissolia, Aphaca.

Si habitus plantae ideas distinctas imprimeret, quae in formam Methodi componi possent, primus essem qui illam sequerer. Cum vero impossibilitas contradicat, talem plantae elegi partem, quae evidentia et faciliora praebet signa. Eleji[a][a] : MS1 [read] Elegi igitur Rivinianam methodum non ex praejudicio, sed quoniam faciles subministrat ideas. Non nego eandem in variis incertam esse. Certiorem non inveni aliam. Cum igitur anomalias evitare non possim, difficultates evitare volo. Magis adhuc elaboranda est illa methodus. Signa in inferioribus generibus magis sunt determinanda. Fortassis majorem exinde nanciscatur certitudinem. Nomina generica, quae in fundamentis botanicis rejicis, vix omnes rejicere vellem. Sed de his alia vice prolixior ero. Unicam speciem genus constituere posse non negavi. Sed hoc mihi displicet, si ex genere prolixiori una species tollitur ad novum genus constituendum, e.g. Volckhammeria Heist[eri]Heister, 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.
et alia. Veronicastrum, quod figura floris et capsulae seminalis evidenter differt, adhuc concedere vellem. Genera plantarum, quae benigne mecum communicasti, eo cariora mihi erant, quia tu illis ipsis me ad attentiorem characterum considerationem instigasti. Nunc decentissimas persolvo gratias. Reddam tibi rationem laborum peractorum, quando sub finem aestatis felicitate fruar tecum loquendi. Litterae Hebenstreitinae responsoriae jam jam tibi traditae sunt mense Februario. Recensuit ille et Fundamenta Botanica[5] et Systema naturae[6] in actis Eruditorum mense Februario, Musa Cliffortiana[7] mense Martio est inserta.[8] De generibus plantarum[9] recensionem expectes proxime. Valeas interim, Vir doctissime, meque amare pergas!

Dabam Lipsiae d[ie] XVII Mart[ii] Anno O[rbis] R[edempti] MDCCXXXVII.

Definitio plantae tot signa contineat, quae sufficientia sunt ad plantam a congeneribus distinguendam. Si superflua adduntur, tantum majoris dilucidationis gratia accedunt, quo Tiro Botanicus unam alteramque arripere et memoriae imprimere possit.

Tragacantham ab Astragalo distinguo ob[b][b] : MS1 <ut> ob costam in spinam abeuntem. Ob spinas corticales non distinguere vellem, si interim generum affinitas illud studeret et signa in flore obscuriora essent. Tunc facile etiam spinas corticales in planta pro signo assumere possem.

upSUMMARY

Christian Gottlieb Ludwig’s Definitiones plantarum in usum auditorum is being printed.

Linnaeus is congratulated on the fundamentals of his method. Ludwig is uncertain that he can propose the method to his students to imitate since changes in generic names are hardly tolerable to those who study botany only as a background of materia medica. But the characters can be used. The order chosen by Linnaeus in constituting the highest genera is satisfactory. The superior and inferior genera respond exactly. The terms are distinct.

Ludwig cannot understand why Linnaeus pays less attention to the corolla than to the stamens, pistil and calyx. He should have taken into account the petals, which have more obvious varieties in figure and number than the stamens and pistils. Ludwig goes on to discuss the criteria, stressing the value of easily recognizing plants more than knowing their physiology.

Linnaeus divides the characters into artificial, natural and essential. According to Ludwig artificial characters are taken from the fortuitous things regarding a plant, e.g. Lentibularia grows in the water. Natural ones are taken from the body of a plant and are always there. Essential ones determine the genus.

If the habitus of a plant could provide distinct ideas useful in elaborating a method, Ludwig would be the first to follow. However, he has chosen that plant part which gives evident and easy signs. Thus he follows August Quirinus Rivinus’s method. Ludwig would not reject all the names that Linnaeus rejected in Fundamenta botanica. He never denied that one single species can constitute a genus. It is unsatisfactory that one single species is taken from a more comprehensive genus to constitute a new genus, e.g. Volckhammeria (Heister). Linnaeus’s Genera plantarum is very precious to Ludwig, since it has made him more attentive to the characters.

Johann Ernst Hebenstreit has reviewed Fundamenta botanica, Systema naturae and Musa Cliffortiana in Acta eruditorum (for February and March). There will soon be a review of Genera plantarum also.

P.S. The definition of a plant should contain as many signs as are necessary to distinguish it from other members of the same genus.

Ludwig makes a distinction between Tragacantha and Astragalus.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (LS, IX, 484). [1] [2]

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
MS1 [read] Elegi
b.
MS1 <ut> ob

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
2.
See Linnaeus to Christian Gottlieb Ludwig, 22 January 1737 n.s..
3.
4.
Ludwig made a draft of the following letter on the back of the letter Linnaeus wrote to him 22 January 1737 n.s..
5.
6.
7.
Linnaeus, Musa CliffortianaLinnaeus, Carl Musa
Cliffortiana florens Hartecampi 1736
prope Harlemum
(Leiden 1736).
. This work deals with the banana plant, which blossomed for the first time at Hartecamp in January 1736, according to a letter to Albrecht von HallerHaller, Albrecht von
(1708-1777). Swiss. Naturalist and
poet, professor of medicine, botany,
anatomy and surgery at Göttingen
1736-1753. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, 1 May 1737 n.s.. See Bref och skrifvelserLinnaeus, Carl Bref och
skrifvelser af och till Carl von
Linné
. Utgifna och med
upplysande noter försedda af Th. M.
Fries, J. M. Hulth & A. Hj. Uggla.
Afdelning I:1-8, Afdelning II:1-2
(Stockholm 1907-1943).
I:4, 352 and n. 2, I:5, 252 and n. 4; Uggla, “Linné och bananen”Uggla, Arvid Hjalmar
“Linné och bananen”,
SLÅ 42 (1959), 79-88.
, and Broberg, “Linnaeus and genesis”Broberg, Gunnar “Linnaeus and
genesis. A preliminary survey”,
SLÅ (1978), 30-42.
, 37.
8.
Nova acta eruditorum Nova acta eruditorum anno
1732(-1776) publicata
(Leipzig
1732-1782).
(1737), 61-71 (February) and 117-119 (March).
9.