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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0166 • Carl Linnaeus to Albrecht von Haller, 3 April 1737 n.s.
Dated April. 3. Sent from Hartecamp (Netherlands) to Göttingen (Germany). Written in Latin.

Annus jam volvitur tertius ab eo tempore, quo celebre Tuum nomen ex Commerciis Literariis Norimbergicis[1] didiceram. Placuit ibi descriptio Androsaces mihi adeo, ut nihil magis Te nosse in votis habueram.

Cum prima vice 1735 Belgium intrabam, Te una cum Gesnero in conscribendo synopsin plantarum Helveticarum[2] occupatum percepi. Ante dimidium vero annum ex Anglia redux[3] Te publicam Botanices Professionem suscepisse summo cum animi gaudio cognovi; quo munere ut felix fungaris, est, quod ex animo Tibi adprecor.[4]

Lugduni cum ante dies non ita multos Hortum Botanicum visitarem, apud Cl[arissimum] RoyenumRoyen, Adriaan van (1705-1779).
Dutch. Professor of botany, director of
the botanical garden of Leiden.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
Tuam de methodico studio Botanices absque praeceptore inauguralem vidi dissertationem,[5] eamque quam citissime pervolvi. Placuit haec mihi adeo, ut a Te precibus vel pretio quocunque eam efflagito. Reddam quemcunque a me desideras, si potero, librum. Si quae ex meis opusculis Tibi arriderent, transmittam lubentissime, modo sciam, qua ratione minus Tibi incommodo, an per currum publicum. Si quae ex Horto Cliffortiano[6] tibi placerent plantae exoticae, primus qui habebit Tu eris, promitto.

Video Te occupatum in condendo classes naturales. Utinam absolveres et cum publico communicares! Laboravi et ego in hisce diu, adhuc licet operi impar. Puto tamen me habiturum fragmenta plura quam multi alii, sed et multa restant. An unquam expedienda, haereo.

Didici certe Bacciferarum classem nullam esse. Quod e staminibus et pistillis nullum profluat systema naturale, ambabus Tibi largior. Assumsi ego hanc methodum tamquam succedaneam, utque excitarem viros curiosos ad examinandum has partes fructificationis, tam viles et fere nullas antea habitas, cum ordine alphabetico scribere mihi displicuit omnino. Habebit et suum usum harum partium noticia, licet pro classibus non absolutum.[7]

Anblati flori octo adscribis stamina. Ego anno 1728 semel reperi plantam, nec ab eo tempore unquam; in ea tamen me modo quatuor reperisse memini. Quaeso, si erraverim, me commonefacias.

Sub prelo sudat mea Critica Botanica[8] octavo et Hortus Cliffortianus in fol[io]. Genera mea absoluta fuere circa initiium anni.[9] Si Tibi arrideant, curabo, ut habeas. Flora Lapponica hac hebdomade absoluta fuit, quam Societatis Regiae Scientiarum Sueciae inclytis membris consecravi.[10] Incurrebam in ea istos errores cum vulgo Botanicorum, quos evitare potueram circa Synonyma C. Bauhiniana, si prius Dissertationem Tuam vidissem.

In Horto Cliffortiano plantam Africanam a celebri Tuo nomine dixi.[11] Utinam Tibi non displiceret, quod revocari facile nequit, cum dudum impressum sit!

Accepit et ante annum quidam amicus plantam a Cl[arissimo] Gesnero Staehelinam HalleriHaller, Albrecht von
(1708-1777). Swiss. Naturalist and
poet, professor of medicine, botany,
anatomy and surgery at Göttingen
1736-1753. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
dictam. Optarem scire, ubi descripta sit, et quae a Te antea prodiere, cum ad nos ea etiamnum non pervenere.

LudwigiiLudwig, Christian Gottlieb
(1709-1773). German. Physician.
Professor of medicine in Leipzig. One of
Linnaeus’s early opponents.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
Definitiones genericas sudare percepi.[12] Methodo Riviniana incedit.[13] SiegesbeckiiSiegesbeck, 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.
diu promissum Hortum Petropolitanum etiamnum non vidi.[14] MartiniMartyn, John (1699-1768).
British. Physician, professor of botany
at Cambridge.
decas quinta nuper ad nos pervenit.[15] Michelii fata praepropera doleo.[16] SebaeSeba, Albert (1665-1736).
Dutch. Pharmacist and collector of
natural history specimens, Amsterdam.
Thesauri, quoad partes duas quae restant, vix prodibunt,[17] cum haeredes litigant de crumena et magis solliciti sunt de nummis quam fama beati viri.

Cl[arissimus] DilleniusDillenius, Johann Jacob
(1684-1747). German/British. Studied at
Giessen. Sherardian professor of botany
at Oxford. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, dum Oxonii eram, ultimam manum admovebat Phytopinaci Sherardiano, cuius ferme quartam partem tum absolverat.[18] BurmanniBurman, Johannes (1707-1779).
Dutch. Botanist, professor of medicine
in Amsterdam. Close friend of Linnaeus.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
Thesaurus Zeylanicus prodiit circa initium anni.[19] Rumpfiani splendidissimum opus seu Plantas Amboinenses in se edere suscepit.[20] Utinam perficeret!

Mea intercessione Medicus juvenis natione Germanus Spartam medici ordinarii Societatis Indiae occidentalis apud Surinamenses excepit, a quo et semina et plantas omnes Surinamenses spero, si ab alio umquam ullo.[21]

Si responsoriis Tuis me exhilares, mittantur literae Amstelodamum cum inscriptone: bey Mr. Georg Clifford.Clifford, George (1685-1760).
Dutch. Banker and merchant in Amsterdam,
Linnaeus’s benefactor. Owner of
Hartecamp and its botanical garden
outside Haarlem. Correspondent of
Linnaeus.
Tum erint mihi certissimae. Ut omnia fausta succedant, voveo. Tibi me ter quaterve commendatum habeas. Vale, faveas!

Dabam ex Musaeo Cliffortiano 1737, April[is] 3.

P.S. Hodie incepit Musa florere, quae et florebat anno praecedenti. Si non habeas tractatulum, quem emisi praeterito anno de Musa Cliffortiana, curabo, ut habeas.[22]

Pauca verba addam, cum absolutis literis epistolam a Cl[arissimo] GronovioGronovius, Johan Frederik
(1690-1762). Dutch. Naturalist, senator
of Leiden. Linnaeus’s benefactor and
friend. Published Flora Virginica
(1743, 1762) together with John Clayton.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
habui cum inclusis literis I[ohannis] R[odolphi] IseliiIselin, Jean-Rodolphe
(1705-1779). Swiss. Professor of law,
historian.
ad I[ohannem] F[redericum] Gronovium datis die 10 Martis Basileae, ubi inter alia haec:

Ajunt, Cel[eberrimum] Hallerum, Professorem Gottingensem, in animo volvere contra hanc novam Linnaei methodum scribendi. Nescio, an id suo facturus sit commodo, etc.

An famae sit fides, ignoro omnino, cum hac ipsa hora haec accepi. Interim Tecum, Vir celeberrime, pauca loqui velim. Si vanus sit rumor, et veniam des ratiociniis, nullus dubito.

1. Ego prae me fero, quod, si potero, Tuam evito iram, Tua arma. Desiderarem a Tuis partibus potius stare; adversarium Tuum esse odio habeo et, quantum potero, evito. Sit pax in diebus nostris!

2. Magni Te semper et a prima hora, qua nomen Tuum addidici, maximi feci. Nec scio me unquam turbasse Tuos circulos. Cur itaque ad arma provocas? Reddas mihi rationem, cur Tuam malam gratiam contraxerim et, ut sis satisfactus, omni nisu curabo. Pacem Te petimus omnes!

3. Si nulla alia, quam innocentissima mea methodus sexualis sit belli causa, vereor, quod haec sit nimis injusta. Numquam meam hanc methodum naturalem dixi, sed in Systemate, p. 8, §12: “Nullum Systema plantarum naturale, licet unum vel alterum propius accedat, adhuc constructum est, nec ego hic systema quoddam naturale contendo. Forte alia vice ejus fragmenta exhibebo, etc. Interim tamen systemata artificialia, defectu naturalis, omnino necessaria sunt.”[23]

Et Genera Plant[arum], Praef[atio], §9: “Non nego, quin Methodus naturalis et nostrae et omnium inventarum methodis longe praeferri debeat. Interim assumendae sunt classes artificiales et succedaneae.” Ergo Tuam agnosco methodum, si naturalem condas.

4. Si quos alios in me vidisti errores, Tu sapientior haec ignoscas. Quis caruit erroribus in diffusissimo naturae constitutus campo? Quis sufficientes habuit observationes? Moneas haec, amice, et Tibi grates agam. Feci non coactus, quae potui. Nec fastigium summum acquirit vasta arbor, prima qua erumpit tempestate.

5. Innotui Botanicis certe primariis omnibus dudum. Me erexerunt omnes, nec meum insatiabile discendi naturalia desiderium fregit ullus. An Tu hisce omnibus durior? Videris mihi ex Tua Dissertatione magis nobilis, quam ut Te jactares super ignorantiam aliorum.

6. Potes dein commode absque eo, quod me laedas, profundam Tuam eruditionem et intimam naturalium cognitionem cum erudito orbe communicare, et forte gratior omnibus evadere. Evolvas Botanicos omnes, et videbis, eos prima vice, qua prodiere, de arte sua inflatos vix potuisse digitos abstinere, (ut forte et ego quondam, quod maxime doleo, meliora didici). At cum per aliquot annos vitam in castris degerint, adeo placidi, sinceri, modesti omnibusque grati se proposuisse, ut ne verbo quemdam tangerent. Haec mihi caussa, quod maxime dubitem de famae hujus fide, cum Te a longo retro tempore inclaruisse novi.

7. Mirum etiam videtur mihi, quod ego Tibi adeo exosus essem, cum fateri debeam nullius scriptum magis mecum militare quam hoc Tuum.

8. Ego demum fui, et forte solus, qui absolute secundum istam a Te datam methodum absque praeceptore ullo, quae novi, addidici. Disco adhuc; ignoscas, quod doctus etiamnum non evaserim. Si doctrina Tua methodo comparari queat, spes doctrinae etiam apud me elucet.

9. Dubito tandem, num Tu vel Professor ullus commode controversiis sese immiscere queat. Professoris et Docentis primarium est sibi authoritatem et fidem apud auditores suos conciliare. Si videant studiosi, quod et ille quid humani patiatur, quanta clades inde authoritati! Quis fuerit tam doctus et sapiens, qui, dum alios corrigeret, non ipse correctione dignus aliquando evaserit? Semper aliquid haeret. Vidimus exemplum nuper alibi in Professore omnium celeberrimo et ornamento Academiae suae, qui dum diu nimis in Paedagogos invexerit, tandem a Paedagogo ita fractus, ut num restituatur dubitare licet, certe vix in integrum. Hinc dixit et sapientissimus Medicus se potius Professionem et Medicinam abdicare velle, quam controversiis publicis se immiscere.

10. Evolvas criticos omnes et ostendas mihi unicum, qui sua arte se gratum reddiderit orbi. Matthiolus magnus suo aevo vir extitisset, si hisce se non immiscuissset. Cuinam gratus Cornarius furens, vel Vulpecula excoriata?[24] Quid RajusRay, John (1627-1705).
British. Naturalist and clergyman. One
of the most influential botanists before
Linnaeus.
vel RivinusRivinus, August Quirinus
(1652-1723). German. Professor of
medicine and botany at Leipzig.
Constructed a plant classification
system based on petals.
suis praeliis expediverunt? Dolet adhuc Cl[arissimus] Dillenius se ad arma a Rivino coactum. Nec victoria, quam reportavit, ipsi majorem famam conciliavit. Nonne justam ipsi belli causam dedit ThrelkeldThrelkeld, Caleb (1676-1728).
British. Botanist.
? Sed ille sapientior, qui inter Troes fuit. Arma deposita non recepit. VaillantiusVaillant, Sébastien
(1669-1722). French. Botanist and
surgeon. Professor at the Jardin des
plantes. His theory on plant sexuality
influenced Linnaeus who regarded
Vaillant as one of the most important
botanists.
, quondam observator summus, studuit sibi viam regiam per cladem TournefortiiTournefort de, Joseph Pitton
(1656-1708). French. Botanist and
explorer, professor of botany at Paris.
parare. Nonne ipsi jam reddantur justa praemia? Major longe fuisset, si Tournefortium non tetigisset.

11. Horreo proelium intrare, cum sive vincor, sive vinco, tamen maculor. Quis triumphavit absque vulnere? Semper aliquid haeret. Tempus dein et mihi et forte Tibi ad majora molimina nimis pretiosum est. Sum etiam nimis juvenis ad excipiendum arma, quae suscepta semel deponi nequeant ante finitum bellum, quod semel inceptum durabit ad mortem. Tamen, quaecunque hoc tempore severe moliantur, post quinquaginta annos nil erit posteris nisi histrionum fabula. Ego minus erubescerem a Te monita recipere quam Tu a me.

En hostem itaque, quem declaras, Tuam subnixe petens amicitiam, quam si ipsi concedas, in eo habebis tam certum amicum, ac unquam sperares adversarium. Video certe Te magis nobilem, quam ut arma moveres in innocentem, nisi ab inimicis meis suasus dubius mihi evaderes. Si vero pacem, quam a Te precibus, conditionibus et rationibus efflagito, obtinere nequeam, esto tamen ea generositate, ut ad me transmittas ipse Tua, dum impressa sunt. Ego vicissim mea ad Te transferri curabo.

Si falsus sit hic rumor, veniam summopere peto, quod hisce Tibi molestus fuerim.

Vale! Rescribas!

Die 5 April[is] 1737.

upSUMMARY

Three years ago Linnaeus first heard about Albrecht von Haller. He was so pleased with his description of Androsace that he wanted to know him.

When Linnaeus first came to Holland in 1735, he found that Haller was writing a “Synopsis” of Swiss plants together with Johannes Gesner. When Linnaeus returned from England he heard that Haller had become a professor of botany.

Linnaeus has read Haller’s inaugural dissertation, De methodico studio botanices absque praeceptore, and wants a copy. In return Linnaeus is prepared to send any book Haller wants or exotic plants from George Clifford’s garden.

Linnaeus knows that Haller is occupied with the establishment of natural classes and wants him to complete the work and publish it. He himself has worked on the same thing for a long time but he doubts whether he will ever complete the work.

Linnaeus has realised that there is no class of Bacciferae. He agrees that there is no natural system of the stamens and pistils. He used this method as a substitute, because he has always disliked an alphbetical arrangement.

Haller attributes eight stamens to the Anblatum. Linnaeus has only seen the plant once in 1728 and can only remember four stamens. He wants to know if he is wrong.

Linnaeus’s Critica Botanica and Hortus Cliffortianus are being printed. His Genera plantarum was finished in the early part of the year. His Flora Lapponica was finished this week and it is dedicated to the members of the Royal Society of Sciences in Sweden. If he had seen Haller’s dissertation before, he would have been able to avoid some errors concerning Caspar Bauhin’s synonyms.

Linnaeus named an African plant after Haller in Hortus Cliffortianus.

A friend of Linnaeus’s received a plant called Staehelina Halleri from Johannes Gesner a year ago. Linnaeus wants to know where it is described and what Haller has published so far.

Christian Gottlieb Ludwig’s Definitiones plantarum is being printed, which follows August Quirinus Rivinus’s method. Linnaeus has not seen Johann Georg Siegesbeck’s Primitiae florae Petropolitanae, but he just received John Martyn’s fifth Decade. He laments Pietro Antonio Micheli’s untimely death. The two remaining parts of Albert Seba’s “Thesaurus” will probably not be printed, since the heirs are quarreling about his money.

When Linnaeus was at Oxford, Johann Jakob Dillenius was finishing his and Sherard’s Fytopinax. Johannes Burman’s Theasurus Zeylanicus was published in the early part of the year. Burman is working on Georg Eberhard Rumpf’s plants from Ambon.

Linnaeus hopes that a young, German, appointed physician of the West India Company at Linnaeus’s recommendation will provide them with seeds and plants from Surinam.

If Haller wishes to answer this letter, he should send his letter to Mr. Georg Clifford, Amsterdam.

P.S.

Today the Musa began to flower. If Haller does not have Linnaeus’s Musa Cliffortiana, he will have it.

After Linnaeus had finished his letter he received a letter from Johan Frederik Gronovius. Enclosed was a letter from Jean-Rodolphe Iselin to Gronovius dated Basle, 10 March, in which he could read that they say that Haller at Göttingen intends to write against Linnaeus’s new method. Linnaeus does not know yet if this is true, but he wishes to explain a few things.

1. Linnaeus wishes to avoid any controversy with Haller.

2. Linnaeus has always appreciated Haller. He does not know if he has done anything to harm him. He cannot understand Haller’s provocations.

3. Linnaeus considers it a great injustice if the reason is his harmless sexual system, since he has never called this a natural system. On the contrary in Systema naturae, p. 8, §12, he wrote that no natural plant system has been constructed yet, although one or two may be more natural than others. Meanwhile the artificial system is necessary. And in Genera plantarum, Praefatio, §9, he wrote that he does not deny that a natural method would be preferable, but in the meantime the artificial system must be used. If Haller establishes a natural method, Linnaeus will accept it.

4. If Haller has noticed other mistakes, Linnaeus hopes that he will overlook them.

5. Linnaeus is acquainted with distinguished botanists who have encouraged him. Will Haller be more severe than the rest?

6. Haller may show his profound learning without injuring Linnaeus. By reading all botanists’ first work he will see that they at the beginning cannot refrain from attacking others (just as Linnaeus himself, which he laments). When they have spent some time in the battlefield, they become so modest that they would not harm anyone.

7. Linnaeus doubts that Haller is displeased with him, since Haller’s work corresponds with his own ideas.

8. Linnaeus has learnt without a tutor according to Haller’s method and is still learning.

9. Linnaeus points out that professors and teachers should acquire respect of the audience. There is no man correcting others who does not need correction himself sometimes. Recently there was an example of this. A very famous professor attacked teachers for a long time. Eventually he was attacked himself so severely that it is doubtful whether he will ever recover. A wise physician declared that he would rather give up his career than become involved in a controversy.

10. Linnaeus wants Haller to show him one critical writer who has received any thanks for what he has done.

Pietro Mattioli would have been a great man in his days, if he had not got involved in such things.

What good have John Ray or August Quirinus Rivinus done with their controversies? Johann Jakob Dillenius still regrets that he had to take up arms against Rivinus. Did not Caleb Threlkeld give him a fair reason for war? But he was wiser and did not take up arms. Sebastién Vaillant wanted to make his way through Joseph Pitton de Tournefort. He would have been more successful if he had left Tournefort in peace.

11. Linnaeus does not want a controversy. It is a waste of time. He considers himself too young to take up arms. Although things may seem serious at the time they will seem ridiculous after 50 years.

Linnaeus considers Haller too noble to attack an innocent, unless Linnaeus’s enemies have provoked him. He hopes that Haller will send him his work, when printed.

upEDITIONS

1. Epistolarum ab eruditis viris ad Alb. Hallerum scriptarum I-VI (1773), vol. 1
2. Collectio epistolarum (1792), p. 1-7 .
3. A selection (1821), vol. 2, p. 228-236   p.228  p.229  p.230  p.231  p.232  p.233  p.234  p.235  p.236.
4. Vie de Linné (1832), vol. 2, p. 92- .

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
In Holland Linnaeus had read the inaugural dissertation De methodico studio botanices absque praeceptoreHaller, Albrecht von De
methodico studio botanices absque
praeceptore
(Göttingen 1736).
, written by the Swiss naturalist Albrecht von Haller, professor at Göttingen. This was the start of a long botanical correspondence. Of scientific interest is the discussion about Linnaeus’s sexual system compared to Haller’s natural one. Rumour had it that Haller was going to criticise Linnaeus’s sexual system (see the post script of this letter). Linnaeus felt his peace of mind threatened and wrote this letter in order to discourage all kinds of hostility. He emphasised that it was not recommendable neither for Haller nor any other professor to get involved in scientific fights. For Linnaeus’s relationship with Haller, see Hjelt, Carl von Linné in seinen Beziehungen zu Albrecht von HallerHjelt, O. E. A. Svenska och
finska medicinalverkets historia,
1663-1812
, I-III (Helsinki
1891-1893), I.
.
2.
Commercium litterarium.
3.
In 1736 Linnaeus visited England at George Clifford’s expense.
4.
In 1736-1753 Haller was professor of anatomy, botany, and surgery at Georg-Augustus University in Göttingen, inaugurated in 1735.
5.
6.
7.
Linnaeus’s sexual system was met with hard resistance by the learned world. Some even found it repugnant and unnatural. But he was himself fully aware of its artificiality and simply regarded it as the mere scaffolding to serve during the construction of a more natural one, where closely related genera could be placed together.
8.
9.
Linnaeus named three plants after Haller, the South-African genus Halleria, which is found in Linnaeus’s Hortus CliffortianusLinnaeus, Carl Hortus
Cliffortianus, plantas exhibens quas in
hortis tam vivis quam siccis Hartecampi
in Hollandia coluit [...] Georgius
Clifford
(Amsterdam 1737). Soulsby
no. 328.
and the species Arabis Halleri and Anemone Halleri, which were, however, later found to be only varieties.
August Quirinus Rivinus based his method on the petals.
In 1545 Janus Cornarus published Vulpecula excoriataCornarius, Janus Vulpecula
excoriata
(Frankfurt 1545).
. In answer to this work Leonhard FuchsiusFuchs, Leonhard (1501-1566).
German. Botanist and physician.
Professor of medicine at Ingolstadt,
later at Tübingen.
published Cornarius furensCornarius, Janus later this year. Finally, in 1546 Cornarius wrote, Vulpecula catastropheCornarius, Janus Vulpecula
catastrophe
(Frankfurt 1546).
.