Documentation

Letters

-Search for letters
-Search in texts

Manuscripts

Editions

Links

Contact

C18

Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0183 • Carl Linnaeus to Philip Miller, 20 June 1737 n.s.
Dated . Sent from Hartecamp (Netherlands) to London (Great Britain). Written in Latin.

Vir Sagacissime!

Quam a me, dum vestros visitabam lares, expetiisti descriptionem de insecto isto, Lapponiae soli familiare, cujus caussa omnes Lappones per aestatem Sylvas suas deserere coguntur, cujus caussa nivosos [sic] alpes adire debent[a][a] : MS1 <coacti sunt> debent
[added above the line]
omnes, nullo excepto; ut Totius historiae habeas puram ideam in praemissis dabo quae nota praesupponenda sunt.[1]

Lapponia tota a natura & gente bifariam dividitur in desertem [sic] & Alpes. Desertum constat densis sylvis, vastis paludibus, fluviis immensae latitudinis[b][b] : MS1 <magnitudinis>
latitudinis [added above the
line
]
; in his habitant Lappones sparsim et rari et eremitarum instar solitarii, victitantes praecipue avibus & piscibus, pauperes omnes seu paucis instructi rhangiferis, melancholici facile omnes, facie obscura, timida, sylvestri.

Alpes autem solis montibus nivosis constant, inter quos convalles per aestatem plantis et fruticibus repleti[sic]; in his habitant Lappones ejusdem prosapiei, ejusdem gentis sed conferti magis, duabus tribusque casis consertim positis, hinc magis urbani homines, facie laeta et hillari[sic], hique divites communiter sunt omnes seu centum ad mille rhangiferis singuli ditati; in rhangiferis enim divitiae Lapponum; rhangiferi Lapponum pecora; hoc unicum fundamentum, cui superstructa est tota Lapponum oeconomia; sunt fateor et venatus & piscatura in summa abundantia, nihilo minus e pecoribus seu rhangiferis primarium vitae pabulum petitur; ex horum lacte solo nutritur Lappo per aestatem, ex ejus caseo per autumnum, ex carnibus rhangiferinis alitur per totam hyemem, dum vix alius cibus patinis imponitur Lapponum quam recens rhangiferorum caro, ex rhangiferinis pellibus Lapponum omnia vestimenta; rhangiferi equorum usum Lapponibus praestant in transportandis & tranvehendis[sic] rebus variis domesticis, adeoque in rhangiferis omnia Lapponum bona consistunt, in iis itaque colendis summam ut impendant curam necessarium ipsis maxime est.

Rhangiferi sunt, ut notissimum, Cervi cornuum ramis infimis ramosis, vix nota alia certa a reliquis cervis diversi; horum pabulum per aestatem facile omnia vegetabilia, per hyemem[c][c] : MS1 <autu[mnum]> hyemem vero solus Lichen, praesertim et primario qui Coralloides corniculis candidissimis. Tournef[ourt]Tournefort de, Joseph Pitton
(1656-1708). French. Botanist and
explorer, professor of botany at Paris.
inst. 565 Musco-fungus montanus corniculatus Moris[on]
.Morison, Robert (1620-1683).
British. Botanist and physician.
Physician-in-ordinary to Charles II.
Professor in botany at Oxford.
hist.3.p.632 f.15.&.7.f.9.[2] Crescit et hic Muscus vel Lichen in Lapponiae sylvis et desertis majori in copia, quam in regione, quam novi, ulla ullum aliud vegetabile, immo ut hic lichen solus et unicus campos viginti vel quinquaginta milliarium Anglicanarum saepe in desertis tegat. At in alpibus Lapponicis parce admodum, et vix nominandus.

Lappones sylvatici omni aestate, licet ducenta milliaria remoti habitarent, tenentur omni aestate circa medium juni alpes adire, relinquere su[as][d][d] : MS1 [manuscript damaged] sylvas, remigrare in peregrinam terram cum rhangiferis et tota familia, quae a rhangiferis eorumque lacte tum temporis sustentari debet. Quo cum perveniunt, excipiuntur in alpinorum Lapponum terris, ut isti sylvatici mutua praestent officia accedente bruma, qua frigore coacti descendere tenentur Alpini Lappones e montibus, utque prospiciant gulae rhangiferorum, Lappones sylvaticos petere, apud eos habitare per diram hyemem.

Dum Lappones interrogabam de causa fugae istorum ad alpes aestivali tempore, regerebant hoc ipsis necessarium ob muscas, quae rhangiferos infestant ut vix edere possunt, sed contabescere; claram autem hujus rei ideam quam primum alpes intrabam perspexi. Causa est Muscae species, Oestrum Lapponum nobis dicendum.

Oestrum Lapponum, Curbma Lapponibus[e][e] : MS1 <ipsi> Lapponibus , est musca magnitudine glandis querci, quae faciem fert exacte Bombylii undique hirsuta! Caput villosum est, oculi magni atri nitidi, regio oculis interjecta nigra & pilosa, sub oculis flava. Collum sat crassum pro ratione corporis & villosum, antice et postice flavum; media parte nigrum. Venter ovatus, ad basin flavus, totus dein e flavo rufescens. Alae duae albae diaphorae dorso incumbentes. Sub alis utrinque stylus capitatus superne squamula munitus. Femora nigra, tibiae et pedes pallidi, qui quinque articulis constant, ungulis in singulo pede duabus acutis, quibus singulis squama subjicitur. Caudam pro lubito exerit animal telescopii instar, quae variis constat articulis, debilis, nullo vulnerante instrumento munita.

Hoc insectum in conspectum prodiit sub primis diebus julii mensis, quo in Lapponia aestus incipit, vexatque terram. Tum ubicunque rhangiferorum reperias greges et certo certius etiam hoc insectum; alibi numquam. Amat praesertim hoc insectum calidos convalles, horret magis nivosos montes, licet Lapponum instar pellibus indutum sit seu hirsutum.

Nascitur hoc in dorso Rhangiferorum, e dorso eorum prodit initio julii, mox ovis praegnans in dorso rhangiferi ova deponere studet, ut prosapiem conservet suam. Cum summo oblectamento erat videre quanta cum cura, quanto labore et studio per integros dies sua ova in dorso rhangiferi deponere quaesivit ovis praegnans oestrum, quantaque cum astutia, attentione, vigiliis et sudore se ab oestro praeservare studuit Rhangifer, licet nullo vulnerante instrumento minaretur.

Primo mane evigilat oestrum venere stimulatum, rhangiferos petit, per totum diem rhangiferos persequitur, supra dorsum rhangiferi obvolitans continuo, nisi ventosa tempestas volitantem dejiciat; facile prosequitur in vallibus, ubi lassum oestrum viridem herbam petit[f][f] : MS1 <insedit> petit , inque ea quiescit; difficile autem oestro est iter cum rhangiferis per montes glacie perenni tectos, ubi semper frigidior spirat ventus, ubi nullus locus vacuus, quem nix non occupavit, ut oestrum lassum in ipsa frigida nive decidat, de vita dubium.

Rhangiferi autem quam primum praesentiam audiunt vel vident (sonum enim nullum alis excitat oestrum) mox collo erecto, auribus arrectis, fixis oculis attenti, si vel mille rhangiferi in grege simul, omnes cornua caput collumque quatiunt, pedibusque terram calcitrant. Si tum ad casam Lapponis ducti ut mulgantur, continuo aufugium petunt, ni Lappo Fungum (Agaricum Abietis vel Pini) accensum & fumantem ipsis admoveat, ut a fumo abigantur insecta, quem unice horrent, at rhenones quasi hoc scientes tum placide quiescunt, se deponunt in terram, obdormiunt, fumum placide excipiunt, et adsueti ut fumum excipiant mane et vesperi sua sponte ad casam redeunt, quo per momentum vel horulam securi quiescant a protervis suis procis. Cum vero pastores rhangiferos in pascua ducant, tum mirus tumultus; student enim rhangiferi omnes vi et celeritate superare pastores, qui[g][g] : MS1 qui<bus inter> [sic] diversa regit[h][h] : MS1 <[illegible]>
regit [added above the line]
intentio. Rhangifer petit semper ventum contrarium ex frigidis alpibus spirantem, ut oestrum defatigatur[sic] nec prosequi queat. Quod si rhangifero concedatur, cursu pernici glaciales petit montes, inque summis cacuminibus per totum diem tamquam in hyeme frigidissima (ubi hyems aeterna) absque cibo et potu persistit, solum ut liber sit ab oestris, et circa noctem descendit in pascuis.

Pastores vero semper cogunt rhangiferos canum auxilio stipati ventum secundum obsecundare, ut in pascuis nut[r]imentum summant[sic], utque lentius procedant, ali[o]qui facile avolarent rhangiferi, nec lac praeberent Dominis cibumque familiae. Tamen parum per dies edunt, continuo quatiendo corpus et arrectis auribus circumspicientes effatigantur, et parum pinguescunt.

Eodem ipso tempore (medio juli) et pilos[i][i] : MS1 <crines> pilos dejiciunt rhangiferi, tumque pili[j][j] : MS1 <crines> pili [added
above the line
]
omnes in dorso erecti, et ubi decidere, pervium aditum ad ipsam nudam cutem dorsi comedunt. Hinc supra dorsum rhangiferi obvolitans oestrum cauda exserta telescopii instar, sed reflexa sub ventre parum, in ipso apice tenet ovulum papaveris simini[sic] simillimum, sed parum oblongum, dum hoc demittit in aëre obvolitans deorsum, sique hoc deciderit in ipso dorso rhangiferi, inter arrectos pilos transit ad cutem usque, ibique calore animali excluditur, exclusum rodit pediculi instar per cutem, usque dum pervenerit ad paniculum adiposum, ubi quiescit, ex rhangifero nutrimentum sugit per totam hyemem, usque dum mense julii seu post annum evolare queat, et ingratus hospes rhangifero permanere.

Eo tempore quo[k][k] : MS1 quo <rhangiferi> oestra ova deponunt, molles sunt rhangiferinorum cornuum apices, et oculi instar sensu doloris acutissimo pollentes, crescunt enim cornua rhangiferi, non ut boum, ovium vel caprarum a basi, sed ab apice, plantarum vel polypi instar, hirsuti. Hinc nec dorsum scalpere et rodentes vermiculos expellere licet.

Ex dictis quam immensum Lapponibus damnum proveniat concludam. Pulli vel Haedi rhangiferorum primo anno crines non deponunt, adeoque nec ullo morbo ab oestris producto exponuntur per primam hyemem, at altera aestate tum omnes inficiuntur et per hyemem alteram gerunt tubercula in dorso quinque ad decem vel viginti, secundum totam spinae longitudinem utrisque tuberculis magnitudine nucis castaneæ quo morbo ita exhauriuntur, ut tabe, instar consumti vix incedere valeant, et ad minimum tertia ex parte numeri, si non dimidia, pereunt, summo Lapponum damno; insequentibus annis, suo periculo edocti, cautiores per aestatem evadunt, se magis cavent ab oestris et proin magis parce[l][l] : MS1 <parcius> magis parce
[added above the line]
inficiuntur, tamen omnes mire emaciantur, unde nec carnes[m][m] : MS1 nec carnes <hero> reddunt pingues, nec lac in eadem copia. Adeoque si ab his insectis liberi essent Lappones, omnia ad minimum in duplo haberent, rhangiferos duplo plures, lac duplo majori in copia, caseos & pelles proin adhuc copiosiores. Hisce insectis si destituerentur Lappones sylvatici, nec alpes omni aestate petere ipsis necesse esset, sed in propria terra permanerent commode, nec sylvatici pauperiores alpinis evaderent. Sic[n][n] : MS1 [read] Si ab his liberi essent Lappones, longe paucioribus opus haberent pastoribus, qui rhangiferos deducerent et reducerent. Norunt Lappones nullam medicinam, qua succurrere possunt, palpitant nodos digitis, et vident omni die rhangiferos inde pereuntes, nec juvare possunt. Si stylo ferreo vel acicula pertundunt vermem sub cute latentem ut inde moriatur, ulcus inde oriturum malignum & pejus ipso morbo, mihi retulerunt. Inungere dorsum pice liquida vel simili unguento nec facile conceditur, cum pilos deponant rhangiferi eo tempore, quo ova deponunt insecta.

Rhangiferi sylvatici feri seu non mansueti longe parcius hisce onerantur vermibus, cum sua sponte incedere possunt et per dies montes nivosos occupare. Si quis mortalium huic morbo medicinam porrigere posset minus pretiosam, magis meruisset apud gentem Lapponicam quam alius ullus.

Patet ex dictis hoc insectum novum esse, nec ab ullo descriptum, et diversissima species ab oestro boum. Patet oeconomiam Lapponum maxime obedire hanc solam muscam.

Patet Lappones sylvaticos deserere debere per calidam aestatem calidissimas sylvas et petere frigidiores alpes, ni concedant omnes rhangiferos destrui ab oestris.

upSUMMARY

“When I visited you, you asked me for a description of the insect that in summer forces all the Lapps to leave their woodlands for the snowy mountains”. Thus Linnaeus presents the topic of this letter to Philip Miller. He proceeds to give a general description of Lapland and its inhabitants. Lapland, says Linnaeus, has two kinds of people and geography. One is the wilderness with dense forests, vast marshes and enormous rivers. Here the inhabitants are few and very poor and living like hermits. They make a gloomy and melancholy impression. To survive they fish, hunt and keep small herds of reindeer. The second region is the snowy and mountainous. The valleys between the mountains (or alps) abound in vegetation and shrubs in summer. The population thrives in small villages. These Lapps are relatively well off; they keep reindeer herds, which can number up to a thousand animals. They are described as being urbane, content and happy. Linnaeus emphazises the fundamental importance of the reindeer to the Lapps. Even if fishing and hunting are important in the struggle for survival, it is the reindeer that forms the basis for their existence: it gives them milk, cheese, meat and clothes as well as being beasts of burden. In summer the reindeer eats grass and herbs, and lichen in winter.

Every year in mid-June the woodland Lapps take their herds and families and leave for the mountains. They are received well by the mountain Lapps, who depend on the woodland Lapps, for winter pastures for their reindeer.

The Lapps migrate to the mountains every summer because certain flies infest the reindeer and prevent them from feeding. This fly, which the Lapps called Curbma, Linnaeus calls Oestrum Lapponum. He presents a very detailed description. The insect appears in early July. Where there are reindeer, you also find these flies, which love warm valleys but abhor snowy mountains. These flies are born in the spinal region of the reindeer. Linnaeus explains the process thus: in July these flies swarm round the reindeer, eager to leave their ova on the reindeer. This instinct is well timed because the reindeer shed their coat in July. When an ovum is dropped and makes contact with a reindeer’s skin, it is hatched by the warmth of the body. The maggot eats through the skin, where it stays and feeds comfortably on the poor reindeer for a year. By following summer one maggot becomes a fly and leaves its host.

The maggots cause serious and painful infections, which are very easily discernible as protuberances as big as chestnuts along the spine of the reindeer. Up to twenty lumps can be found on one reindeer. The reindeer gets exhausted and emaciated, and more than a third of the herd can die.

Young reindeer do not shed their coat the first year and are thus unaffected. Those reindeer that survive seem to learn something from their dreadful experiences and are later more succesful in their efforts to avoid the flies. What they can do is to find a place high up in the mountains, where it is snowy and cold. There are no flies on the mountains but also little or no food. To the reindeer, however, being rid of the flies is more important than eating.

Linnaeus points out and stresses the extremely serious economic consequences of this scourge. This little insect causes a very high percentage of dead reindeer, it causes a considerably reduced and impaired production of meat, milk, cheese and hide. Unfortunately the Lapps have no medicine or cure to combat this formidable little foe.

Linnaeus states that Oestrum Lapponum is quite different from Oestrum boum. It is a new species, for the first time now described by him.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (BL, Additional Ms 4434, 78-82v). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
MS1 <coacti sunt> debent [added above the line]
b.
MS1 <magnitudinis> latitudinis [added above the line]
c.
MS1 <autu[mnum]> hyemem
d.
MS1 [manuscript damaged]
e.
MS1 <ipsi> Lapponibus
f.
MS1 <insedit> petit
g.
MS1 qui<bus inter>
h.
MS1 <[illegible]> regit [added above the line]
i.
MS1 <crines> pilos
j.
MS1 <crines> pili [added above the line]
k.
MS1 quo <rhangiferi>
l.
MS1 <parcius> magis parce [added above the line]
m.
MS1 nec carnes <hero>
n.
MS1 [read] Si

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
MS1 fol. 80 contains a slip written by Philip Miller with the inscription, “Doctor Lynaeus’s letter to me with the account of the Insect which destroys the cattle in Lapland is dated June 20, 1737”. Obviously Linnaeus’s ambition was to publish these observations in the Philosophical transactions Philosophical Transactions
of the Royal Society of London

(1665-).
of 1737, and the letter to Miller was Linnaeus’s contribution. See Linnaeus’s own references to this in “Animalia per Sveciam observata”Linnaeus, Carl “Animalia per
Sveciam observata”, ALSS 4
(1736), 97-138 [1742]. Soulsby no. 1104,
Soulsby no. 1143
(1736), 127, no. 23, reprinted in Elenchus animalium per Sueciam observatorumLinnaeus, Carl Elenchus
animalium per Sueciam observatorum

(Leiden 1743).
(1743), 82, no. 23. For further details, see Linnés gesammelte Schriften entomologischen InhaltesLinnaeus, Carl Linnés
gesammelte Schriften entomologischen
Inhaltes
, ed. F. Bryk (Stockholm
1924).
, 17 and Hans Sloane to Linnaeus, 20 December 1737 o.s., 31 December 1737 n.s.Letter L0225. On the financial and scientific arrangements between the Royal Society of LondonRoyal Society, London,
British. The Royal Society was founded
in Oxford in 1645 and sanctioned as a
royal society in 1662.
and the Chelsea Physic GardenThe Chelsea Physic Garden,
British. Founded in 1673 by the Society
of Apothecaries.
which made Miller a suitable intermediary, see Le Rougetel, The Chelsea gardener: Philip Miller 1691-1771Le Rougetel, H. The Chelsea
gardener: Philip Miller 1691-1771

(London 1990).
, 22-23. – The topic of “Oestrum rangiferinum” was observed and discussed in Flora LapponicaLinnaeus, Carl Flora
Lapponica exhibens plantas per Lapponiam
crescentes, secundum systema sexuale
collectas in itinere [...] Additis
synonymis, & locis natalibus omnium,
descriptionibus & figuris rariorum,
viribus medicatis & oeconomicis
plurimarum
(Amsterdam, 1737).
Soulsby no. 279.
, 359-363, and Linnaeus later returned to the subject in “Om renarnas brömskulor i Lapland”Linnaeus, Carl “Om renarnas
brömskulor i Lapland”, KVAH
1 (1739), 121-132.
(1739), with a Latin translation in “Oestrus rangiferinus”Linnaeus, Carl “Oestrus
rangiferinus”, ALSS (1741),
102-115.
(1741), and in the dissertation Cervus rhenoLinnaeus, Carl Cervus
rheno
, diss., resp. C. F. Hoffberg
(Uppsala 1754). Soulsby no. 1823.
(1754). See also Linnaeus to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 12 December 1739 o.s., 23 December 1739 n.s., and 14 December 1744 o.s., 25 December 1744 n.s.. On the observations in the Academy of Sciences, see Lindroth, Kungl. svenska vetenskapsakademiens historia 1738-1818Lindroth, S. Kungl. svenska
vetenskapsakademiens historia
1739-1818
, I:1-2, II (Stockholm
1967), I:2.
, I, 528, 562-563, 575. Linnaeus, however, gave the first description of the matter in his diary from the Lapland tour, see Iter LapponicumLinnaeus, Carl Iter
Lapponicum
, ed. Th. M. Fries,
Skrifter af Carl von Linné
V, (1889); 2 ed. (Uppsala 1913).
, 105-106, 143, 151-152 and Iter LapponicumLinnaeus, Carl Caroli Linnaei
Iter Lapponicum Dei gratia institutum
1732: sumptibus Regiae Societatis
literariae et scientiarum
, ed. M.
von Platen & C. O. von Sydow
(Stockholm 1977).
, 88-89.
2.