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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0537 • Johann Georg Gmelin to Carl Linnaeus, 28 February 1744 n.s.
Dated XVII Febr. MCCXLIV.. Sent from St Petersburg (Russia) to (). Written in Latin.

Viro Amplissimo & Doctissimo,
Carolo Linnaeo,
S[alutem] P[lurimam] D[icit]
Jo[annes] Georg[ius] Gmelin.

Quod diu et serio optavi, ut ad Te, Vir Amplissime, litterulas mittendi occasio daretur opportuna, id tandem fausto meo omine accidit. Nobilis enim Baro de BielkenBielke, Sten Carl (1709-1753).
Swedish. Baron, government official,
patron of science, and naturalist. One
of the founders of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences. Private pupil of
Linnaeus. Close friend of Pehr Kalm,
whose voyage to America he supported
financially. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
curam earum transmittendarum in se suscepit. In Sibiria adhuc degens Tuum nomen veneratus & insignes Tuos in re botanica labores miratus sum, quos &, quoad fieri potuit, in meum commodum verti. Utinam eo migrans ante hos undecim annos solidissimis Tuis principiis imbutus fuissem! In maximis quidem deliciis a tenera aetate habui omnem historiam naturalem, quae & ratio suscepti itineris fuit. At, ut verum fatear, illam excolueram, uti adhuc moris erat. Nec vel de meo aliquid addere licuit, cum id otii ante meum iter nunquam contigerit homini, cujus officium erat chemica potius sectari. Solers interim & diligens fui in observando nec exiguam plantarum farraginem mecum adtuli recentesque in loco natali omnes descripsi plerarumque etiam icones fieri curavi nitidissimas & ad vivas plantas exaratas. Jam in eo sum, ut quos indices quotannis paravi in unum fundam, ex quo tandem historia plantarum Sibiriae emerget.[1] Interim cum non ea indole natus sim, ut ea tantum aequi bonique censeam, quae mihi ita videntur, id mihi proposui, dummodo veniam a Te impetrabo, ut subinde dubia quaedam mea circa plantas Tecum communicem. Te enim arbitrum agnoscunt omnes, qui scientiae botanicae perfectionem exoptant & in quo illa consistat intelligunt. De libro Ammaniano vehementer doleo, quod typis excussus sit.[2] Tersior enim prodire potuisset & a mendis purior. Omissae fuissent descriptiones plantarum diu cognitarum (inter quas etiam Linnaea Tua sub Valerianellae nomine); eadem planta non bis, ter, quater recensita fuisset multique errores passim & saepissime in descriptionibus occurrentes evitati fuisse[n]t. Ita vero sors mea voluit & voluisset forte adhuc, nisi rediissem.

Adjicio hisce litterulis aliquot semina. Plura olim missurus, si hortulus privatus, cui superiori[a][a] : MS1 < ... intelligitur>
superiori
autumno omnia mea semina commisi, fructus, quos expecto, producat. Vale, Vir Amplissime, & pancratice diutissimeque vive!

Dabam Petropoli d[ie] XVII Febr[uarii] MCCXLIV.

upSUMMARY

Johann Georg Gmelin sends his first letter to Linnaeus via Sten Carl Bielke. Gmelin is still in Siberia. He admires greatly what Linnaeus has achieved in botany.

Gmelin will publish his research as a monograph on Siberian plants. He asks Linnaeus’s help.

Johann Amman’s Stirpium rariorum in imperio Rutheno sponte provenientium icones et descriptiones collectae is careless and slipshod. Descriptions of plants long known should have been omitted.

Gmelin encloses some seeds and will send more if his garden flourishes as he expects it to.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (LS, V, 3). [1] [2]

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
MS1 < ... intelligitur> superiori

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

0.
Johann Georg GmelinGmelin, Johann Georg
(1709-1755). German. Voyager, botanist
and chemist. At the initiative of
empress Anna of Russia he spent ten
years (1733-1743) exploring Siberia. In
1749 he became professor of botany and
chemistry at Tübingen. Together
with his nephew Samuel Gottlieb he wrote
Flora Sibirica (1747-1769).
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
was born in Tübingen. Gmelin’s father, Johann Gmelin the ElderGmelin, Johann Georg
(1674-1728). German. Pharmacist at
Tübingen, father of Johann Georg
Gmelin the Younger.
, had studied with Urban HiärneHiärne, Urban (1641-1724).
Swedish. Physician, pharmacologist,
mineralogist, geologist and writer, a
supporter of Paracelsianism.
. When Gmelin the Younger took his doctor’s degree in 1728 his dissertation was based on Hiärne’s laboratory experiments. Later that year Gmelin left for St Petersburg, since he had been offered a post by Peter the Great. In 1731 Gmelin received a full professorship in chemistry and natural history. He was elected a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St Petersburg. One of the Academy’s projects was to explore Siberia. Vitus BeringBering, Vitus (1681-1741).
Russian. Voyager, travelled in
Kamchatka, Sibiria, Japan and North
western America.
had carried out the first Siberian expedition in 1728. Gmelin followed in his footsteps in 1733 when he left for Siberia, returning in 1743 to St Petersburg with immense botanical treasures. However, these collections belonged to the Russians and were not allowed to leave Russia without special permission. Seeds and living plants belonged to the Academy’s Garden and could not be exported without the permit of the keeper. It was Linnaeus’s bitter enemy, 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.
(see this correspondence), who held this post. Linnaeus sent Count Sten Carl BielkeBielke, Sten Carl (1709-1753).
Swedish. Baron, government official,
patron of science, and naturalist. One
of the founders of the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences. Private pupil of
Linnaeus. Close friend of Pehr Kalm,
whose voyage to America he supported
financially. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and his future “apostle” Pehr KalmKalm, Pehr (1716-1779).
Swedish. Botanist and traveller,
professor of natural history at
Åbo. Disciple of Linnaeus.
Travelled in North America 1748-1751.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
to Russia to collect plants. Eventually Bielke seems to have managed to gain the confidence of Siegesbeck. Gmelin returned to Germany in 1747 and became professor of chemistry and botany in 1748 at Tübingen. Linnaeus treasured his friendship with Gmelin, because it opened the door to the Siberian flora, which interested Linnaeus. Their correspondence gives us a vivid picture of a lively exchange of ideas, seeds, boxes with living plants, books and dissertations between St Petersburg and Uppsala. Gmelin asked Linnaeus’s help in determining genera and species. Thus the letters are full of taxonomic discussions. In 1750 Linnaeus published Plantae rariores Camschatcenses , a description of 26 new Siberian plants. In 1755 Linnaeus was elected as a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg. See Sydow, “Linnaeus and Gmelin”Sydow, C. O. von “Linnaeus and
Gmelin”, SLÅ (1978),
212-222.
.
1.
2.