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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0573 • Johann Georg Gmelin to Carl Linnaeus, 4 September 1744 n.s.
Dated XXIV Aug. MDCCXLIV.. Sent from St Petersburg (Russia) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Latin.

Celeberrimo Viro,
CAROLO LINNAEO,
Professori Upsaliensi,
S[alutem] P[lurimam] D[icit]
Jo[annes] Georg[ius] Gmelin.

Humanissimas Tuas, Vir Clarissime, litteras candore & doctrina plenas d[ie] 22 Jul[ii] exaratas rite accepi, ad quas, quia mihi perquam carae sunt, mox responsum paro.[1]

Amethystinam spero Te accepisse florentem, quo facilius genus determinare poteris.

Quam plantam Sempervivum tectorum esse judicas;[a][a] : [read] Tanta a charactere sempervivi a Te stabilito hisce differt:
1. Perianthio sexpartito 2. Flore in fundo cohaerente eoque sexpartito e viridi albente non rubente 3. Sex tantum germinibus & staminibus tantum duodecim. Praeterea in ipsa specie, pro qua Tu habes, lego calycem duodecim esse segmentorum, petala & pistilla duodecim, stamina 22-24. An hae differentiae tam exiguae Tibi videntur, ut varietates censeri possint? Deme sextam partem ex omni fructificatione & erit cotyledon. Si plantam pro cotyledone habere licet, quae unicam quintam partem numeri in singulis fructificationis partibus excludit, quare non liceat & talem ad cotyledonem referre, quae unicum partem numeri addit?

Ranunculus nemorosus thalictri folio C[aspari] B[auhini]Bauhin, Caspar (1560-1624).
Swiss. Botanist and physician, Basle.
Bauhin’s Prodromus and Pinax
theatri botanici
(1620, 1623, 1671)
were important works in the field of
botanical nomenclature.
& Aquilegia montana flore parvo Thalictri flore ej[usdem] hic non habentur, ut igitur eum Helleboro Sibirico comparationem instituere non liceat, quod perquam doleo.

Delphinia Sibirica nectariis Am[mani]Amman, Johann (1707-1741).
Swiss/Russian?. Curator of Hans Sloane’s
natural history collection. Professor of
botany at the Imperial Academy of
Sciences at St Petersburg. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
Staphisagria convenire scribis. An Staphisagria quatuor etiam nectariis praedita est? An Tu in Sibiricis Delphiniis duo tantum nectaria numeras? Mihi quidem jam non nectaria, sed differentiae specificae crucem figunt. Nondum certe numerum specierum evolvere potui, licet magnam & multam operam in eo collocaverim. Aut multa sunt species aut insignes varietates. Misi etiam ad Te plantas quasdam juvenes inter se forte diversas.

Optime apud me floruit Hypecoum Sib[iricum] & adhuc floret. Multi vero fructus jam perierunt & metuo, ne plurima pars pereat. De uno & altero fructu spero, ut succrescat. Si vel unus maturabitur, certissime semina habebis.

Thalictrioides semina neque apud me neque in H[orto] Acad[emiae] protulit. Curabo autem, ut aliquando radicem ejus aequiras. Ad Actaeam referre in animo non habui. Puto autem cum Christophoriana Americana proceriore & longius spicata Dill[enii]Dillenius, Johann Jacob
(1684-1747). German/British. Studied at
Giessen. Sherardian professor of botany
at Oxford. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
H[orti] Elth[amensis] p. 79 Tab. LXXVII genere ipsi convenire.[2]

Ornithogaloidem ut & sempervivum inter siccas plantas invenias. Rogo itaque, ut dubio me eximas. De hoc jam supra dixi, de illo maximum dubium stamina mihi movent, quorum filamenta ego constanter simplicia nunquam trifida deprehendi. Si essentia Ornithogali in hoc consistit, ut vel omnia vel alterna filamenta apice sint trifida, nescio, quomodo haec species & Ornithogalum umbellatum medium angustifolium B[auhini] & angustifolium spicatum maximum ej[usdem] Ornithogalis accenseri possint. An forte latitudo staminum essentiam characteris constituit? Basi enim filamenta dictarum specierum latissima deprehendi, sed mucrone simplificissimo terminata.

Plantago Tatarica foliis latissimis dentatis, &c. Amm[ani] 23 annon differt a latifolia C[aspari] B[auhini] spica densiore & breviore capsulisque majoribus? In latifolia certe spica multo longior & fere interrupta esse videtur.

Plantaginem Persicam nondum vidi.

Haec ad jucundissimas Tuas si interspersi, quae superflua Tibi videbuntur, ignoscas, quaeso. Nec enim calamum moverem, si aliqua re Tibi molestum esse crediderim. Plurima scribo, ut erudiar, nihil plane, quo Te offendere cupio, qui totus Tuus esse opto.

Interea occasio se obtulit plantas gazophylacii Imperatorii perlustrare & contigit sic nominatam Harmalam videre. Calyx videtur constare quatuor segmentis concavis parvis inaequalibus in oris membranaceis. (Forte quinque partitus est). Petala quinque per dorsum viridia, filamenta decem, basi latiuscula & hirsuta, corolla breviora cum antheris subrotundis, stylus simplex staminibusque paulo longior aut aequalis, stigma capitatum. Ergo Harmalae accenseri nequit. Ego sub novo nomine generio Scorodoprasi huc miseram. MesserschmidiusMesserschmied, Daniel Gottlieb
(1685-1735). German. Botanist.
Travelled in Siberia.
vero me inscio ad Harmalam retulerat, quem b[eatus] Ammanus secutus est.

Nullum praeter memorata in Tuis litteris opus botanicum in Russia vulgatum novi praeter schedas aliquot de Tetragono Hipp[ocratis] autore Siegesbeckioide[3] quas, licet ad botanicam nihil faciant, una cum Tom[o] IX Comment[ariorum academiae scientiarum imperialis] Petrop[olitanae][4] Tibi transmittam. Floram Moscuensem Gerberi possidet Sieg[esbeckius] quam typhis tradere cupit.[5] Sola nomina continet plantarum partim sylvestrium partim in horto cultarum sine ulla adjuncta icone. Androsace Fl[orae] Lapp[onicae] ibidem prolixe descripta una cum alia, quam eruere nondum potui.[6] Praeter has nullas vidi descriptiones. Prior Samolus Ruthenica audit.

Messerschmidius floram scripsit Sibiricam, quam nondum vidi, nec ullis precibus impetrare potui, cum in Sibiria degerem.[7] Audio sola illam nomina continere & quasvis ibi nascentes plantas pro cognitis traditas esse praeter paucas quasdam, quarum descriptiones b[eatus] Ammanus in libro suo tradidit.[8] In praesenti nullum dubium est, quin ejus compos futurus sim. Messerschmidius vir fuit stupendae industriae antiquitatum tamen & linguarum fere magis amans quam rerum naturalium. Inter res naturales Ornithologiam maxime coluit, cujus libellum insectum superesse audio.[9] Natus est Dantisci 1682 d[ie] XVI Sept[embris], in Doctorem Med[icinae] creatus 1712. In Russiam pervenit anno 1719. In Sibiriam profectus est sub initium 1720, unde rediit sub finem 1727. Sibiriam fere omnem ad Lenam usque fluvium lustravit, quem in regione Kirengae fluvii adtigit, inferius haud descendens & Russia 1729 profectus naufragium passus est & omnia fere sua perdidit. Rediit 1731, ni fallor, Cronstadium denique Petropolin hicque 1735 septimo Aprilis st[yli] v[eteris] mane inter 6am & 7am horam atrophia extinctus est.

An lepus volans Ill[ustris] StrahlenbergiiStrahlenberg, Philip Johan
(1677-1747). Swedish. Officer, ennobled
in 1707, taken prisoner at the Battle of
Poltava, brought to Siberia, where he
spent 13 years and also did some
research.
lepus sit, mihi nondum perspectum est. Auriculae leporinae longae. Dentes primores in utraque maxilla bini longi. Maxilla superior inferiori multum longior, uti in talpa. Cauda longissima toto reliquo animalculo longior, digito auriculari tenuior, plus quam duas tertias pilis durioribus & tam brevibus vestita, ut angulositas ossiculorum caudae pateat, hinc ad extremitatem usque pilis longioribus & in ipsa extremitate longissimis sparsis attactu delicatissimis. Crura anteriora brevissima, quinque digitis juxta se positis instructa, posteriora longissima tetradactyla, tribus digy[niis] anterius sitis, quarto unciae fere spatio remoto. Unguiculli vix curvi. In MonconnisiiMonconys, Balthasar
(1611-1665). German. Physician,
mathematician and chemist.
itinerario[10] aliqualis hujus animalculi, quod in Cairo, urbe Aegypti, vidit, descriptio, in AldrovandoAldrovandi, Ulisse (1522-1605).
Italian. Naturalist and ornithologist,
physician and professor at Bologna.
autem satis laudabilis icon sub nomine leporis Indici, nisi memoria me fallit, habentur.

Avibus Sibiriae describendis multam ego curam impendi, sed antequam botanica absolvam, iis me immiscere non potero. Insecta quaedam descripsi; multa descripsit StellerusSteller, Georg Wilhelm
(1709-1746). German. Voyager, who
sailed with Vitus Bering and returned
with important collections from
Kamchatka.
. Vereor autem, ut nostrae descriptiones sufficiant. Nec pisces negleximus, quos majori sine dubio cura lustrassemus, si Artedi principiis imbuti fuissemus. Sterledi exactissima icon habetur in KleiniiKlein, Jacob Theodor
(1685-1759). German. Naturalist,
Dresden and Danzig. Director of the
Danziger Naturforscher-Gesellschaft. One
of Linnaeus’s opponents. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
Missu IV Tab. 1, ubi et p. 13 aliqualis sed nondum exacta descriptio. [11] Mihi Sturio alter Gedan[i] perparum differre videtur. Audio pro certo in Danubio eundem Sterled haberi. Quae vero sit species Marsigliana, non determinabo. Quinque sunt ordines ossiculorum in cute, sed medius tantum ordo, qui 15 circiter ossiculis constat, angulosus est, cujus nimirum singulae squamae ephippium forma referunt, per medium dorsum secundum totam longitudinem in processum tenuem & secantem assurgens, posterius adunco fine terminatum. Lateralia ossicula, ut & ventralia rhomboidea & fere plana sunt. Quilibet ordo lateralium 60 prope ossicula continet, ventralium singuli decem aut undecim. Haec ossicula & rostrum acutum nisi characterem specificum subministrent; aliunde repetere, nescio. Nam color pro varietate aquarum, in quibus pisces vivunt, saepe variat. Sturio eosdem quinque ossiculorum ordines habet, sed praeterea dorsali & lateralibus. Sextus & septimus interjiciuntur.

L[iber] Baro de Bielke 9o hujus mensis, ni fallor, abhinc discessit septimanam circiter ante acceptas Tuas litteras. Igitur nec schedulam Tuam communicare cum ipso potui. Dabo operam, ut quarundam plantarum, quas desideras, semina reliquarum radices virentes accipiam, & illa proxime, has primo vere ad Te mittam. Nam tempus jam nimis provectum est quam ut tuta translatio sperari possit. Jasminum Arabicum, quod est Nyctanthes Tuus, ipse possideo. Helianthemoides quid sit, nescio. Tentabo tamen, an notitiam ejus acquirere possim.

Acta societatis regiae scientiarum Upsaliensis annon a Te petere licet, ut pro me coemas?[12] Pretium, quam primum notum facis, gratissime rependam.

Vale, Vir Illustris, & diutissime vive!

Dabam Petropoli d[ie] XXIV Aug[usti] MDCCXLIV.

[address] A Monsieur / Monsieur Charles Linnaeus / Professeur de l’Université d’Upsal / & membre de l’Academie des sciences / à / Upsal.

Jam metuere incipio, ne aliquis amicitiam nostram turbare secum constituerit. Diu enim est, quod ultimas meas ad Te dedi, at multo diutius, et diutissime, quod a Te, Vir Clarissime, nullas accepi. Nosti, quod in re nobis cara meticulosi esse consueverimus, quominus meam mihi meticulositatem vitio vertes. Utinam suspicio mea, quam diuturnum Tuum silentium excitavit, aliae quaedam circumstantiae fovent, vanissima esset! Et praevideo quidem vanam fore. Ex Tua enim parte amicitiam sancte servatum iri liberaliter promisisti. Igitur partam tueri mihi soli incumbit. Omni certe conatu & sincere id faciam, nec Tu, Vir Clarissime, ex actionibus meis unquam aliter judicabis, dummodo susurris alienis haud nimium facilem aurem praebere velis, quod a candore Tuo omnino expecto.

Summam vester Ill[ustris] Baro de Bielke amicitiam cum Sieg[esbeckio] contraxit forte propterea, ut hic raras horti Academici plantas secum communicaret. Insigniter ejus institutum laudavi et, ut pergat, Autor fui. Animadverti tandem amicitiam Bar[onis] Bielke tanta incrementa cepisse, ut quicquid Sieg[esbeckius] proferret, vel vanissimum et falsissimum, ei applauderet Baro Bielke, ut et Sieg[esbeckius] hunc in re aperte omnibus falsa visa testem adduceret, ut idem Bielkianis lenociniis commotus totam Academiam nauci tandem haberet mihique inprimis paulatim summas injurias inferret. Sieg[esbeckio] in more positum est de iis, quae se afficiunt, cum quovis colloquendi et contra illos, quibus non bene cupit, una cum uxore iniquissime declamandi. Hunc audiens Baro Bielke “Ne perturberis”, inquit, “injuriae Tibi inflictae in gloriam Tuam declinabuntur. Ego in magna sum gratia apud magnum Ducem. Omnes olim dolebunt, qui injuste Tecum egerunt.” Tantae[a][a] : [read] Tanta certe boni viri fuit credulitas, ut turpius postmodum invectus sit contra bonos mores et, cum de hoc admoneretur, auctoritate Illustrium virorum salvum se esse putaverit. Ita denique factum est, ut in quadam disputatione botanica in ipso conventu dicerem minime opus esse tanta verborum copia. In ipsis plantis haec demonstraret proximo in conventu. Ille non concessurum se, ut plantae ex horto Academico decerptae alio transportarentur. Ego: “Tu vero meministi, quod hortus sit Academicus, non Tuus, et quod Academiae, ad quam spectat, sua denegare non possis, inprimis cum & hominibus extraneis quascunque plantas concedas.” “Ah”, clamat ille, “Tu de Bar[one] Bielke loqueris.” Ego: “Forte et illi quasdam plantas concessisti, quod Tu melius scibis.”

Sancte Tibi adsevero ita rem gestam esse. Sed Sieg[esbeckius] pro more suo distorsit historiam et Bielkio dixit me publice illum incusasse, quod Bielkio plantas concesserit. Tunc Bielkius in biviis et triviis minas in me effundere coepit fultus gratia magni Ducis, ad quem litteras contra me (!) dare vellet. Audivi haec ab amicis, sed parum curavi. Cum haec in ore hominum per octo aut decem dies voluntate esset, ipse ad me venit Baro de 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.
et ex me quaesivit, an hae ita se habeant. Dixi omnem historiam, uti supra retuli, et fassus postea est ipsum Sieg[esbeckium] confirmasse.

Interea tempero mihi ab ejus conversatione, non quod credam Ill[ustrem] Baronem in animo habuisse me laedendi, sed quod omne rixarum genus maximo in odio habeam. Tu vero exinde plus proficies. Maxime laetabitur Sieg[esbeckius], quod tanto viro solus frui possit. Igitur quicquid hic voluerit, ex horto accipiet. Ego vero vicissim, quicquid profert tenuis mea flora, Tibi sacrum esse cupio sub hisce cautelis, ne plantas novas, quas a me accipies, quoad vivus ero, divulges. Fieri enim facile posset, ut in terra, qua vivimus, criminis propterea accusarer. Si vero alia via easdem plantas acquiras, quam indicare poteris, per me licitum est, de iis evulgare, quicquid et quando volueris.

Hanc schedulam, ut perlectam, destruas enixe rogo!

J.G.G.

upSUMMARY

Johann Georg Gmelin thanks Linnaeus for his letter of 22 July 1744 o.s., 2 August 1744 n.s.

Sempervivum tectorum is discussed. The one Gmelin has differs in three points from the character drawn by Linnaeus, e.g., through its 6-cleft perianth, the flower and the 6 ovaries and 12 stamens, etc. Thus it could be of the genus Cotyledon.

Caspar Bauhin’s Ranunculus nemorosus Thalictri folio and Aquilegia montana flore parvo Thalictri flore are not found in Russia.

There is a discussion whether the Siberian Delphiniums convene with Johann Amman’s Staphisagria as to nectaries.

Hypecoum sibiricum flowers, but many of its fruits have died.

Thalectrioides has produced no seeds; Linnaeus will have a root, though.

Ornithogaloides worries Gmelin; the filaments are always undivided and not 3-cleft, etc.

Amman’s Plantago tatarica foliis latissimis dentatis seems to differ from Bauhin’s Plantago latifolia spica densiore & breviore capsulisque majoribus. Gmelin states that the latter has a much longer spike.

Gmelin has never seen Plantago persica.

Gmelin discusses a plant called Harmala. Its calyx seems to consist of four small concave segments unequal in the membranaceous extremities. Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmied had grouped it with the Harmalae (and Amman followed him). Gmelin suggests the new genus of Scorodoprasum.

There is no botanical news except Johann Georg Siegesbeck’s Programma medico-botanicum de Tetragono Hyppocratis (it has nothing, though, to do with botany) and Novi commentii academiae scientiarum imperialis Petropolitanae, vol. IX, which will be sent.

Siegesbeck possesses Traugott Gerber’s “Flora Moscovensis”, which he wants to publish; it has the names only of plants wild and cultivated, no pictures.

Gmelin has not yet seen Messerschmied’s “Flora Sibirica”. Messerschmied was keener on antiquities and languages than on botany. He wrote a little book on ornithology. He was born on 16 September 1682 in Danzig, became doctor of medicine in 1712 and travelled in Siberia 1720-1727 (to the River Lena). He returned to Kronstadt in 1731 and to St Petersburg in 1735, where he died on 7 April 1735 o.s. of atrophy.

Gmelin does not know whether lepus volans (“the flying squirrel”) is the same as Philip Johan Strahlenberg’s. The ears are long, there are two long fore teeth in each jaw, etc. It is described in Balthasar Monconys’s itinerary. An illustation can be found in Ulisse Aldrovandi.

Gmelin has spent much time describing the birds of Siberia. He has described some insects; Georg Wilhelm Steller has described many. Gmelin and Steller would have described the fish with greater care, had they known Petrus Artedi’s principles.

There is a picture of a Sterlett (”sterlet”) in Jacob Theodor Klein’s, Historiae piscium naturalis promovendae missus primus-quintus, IV, tab. 1; it differs very little from Sturio found in Danzig. A description of Sterlett and its bones follows; the colour depends on the waters it lives in.

Sten Carl Bielke left St Petersburg on 9 August.

Gmelin will send seeds and roots. He has Jasminum arabicum (Linnaeus’s Nyctanthes). He does not know what Helianthemoides is.

He wants Linnaeus to buy him Acta societatis regiae scientiarum Upsaliensis.

P.S. Gmelin fears that he has been slandered. Perhaps this is why Linnaeus has not written. Linnaeus should not listen to gossip! Bielke has made friends with Siegesbeck, perhaps in order to acquire rare plants from the Academy’s Garden at St Petersburg. The friendship has now increased and Bielke supports Siegesbeck in his folly. There was an argument between Gmelin and Siegesbeck in the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg on giving away plants from the Academy’s Garden. Gmelin stated that plants should be allowed to be distributed, especially since Siegesbeck had already given away plants to foreigners; the Garden is not Siegesbeck’s own. Siegesbeck took this as a pretext to accuse Gmelin of disapproving of the plants given to Bielke. This was, however, not Gmelin’s intention.

For fear that he might be accused of a crime Gmelin pleads with Linnaeus not to divulgate new plants that he has sent him.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (LS, V, 14-17). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
[read] Tanta

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
See Linnaeus to Gmelin, 22 July 1744 o.s., 2 August 1744 n.s.(LC4400802-00).
2.
3.
Siegesbeck, Programma medico–botanicum de Tetragono HyppocratisSiegesbeck, Johann Georg
Programma medico-botanicum de
Tetragono Hyppocratis
(St Petersburg
1737).
.
4.
Novi commentarii academiae scientiarum imperialis Petropolitanae .
5.
Traugott Gerber’s “Flora Moscovensis” was never published.
6.
7.
Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmied travelled in Siberia 1720-1727, where he was the first to do botanical research. He wrote a “Flora Sibirica”, but this work was never published.
8.
9.
Messerschmied’s work on ornithology has not yet been identified by us.
Acta societatis regiae scientiarum Upsaliensis Acta societatis regiae
scientiarum Upsaliensis
(Stockholm
1740-1751).
.