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Link: linnaeus.c18.net/Letter/L0759 • Johann Georg Gmelin to Carl Linnaeus, 30 December 1746 n.s.
Dated XIX Dec. MDCCVI. Sent from St Petersburg (Russia) to (). Written in Latin.

Viro Illustri,
D[omino] D[octori] Carolo LINNAEO,
S[alutem] P[lurimam] D[icit]
J[oannes] G[eorgius] Gmelin.

Accepi suavissimas Tuas, quibus diem adscribere oblitus es. Quae de Chamaejasme scribis egregia, ambabus amplector. Memoriam viri de universa historia Naturali[a][a] : MS1 [added above the line] meritissimi ipsa hac planta conservare studui. Optarem quam maxime, ut meritissimus vir talia me animo habere cognoscere posset. Sed eheu! StellerusSteller, Georg Wilhelm
(1709-1746). German. Voyager, who
sailed with Vitus Bering and returned
with important collections from
Kamchatka.
d[ie] 12 Nov[embris] Tjumeni,[1] quae urbs est Sibiriae 254 leucas Russicas cis Tobolcum[2] sita, mortuus est, cum jam esset in reditu spemque conciperet brevi oras nostras invisendi. Fatum certe lugubre! Quod doleo toto pectore! Utinam in tanta calamitate scripta ejus & eximia collectanea ad nos perveniant! Semina ceratocarpi hisce litteris inclusa accipies. Nescio, quid doleas, quod flora Sibirica prelum subierit, qui simul optas, ut quantocyus prodeat.[3] Nullus dubito, quin prius tomus hac hieme proditurus sit. Icones L ad eum spectantes jam aeri incisae sunt & impressio ad literam O jam absoluta est. Forte supersunt duodecim plagulae & forte sex aut octo pro praefatione adhuc imprimendae. Ego certe nihil negligo ex mea parte, ex qua jam diu exiisset prelo desiderata Tibi flora. Fateor nulli me parcere operae, ut prodeat nitida. Testimonio Tibi quidem esse possunt frequentes litterae, quas propter eam scribo. Tibi illa flora in aeternum devincietur, quod eruditione Tua illam omnibus fere in paginis condecoraveris. Erit interdum, quod succenseas homini, de quo tam egregie meritus es. Spero tamen modum, quo dubia contra Te nonnumquam exposui, Tibi visum iri modestum. Tuus enim sum totus. Pietatem nunquam laedo. Veritatis sum amantissimus & quid mihi de hac aut illa planta videatur candidus impertio. Rixae cum nemine adhuc interfuerunt nec unquam erunt. Si vitam Deus servabit, omnia publice profitebor errata, quorum me olim convincent viri docti. Quae autem erronee objicientur, ut & minima, nunquam curabo. Non adeo sensili sum animo, ut vel e longinquo thesibus meis adversa mihi dicta putem & aegre feram. Veterem meum amicum HallerumHaller, Albrecht von
(1708-1777). Swiss. Naturalist and
poet, professor of medicine, botany,
anatomy and surgery at Göttingen
1736-1753. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
non satis admonitionibus meis compellere possum, ut amice omnia accipiat &, si quae unquam animum adfecerunt, est sane illa discordia, quam inter Te & illum gliscere video. Nihil scio de anandria nisi quod dissertatio Tua continet,[4] etsi admodum optarem de flore mirabili, quem Tu vidisti, vel minimum quid rescire, cum alter tomus florae Sibiricae eam plantam comprehensurus sit. Sieg[esbeckius]Siegesbeck, 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.
maxime indignatur, quod ipsi hoc nomen tribuas, id quod ex novellis litterariis Göttingensibus perspexit.[5] Nondum hebdomas elapsa est, quod in conventu Academico me propter morbum absente querelas effuderit, quasi nemo esse possit praeter me, qui Tecum ejusmodi stultitias communicaverit. Fuisse se quidem in illa opinione, quasi planta illa staminibus careret, sed catalogum a se Academiae traditum documento esse posse, quod Catananchi accensuerit. Haec Tecum, quaeso, retineas ut & sequentem historiam, quam in usum Tuum vertere poteris, dummodo nemo animadvertat Te monitis alicujus paruisse. Scriptum contra Te direxit miserum de herba Knawel, quod quidem typis non cito imprimetur. Saltim, quoad ego hic vixero, nullus metus est. Perstringit Te, quod vocem Knawel a corrupta Suecica voce derives, cum certo certius sit eam a voce Germanica Knawl (”glomus”) derivari, quia arida planta glomeris instar per terram volvatur. Non dubito, quin derivatio haec justa sit. In ejus confirmationem evolvas alteram editionem florae Jenensis RuppiiRuppe, Heinrich Bernhard
(1688-1719). German. Student of
medicine, botanist, author of the
Flora Jenensis (1718).
.[6] Sed miror nebulonem muscam in elephantem convertere, uti adagium fert Germanicum. Sed ecce etiam ejus nequitiam botanicam. Genus constituit Polygonatoidis, cujus, notas, facit florem tetrapetalum & baccam dispermam. Huc refert unifolium polygonatum non ramosum fertile, Corn[utiam] & convallariam Sibiricam. Quando dicis nullum bonum Autorem unifolium inter flores polypetalos referre, polygonatum non ramosum ab ipso CornutoCornut, Jacques-Philippe
(1606?-1651). French. Botanist and
physician, ‘docteur régent en la
Faculté de Médecine
à Paris’.
dici & delineari flore in quinque & sex lacinias diviso, convallariam denique Sibiricam teste autopsia flore esse sexfido, nihil plane confunditur. Se inter principes botanicos refert. Auctoritatem Cornuti nauci habet & botanicos Sibericos ut & omnes, qui oculis pollent, caecos praedicat. An nebulo in re herbaria major esse potest? De Seguierio nihil vidi.[7] Imaginem meam coloribus depictam tradidi D[omi]no Secretario LagerflychtLagerflycht, Johan (1701-1774).
Swedish. Baron, president of the
circuit appeal-court at Åbo,
Finland, in 1768.
, ut occasione ferente ad Te mittat. Sponte Tibi offerre nunquam ausus essem, cum tenuitatis meae sim conscius & praeterea omne vanitatum genus despicatui habeam.

Ad Dissertationem de Acrosticho d[ie] 23 decembr[is] 1745 Upsaliae habitam deficit tabula.[8] Annon hanc comparare licet?

In diss[ertatione] de anandria animadverto Te petilium meum Ixiae accensuisse & lilium floribus reflexis cinnabarinis pro lilio Amm[ani]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.
139 habere. De priori jam olim Tibi mentem meam aperui.[9] De lilio Amm[ani] sentio, quod sit montanum foliis verticillatis. Tobolii[10] enim nullum aliud nascitur. An lilium floribus cinnabarinis sit nova species, determinare vix possum. Clusianum proximum est; modus tamen flores producendi differt. Putaram nostrum Sibiricum differre radice tunicata. Eo me commovit b[eatus] Stellerus, qui ita indicavit, et ego in flora Sibirica hanc distinctionem ursi. Sed examinavi jam superiori autumno bulbum e semine Sibirici enatum, qui certe nihil differt a bulbo reliquorum.

Faunam Tuam[11] summa cum voluptate perlustravi & miror stupendam industriam, quam in eam collocasti, & parvi habeo recensionem Göttingensem, quae regnum animale systematis naturae tantum tangit non Faunam. De hoc itaque nihil dicam, ne ejusdem me penati arguas, nisi in transitu monere liceat non arridere mihi, quod hominem inter anthropomorpha referas. Secundum S[anctam] Scripturam ad imaginem Dei factus est. Si vero cum animali comparandus est, cereomorphos erit, ut simia anthropomorphos. Ovem distinguis a solis cornibus concavis retrorsum flexis intortis rugosis. Habemus animal in Sibiria, cui hae notae conveniunt, sed est animal agillimum, longis pedibus, pilo cervi, quod pro Musimone veterum habeo. Vix audeo ovi accensere, a qua toto habitu praeter cornua differt. Credo in quadripedibus omnino uti in piscibus pluribus notis opus esse ad genus constituendum. In regno vegetabili nemo ante Te id tam distincte perspexit. Picum pedibus tridactylis passeris esse magnitudine & verticem croceum dicis. Picus Sibiricus tridactylus est magnitudine pici varii majoris & Mas vertice ornatur aureo, foemella candido. Ergo diversi. Picum maximum picum voces nigrum vertice coccineo. Tamen a basi rostri ad occiput maculam oblongam purpuream excurrere scribis. Ego in masculo totum caput superne coccineum, in foemella occiput tantum eo colore insignitum vidi. An purpurea macula distincta est a coccineo colore? Ermineum recentiorum pro varietate habes mustelae vulgaris. Ego non! Erminei corpus gracile est, mustelae multo crassius. Diversus utrique est vivendi modus. Controversiam dirimit varietas mustelae vulgaris alba, quae mirum quantum ab ermineo differt. [b][b] : MS1 [added above the line] Sic etiam vulpes alba & caerulea non est varietas vulpis vulgaris, sed species distincta, quam JonstonusJonston, John (1603-1675).
British. Physician and botanist in
Cambridge, Silesia and Poland.
vocavit Isatidem.[12] Collatio ejus cum varietate vulpis vulgaris albae nullum dubium relinquit.[b][b] : MS1 [added above the line] Gulonem speciem mustelae facis. Habitu urso similior esse videtur. Quid est talpa cauda nulla, quem cum Siberica versicolore SebaeSeba, Albert (1665-1736).
Dutch. Pharmacist and collector of
natural history specimens, Amsterdam.
conjungis? Mihi ejusmodi animal, quod talpa sit, non notum est. Sciurum volantem Americanum vocas sciurum cute a capite ad caudam relaxata volantem, & Sibiricum distinguis cute hypochondriis prolixis volitante. Ego tamen pro uno eodemque animali habeo. Cutis enim advolatum faciens in Sibirico animali pedibus anterioribus & posterioribus interponitur & totam inter illos regionem occupat. Si quae habes, quibus errore me liberare possis, ennixe rogo, ut id pro amore Tuo erga me facias. Vale!

Dabam Petropoli d[ie] XIX Dec[embris] MDCCVI.

[c][c] : MS1 [added in the left
margin
]
Vulpes cauda diversicolore, extremitate alba. Vulpes vulgaris.
Vulpes cauda diversicolore, extremitate nigra. Vulpes minor campestris.
Vulpes cauda unicolore. Vulpes regionum septentrionalium alba & caerulea.[c][c] : MS1 [added in the left
margin
]

upSUMMARY

Johann Georg Gmelin has received an undated letter from Linnaeus. He appreciates what Linnaeus writes about Chamaejasme. He intended to call this plant Stelleria and thus commemorate Georg Wilhelm Steller’s name. He wanted Steller to know of the honour. Steller, however, died on 12 November at Tjumen, a city in Siberia. Gmelin hopes that Steller’s works and collections will be preserved.

Gmelin will enclose seeds from Ceratocarpus.

The first volume of Gmelin’s Flora Sibirica will be printed this winter. 50 figures are already finished, etc. In this work Gmelin owes much to Linnaeus’s learning. He hopes that Linnaeus will not be angry, when he deviates from his opinions.

Gmelin is troubled about the enmity between Linnaeus and Albrecht von Haller. Gmelin has nothing to add regarding Anandria. It will be dealt with in the second volume of Flora Sibirica.

Johann Georg Siegesbeck is angry, because Linnaeus attributes the name Anandria to him. It is true that Siegesbeck first believed it to be without stamens. But the catalogue which Siegesbeck has handed over to the Imperial Academy of Sciences at St Petersburg is a proof that he later grouped it with Catanance. Siegesbeck has written something against Linnaeus regarding the herb Knawel. Gmelin says that Siegesbeck is right in asserting that this name is not corrupted Swedish; it comes from German Knawl, i.e. a ball of wool. As an example of Siegesbeck’s botanical villainy he has made a genus, Polygonatoides, whose characteristics are a 4-petalled flower and a two-seeded berry. To this group he brings a one-leaved Polygonatum without branches, fertile, Cornutia and Convallaria sibirica. Thus this group becomes a total mess. Gmelin has not seen Jean François Séguier’s Plantae Veronenses.

Gmelin has given a picture of himself to Johan Lagerflycht to be forwarded to Linnaeus. An illustration in Linnaeus’s dissertation on Acrostichum is missing; Gmelin wants it. In his dissertation on Anandria Linnaeus grouped Gmelin’s Petilium with Ixia. Gmelin has already discussed this with Linnaeus. Linnaeus considers Lilium floribus reflexis cinnabarinis to be Amman’s Lilium no. 139. Gmelin states that Amman’s plant is a Lilium montanum foliis verticillatis; there is no one else at Tobol. Gmelin does not know whether Lilium with vermilion flowers is a new species. Charles Lecluses’s Lilium Clusianum comes very close, but the way of producing flowers differs.

Gmelin admires Linnaeus’s Fauna Svecica. Gmelin dislikes that Linnaeus has placed man among the anthropomorpha; it is illogical to call man human-like.

Linnaeus distinguishes sheep solely through their horns. But according to Gmelin this is not sufficient. As an example he brings forward the Siberian sheep, the moufflon, which has the horns of a sheep, but otherwise it is different.

The Picus Sibericus (”woodpecker”) with three toes is as long as a sparrow and has the size of Picus varius major. The male has a golden crown and the small female a candid, etc. Linnaeus contends that Picus maximus is black with a scarlet upper part of the head, but this is not correct for the female.

Linnaeus classifies Mustela erminea (“ermine”) as a variety of Mustela vulgaris (“ordinary weasel”). This is wrong, since they both look different and their habits are different. Furthermore, the common white weasel is very different from the ermine. In the same way Vulpes alba (“white polar fox”) and Vulpes caerulea (“blue fox”) are very different from the common fox. However, the species is distinct, which John Jonston has called Isatis (sic).

Linnaeus considers Gulo (“glutton”) to be a species of Mustela. But Gmelin points out that its way of living is more similar to a bear’s.

Gmelin wonders what Talpa cauda nulla (“mole without tail”) is. Linnaeus groups this animal with Albert Seba’s Siberian variously coloured mole.

Linnaeus calls Sciurus volans Americanus (“American flying squirrel”) a squirrel that can fly and has loose skin from head to tail. Sciurus Sibiricus (“Siberian squirrel”) Linnaeus distinguishes through the skin. Gmelin, however, says that these animals are one and the same.

P.S. A fox with tail of various colours, white extremities. Vulpes vulgaris.

A fox with various colours, black extremities. Vulpes minor campestris.

A fox with a tail of one colour. Fox in the north, white and blue.

upMANUSCRIPTS

a. original holograph (LS, V, 41-42). [1] [2] [3]

upTEXTUAL NOTES

a.
MS1 [added above the line]
b.
MS1 [added above the line]
c.
MS1 [added in the left margin]

upEXPLANATORY NOTES

1.
Tjumen, Siberia.
2.
Tobolsk, Siberia.
3.
Johann Georg Gmelin cannot understand why Linnaeus is sorry that Flora SibiricaGmelin, Johann Georg Flora
Sibirica, sive Historia plantarum
Sibiriae
(St Petersburg 1747-1769).
is being printed, when he at the same time wishes that it will come out as soon as possible. However, Linnaeus has probably just omitted the adverb nondum. See Linnaeus to Gmelin, before 19 December 1746Letter L0766, and Linnaeus to Gmelin, 14 February 1747 o.s., 25 February 1747 n.s.Letter L0783.
4.
5.
Albrecht von Haller started a periodical of reviewing work, Göttingische Zeitungen von Gelehrten Sachen (Göttingen 1739-1752). From the year 1753 it was edited by die Sozietät der Wissenschaften and called Göttingische Anzeigen von Gelehrten Sachen.
6.
7.
Séguier, Bibliotheca botanica .
8.
9.
This letter has not come down to us.
The River Tobol, tributary of River Irtisj.
It is not clear what Gmelin means here. Isatis is a plant.