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Link: • John Mitchell to Carl Linnaeus, 27 April 1747 n.s.
Dated 1747. d. 16. Aprilis. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Latin.


John MitchellMitchell, John (1711-1768).
British/American. Physician and
botanist. Born in Virginia. After
studies in medicine at the University of
Edinburgh he returned to Virginia as a
physician, but left America for London
in 1746. Famous for his map of eastern
North-America, known as the Mitchell
Map, first published in 1755.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has got Linnaeusís letter [this letter has not come down to us] to Johann Jacob DilleniusDillenius, Johann Jacob
(1684-1747). German/British. Studied at
Giessen. Sherardian professor of botany
at Oxford. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and been asked to answer it. He does so the more willingly as it gives him an opportunity to show Linnaeus how much he appreciates Linnaeusís works and Linnaeusís benevolence towards him.

Linnaeus should know that Dillenius died before Linnaeusís letter arrived. He had a severe apoplectic stroke and died at the end of March.

Mitchell is not sure what Dillenius had worked on during the last few years. It is said that ďPinax SherardinaĒ is not yet finished [Collinson refers to Dilleniusís work with publishing a continuation of Caspar BauhinísBauhin, Caspar (1560-1624).
Swiss. Botanist and physician, Basle.
Bauhinís Prodromus and Pinax
theatri botanici
(1620, 1623, 1671)
were important works in the field of
botanical nomenclature.
, Pinax theatri botaniciBauhin, Caspar Pinax theatri
botanici sive index in Theophrasti
Dioscoridis, Plinii et botanicorum qui a
seculo scripserunt opera plantarum
circiter sex milium ab ipsis exhibitarum
nomina cum earundem synonymiis &
differentiis methodice secundum genera
& species proponens
(1623) 2 ed.
(Basle 1671).
, the enlarged edition of Pinax theatri botaniciBauhin, Caspar Pinax theatri
botanici Caspari Bauhini [...] sive
index in Theophrasti, Dioscoridis,
Plinii et botanicorum qui a seculo
scripserunt opera; plantarum circiter
sex millium ab ipsis exhibitarum nomina
cum earundem synonymiis &
differentiis methodice secundum earum
& genera & species proponens.
Opus XL annorum hactenus non editum
summopere expetitum & ad auctores
intelligendos plurimum faciens

(Basle 1623).
], which he never finished]. Dillenius worked so hard at it that it seems he was more anxious about botany than about his own health. It would be a very great loss if that work was left unfinished, and Mitchell wonders if anybody other than Linnaeus could finish it.

Linnaeus had asked to what genus Chionanthus belongs. Mitchell answers Olea, and he gives his reasons based on the position and the nature of the flowers and the fruits.

Mitchell asks what plant Linnaeus calls Anandria. He does not know it, at least not by this name, and he wonders if the name describes the flower as one lacking anthers.

Mitchell suggests that Linnaeus checks the character of the Stuartia [Stewartia] published in Acta Suecica, which Mark CatesbyCatesby, Mark (1682-1749).
British. Naturalist and artist. Best
known for his illustrated work The
Natural history of Carolina, Florida and
the Bahama islands
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has shown to Mitchell [Mitchell refers to a passage in Linnaeusís article, "Caroli Linnaei [...] Decem nova plantarum genera"Linnaeus, Carl "Caroli
Linnaei [...] Decem nova plantarum
genera consecta" [Nos. 1022-1031].
(Additamenta ad Generum plantan. [sic]
edit. secund. [Leiden, 1742.)], Acta
Societatis Regiae Scientiarum
([1741] 1746). Soulsby
no. 298.
]. According to English observations, it belongs to Monadelphia Polyandria and Pentagynia. The fruit is a capsule with five cells, like in the other species of Malva. However, Mitchell does not have immediate access to either Linnaeusís or his own character of the flower.

Linnaeus has asked what is going on in England. Mitchell thinks that not very much progress is being made, either because Linnaeusís own work has made others think they have nothing to do or because the war has brought scholarship to a standstill. Martin [John MartynMartyn, John (1699-1768).
British. Physician, professor of botany
at Cambridge.
] has only completed the abridged edition of the Philosophical transactions [Mitchell refers to the Philosophical Transactions published by the Royal Society, LondonRoyal Society, London,
British. The Royal Society was founded
in Oxford in 1645 and sanctioned as a
royal society in 1662.
, which also was published in numerous editions and abridgements in English]. Catesby has added an appendix to his work [Mitchell refers to the supplement of Mark CatesbyísCatesby, Mark (1682-1749).
British. Naturalist and artist. Best
known for his illustrated work The
Natural history of Carolina, Florida and
the Bahama islands
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
work, The Natural history of CarolinaCatesby, Mark The Natural
history of Carolina, Florida and the
Bahama Islands: containing the figures
of birds, beasts, fishes, serpents,
insects and plants: particularly the
forest-trees, shrubs, and other plants,
not hitherto described, or very
incorrectly figured by authors. Together
with their descriptions in English and
French. To which are added observations
on the air, soil, and wate: with remarks
upon agriculture, grain, pulse, roots,
&c. To the whole is prefixed a new
and correct map of the countries treated
, I-II (London 1731-1743).
, i.e., The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama IslandsHill, John The Natural
History of Carolina, Florida and the
Bahama Islands [...] : Histoire
naturelle de la Caroline, la Floride,
& les Isles Bahama, etc. (An Account
of Carolina, and the Bahama Islands. -
(London, 1731-1743
]. John HillHill, John (1716-1775).
British. Pharmacist, physician and
supervisor of the botanical gardens at
Kew. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, a pharmacist who has published TheophrastusísTheophrastus, (374 BC-287 BC).
Greek. philosopher and naturalist.
work on gems and stones with a commentary [Mitchell refers to [Theophrastou tou eresiou peri tōn lithōn biblion]. Theophrastusís history of stonesTheophrastus, & John Hill
[Theophrastou tou eresiou peri
tōn lithōn biblion].
Theophrastus's history of stones. With
an English version, and critical and
philosophical notes, including the
modern history of the gems, &c.
described by that author [ ...] By John
Hill. To which are added, two letters:
one to Dr. James Parsons, [...] And the
other, to Martin Folkes, [... ]

(London, 1746).
], will soon publish a Historia fossilium [Mitchell refers to Hillís History of FossilsHill, John History of
(London, 1748).
]. Mitchell himself is keen on publishing something about North America, either in natural history or related to medicine.

Information about new publications in England is not impressive. A catalogue is published in a newspaper called The Magazines, [Mitchell refers most certainly to The Gentlemanís Magazine The Gentlemanís Magazine and
Historical Chroncicle
, founded by Edward CaveCave, Edward (1691-1754).
British. Printer, editor and publisher
of The Gentlemanís Magazine,
which was founded in London in 1731 and
published monthly until 1907.
, where, for example, the March issue of 1747, p. 156, had a list of ĒBooks and Pamphlets published this monthĒ] and a recent monthly report has been started under the title The Museum.

Mitchell asks if Linnaeus knows how a preparation called cineres Russici [Russian ashes] is produced. He wonders how the Russians manage to convert ashes into a salt.

Mitchell has not yet received American seeds that he is waiting for. If he had got them, he would have sent some. The exchange of letters with Linnaeus pleases Mitchell very much, and Mitchell promises to do his best to fulfil Linnaeusís wishes.


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 20). [1] [2]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 2, p. 442-444   p.442  p.443  p.444.