Carl Linnaeus to Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien,
[14 November 1747] n.s.
L0845. Carl LinnaeusCarl Linnaeus (1707-1778). Swedish.
to Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien Kungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien
Linnaeus has been asked to give his views on the protocol of 14 October, 1747 o.s., of the Royal Lapland Board of church and education.
Linnaeus expresses his satisfaction that the Royal Board turns its interest to the development and exploitation of Lapland, this vast and extremely rich region. The only ones who can report regular information from Lapland are the clergy working there. They can:
* report the height of the highest mountains, probably the highest in Europe.
* see if the snowy mountains increase [?in height] every year, and if it is possible to determine their age by counting the strata.
* get information from the Lapps about the degree of frost in winter and heat in summer.
* find useful varieties of stones.
* teach people to collect the so called “murksten”, much in demand in Europe.
* discover the sources of the iron sand brought by the rivers down to the Gulf of Bothnia.
* find places in the mountains where the ore of tin and gold can be mined.
* find out if there is limestone with petrifications.
* see if there are umber and other rare earth deposits.
When Linnaeus visited Lapland, he discovered more than 100 new plant species. Many more remain to be discovered. He has received plants from South Africa, Japan, Peru and Brazil but not a single one from Lapland! If he could offer Lappish plants, he would be able to acquire the rarest plants from all the botanical gardens in Europe. Roots of Archangelica, Gentiana lutea and Rhodiola rosea are collected by Norwegians and sold to the Dutch who sell them to Germans who sell them to Swedes. Why could not the clergy distribute them to their countrymen instead and also make a profit from it? The cultivation of Gentiana would no doubt be profitable in Lapland.
Medicinal herbs like Allium victorialis, Valeriana celtica, Crocus sativus, Athamanta cretensis, Polygonum bistorta, Helleborus niger, Doronicum pardalianches and Carlina acaulis should be cultivated in Lapland. The clergy have good opportunities to study the birds that gather there in summer from the whole world. They should also collect their feathers instead of importing them. In natural history we know more about the bird of paradise than about our wolverine; we know nothing about ermines, mountain mice (lemmings?), ptarmigan and there is no picture of a char.
Much remains to be inquired into in the field of public health. The population only lives on meat and fish, without salt, no vegetables. People often suffer from colic, haematuria, headache, back pains, poor eyesight etc. The causes of these symptoms should be analysed, and also how long-lived the Lapps are. A serious problem that should be attended to is the plagues that sometimes afflict the reindeer, the basis of Lappish economy.
If future clergy should be useful to science in Lapland, their education must also contain natural history. Linnaeus has had hundreds of students attending his lectures over the years but only two theologians! To meet the future demands in Lapland it would be sensible if the clergy studied more natural science and less of “a lot of philosophical sciences that have little bearing upon Lappish conditions”.