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Link: • Pehr Osbeck to Carl Linnaeus, 29 August 1752 n.s.
Dated 18 Aug. 1752. Sent from Göteborg (Sweden) to (). Written in Swedish.


Pehr OsbeckOsbeck, Pehr (1723-1805).
Swedish. Clergyman, botanist explorer.
Studied at Uppsala under Linnaeus
1745-1750. Chaplain on ships of the
Swedish East India Company on voyages to
China. Vicar of Hasslöv (Halland).
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
thanks Linnaeus for his latest letter [Linnaeus to Osbeck, 21 August 1752Letter L1468].

Many of the plants that Osbeck had seen in the East Indies did not flower during his stay there. Nevertheless, Osbeck had dared to take samples of those as well and share them with Linnaeus, as he was sure that Linnaeus would be able to recognize them from the leaves alone. On the other hand, Osbeck had excluded from the collection some species that he was quite sure of, such as Euphorbia, Hibiscus, Basella and Sigesbeckia.

Osbeck has now a new set of about 170 plants from China and Spain, some mosses and a few small molluscs ready to be sent to Linnaeus. He apologizes for the delay. His health did not permit him to take care of the specimens, which had been kept for a long time in a chest that Osbeck had used as bed, wardrobe and cabinet for natural specimens. Much of it had been badly damaged by this treatment. Osbeck would have had nothing to show for this journey if Linnaeus had not made his name famous for all time.

Osbeck is applying for another voyage to the East Indies, if his health does not deteriorate. Osbeck describes the difficulties a chaplain can meet on board a ship, when the captain or other officers tease him for illness or for his reluctance to share the drinking habits of the others.

P.S. Osbeck explains why he had come to describe to Linnaeus the conditions on board a ship to China for a man who wanted to do something other than drink. He adds that he will not return to the matter again. In fact, if the chaplain was expected to do something to promote science, he should have a Royal commission and protection, a larger cabin and a bigger salary to meet the large expenses. A ship’s chaplain now receives 600 daler for food and in addition 24 daler a month, which means that you have nothing left at the end of the journey, when you have paid your debts. A surgeon gets 1500 daler for food and 48 daler a month, a clerk gets 2,000 daler for the whole journey and so on. The chaplain should also have a special assistant who was not under somebody else’s command.


a. (LS, XI, 294-295). [1] [2] [3]


1. “Linnés korrespondens med Pehr Osbeck” (1974), p. 100-102   p.100  p.101  p.102.