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Link: • Alexander Garden to Carl Linnaeus, 15 March 1755 n.s.
Dated Idib. Mart. 1755. Sent from Charlestown (USA) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Latin.


Alexander GardenGarden, Alexander (1730-1791).
British/American. Doctor of medicine,
South Carolina. Correspondent of
relates that a year previously, he had received Linnaeusís Fundamenta botanicaLinnaeus, Carl Fundamenta
botanica, quae majorum operum prodromi
instar theoriam scientiae botanices per
breves aphorismos tradunt
1736). Soulsby no. 253.
and other works and had made much better progress with Linnaeusís method than in efforts to follow Joseph Pitton de TournefortTournefort de, Joseph Pitton
(1656-1708). French. Botanist and
explorer, professor of botany at Paris.
for three years. He goes on to praise the Fundamenta botanica for their clarity and elegance.

Garden had tried to buy the rest of Linnaeusís works from Holland, but he had been told that they were sold out, except Bibliotheca botanicaLinnaeus, Carl Bibliotheca
botanica recensens libros plus mille de
plantis huc usque editos, secundum
systema auctorum naturale in classes,
ordines, genera & species
dispositos, additis editionis loco,
tempore, forma, lingua etc. cum
explicatione Fundamentorum botanicorum
pars prima
(Amsterdam 1736).
. However, he had had to go north for his health, which he had done with joy, and there, he had had opportunities to study Characteres plantarum [Garden means Genera plantarum, unclear which edition, the most recent was Genera plantarum [...] editio quintaLinnaeus, Carl Genera
plantarum [...] editio quinta ab auctore
reformata et aucta
(Stockholm 1754).
Soulsby no. 301.
], Systema naturae [unclear which edition, presumably, Systema naturae, 6th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
, 7th edition (Leipzig 1748).
Soulsby no. 52.
] and Critica botanicaLinnaeus, Carl Critica
botanica, in qua nomina plantarum
generica, specifica & variantia
examini subjiciuntur, selectiora
confirmantur, indigna rejiciuntur;
simulque doctrina circa denominationem
plantarum traditur. Seu Fundamentorum
botanicorum pars IV. Accedit J.
Browallii De necessitate historiae
naturalis discursus
(Leiden 1737).
. He had also examined plants not growing in his region. When he had come to New York, he had met the eminent botanists Cadwallader ColdenColden, Cadwallader
(1688-1776). American. Physician of
Scottish origin, botanist, physicist,
politician. Lieutenant governor of New
York. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and John BartramBartram, John (1701-1777).
American. Botanist living in
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Father of
John Bartram the Younger and William
Bartram. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and been warmly received by them. He had taken the liberty of writing to Linnaeus after having seen Linnaeusís letters to these two scholars.

Garden is conscious of his inabilities as a botanist and is eager to learn, and as a compensation he offers Linnaeus samples (living, dried, seeds or pots) of species growing in the southern part of North America, species that do not withstand the colder winters farther to the north.

Garden has been in America for three years as a medical practitioner in South Carolina, and for the first year and a half tried to study botany according to Tournefortís principles, into which he had been introduced by Charles AlstonAlston, Charles (1683-1760).
Scottish. Botanist and physician.
Studied in Leiden under Boerhaave.
Professor of botany and medicine at
in the Edinburgh garden. He had used Institutiones rei herbariaeTournefort de, Joseph Pitton
Institutiones rei herbariae, I-II
(Paris 1700).
and the works of John RayRay, John (1627-1705).
British. Naturalist and clergyman. One
of the most influential botanists before
, but he had had great difficulties. If he had not happened to acquire Linnaeusís works through a friend named Bull, he would have given up botany entirely.

Garden is very eager to hear all sorts of scholarly news from Europe, such as titles of new books. Garden sends the letter together with one to Johan Frederik GronoviusGronovius, Johan Frederik
(1690-1762). Dutch. Naturalist, senator
of Leiden. Linnaeusís benefactor and
friend. Published Flora Virginica
(1743, 1762) together with John Clayton.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and asks Gronovius to forward it to Linnaeus, and Linnaeus may use the same way back for his answers. There are four or five ships every year between South Carolina and Rotterdam, which may take mail.

Garden could say more but he does not want to tire Linnaeus. It will be for another time. He has made a description which he asks Linnaeus to correct and thus teach Garden on the art of describing plants.

The return address is given at the end of the letter.


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 165-166). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 284-289   p.284  p.285  p.286  p.287  p.288  p.289.