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Link: • Peter Collinson to Carl Linnaeus, 1 April 1757 n.s.
Dated Aprill 1:1757. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.


When Peter CollinsonCollinson, Peter (1694-1768).
British. Merchant and amateur naturalist
in London, corresponded with many
scientists. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
got Linnaeus’s letter of February 22 [1757] [this letter has not come down to us], he went to the bookseller Andrew MillarMillar, Andrew (1707-1768).
British. Publisher and booksellar,
[or John MillanMillan, John (1704-1784).
British. Bookseller, London.
] who admitted that he had received a letter from Linnaeus. However, he could not oblige Linnaeus, for Brown [presumably Patrick BrowneBrowne, Patrick (1720-1790).
Irish. Botanist who made six voyages to
the West Indies. In 1756 he published
The Civil and natural history of
(1756). Correspondent of
] had not left any specimens of plants with him to forward, and he had not heard of any either.

Collinson does not think Browne has deceived Linnaeus. Wherever the specimens are, they can be sent to Linnaeus, if Linnaeus tells Collinson how.

George EdwardsEdwards, George (1693-1773).
British. Ornithologist and artist.
Visited the Netherlands, France and
Scandinavia. Best known for his
History of birds (1747-1751).
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
will soon publish volume 5 of his work about new and rare birds and animals [Collinson refers most certainly to Gleanings of natural historyEdwards, George Gleanings of
natural history, exhibiting figures of
quadrupeds, birds, insects, plants
3 vol. ( London, 1758-1764).
, published in three volumes in 1758, where vol. 3 might also be regarded as vol. 5 to Edwards’s A natural history of uncommon birdsEdwards, George A natural
history of uncommon birds, and of some
other rare and undescribed animals
[...]. To which is added a [... ]general
idea of drawing and painting in water
colours; with instructions for etching
on copper with Aqua Fortis: likewise
some thoughts on the passage of
etc., 4 pt., 4 vols. (London,

In his The natural history of AleppoRussel, Alexander The natural
history of Aleppo: and parts adjacent.
Containing a description of the city,
and the principal natural productions in
its neighbourhood; together with an
account of the climate, inhabitants, and
(London, 1756).
], Alexander RussellRussell, Alexander
(c.1715-1768). British. Physician and
naturalist. In 1740 he went to Aleppo in
Syria as physician to the English
factory. Famous for his The Natural
History of Aleppo
(1756; 2nd ed.
1794). After his return to England and
Scotland he worked as a physician.
Half-brother of Patrick Russell.
has published some rare birds and fishes that have not been described before, as far as Collinson can see.

John HillHill, John (1716-1775).
British. Pharmacist, physician and
supervisor of the botanical gardens at
Kew. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has announced that he will publish Linnaeus’s botanical works in English.

Collinson is glad that Linnaeus is planning a new edition of Systema naturae [Collinson refers to the forthcoming, Systema naturae, 10th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
, 10th edition (Stockholm
1758-1759). Soulsby no. 58.
]. It will please lovers of natural history very much. However, Collinson thinks Linnaeus should take his time, since new discoveries are reported every day.

Collinson had expected that John Ellis’sEllis, John (1711-1776).
British. Merchant and naturalist, expert
on zoophytes. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
work [Collinson presumably refers to An essay towards a natural history of the corallinesEllis, John An essay towards
a natural history of the corallines, and
other marine productions of the like
kind, commonly found on the coasts of
Great Britain and Ireland. To which is
added the description of a large marine
polype taken near the North Pole, by the
Whale-fishers, in the summer 1753

(London 1755).
] would please Linnaeus, since it reveals so many wonderful facts.

In Russell’s work, Linnaeus will find much that satisfies him. Ehret has drawn the pictures.

Hans Sloane’sSloane, Hans (1660-1753).
British. Physician, naturalist and
collector. Secretary of the Royal
Society in 1693, president in 1727.
Sloane’s collections of natural history
objects were donated to the English
nation and were one of cornerstones of
the British Museum (1759). Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
collection has now been deposited in the British Museum in a magnificent building, where all branches of natural knowledge have adequate space. It will soon be opened for the public.

Collinson will return to the other items in Linnaeus’s letter at a later time.

P.S. 1. Collinson reports that his garden is very delightful. Mark Catesby’sCatesby, 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.
Arum beta folio has been in flower since February 7.

P.S. 2.Volume 2 of “Edinburgh Essays” [Collinson refers to Essays and Observations, Physical and Literary, the transactions of The Philosophical Society of EdinburghThe Philosophical Society of
British. Founded in
1731 as the Society for the Improvement
of Medical Knowledge, from 1737 the
Edinburgh Society for improving Arts and
Sciences and particularly Natural
Knowledge, or The Philosophical Society
of Edinburgh. A first volume of their
Essays and Observations, Physical and
appeared in 1754. A second
volume appeared in 1756, and a third in
1771. In 1782 The Philosophical Society
of Edinburgh ceased and the Royal
Society of Edinburgh was founded.
] contains a dissertation in Latin by Jane ColdenColden, Jane (1724-1759).
American. The first female botanist of
her country, daughter of Cadwallader
[Collinson refers to Jane Colden’s description of the Gardenia in "The description of a new plant"Colden, Jane "The
description of a new plant; by Dr
Alexander Garden. Miss Colden’s
description of the same plant. No. 153.
Gardenia", Essays and
Observations, Physical and Literary:
read before a society in Edinburgh, and
published by them
, II (1756), 1-7.
; it was however not published in Latin], perhaps the only woman who masters Linnaeus’s system. Linnaeus should be very proud of her.

P.S. 3. Collinson asks Linnaeus also to look closely at the bookseller’s name and see if he has given it correctly. Each character is important, and if Linnaeus has written Millar instead of Millan or made a similar mistake, that could help Collinson to find the plant specimens.


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 55). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 40   p.40.
2. The Letters and Papers of Sir John Hill (1982), p. 75 .