Alexander Garden to Carl Linnaeus,
30 November 1758 n.s.
L2447. Alexander GardenAlexander Garden (1730-1791).
Alexander GardenGarden, Alexander (1730-1791).
Garden had often thought of contacting Linnaeus to establish an exchange of letters. He had hesitated, as he thought Linnaeus was overloaded with such exchanges, so that he, Garden, would be more of a burden. However, Garden had found it increasingly necessary to be able to ask for Linnaeusís advice, so he repeats his proposal. John EllisEllis, John (1711-1776).
Garden is aware that he will be unable to compensate Linnaeus for his services, but he will follow Linnaeusís instructions and wishes, being very eager to learn true botany from the best source.
Garden already has acquired Linnaeusís works and buys the new ones as they appear. He would be very pleased if he could be cited in a future work by Linnaeus.
Garden had been sorry to see the attacks from the critics of Linnaeus, but he thinks they are more worth compassion than wrath, those who have been so blind that they blame the works that are fundamental to the growth of science. Their arguments are as useless as Priamusís spear against Pyrrhusís shield..
Linnaeus is not alone against the critics, who are more signified by industry than talents. It will be easy for Linnaeus and his friends to withstand the attacks, since nature and doctrine together are stronger than doctrine against nature. They simply do not want to cooperate nor to see what real facts are, nor to discuss the difficult details of Linnaeusís system and suggest improvements. They just follow their bad will and envy.
For it is a fact that Linnaeusís system is not complete or perfect, which Linnaeus is also conscious of. But nevertheless, it is a fact that Linnaeusís works have meant very much to promote botany as a science.
Garden then makes an attempt to establish a character of a beautiful plant, to him a new species, and he calls it Ellisia in honour of his friend Ellis. It is a perennial, about 12 feet high, with annual stems and a perennial root, and it is common in the Appalachians. He asks Linnaeus to correct the description and to include it in the new edition of Genera plantarum [Garden means the Genera plantarum [...] editio sextaLinnaeus, Carl Genera
Garden concludes with a wish that Linnaeus would not find this new contact a new burden, for he knows how much Linnaeus has to attend to. The Almighty God should grant Linnaeus a long life with an unimpaired mind.
The character of the suggested Ellisia forms the last part of the letter.
P. S. Postscript by John Ellis (through whose hands the letter L2447 was sent) dated 27 April 1759, in which he says he has enclosed a flower of Ēthis PlantĒ [Ellisia] for Linnaeus to examine. As Ellis might be out of town when Linnaeus is supposed to reply to him about this new genus, he wants Linnaeus to write to Ellis at another address, which is also given in the postscript.