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Link: • Gustaf Fredrik Hjortberg to Carl Linnaeus, 24 October 1767 n.s.
Dated 24 octbris 1767. Sent from Kungsbacka (Sweden) to (). Written in Swedish.


Gustaf Fredrik HjortbergHjortberg, Gustaf Fredrik
(1724-1776). Swedish. Chaplain on board
ships of the Swedish East India Company.
Dean at Vallda (south of Gothenburg).
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
apologises for the delay in replying to Linnaeus’s letter [this letter has not come down to us], blaming his duties as priest in charge of two parishes and a month’s visit to one of them to perform the catechetical meetings.

Linnaeus had previously written enquiring about a “foreign cat” that Hjortberg had seen, and now he receives a description and drawings of its posture and appearance. Hjortberg promises that Linnaeus will receive the cat itself as soon as an opportunity occurs in the following summer.

Hjortberg admits to being fascinated by curiosities, collections of natural history specimens, animals, birds and fishes, of which he has collected large numbers, but there was nothing so remarkable or beautiful than this cat. Hjortberg also had an American fox, which he had obtained about three years earlier under the name of “Racon” or “Racoon”, an animal that was also fairly remarkable. This animal was slightly larger than a Meles or Taxus, grey in colour, and with a long and bushy tail, and about half an ell long, with dark brown and white rings. A small head, a pointed snout, and with black and white markings on the head. Small eyes, that look sharp, greenish in colour; teeth like a dog’s with curious markings on the nose; small, short, legs all of which have five, mainly straight, claws about an inch long and located almost in order like the fingers of a guenon. Everything is handled with these claws and front legs in much the same way as the guenon. This animal feels at home in all sorts of weather and had been tethered in Hjortberg’s yard for about three years, accompanied by a Russian bear.

Hjortberg continues by giving a detailed description of how the racoon is fed, what it eats, how it behaves, etc.

Hjortberg comments that during his seven years in the East Indies he has sent to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences [Kungliga Svenska VetenskapsakademienKungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien,
Swedish. The Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. Founded
in 1739.
] collections of natural history specimens and drawings as well as observation on various subjects and later, having arrived home, he had written reports on electricity that presumably had been published in the Academy’s Transactions [Kungliga Vetenskapsakademiens Handlingar]. Hjortberg indulges in reflections over the reason why he has not been elected a member of the Academy and recalls that as long ago as 15-17 or even 18 years ago he had received encouraging letters from Linnaeus [these letters have not come down to us]. Hjortberg then closes, realising that he is exposing his aspirations in too blatant a manner.

P.S. Hjortberg states that his descriptions of Guaperva and Amphitrite were sent to the Academy of Sciences in 1751 as a result of Linnaeus’s comments, namely that they were well-merited for inclusion in the Transactions [”Beskrifning på en Guaperva”Hjortberg, Gustaf Fredrik
”Beskrifning på en Guaperva,
fångad uti sjögräset
Sargazo”, KVAH (1768), 350-353.
was published, in 1768], and consequently he feels that he can now also forward the present descriptions to Linnaeus.


a. (LS, VII, 42-45). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1917), vol. I:7, p. 110-112   p.110  p.111  p.112.