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Link: • Henrik Gahn to Carl Linnaeus, 24 April 1772 n.s.
Dated 24 Apr. 1772. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Henrik GahnGahn, Henrik (1747-1816).
Swedish. Physician. Linnaeus’s student.
Founder of the Swedish Society of
Medical Sciences in 1807. Correspondent
of Linnaeus. Son of hans Jacob Gahn and
brother of Hans Jacob Gahn the Younger.
complains to Linnaeus that although he has become very well acquainted with several interesting Englishmen, particularly John EllisEllis, John (1711-1776).
British. Merchant and naturalist, expert
on zoophytes. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, the ridiculous English custom of having to be formally introduced prevents Ellis from giving Gahn letters of introduction that would allow him to visit the inland parts of England. Gahn asks Linnaeus to write a letter of recommendation. Regarding natural history, Gahn has little to report. Daniel SolanderSolander, Daniel (1733-1782).
Swedish. Naturalist, explorer. Student
in Uppsala under Linnaeus and Johan
Gottschalk Wallerius. Went to London in
1760. Curator of natural history
collections at the British Museum.
Botanist on Cook’s first voyage
1768-1771. Joseph Bank’s librarian.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
is the one who could fill hundreds of letters but of him nothing has been heard. Gahn wonders if Solander can avoid the character of an Ungrateful. Ellis does what he can and if nothing has been sent Gahn can at least promise some samples of the Indians clothing, which he can buy at a place he knows of. The next vessel to Stockholm, the first of the year, will be taking a small package to Linnaeus containing, among other things, a well-preserved Brownea, even though Gahn believes the seeds to have rotted. Gahn has also sent, through the Swedish ambassador, a letter from Johann Reinhold ForsterForster, Johann Reinhold
(1729-1798). German. Naturalist and
voyager. Visited St Petersburg, Moscow,
Saratov and Constantinople before he
went to England. In 1772 he took part in
Cook’s second voyage. Moved to Halle in
1780 to become director of the botanical
garden. Father of Johan Georg Adam
Forster. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
describing a fish. Forster is a German who makes a living by writing books and thus Linnaeus should not be surprised if Forster occasionally pretends to have made discoveries. In his work on insects [Novae species insectorum Forster, Johann Reinhold
Novae species insectorum: Centuria
(London 1771).
] he has placed Byrrhus scrophulariae, etc., among the Anthrenus of Etienne François GeoffroyGeoffroy, Etienne François
(1672-1731). French. Chemist,
physician. Professor of medicine at the
Collège Royal, and in chemistry
at the Jardin des plantes. Father of
Etienne Louis Geoffroy.
, and Pilula to the Cistela. Gahn asks Linnaeus to forgive a disciple who has had only books to assist him. Gahn has also made more enquiries about Engelbert Kämpfer’sKämpfer, Engelbert
(1651-1716). German. Physician,
botanist and explorer. Travelled in
Asia. Known for his works on Japan and
Japanese natural history.
Vernix and Ellis has assured him that the specimen in the museum is not the correct one, or the one that Kämpher had drawn. Ellis gives the best explanation of this in an article Philosophical Transactions, together with figures.

Gahn has again spoken with Johannes von MüllerMüller, Johannes von
(1752-1809). Swiss. Historian
about the tea flower and he means that the pistil first separates at the top, before the leaves have fallen off. Gahn was unable to see this in the ones he had examined. Gahn also admits a mistake when he said that Sassafras grew in the East Indies. It was in America that the powder is used, and Gahn will send Linnaeus a sample. The elastic material Gahn described is a resinous plant, although it is dissolved in ether and burns like resin. It is called caoutchouc, it is made in the islands of the West Indies and can be used in the form of a kind of ring, which the Chinese place over their penis to make the friction during intercourse so much stronger. Gahn promises to send a sample to Linnaeus. A question from Linnaeus [this letter has not come down to us] about Potuicis, Gahn has no reply to.

He hopes that Linnaeus has received Lopeziana and Colombo. As summer is coming, Gahn will ask in the gardens for new items for Linnaeus. It was said that that Kew Gardens would decay after the death of the Princess of Wales, but the King will maintain it.

Gahn then moves on to medicine, again with no particular news. A Natanael HulmeHulme, Natanael (1732-1807).
British. Physician, London.
has written about Febris puerperarum. Gahn gives a short description of its contents. Gahn reminds Linnaeus that he had previously mentioned Joseph Black’sBlack, Joseph (1728-1799).
British. Chemist.
Aër fixus. It has been found to prevent rot and to make rotten meat fresh, and thus a David MacbrideMacbride, David (1726-1778).
Irish. Chemist and physician, Dublin.
recommends it against scurvy. Wort, that contains a lot of Aër fix, is said to be used with great success by several on long journeys by sea, and there was never scurvy on Joseph Bank’sBanks, Joseph (1743-1820).
British. Naturalist, president of the
Royal Society. Together with Daniel
Solander he took part in Cook’s first
voyage. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
vessels when it was used. Now a Joseph PriestlyPriestly, Joseph (1733-1804).
British. Preacher, polyhistorian,
discovered oxygene.
has found how to impregnate water with Aër fix (by fermenting lime and some acid), giving it a taste similar to champagne, and the Admiralty has ordered that a certain portion if this shall be given every day to the boatswain to protect against scurvy. The same Priestly has cured a case of gangrene by giving the patient this water to drink together with application of enemas of Aër fixus. It is difficult to say whether the cure was a result of natural causes or of the medicine. The air with which we make unsuitable and deadly with our respiration has been found to be of another nature, although we would be unable to live in Aër fixus. There has been reason to question what has corrected this air and why the entire air circulation after such a long time becomes deteriorated by so many animals. Priestly has found that plants grow more strongly in air in which animals have died, and then becomes again suitable for respiration. Gahn comments that these are remarkable things if they turn out to be true. He also has things to say about a new discovery concerning the lymphatic vessels in relation to dropsy, but has no more space so that will have to wait until another occasion.

Gahn sends his greetings to Mrs Linnaea [Sara Elisabet LinnaeaMoraea, Sara Elisabet
(1716-1806). Swedish. Linnaeus’s wife.
Daughter of Johan Moraeus and Elisabet
Hansdotter Moraea. Mother of Carl
Linnaeus the Younger and of Elisabeth
Christina, Louisa, Sara Christina and
Sophia Linnaea.
], the young daughters [Sara Christina LinnaeaLinnaea, Sara Christina
(1751-1835). Swedish. Daughter of Carl
Linnaeus and Sara Elisabet Linnaea.
Sister of Carl Linnaeus the Younger and
of Elisabeth Christina, Louisa and
Sophia Linnaea.
, Sophia LinnaeaLinnaea, Sophia (1757-1830).
Swedish. Daughter of Carl Linnaeus and
Sara Elisabet Linnaea. Sister of Carl
Linnaeus the Younger and of Elisabeth
Christina, Louisa and Sara Christina
Linnaea. Wife of Samuel Christoffer
] and the professor [Carl Linnaeus the YoungerLinnaeus the Younger, Carl
(1741-1783). Swedish. Botanist. Son of
Carl Linnaeus and Sara Elisabet Linnaea.
Brother of Elisabeth Christina, Louisa,
Sara Christina and Sophia Linnaea.
Attended his father’s lectures, had
private tutors (Löfling, Rolander,
Solander and Falk, all Linnaeus’s
students). Demonstrator of botany at
Uppsala. Succeeded his

P.S. Uno von Troil Troil, Uno von (1746-1803).
Swedish. Archbishop. Correspondent of
and Justus Christopher von HauswolfHauswolf, Justus Christopher von
(1749-1781). Swedish. Clerk in the
military organization.
, who recently arrived from Paris, ask Gahn to forward their respect for Linnaeus.


a. (LS, IV, 351-352). [1] [2] [3]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1912), vol. I:6, p. 189-192   p.189  p.190  p.191  p.192.