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Link: • Henrik Gahn to Carl Linnaeus, 29 June 1772 n.s.
Dated 29 Juni 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.
encloses a note to Linnaeus in a letter to Uno von TroilTroil, Uno von (1746-1803).
Swedish. Archbishop. Correspondent of
. He thanks Linnaeus for the letter in which another had been addressed to 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.
and which Gahn had delivered. Gahn remarks on the widespread surprise arising from the news that Joseph Banks’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.
planned journey had been cancelled. The reason was that the vessel to be used, through ignorance, and also the disapproval of the Admiralty for this expedition, had been built with such a large superstructure that it could not sail without capsizing. When the superstructure had been removed there was insufficient space for Banks and his people unless they could satisfy themselves only with hammocks. When Banks requested a new vessel he was told that the expedition could proceed without him and that new geographical discoveries were of the greatest benefit and that all the natural history specimens that he had previously brought home were not of the slightest benefit to the Kingdom. Thus the expedition came to a rapid end just when everything was ready for departure. However, in order to recover some of the expense Banks had invested and to make use of all the artists, doctors, secretaries and musicians that he now must pay for over three years, he planned to make a journey around the coast of England, Ireland, the Shetland Islands and then to Iceland, returning home in late October. For this purpose they had hired a small vessel where they all live as sailors between decks and take turns in standing watch. It will be more of an enjoyable party than a serious expedition despite the northern coasts of England being very unknown. von Troil will accompany them as antiquarian; it was a good opportunity for him to practice our ancient language that he had previously studied under the great Johan IhreIhre, Johan (1707-1780).
Swedish. Philologist. Professor of Latin
and later of eloquence and political
science at Uppsala.
. Probably in order to irritate Banks, the Government has appointed Forster to join the vessel leaving for the south Seas, which Troil has probably mentioned. He has nobody with him apart from his son [Johan Georg Adam ForsterForster, Johan Georg Adam
(1754-1794). German. Son of Johann
Reinhold Forster and followed him to the
expedition to the South Seas.
] as artist. Consequently, one cannot expect any particular discoveries from him, but Gahn is convinced that if he can retain his health he would return with quite a lot and Forster had promised Gahn that from both Madeira and the Cape of Good Hope he would write to Linnaeus and send something, and that when he returns home to also send a specimen of all his collections. Despite Gahn leaving London, he had arranged with Forster about a safe address for his letters and parcels. Gahn expresses worry about Solander, fearing that the honour for his discoveries would fall into other hands, especially if Forster comes safely home, as Forster, then being the most recent, will alone be spoken about and the others forgotten. The only hope they have is to get one of the East India Company’s vessels and depart next year. However, Gahn points out, there was an advantage in having to remain at home, namely that Solander would probably soon send Linnaeus some of his collections and that they are hurrying with the preparation of their descriptions for publication in order to get them published before Forster returns. Gahn has no more news to relate, mentioning that Captain Peter Morén

is on his way with a number of things for Linnaeus from Ellis, John HillHill, John (1716-1775).
British. Pharmacist, physician and
supervisor of the botanical gardens at
Kew. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and others. Johannes von MüllerMüller, Johannes von
(1752-1809). Swiss. Historian
has also sent some of his paintings and one of a new plant that he wants to be named after Quaker John FothergillFothergill, John (1712-1780).
British. Physician and collector of
natural history objects. Studied in
Holland, France and Germany. His cabinet
of zoological and mineralogical
specimens as well as his botanical
garden at Upton were well known.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. If the plant really is new, as Gahn believed it might be, then Fothergill deserved the honour, being an important collector who used his money to encourage natural history and the great practician that London now has. Gahn mentions this since he has heard that Miller has given his package to Morén without having addressed it to anybody in Stockholm and thus should be asked for when it arrives. Gahn also hopes that the articles he sent with DicksonDickson, Swedish. Skipper. had arrived safely [Gahn to Linnaeus, 8 May 1772Letter L4668].

Gahn thanks Linnaeus for his interest in giving him a doctor’s hat, saying that he would willingly have waited until a later promotion in order to receive the honour from the hand of Linnaeus himself. Gahn still wishes to continue his travels, he knows not for how long since it depends on his father’s economy. Gahn had nothing of happiness awaiting him at home and nothing to lose.

Gahn will never forget the pleasant summer , when he, side by side with Linnaeus, lived naturally and studied Nature.

P.S. 1 Gahn says that he had met Ellis, who sends Linnaeus his greetings. Ellis had recently received a large specimen of the quadruped Siren from Carolina. John HunterHunter, John (1728-1793).
British. Physician, London. Surgeon
general ot the British army.
has examined the anatomy and found internal structures concurring exactly with Siren lacertina.

P.S. 2 The objects for Linnaeus sent with Peter Morén

are apparently addressed to Carl Wilhelm StapelmohrStapelmohr, Carl Wilhelm von
(1752-1776). Swedish. District judge.
, whom Linnaeus should contact.


a. (LS, IV, 354). [1] [2]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1912), vol. I:6, p. 195-197   p.195  p.196  p.197.