-Search for letters
-Search in texts






Link: • Anders Johan Lexell to Carl Linnaeus, 13 March 1772 n.s.
Dated 2/13 Martii 1772. Sent from St Petersburg (Russia) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Johan Anders LexellLexell, Anders Johan
(1740-1784). Swedish. Astronomer,
mathematician. Professor of astronomy at
St Petersburg. Succeded Leonard Euler as
professor of mathematics at the Imperial
Academy of Sciences of St Petersburg.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
is honoured by having received a letter from Linnaeus [Linnaeus to Lexell, Undated, but presumably written in the end of 1771 or in early 1772Letter L4597]. He will be happy to report to Linnaeus things of scientific interest from their journeys.

Erik LaxmanLaxman, Erik (1738-1796).
Swedish. Lutheran pastor at the
Kolyvanian mines and ironworks in
Siberia. Professor and councellor of the
Russian Board of Mines, St Peterburg.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
was in St. Petersburg when Lexell received the letter, so he was informed of what Linnaeus had said about the Chinese bush in the Botanical Garden described by Laxman [Laxman to Linnaeus, 16 August 1771Letter L4537; the description was published by Laxman in ”Kolreuteria"Laxman, Erik ”Kolreuteria
paniculata novum plantarum genus”,
Novi commentarii, XVI [1771]
1772, 561–564.
]. Laxman promised to write to Linnaeus and send a small collection of plants to Lexell to be forwarded to Linnaeus [Laxman to Linnaeus, 25 October 1770Letter L4419 and 16 August 1771Letter L4537]. He has done neither of these things. Nor did he send the promised Cynoglossus, called Rindera by Peter Simon PallasPallas, Peter Simon
(1741-1811). German. Naturalist and
explorer. Pallas studied at the
universities of Göttingen and
Leiden. In 1768 he was called to Russia
to take part in an expedition to
Siberia, the aim of which was to study
the passage of Venus. Pallas remained in
Russia for the greater part of his life.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
[in a subsequent letter Lexell had to correct himself, Laxman had sent these plants to Linnaeus, see Lexell to Linnaeus 18/9 1772Letter L4722].

Lexell has told the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St Petersburg, [Imperatorskaja akademija naukImperatorskaja akademija nauk,
Imperial Academy of Sciences

Russian. Imperial Academy of Sciences of
St Petersburg, founded in 1725. Its
publications are Commentarii
Academiae Scientiarum Imperialis
, 1-14 (1726 -
1744/1746 [i.e. pub. 1728 - 1751]) and
Novi Commentarii Academiae
Scientiarum Imperialis
, 1-20 (1747/1748 -
1775 [i.e. pub. 1750 - 1776]).
] of Linnaeus’s admiration for the Empress’s [Catherine IICatherine II, (1729-1796).
Russian. Empress of Russia, reigned from
1762-1796. Wife of Peter III.
] generous support of sciences. Samuel Gottlieb GmelinGmelin, Samuel Gottlieb
(1745-1774). German. Professor of
botany at the Imperial Academy of
Sciences in St Petersburg. In 1764 he
travelled in Eastern Russia and the
provinces south of the Caspian sea. He
completed the Flora Sibirica
(1747-1769) of his uncle Johann Georg
Gmelin. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has presented plants that are already wellknown as new ones in the transactions of St Petersburg [Lexell means the Novi commentarii of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and Gmelin’s ”Lychnantos volubilis et Limnanthemum peltatum nova plantarum genera”Gmelin, Samuel Gottlieb
”Lychnantos volubilis et Limnanthemum
peltatum nova plantarum genera”, Novi
, XIV [1769] 1770,
]. It is not very surprising: he is absent-minded and writes only when he is in his cups. There has been no news from his expedition for six months, the last was from Rest, a small place at the Caspian Sea, where he said he wanted to go to Tauris or to the old Ecbatana, but intended to be back in Astrakhan before winter. As this has not occurred, the whole thing is worrying. Anton Johann GüldenstedtGüldenstedt, Anton Johann
(1745-1781). German. Professor, St.
is still in Grusinia and will not return to Astrakhan until next winter. Ivan LepechinLepechin, Ivan (1740-1802).
Russian. Botanist, naturalist and
explorer. Secretary at the Imperial
Academy of Sciences of St Petersburg
[Imperatorskaja akademija nauk].
is in Archangel and sends an expedition to the islands of the White Sea. Johan Peter FalckFalck, Johan Peter (1732-1774).
Swedish. Professor of botany and
curator of the botanical garden of St
Petersburg. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has been recalled from his mission by the Academy. He has failed to send reports to the Academy as often as he should. Lexell believes that a certain Councillor Gerhard Friedrich MüllerMüller, Gerhard Friedrich
(1705-1783). German. Historian.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
in Moscow, Pallas, and the Apothecary Johan Gottlieb GeorgiiGeorgi, Johann Gottlieb
(1729-1802). German. Chemist, St
Petersburg. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
are responsible for this decision, which Lexell finds unfair and hard and was a shock to Falck himself. However, Falck will still have his position at the Collegium medicum in St. Petersburg. The journey to China, that Pallas had planned for is cancelled, bu the will try to explore Sibiria instead.

For the moment there is no possibility for Johan Gerhard KönigKönig, Johan Gerhard
(1728-1785). Danish. Physician, born in
Polish Livonia. Private pupil of
Linnaeus in 1757. Visited Iceland. Went
to Tranquebar in India, to Thailand and
Ceylon. He died on his way to Tibet.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
to become a member of the Academy. In a few years perhaps, as Gmelin and Pallas are supposed to resign after they returned to St. Petersburg. Lexell has no doubts that the Academy will reflect on Linnaeus’s opinion in favour of König.

Michel AdansonAdanson, Michel (1727-1806).
French. Botanist. Travelled in Senegal.
An opponent of Linnaeus. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
has offered the Empress his natural history collection together with 30.000 etched plates. Obviously Adanson planned to publish his work in this way. He claims that he was encouraged by the fact that the Empress bought Denis Diderot’sDiderot, Denis French.
Philosopher and writer. Editor of and
contributor to the Encyclopédie.
library. The price he wants for this is exorbitant and, not surprisingly, his offer has been declined by the Academy. Adanson is notorious for his shameless requirements. Some years ago he was to be invited by the Academy, but set such excessive demands, including to be ennobled and permission to leave in a year if the climate in St. Petersburg would not suit him, that it did not go through.

Next spring Linnaeus will receive the 15th volume of the Novi Commentarii and a German translation of Lepechin’s expedition, Tagebuch der Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen ReichesLepechin, Ivan Tagebuch der
Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des
Russischen Reiches in den Jahren 1768
und 1769
, 4 vols. (Altenburg,
. The Novi Commentarii will contain: I. Gmelin, ”Rariorum avium expositio”Gmelin, Samuel Gottlieb
”Rariorum avium expositio”, Novi
, XV [1770]
1771, 439–484.
. II. Lepechin, ”Descriptiones avium"Lepechin, Ivan ”Descriptiones
avium”, Novi Commentarii, XV
[1770] 1771, 485-493.
, III. Joseph Gottlieb KolreuterKolreuter, Joseph Gottlieb
(1733-1806). German. Botanist,
published a pioneering work on plant
,”Descriptio cyprini rutili"Kolreuter, Joseph Gottlieb
”Descriptio cyprini rutili, quem halawel
russi vocant, historico-anatomico”,
Novi Commentarii, XV [1770] 1771,
. IV. ”Descriptio piscis"Kolreuter, Joseph Gottlieb
”Descriptio piscis, e coregonorum
genere, russice sig (sigé)
vocati, historico anatomica”, Novi
, XV [1770] 1771,
. V. Caspar Friedrich WolffWolff, Caspar Friedrich
(1734-1794). German. Anatomist and
biologist. In Berlin and Halle as a
miltary surgeon, thereafter recruited to
the Imperial Academy of Sciences of St
Petersburg as an anatomist.
, ”De leone observationes anatomicae”Wolff, Caspar Friedrich ”De
leone observationes anatomicae”, Novi
, XV [1770] 1771,
. VI. Laxman, ”Novae plantarum species”Laxman, Erik ”Novae plantarum
species”, Novi Commentarii XV
[1770], 1771, 553–562.
. These are: Veronica pinnata Spiraea altajensis, Dracocephalum altajense, Robinia spinosissima, Trifolium Dauricum.

The second part of Pallas’s Itinerary [Reise durch verschiedene Provinzen des Russischen ReichsPallas, Peter Simon Reise
durch verschiedene Provinzen des
Russischen Reichs
, 3 vol. (St.
Petersburg, 1771-1776).
] is being printed and will be delivered this autumn [the second was published in 1773].


a. original holograph (LS, IX, 143-146). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


1. "Om natural historiens tilstånd i Ryssland" (2005), p. 27-30 .