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Link: • Robert Ramsay to Carl Linnaeus, 29 June 1773 n.s.
Dated June 29, 1773. Sent from Edinburgh (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.

Edinburgh June 29, 1773


Altho I have not the honour to be known to you, I have long been an admirer of your writings, & no less so of your private character, together, they make you respected & esteemed all over Europe

Having heard that you intend to give a new Edition of your Systema Naturae, & being assured by my friend D[octo]r Gahn that you would receive favourably any information regarding Natural history, I used the freedom some time ago to send you a box with two preserved Birds, Male and Female, which I believe are peculiar to the British Islands, & which you never have yet mentioned in any Edition of your Systema Naturae - They belong to your genus Tetrao, are the Red Game, Gorcock, or Moorcock of Willoughby - the Moorcock or Moorfowl of Sibbald - the Grous of Mr. Pennant - For a further account of this I refer you to the above authors - I shall only add that they are a perfectly distinct species from the Tetrao Lagopus, as I am persuaded you will be convinced when you see them They inhabit moist, heathery plains, Ericeta, & the sides of hills, & never change their colour in winter - We never find the Lagopus but on the dry, rocky summits of our highest mountains, & they constantly change to white in winter - I wish they may arrive to you safe & in good condition, & that they may be acceptable.

It will now be necessary to inform you who your correspondent is, my name is not like yours, a Name of Fame, but is confined to a very small circle, I have the honour to be the Kings Professor of Natural history here, & I have for some years, endeavoured to explain your Systema Animalium in our University - I wish to show you my gratitude for the pleasure & instruction I have received from your writings, & I hope that if I can be in any way usefull to you in this part of the world you will be so good as to favour me with your commands, & give me opportunitys of showing you the perfect regard & esteem with which I have the honour to be

your most obedient &
most humble Servant
Robert Ramsay

To Sir Charles Linnaeus Knight


For a long time Robert RamsayRamsay, Robert (1737-1779).
British. Professor of natural history in
1770 at Edinburgh. Correspondent of
has been an admirer both of Linnaeusís writings and of his private character, which together make Linnaeus respected and esteemed all over Europe.

Ramsay has heard that Linnaeus intends to publish a new edition of his Systema naturae [the last edition during Linnaeusís lifetime was Systema naturae, 12th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
, 12th edition (Stockholm
1766-1768). Soulsby no. 62.
]. His friend Henric GahnGahn, Henrik (1747-1816).
Swedish. Physician. Linnaeusís 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.
has informed him [see Gahn to Linnaeus, 28 February 1773Letter L4791], that Linnaeus desires to receive all kinds of information regarding natural history. Some time ago Ramsay therefore sent Linnaeus a box with two preserved birds, male and female, which he believes are peculiar to the British islands and which have never before been mentioned in any edition of Systema naturae. They belong to Linnaeusís genus Tetras and are the Red Game, Gorcock or Moorcock of Willoughby [named after Francis WillughbyWillughby, Francis (1635-1672).
British. Zoologist, whose works on
ornithology and ichtyology were
important sources of information before
], the Moorcock or Moorfowl of Sibbald [named after Robert SibbaldSibbald, Robert (1641-1722).
Scottish. Physician and antiquary.
] and the grouse of Pennant [named after Thomas PennantPennant, Thomas (1726-1798).
British. Naturalist, best known for his
works on zoology. Correspondent of
]. For a further account of this Ramsay refers to the above authors. They are a perfectly distinct species from Tetras lagopus and inhabit moist, heathery plains, Ericeta, and the sides of hills, and never change their colour in winter. The Lagopus are to be found on the dry, rocky summits of the highest mountains [in Scotland], and they constantly change to white in winter. Ramsay wishes they may arrive to Linnaeus safe and in good condition.

Ramsey informs Linnaeus of himself. He is not a man of fame, but he has the honour to be the Kingís Professor of Natural History [at the University of Edinburgh]. For some years he has endeavoured to explain Linnaeusís system of animals at the University. He thanks Linnaeus for the help and instruction that he has received from his writings and hopes that he in return can be of any way useful to Linnaeus.


a. original holograph (LS, XII, 101-102). [1] [2] [3]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 2, p. 553-554   p.553  p.554.