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Link: • Carl Linnaeus to Carl Peter Thunberg, 29 October 1773 n.s.
Dated 1773 d: 29 octobr. Sent from Uppsala (Sweden) to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). Written in Swedish.


Linnaeus thanks Carl Peter ThunbergThunberg, Carl Peter
(1743-1828). Swedish. Botanist,
physician, explorer. Professor of
medicine and botany at Uppsala. Studied
medicine under Linnaeus in Uppsala,
medicine and surgery in Paris, natural
history under Johannes Burman in
Amsterdam. Travelled in South Africa in
1772-1775, in Japan 1775-1776, Java and
Ceylon in 1777-1778. Correspondent of
for the two parcels containing plants he has received this summer. These rare plants have given him enormous pleasure and kept him busy ever since. He has also inspected Abraham Bäck’sBäck, Abraham (1713-1795).
Swedish. Physician, president of the
Collegium Medicum, Stockholm. Close
friend of Linnaeus. Correspondent of
beautiful collections. Linnaeus was enchanted by the orchids and all species of Ixia. He comments on various plants:

Campanula Roella.
Astrania ciliaris, peculiar.
Erica retorta, never heard of.
Thunbergia, a gift from Lars MontinMontin, Lars (1723-1785).
Swedish. Physician and botanist. Studied
medicine in Uppsala under Linnaeus and
Nils Rosén von Rosenstein.
Provincial physician of the province of
Halland. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
Mesembryanthum pinnatifidum, with strange leaves.
Adonis capensis.
Phryma dehiscens.
Heliophila, what genus?
Psoralea capitata.
Hedysarum imbricatum.
Xeranthemum fulgidum.
Othonna virginea.
Lobelia volubilis.
Disa, exceptional, in perfect condition.
Cliffortia altheifolia.

Linnaeus reports from the University world and mentions Nils Rosén von RosensteinRosén von Rosenstein, Nils
(1706-1773). Swedish. Physician
and professor of medicine. Colleague of
Linnaeus at Uppsala. The founder of
modern pediatrics. Correspondent of
, Gustaf Anton BoudrieBoudrie, Gustaf Anton (d.
1788). Swedish. Academy secretary at
the University of Uppsala.
, Erik HesselgrenHesselgren, Erik (1715-1803).
Swedish. Professor of oriental
languages, and theology, Uppsala.
, Carl AurivilliusAurivillius, Carl (1717-1786).
Swedish. Professor of Oriental
languages, Uppsala. Correspondent of
, Daniel AnnerstedtAnnerstedt, Daniel (1721-1771).
Swedish. Professor of theology,
, Suedelius [Pehr SvedeliusSvedelius, Pehr (1732-1805).
Swedish. Professor of poetry, Uppsala.
], Pehr Niklas ChristierninChristiernin, Pehr Niklas
(1725-1799). Swedish. Professor,
philosopher and economist, Uppsala.
, Aspen [presumably Carl AspAsp, Carl (1710-1782).
Swedish. Professor of logic and
metaphysics, Uppsala.
], Berchen [Christer BerchBerch, Christer (1735-1792).
Swedish. Professor of economics,
], Mellercreutz [Jonas MeldercreutzMeldercreutz, Jonas
(1715-1785). Swedish. Professor of
mathematics, Uppsala.
], Fredrik MalletMallet, Fredrik (1728-1797).
Swedish. Astronomer and mathematician,
professor of mathematics, Uppsala.

The death toll in Sweden this year has never been so heavy. People have died from starvation, or from malign fevers, or from dysentery. Great men have passed away: Rosén von Rosenstein, Lars SalviusSalvius, Lars (1706-1773).
Swedish. Printer, bookseller, publisher.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Johan Ernst GunnerusGunnerus, Johan Ernst
(1718-1773). Norwegian. Bishop of
Trondheim. Together with Gerhard
Schøning and Peter Friederich
Suhm he founded in 1760 Det Kongelige
Norske Videnskabers Selskab [The Royal
Norwegian Society of Sciences and
Letters]. Author of Flora
(1766-1776). Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
, Gerhard van SwietenSwieten, Gerhard van
(1700-1772). Dutch. Pupil of Boerhaave.
Called by Maria Theresa to Vienna, where
he organised the public health system.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Philibert CommerçonCommerçon, Philibert
(1727-1773). French. Naturalist.
. The King of England [George IIIGeorge III, (1738-1820).
British. Reigned 1760-1820. Son of
George II.
] has collected all sorts of plants in his garden, and every plant has got a stick with its name on it according to the Linnean system, like the French King [Louis XVLouis XV, (1710-1774).
French. Reigned 1715-1774.
] did two years ago. In Edinburgh they have created a new chair in zoology [Linnaeus refers to the newly created chair in natural history there, at first held by Robert RamsayRamsay, Robert (1737-1779).
British. Professor of natural history in
1770 at Edinburgh. Correspondent of
, who was later suceeded by John WalkerWalker, John (1731-1803).
Scottish. Minister in the Church of
Scotland, and natural historian,
Edinburgh. Professor of natural history
at the University of Edinburgh
1779-1803. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
; see also, Ramsey to Linnaeus, 29 June 1773Letter L4850] where Linnaeus’s Systema animale will be studied [Linnaeus and Ramsay refers to the Systema naturae, 12th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
, 12th edition (Stockholm
1766-1768). Soulsby no. 62.
; the 12th edition was published in three volumes, “Regnum Animale” 1766 and “Regnum Vegetabile” and “Regnum Lapideum” in 1767]. The Pope [Clemens XIVClemens XIV, (1705-1774).
Italian. Pope from 1769-1774. Succeeded
Clemens XIII.
] who, 15 years ago [here Linnaeus refers to the predecessor, Clemens XIIIClemens XIII, (1693-1769).
Italian. Pope from 1758-1769.
Predecessor of Clemens XIV.
] promised to burn Linnaeus’s books if they should encroach upon his territory has dismissed his professor of botany, who had not understood Linnaeus’s method, and replaced him by another who will lecture in public on Linnaeus’s method and theory.

Linnaeus wishes Thunberg a safe voyage to the East Indies and concludes his letter: “Think of me as often as I think of you when your plants talk to me in your place.”


a. original holograph (UUB, G300, 482-483). [1] [2] [3]


1. Collectio epistolarum (1792), p. 90-93 .