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Link: • Jacob Jonas Björnståhl to Carl Linnaeus, 1 January 1774 n.s.
Dated 1 Januarii 1774. Sent from Karlsruhe (Germany) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Jakob Jonas BjörnståhlBjörnståhl, Jacob Jonas
(1731-1779). Swedish.
Orientalist. Studied in Uppsala and
attended Linnaeus’s lectures. Travelled
in Europe and Asia (1767-1779). Died in
Saloniki, Greece. Correspondent of
writes to Linnaeus from Karlsruhe on the first day of 1774 to express his reverence and wish him a happy and prosperous year. Linnaeus is one of the greatest men in our history, so great that all Europe envies us. Everywhere Björnståhl goes he is favoured by being a compatriot and, above all, a friend of such a celebrity. Björnståhl is a guest at the Baden court. The Prince [Karl Friedrich of Baden-DurlachKarl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach,
(1728-1811). German. Margrave of
Baden-Durlach from 1746-1771, when he
became markgrave of Baden. First married
to Caroline-Louise of Baden-Durlach
(born Caroline-Louise of
Hesse-Darmstadt), thereafter to Karoline
Luise Geyer von Geyersberg. Sons from
his first marraige were: Karl Ludwig of
Baden-Durlach, Friedrich of
Baden-Durlach, Ludwig Wilhelm August of
] and the Princess Caroline-Louise of Baden-DurlachCaroline-Louise of Baden-Durlach,
(1751-1783). German. Margravine
of Baden. Amateur botanist. Married to
Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach. Born
Caroline-Louise of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Mother of Karl Ludwig of Baden-Durlach,
Friedrich of Baden-Durlach, Ludwig
Wilhelm August of Baden-Durlach.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
mention Linnaeus every day. They are both very interested in natural history and botany and are familiar with the Linnaean system. They know all plant names in their gardens and greenhouses. The Princess has a very fine collection of natural-history objects, well arranged so every country has its own exhibition. Sadly, Sweden is not represented. In Austria the Empress Maria TeresiaMaria Teresia, (1717-1780).
Austrian. Reigned from 1740-1780.
ordered minerals, shells, stones, marbles, plants etc. to be sent from various parts of the empire, and so did the Empress of Russia,Catherine IICatherine II, (1729-1796).
Russian. Empress of Russia, reigned from
1762-1796. Wife of Peter III.
. Could not a similar initiative be taken in Sweden? The Princess invites Linnaeus and his son 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
to come and visit her. She promises a grandiose reception and stately quarters with tapestries as beautiful as those at the Hammarby estate. Björnståhl has told her about them. Most important of all, the Princess has started a work that will be a great honour to her and her scientific interest but also to Linnaeus. She will publish all species [described in the Species plantarumLinnaeus, Carl Species
(Stockholm 1753). Soulsby
no. 480.
] there separately, in all their details, which will take about 10, 000 copper plates for the engraving work. If Linnaeus would like to rearrange the order of genera and species, the copper plates can soon be corrected, as there is only one plant on each of them, so that they, without confusion, can be arranged in any possible order (compared to Johannes Gessner’sGessner, Johannes (1709-1790).
Swiss. Naturalist, Zürich.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
illustrations and copper plates in Zürich, which Björnståhl has seen himself, where there are several plants on each page, besides being rather small, although beautiful [Björnståhl refers to Gessner’s, Tabulae phytographicae analysin generum plantarum exhibentesGessner, Johannes Tabulae
phytographicae analysin generum
plantarum exhibentes, cum commentatione
edidit Ch. S. Schinz, med doct.
I-II (Zürich 1795-1804).
]). The work has already started. The engraver is Jean Fabien Gauthier d’AgotyGauthier d´Agoty, Jean Fabian
(1747-1781). French. Illustrator
and engraver. Son of Jacques Fabian
Gauthier d´Agoty.
, son of the famous Gauthier [Jacques Fabian Gauthier d’AgotyGauthier d`Agoty, Jacques Fabian
(1716-1785). French. Painter,
engraver, anatomist and physicist.
Father of Jean Fabian Gauthier d`Agoty.
]. He arrived a few weeks ago and has already started and finished all Veronicae. The Princess inspects the work closely. She is not only a great botanist but also an incomparable artist. She corrects all errors and then, personally, illuminates the plants to perfection. The title of this work, the most impressive ever in botany, will be: ”Icones omnium specierum plantarum Linnaei Equitis” [the work was never published]. The Princess is worried about the models. She owns most books quoted by Linnaeus but not Olof RudbeckRudbeck, Olof (1630-1702).
Swedish. Physician, historian,
naturalist. Founder of the Uppsala
University Botanical Garden. Professor
of medicine at Uppsala.
& Olof RudbeckRudbeck, Olof (1660-1740).
Swedish. Professor of medicine,
botanist, ornithologist, travelled in
Lapland. Linnaeus’s teacher.
, Campi ElysiiRudbeck, Olof & Olof Rudbeck
Campi Elysii [...], opera Olai
Rudbeckii, patris & filii
, I-II (Uppsala 1702, 1701).
. Probably most plants can be found in the local gardens. If she gets into troubles she asks for permission to contact Linnaeus. She would very much appreciate a list from Linnaeus of recent illustrations and floras not mentioned in Linnaeus’s latest editions.

The Princess also intends to engrave Linnaeus’s ”Systema naturae Animalium” [Björnståhl means the Systema naturae, 12th editionLinnaeus, Carl Systema
, 12th edition (Stockholm
1766-1768). Soulsby no. 62.
, part 1 ”Regnum animale” was published in 1766]. The Swedish embassador in Paris Carl Johan CreutzCreutz, Carl Johan (1725-1793).
Swedish. Envoy in the Netherlands.
[Creutz was the Swedish embassador in Holland, not in Paris] has promised to procure the work on butterflies [Icones insectorum rariorumClerck, Carl Alexander Icones
insectorum rariorum cum nominibus eorum
trivialibus, locisqve e C: Linnaei [...
] Syst: nat: allegatis
, 2 vol.,
(Stockholm 1759-1765).
] engraved by Carl Alexander ClerckClerck, Carl Alexander
(1709-1765). Swedish. Entomologist.
Assessor in Stockholm. Correspondent of
in Stockholm, financied by the Queen [Lovisa UlrikaLovisa Ulrika, (1720-1782).
Swedish. Queen of Sweden 1751-1771.
Married to Adolf Fredrik. Mother of
Gustav III. Sister of Fredric II of
Prussia. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
], but nothing has happened so far. Linnaeus’s word would help here. The Princess has been given Museum S:ae R:ae M:tis Adolphi Friderici Regis SuecorumLinnaeus, Carl Museum S:ae
R:ae M:tis Adolphi Friderici Regis
Suecorum [...] in quo animalia rariora
imprimis et exotica: quadrupedia, aves,
amphibia, pisces, insecta, vermes
describuntur et determinantur, Latine et
Suetice cum iconibus
and Museum s:ae m:tis Ludovicae Ulricae reginaeLinnaeus, Carl Museum s:ae
m:tis Ludovicae Ulricae reginae

(Stockholm 1764). Soulsby no. 1095a.
in de luxe binding but not the later edited second volume of the Museum Regis. Björnståhl is sure that the Swedish King [Gustav IIIGustav III, (1746-1792).
Swedish. Reigned 1771-1792. Son of King
Adolf Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika,
brother of Sofia Albertina and Karl
XIII. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
] would be happy to give the Princess this volume. They are related, as the mother of Adolf FredrikAdolf Fredrik, (1710-1771).
Swedish. King of Sweden. Reigned
1751-1771. Married to Lovisa Ulrika.
Father of Gustav III. Chancellor of
Uppsala university 1747-1751.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Albertina Fredrika of Baden-DurlachAlbertina Fredrika of Baden-Durlach,
(1682-1755). German. Daughter of
Fredrik VII of Baden-Durlach and Augusta
Maria of Holstein-Gottorp. Mother of
Adolf Fredrik, King of Sweden. Related
to Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach.
, is closely related to Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach]. If only Linnaeus could inform him of her wish [see Linnaeus to Gustav III, undated, but written in 1774Letter L5067]. The Prince [Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach] is a beloved monarch who always does his utmost to keep his citizens happy. He is a paragon of virtue, surely one of greatest and wisest princes in Germany. Virtue and piety rule at this court. The princes [Karl Ludwig of Baden-DurlachKarl Ludwig of Baden-Durlach,
(1755-1801). German. Margrave of
Baden-Durlach. Son of Caroline-Louise
and Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach.
Brother of Friedrich of Baden-Durlach
and Ludwig Wilhelm August of
, Friedrich of Baden-DurlachFriedrich of Baden-Durlach,
(1756-1817). German. Margrave of
Baden-Durlach. Son of Caroline-Louise
and Karl Friedrich of Baden-Durlach.
Brother of Karl Ludwig of Baden-Durlach
and Ludwig Wilhelm August of
, Ludwig Wilhelm August of Baden-DurlachLudwig Wilhelm August of
German. Margrave of Baden-Durlach. Son
of Caroline-Louise and Karl Friedrich of
Baden-Durlach. Brother of Karl Ludwig of
Baden-Durlach and Friedrich of
] are well brought up. The hospitality there is incredible. Björnståhl had intended to stay two or three days in Karlsruhe; now he has been there for four weeks! He has lunch and dinner every day at the court together with the Prince and the Princess who often speak about Linnaeus. They think that it is a stroke of luck that Björnståhl arrived at this time when they had started the edition of Linnaeus’s great work. Now he will be a connecting link between them and Linnaeus. The Princess will send some of the engraved copper plates to Linnaeus as a gift. She will employ more engravers to speed up the work to 50-60 plates a month. The Princess pays the engraver 9 ducats a plate, so the total cost will be enormous. In Björnståhl’s opinion it is excellent when rulers spend their fortunes on the promotion of sciences and the progress of arts, and not on comedies and the entertainment of idlers.

In Karlsruhe there is the most beautiful garden you can see, with 32 avenues all converging at the castle. There are large greenhouses, there is the Camphor and the Cinnamon tree, The Prince’s grandfather [Karl-Wilhelm of Baden-DurlachKarl-Wilhelm of Baden-Durlach,
German. Margrave Karl-Wilhelm of
Baden-Durlach, who founded the city of
Karlsruhe in 1715 after a dispute with
the citizens of his previous capital,
Durlach. Karlsruhe became the capital of
Baden-Durlach until 1771, thereafter the
capital of Baden until 1945. Brother of
Albertina Fredrika of Baden-Durlach and
grandfather of Karl Friedrich of
] loved flowers and plants and constructed this castle and the town itself, named Karlsruhe after him. It was in 1715. Tulips were his favourite flowers; there were 5, 000 species of them here that he depicted. They are collected in 20 folio volumes that can be seen in the library, nice to look at but worthless to botany. Here there are also 6, 000 Seville orange trees. He sent a gardener [Christian ThranThran, Christian (1701-1778).
Danish. Gardener at the court of
] to Africa to learn how African plants should be taken care of. There is a catalogue of all plants there [Björnståhl refers to Josua Risler’sRisler, Josua (d. 1778).
German. Pharmacist and gardener at the
court of Karlsruhe.
and Thran’s, Serenissimi Marchionis et Principis Buda-Durlacensis Hortus CarolsruhanusRisler, Josua & Christian Thran
Serenissimi Marchionis et
Principis Buda-Durlacensis Hortus
Carolsruhanus in tres ordines digestus
exhibens nomina Plantarum exoticarum,
perennium et annuarum quae aluntur per
C. Thran, horti praefectum accedit
Aurantiorum, Citreorum Limonumque
Malorum catalogus
], about 3000 species, published in 1747, of which the Princess has given Björnståhl a copy. The only author named there is Linnaeus and his works Hortus CliffortianusLinnaeus, Carl Hortus
Cliffortianus, plantas exhibens quas in
hortis tam vivis quam siccis Hartecampi
in Hollandia coluit [...] Georgius
(Amsterdam 1737). Soulsby
no. 328.
, Genera plantarumLinnaeus, Carl Genera
plantarum eorumque characteres naturales
secundum numerum, figuram, situm &
proportionem omnium fructificationis
(Leiden 1737). Soulsby no.
and the Flora SvecicaLinnaeus, Carl Flora Svecica,
exhibens plantas per regnum Sveciae
crescentes, systematice cum differentiis
specierum, synonymis autorum, nominibus,
incolarum, solo locorum, usu
(Leiden 1745).
Soulsby no. 408.

Björnståhl has to stop soon as he is running out of paper. He hopes that Linnaeus has received his letter from Pavia last year [this letter has not come down to us]. Björnståhl has anyway not received any reply from Linneaus, although he waited for it in Geneva. For several years he has had no letters and no news from Uppsala and Sweden. All his friends have forgotten him. Carl Christoffer GjörwellGjörwell, Carl Christoffer
(1731-1811). Swedish. Author,
publisher, royal librarian.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has not contacted him for more than two years, although Björnståhl has written him many letters, and asked him to write to him in Geneva, or at least Strasbourg, but no letters [from Gjörwell] arrived on either of these places. His last hope is that there will be letters waiting for him in Amsterdam or Rotterdam. Björnståhl reminds Linnaeus of his promise to ask Johan IhreIhre, Johan (1707-1780).
Swedish. Philologist. Professor of Latin
and later of eloquence and political
science at Uppsala.
to set aside a copy of Glossarium suiogothicumIhre, Johan Glossarium
suiogothicum, in quo tam hodierno usu
frequentata vocabula, quam in legum
patriarum tabulis aliisque aevi medii
scriptis obvia explicantur, et ex
dialectis cognatis, moesogothica,
anglo-saxonica, alemannica, islandica
ceterisque gothicae et celticae originis
(Uppsala, 1769).
for him at Lars Johan PalmbergPalmberg, Lars Johan
(1713-1804). Swedish. Professor of
theology, and dean, Uppsala.
, who keeps all his dissertations. Ihre must remember from his visit to Sätra Brunn that Björnståhl has paid for it, while he was still at count Posse [presumably Knut PossePosse, Knut (1724-1788).
Swedish. Count, colonel, Svanå.
]. Posse gave Björnståhl a receipt, but he doesn’t know if this s still among his papers in Uppsala, or among his belongings in Paris. Palmberg might give Björnståhl a receipt, that he has received the copy of Glossarium suiogothicum.

Björnståhl sends his respects to Linnaeus, his wife [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.
] and the daughters and to all the professors in Uppsala. He wishes them all a happpy and prosperous new year and hopes for a letter from Linnaeus in Rotterdam.

P.S. 1. Doctor Joseph Gottlieb KolreuterKolreuter, Joseph Gottlieb
(1733-1806). German. Botanist,
published a pioneering work on plant
, a professor of botany in Karlsruhe, has written about hybrid plants using the Linnaean system. He has been in St Petersburg and is a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences there [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]).
]. Björnståhl has been to see him, he is working with new experiments. He sends his regards. In Bern Björnståhl met with Albrecht von HallerHaller, Albrecht von
(1708-1777). Swiss. Naturalist and
poet, professor of medicine, botany,
anatomy and surgery at Göttingen
1736-1753. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. Björnståhl finds him a great and cheerful man. He has published Epistolarum ab eruditis viris ad Alb. Hallerum scriptarum I-VIHaller, Albrecht von
Epistolarum ab eruditis viris ad Alb.
Hallerum scriptarum I-VI
in two volumes and a third is being printed. It contains several letters from Linnaeus. Björnståhl has greetings to Linnaeus from Johannes Gesner in Zürich, his work is not yet published [Björnståhl refers to Tabulae phytographicae analysin generum plantarum exhibentes]. Jakob Reinhold SpielmanSpielmann, Jakob Reinhold
(1722-1783). German. Professor of
botany and medicine, Strassbourg.
in Strassburg, who has laid out a beautiful botanical garden, sends his regards. Carlo AllioniAllioni, Carlo (1725-1804).
Italian. Professor of botany, Turin.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
in Turin and other botanists in Italy, Savoy, Switzerland and Alsace send Linnaeus their greetings.

P.S. 2. Björnståhl’s travelling companion Carl Fredrik RudbeckRudbeck, Carl Fredrik
(1755-1814). Swedish. Military officer.
Son of Adolph Rudbeck. Brother of Adolph
Fredrik Rudbeck. Accompanied, together
with his brother, Jacob Jonas
Björnståhl on his travels.
sends his respects. Björnståhl entreats Linnaeus to write to him. Creutz will take care of his letter in Amsterdam, Björnståhl gives Linnaeus the address there.

P.S. 3. The Princess sends a print of a Veronica to Linnaeus and asks for his approval. The intended work is to be published in folio. Björnståhl has greetings from Johann HerrmanHerrmann, Johann (1738-1800).
German. Botanist and chemist. Professor
of medicine at Strasbourg. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
of Strassburg, a learned man with a beautiful collection of natural-history objects. He is looking forward to a reply to the long letter he wrote to Linnaeus [this letter has not come down to us].


a. original holograph (LS, II, 38-39). [1] [2] [3]


1. Resa (1780), vol. 2, p. 236-243 .
2. Bref och skrifvelser (1909), vol. I:3, p. 246-252   p.246  p.247  p.248  p.249  p.250  p.251  p.252.