-Search for letters
-Search in texts






Link: • Jacob Jonas Björnståhl to Carl Linnaeus, 8 February 1775 n.s.
Dated 8 Febr. 1775. Sent from Amelisweerd (Netherlands) 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
wishes Linnaeus a happy and prosperous new year with many returns and thanks for his dear letters [one of these letters is known, Linnaeus to Björnståhl 28 February 1774Letter L4959, the other letters from Linnaeus have not come down to us], that were delivered by Carl Johan CreutzCreutz, Carl Johan (1725-1793).
Swedish. Envoy in the Netherlands.
in the Hague. The letters had been there for almost a year. Björnståhl has hurried to Hartecamp to see the portrait of Linnaeus as a young man, but, like many other things, it was not there any more. The garden, the grottos, the greenhouse, the ponds, the avenues were still there but paradise and other famous installations are in decay. Young Clifford [Petrus CliffordClifford, Petrus (1713-1788).
Dutch. Mayor of Amsterdam. George
Clifford’s son. Correspondent of
] is mayor of Amsterdam and has not his father’s [George Clifford’sClifford, George (1685-1760).
Dutch. Banker and merchant in Amsterdam,
Linnaeus’s benefactor. Owner of
Hartecamp and its botanical garden
outside Haarlem. Correspondent of
] ardent interest in these things. It was Linnaeus’s work Hortus CliffortianusLinnaeus, Carl Hortus
Cliffortianus, plantas exhibens quas in
hortis tam vivis quam siccis Hartecampi
in Hollandia coluit [...] Georgius
(Amsterdam 1737). Soulsby
no. 328.
that made Clifford’s name immortal, not his riches. When Björnståhl and his inseparable friend Carl FredrikRudbeckRudbeck, 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.
were walking in the garden of Hartecamp and returning to Harlem they repeatedly said to each other that the great and famous Linnaeus has walked there many times.Thanks to the Burmanns, father and son [Johannes BurmanBurman, Johannes (1707-1779).
Dutch. Botanist, professor of medicine
in Amsterdam. Close friend of Linnaeus.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, Nicolaas Laurens BurmanBurman, Nicolaas Laurens
(1734-1793). Dutch. Professor of
botany. Linnaeus’s pupil in Uppsala in
1760. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
], who both send their regards to Linnaeus, they finally succeeded in finding the portrait. It had been bought by a certain Du Feirou van LimmenDu Feirou van Limmen, Dutch.
who reluctantly let them see young Linnaeus dressed as a Lapp, a beautiful but hardly lifelike portrait.

In Amsterdam, Björnståhl has met Carl Gustaf DahlbergDahlberg, Carl Gustaf (?-?).
Swedish. Colonel and owner of a
plantation in Surinam. Daniel Rolander
went to Surinam to serve as tutor for
Dahlberg’s children. Correspondent of
who sends his respects to Linnaeus and asks if the Surinam plants he sent were to the King’s [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.
] liking. They were preserved in alcohol. Did Linnaeus understand his description? If Surinam plants are of interest to Linnaeus, Dahlberg will be happy to send more. Next month he will go back to Surinam with his wife and son. He wouldn’t mind selling his property and return to Sweden, but he is not sure he will be welcomed; Swedish envy reigning everywhere also makes him hesitant to take this step. Björnståhl has asked Dahlberg to send the flower of Cacao to Linnaeus; then he can settle the dispute with Maarten HouttynHouttuyn, Maarten (1720-1798).
Dutch. Physician and naturalist.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
in Amsterdam who classifies it differently from Linnaeus. Hottuyn is publishing Systema naturae in Dutch Natuurlyke historieHouttuyn, Maarten Natuurlyke
historie oft uitvoerige beschryving der
Dieren, Planten en Mineraalen, volgens
het samenstel van [... ]Linnaeus
3 vol. (Amsterdam 1761-1785) . Soulsby
no. 73.
, an enlarged edition with numerous illustrations. Only the animal part comprises 20 volumes; he is now publishing the plants.

Björnståhl has translated Linnaeus’s letter [Linnaeus to Björnståhl 28 February 1774Letter L4959], into French and sent it to 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.
] who has written back and expressed her enthusiasm. She promises to keep to Linnaeus’s plan and order when editing Species plantarum [Björnståhl here refers to the planned ”Icones omnium specierum plantarum Linnaei Equitis”; the work was never published] and then follow all his advice and instructions. She will sow seeds of all the plants that will be published in order to get absolutely perfect models. She would be grateful for rare seeds from Linnaeus if she can not get them there. As Linnaeus recommended, she has acquired John Miller’sMiller, John (1715-1780).
German. Painter and engraver. Moved to
London in 1744. Published Illustratio
systematis sexualis Linnaei
work [An illustration on the sexual systemMiller, John An illustration
on the sexual system of the Genera
plantarum of Linnaeus
]. She subscribes to it, of economic reasons, in the name of her engraver Jean Fabien Gauthier d’AgotyGauthier d´Agoty, Jean Fabian
(1747-1781). French. Illustrator
and engraver. Son of Jacques Fabian
Gauthier d´Agoty.
. The Princess has asked Björnståhl and through him Linnaeus to recommend others to subscribe to Miller’s work. Many influential officials of Karlsruhe witness how popular Linnaeus’s letter is with the whole court; it has even been copied and circulated. The learned Maximilien-Henri, marquis de Saint-SimonSaint-Simon, Maximilien-Henri,
marquis de
(1720-1799). French.
Marquis, living in Amelisweerd, Utrecht.
has translated it into more elegant French. The Marquis de Saint-Simon has a beautiful estate named Amelisweeth, near Utrecht, with greenhouses. Björnståhl is a guest there and every day he can enjoy asparagus, strawberries, and pineapples now in midwinter. The Marquis de Saint-Simon is married to a rich countess, owns a beautiful library and is the author of several books. He has sent them to the Swedish King [Gustav III] without receiving any acknowledgement. He has also written a work in botany, richly illustrated: Des jacintes, de leur anatomie, reproduction et cultureSaint-Simon, Maximilien-Henri,
marquis de
Des jacintes, de leur
anatomie, reproduction et culture

(Amsterdam, 1768).
. He sent it to Linnaeus some years ago through Henrik Wilhelm PeillPeill, Henrik Wilhelm
(1730-1797). Swedish. Wholesale dealer,
Stockholm. Husband of Anna Johanna
, the son-in-law of Claes GrillGrill, Claes (1705-1767).
Swedish. Merchant, owner of the iron
works of Söderfors, Österby
and Iggesund. Director of the Swedish
East India Company. Also known as an art
collector and patron of arts and
sciences. Brother of Anthoni Grill and
Johan Abraham Grill. Correspondent of
[Peill was married to Grill’s daughter Anna Johanna PeillPeill, Anna Johanna Swedish.
Wife of Henrik Wilhelm Peill, daughter
of Claes Grill.
], but has not heard anything from him. Björnståhl has excused Linnaeus by pointing out that Linnaeus did not know who had sent it as the volume is anonymous. In his microscopic examinations, the Marquis de Saint-Simon has corroborated Linnaeus’s findings in his sexual system. In the book on hyacinths he praises Linnaeus’s Philosophia botanicaLinnaeus, Carl Philosophia
botanica, in qua explicantur fundamenta
botanica cum definitionibus partium,
(Stockholm 1751). Soulsby no.
. He proves that the bulb of the hyacinth is not a pump that sucks in moist but an excretory vessel. He also presented new advice about the cultivation of hyacinths. This work has attracted attention in the The Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin [Preussiche Akademie der WissenschaftenKönigliche Akademie der
Wissenschaften, Royal Academy of
Sciences in Berlin
Founded at the instigation of Leibniz in
1700 as the
Societät der Wissenschaften. In
1744 it merged with the
Société Littéraire
du Berlin (which had been founded in
1743) to form the Königliche
Akademie der Wissenschaften.
], and Johann Gottlieb GleditschGleditsch, Johann Gottlieb
(1714-1786). German. Botanist and
sylviculturist in Berlin, disciple of
Anton Wilhelm Platz and Johann Ernst
Hebenstreit, supervisor of Caspar Bose’s
garden 1731-1735, professor at the
Collegium Medico-Chirurgicum in 1746.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
praises it in La Gazette Litteraire de Berlin,18 July 1768.

In Mannheim Björnståhl has met Noël Joseph von NeckerNecker, Noël Joseph von
(1729-1793). . Director of the
Botanical Garden in the Rhine
Palatinate. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
who claims to have reached new results about Cryptogamia when observing the mosses, published the previous year [Physiologia MuscorumNecker, Noël Joseph von
Physiologia Muscorum per examen
analyticum de corporibus variis
naturalibus inter se collatis
continuitatem proximamve animalis cum
vegetabili concatenationem
(Mannheim, 1774).
]. He disapproves of 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.
, and will also argue against him. He has a critical point against Linnaeus’s classification of Cryptogamia. Friedrich Casimir MedicusMedicus, Friedrich Casimir
(1736-1808). German. Doctor of
Medicine. Curator of the Botanical
garden in Mannheim.
, another botanist of Manheim, adores Linnaeus’s system that has helped him identify about 200 new species, unknown to those in Paris [Björnståhl means Jardin du Roi, Jardin des plantes, ParisJardin des plantes, Paris,
French. The Jardin des plantes was
founded in 1597 to produce flower models
for the manufacturing of tapestry in
Paris. In 1626 it became a garden for
medical and pharmaceutical plants. In
1739 it was again transformed to le
Jardin du roi, where also a natural
history museum was built. Later in the
eigteenth century a zoological garden
and a library were added.
], who gave him the seeds, because they do not use the Linnaean method. When the people from Jardin du Roi got to see the catalogue Medicus had pulished [Index plantarumMedicus, Friedrich Casimir
Index plantarum Horti Electoralis
Manhemiensis. Autore Frid. Casim.
Medicus, etc.
(Mannheim, 1771).
], they asked for seeds, which they already hade given him. Medicus often has disputes with Necker; they are members of the same Academy. He publishes his findings in the Academy’s publications. Medicus sends his respects to Linnaeus.

It is strange that Linnaeus has not received Johann Herrman’sHerrmann, Johann (1738-1800).
German. Botanist and chemist. Professor
of medicine at Strasbourg. Correspondent
of Linnaeus.
letter [this letter has not come down to us]. Doctor Ribe [presumably Carl RibbenRibben, Carl (1734-1803).
Swedish. Physician, assessor of the
Collegium medicum. Lived in Strasbourg
fom 1768.
] promised to hand it over personally.

Björnståhl has greetings from Pieter BoddaertBoddaert, Pieter (1730?-?).
Dutch. Naturalist and physician. Friend
of Albert Schlosser, whose cabinet of
natural history objects he described.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
of Utrecht, author of several books in natural history; he is now publishing the butterflies of Asia, Africa and America, in colour, an impressive work. Pieter CramerCramer, Pieter (1721-1776).
Dutch. Merchant in Spanish wool with a
great interest in butterflies.
has almost all these butterflies in his collection in Amsterdam, and they have been the models for Boddaert’s publication [Björnståhl means presumably the De uitlandsche kapellenCramer, Pieter De uitlandsche
kapellen voorkomende in de drie
waereld-deelen Asia, Africa en
(Amsterdam, 1779-1782).
, published by Cramer from 1779, from 1791 by Caspar StollStoll, Caspar (d. 1795).
, Aanhangsel van het werk, De uitlandsche kapellenCramer, Pieter & Caspar Stoll
Aanhangsel van het werk, De
uitlandsche kapellen [...
]Supplément à l'ouvrage,
intitulé Les papillons exotiques
(Amsterdam, 1791).
; Boddaert was involved in this work, as he was one of the owners of natural-history cabinets].

P.S. 1. Has the King [Gustav III] ordered minerals to be sent for the Baden collection? The Princess is very grateful for Linnaeus’s agency in this matter.

P.S. 2. At the dinner table, Marquis de Saint Simon and his wife proposed a toast in Linnaeus’s honour. They send their respects.

P.S. 3. Björnståhl will soon leave Holland and go to England. This day 200 years ago, the Leiden University was founded; there are great celebrations and Hieronymus David GaubGaub, Hieronymus David
(1705-1780). German. Physician,
professor of chemistry and medicine at
the vice chancellor, will make an oration. Björnståhl did not go there in the bad weather.

P.S. 4. Björnståhl sends his respects to Thure Gustaf RudbeckRudbeck, Thure Gustaf
(1714-1786). Swedish. Lieutenant
colonel, major-general and county
governor of the county of Uppland.
and his wife. Björnståhl has read in a newspaper that he has become a councillor and that Prince Karl [Karl XIIIKarl XIII, (1748-1818).
Swedish. Prince. Son of King Adolf
Fredrik and Queen Lovisa Ulrika, brother
of Gustav III and Sofia Albertina.
] will settle down in Uppsala to encourage the Muses. Young Rudbeck [Carl Fredrik Rudbeck] is well and sends his respects. Björnståhl sends greetings to Christopher ClewbergClewberg, Christopher
(1706-1776). Swedish. Professor of
Oriental languages in Uppsala, in
theology 1760. Vicar at the parish of
Denmark, outside Uppsala. Brother of
Carl Abraham Clewberg.
and thanks for his dear and beautiful letter.


a. original holograph (LS, II, 42-43). [1] [2] [3]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1909), vol. I:3, p. 255-261   p.255  p.256  p.257  p.258  p.259  p.260  p.261.