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Link: • Jacob Jonas Björnståhl to Carl Linnaeus, 22 December 1775 n.s.
Dated 22 Decembris 1775. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in Swedish.


Jakob Jonas Björnståhl’sBjörnståhl, 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
sojourn in England is drawing to an end; he will soon leave Europe for Turkey and settle down in Constantinople. Linnaeus’s name is well-known among turks and barbarians. After an absence of nine years he had hoped to return to Sweden, but royal orders had changed that. Now he wants to express his reverence and to wish Linnaeus a happy and prosperous new year. It would be wonderful to receive a letter from him in Constantinople. He sends greetings to all his friends in Uppsala.

John MillerMiller, John (1715-1780).
German. Painter and engraver. Moved to
London in 1744. Published Illustratio
systematis sexualis Linnaei
sends his respects to Linnaeus whom he adores. He will publish a de luxe edition of Linnaeus’s sexual system with numerous illustrations and adorned with a portrait of him and the flower that bears his name [Björnståhl refers to the An illustration on the sexual systemMiller, John An illustration
on the sexual system of the Genera
plantarum of Linnaeus
]. There will also be a portrait of John FothergillFothergill, John (1712-1780).
British. Physician and collector of
natural history objects. Studied in
Holland, France and Germany. His cabinet
of zoological and mineralogical
specimens as well as his botanical
garden at Upton were well known.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
to whom he dedicates his work. Thanks to this work, the simplest gardener will be able to understand the Linnean system. Miller entreats Linnaeus to review and complete his version so it will become absolutely perfect. Linnaeus can also correct the printed tables he has already sent him; Miller will then reprint a correct version and send back to him. Miller dares not ask Linnaeus, so Björnståhl acts on his behalf, but Linnaeus will be amply thanked and honoured in the preface. Miller can procure all kinds of plants for Linnaeus from Kew Gardens, Chelsea, the King’s pleasure palace, and from Fothergill himself. Miller has been very kind to Björnståhl and his company as they are compatriots and friends of ”his Oracle”. He has shown them the famous gardens and often invited them to his home. When Miller proposes a toast, he drinks to the King of England [George IIIGeorge III, (1738-1820).
British. Reigned 1760-1820. Son of
George II.
], to the King of Sweden [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.
] and to Linnaeus; often he drinks to Linnaeus first. 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.
now returns to Sweden. Miller sends with him some engravings in colour and rare seeds to Linnaeus and a letter written in English to be translated by Rudbeck.

Johann Reinhold ForsterForster, Johann Reinhold
(1729-1798). German. Naturalist and
voyager. Visited St Petersburg, Moscow,
Saratov and Constantinople before he
went to England. In 1772 he took part in
Cook’s second voyage. Moved to Halle in
1780 to become director of the botanical
garden. Father of Johan Georg Adam
Forster. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
sends his respects. Björnståhl has seen Linnaeus’s letter to him and the sentence in Swedish to Anders SparrmanSparrman, Anders (1748-1820).
Swedish. Naturalist, physician and
traveller. Disciple of Linnaeus. In 1765
he went on a voyage to China and in 1772
to the Cape of Good Hope, where he
served as a tutor. Later the same year,
Sparrman went on James Cook´s
second voyage as assistant naturalist to
Johann Reinhold Forster and his son
Johan Georg Adam Forster. After his
return to Sweden in 1776 he was
appointed keeper of the natural
historical collections of the Royal
Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1780. In
1787 he participated in an expedition to
West Africa. Practicing physician in
Stockholm. Author of several works, the
best known of which is his account of
his travels in South Africa and with
Cook. Son of Brita and Eric Sparrman.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
[this letter has not come down to us]. As Sparrman is still on the Cape of Good Hope, he will not be able to read it for a long time, but Miller has promised to forward all messages to him. Karl Gottfried WoideWoide, Karl Gottfried
(1725-1790). German. One of
Europe´s leading Coptic scholars,
school friend of Johann Reinhold Forster
in Berlin.
, Aron MathesiusMathesius, Aron (1736-1808).
Swedish. Clergyman, first at the Swedish
church in London, thereafter vicar at
the parish of Fågelås,
, Christopher SpringerSpringer, Christopher
(1704-1776). Swedish. Travelling
salesman, churchwarden at the Swedish
church in London.
, HellstedtHellstedt, Swedish. Merchant,
and the whole Swedish colony in London send their respects. At a dinner party in Hellstedt’s home there was an English guest named Captain BrowelBrowel, British. Captain,
who visited Hammarby last summer and met Jakob Magnus SprengtportenSprengtporten, Jakob Magnus
(1727-1786). Swedish. Lieutenant
there. He has been very well received. Then they all drank to Linnaeus’s health. Hellstedt is an important merchant in London; he studied in Uppsala, was a private tutor to the children of Samuel AurivilliusAurivillius, Samuel
(1721-1767). Swedish. Professor of
medicine, Uppsala. Correspondent of
, and studied in Göttingen and Paris where Björnståhl became acquainted with him. Hellstedt has been very kind to Björnståhl and helped him both in London and in Oxford where he spent four months last summer in the Bodleian Library.

John HillHill, John (1716-1775).
British. Pharmacist, physician and
supervisor of the botanical gardens at
Kew. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has died. Björnståhl has read in the newspapers that Lazzaro SpallanzaniSpallanzani, Lazzaro
(1729-1799). Italian. Priest, biologist
and physiologist.
of Pavia has become a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences [Kungliga Svenska VetenskapsakademienKungliga Svenska Vetenskapsakademien,
Swedish. The Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences, Stockholm. Founded
in 1739.
], which Björnståhl had recommended in a letter from Pavia. He is grateful for Linnaeus’s support in bringing that about. Now Björnståhl is eager to recommend another friend: Jean Baptiste Gaspard D’Ansse de VilloisonD’Ansse de Villoison, Jean Baptiste
(1750-1808). French.
Professor of Greek, Paris.
of Paris, a great name in France and all Europe, especially as a linguist. Björnståhl has contributed to making him a member of the Royal Society, LondonRoyal Society, London,
British. The Royal Society was founded
in Oxford in 1645 and sanctioned as a
royal society in 1662.
and Society of Antiquaries of LondonSociety of Antiquaries of London,
in London, so now he is hoping to have the same success in his own country. D’Ansse de Villoison, famous for his Lexicon Homericum Apollonii [Björnståhls refers to the [Apollÿniou lexikon.] = : Apollonii Sophistae Lexicon Graecum Iliadis et OdyssaeD’Ansse de Villoison, Jean Baptiste
lexikon.] = : Apollonii Sophistae
Lexicon Graecum Iliadis et Odysseae. /
Primus ex codice manuscripto
sangermanensi in lucem vindicavit ...
notis atque animadversionibus perpetuis
illustravit, & versionem Latinam
adjecit, Johannes Baptista Casparus
D'Ansse De Villoison
(Paris, 1773).
] is now working on Ionia, a work of Eudoxia, Empress of Constantinople [Björnståhls refers to the Anecdota GraecaD’Ansse de Villoison, Jean Baptiste
Anecdota Graeca : e
Regia Parisiensi, & e Veneta S.
Marci bibliothecis deprompta / edidit
Johannes Baptista Caspar d'Ansse de
(Venice, 1781)
, where the part of Ionia is edited by D’Ansse de Villoison]. In Nya Lärda Tidningar 2 November 1775 his other works are presented and also a letter from him to Björnståhl. Carl Fredrik Rudbeck and Björnståhl have written to Emanuel De GeerDe Geer, Emanuel (1748-1803).
Swedish. Chamberlain. Envoy in Holland.
Councillor in Sweden. Son of Charles De
Geer and Catharina Charlotta Ribbing.
in the Hague and asked him to use his influence and recommend him too.

P.S. 1. Anders Eilert BarfothBarfoth, Anders Eilert
(1738-1819). Swedish. Professor of
Anatomy, Lund.
sends his respects. He wants to see how anatomy and medicine are studied in London and will then go to Paris.

P.S. 2. This morning Björnståhl had breakfast with Fothergill who sends his respects. He is a very busy man and has no time to write lettters. He is the most famous physician in London and works from early morning to late night. His garden outside London is magnificent; he offers Linnaeus all the plants he would like. He is a friend of Miller’s. Fothergill, being a Quaker, wants to donate a rare Bible in English to the Royal Library [the library of the Swedish Royal family].

P.S. 3. [Dated London 26 December 1775] Rudbeck will return to Sweden with Miller’s tables of plants; Linnaeus can safely correct them, and complete his own copies, and send them back to Miller. Nobody but Linnaeus can do this. Daniel SolanderSolander, Daniel (1733-1782).
Swedish. Naturalist, explorer. Student
in Uppsala under Linnaeus and Johan
Gottschalk Wallerius. Went to London in
1760. Curator of natural history
collections at the British Museum.
Botanist on Cook’s first voyage
1768-1771. Joseph Bank’s librarian.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
has no time to do it; he is invited to dinner parties every day. Björnståhl hopes that Linnaeus has received the letter he wrote when he lived with Maximilien-Henri, marquis de Saint-SimonSaint-Simon, Maximilien-Henri,
marquis de
(1720-1799). French.
Marquis, living in Amelisweerd, Utrecht.
. In this letter, Björnståhl to Linnaeus, 8 February 1775Letter L5087, he mentioned his host’s book on hyacinths [Des jacintes, de leur anatomie, reproduction et cultureSaint-Simon, Maximilien-Henri,
marquis de
Des jacintes, de leur
anatomie, reproduction et culture

(Amsterdam, 1768).
] that he had sent to Linnaeus but had received no acknowledgment, and how much appreciated Linnaeus’s letter to the Princess of Baden [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.
] had been [Björnståhl here refers to Linnaeus’s letter to him, dated 28 February 1774Letter L4959]. She has written a gracious letter back; she wants to know if there will be a mineral collection from Sweden for her museum.

Björnståhl sends his greetings to his friends in Uppsala: Johan IhreIhre, Johan (1707-1780).
Swedish. Philologist. Professor of Latin
and later of eloquence and political
science at Uppsala.
, 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.
, Lars HydrénHydrén, Lars
(1694-1789). Swedish. Professor of
poetry 1744 and of theology 1753,
Uppsala. Dean at the Uppsala cathedral
1764. Father of Anna Catharina Waldius
and father-in-law of Erik Waldius.
, Carl AurivilliusAurivillius, Carl (1717-1786).
Swedish. Professor of Oriental
languages, Uppsala. Correspondent of
. He cannot understand how the Uppsala university council [Uppsala Universitets konsistoriumUppsala Universitets konsistorium,
Swedish. The Consistorium [Board]
of Uppsala University.
] can withdraw his yearly scholarship of 600 ’daler’without 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.
] permission. He needs the money for all his travels for the benefit of the country.

Björnståhl and his friend Rudbeck send their regards to Governor Rudbeck [Thure Gustaf Rudbeck Rudbeck, Thure Gustaf
(1714-1786). Swedish. Lieutenant
colonel, major-general and county
governor of the county of Uppland.
]. Young Rudbeck will soon leave for Sweden, a sad event as they have been inseparable for ten years. Björnståhl’s departure has been delayed until the middle of January.

Björnståhl has received a gracious letter from Carl Fredrik SchefferScheffer, Carl Fredrik
(1715-1786). Swedish. Count, diplomat,
politician and councillor. Tutor to the
Swedish crown prince Gustav. Influenced
by the physiocrats in France. Brother of
Ulrik Scheffer. Correspondent of
informing him that the King will make him a professor at the University of Lund.

How is the new version of the Bible proceeding [Björnståhl refers to the Bible [revision] committee [Kongliga Bibel-CommissionenKongliga Bibel-Commissionen,
Swedish. The Bible [revision] committee
was set up in 1772.
]? Björnståhl has only seen Genesis. Carl Aurivillius is our greatest expert on Oriental languages. Magnus Fredrik BraheBrahe, Magnus Fredrik
(1756-1826). Swedish.
, Edvard GyldenstolpeGyldenstolpe, Edvard
(1726-1789). Swedish. Major.
and Olof WetterquistWetterquist, Olof (1733-1809).
Swedish. Major.
arrived in London recently.

P.S. 4. If Björnståhl had not been sent to Constantinople, he would have returned to Sweden and started his project to write Linnaeus’s biography, just as Johann Georg von ZimmermannZimmermann, Johann Georg von
(1728-1795). Swiss. Physician.
has written one about Albert Haller [Björnståhl refers to the Das Leben des Herrn von HallerZimmermann, Johann Georg von
Das Leben des Herrn von Haller
(Zürich, 1755).
]. Björnståhl hopes that somebody else will take on this task; all Europe is looking forward to reading about Linnaeus’s life.


a. original holograph (LS, II, 44-46). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


1. Bref och skrifvelser (1909), vol. I:3, p. 261-270   p.261  p.262  p.263  p.264  p.265  p.266  p.267  p.268  p.269  p.270.