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Link: • Peter Collinson to Carl Linnaeus, 29 January 1744 n.s.
Dated January the 18. OS 1743-4. Sent from London (Great Britain) to Uppsala (Sweden). Written in English.


Peter CollinsonCollinson, Peter (1694-1768).
British. Merchant and amateur naturalist
in London, corresponded with many
scientists. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
had almost despaired of getting a letter from Linnaeus, since the latest letter was dated August 3, 1739 [this letter has not come down to us]. However, Collinson received Linnaeus’s letter dated 25 July 1743 [this letter has not come down to us]. Collinson was sorry that his collection of American seeds had been lost in the mail [Collinson to Linnaeus, 21 April 1740Letter L0383], and he hopes for better success in the future. Now, he has prepared a parcel of seeds from South America and plans to add some from the North also, and this will be sent by the first ship. Collinson was glad to see that Coreopsis altissima and Collinsonia were accepted by Linnaeus, although he suspects that the Coreopsis is in fact a Rudbeckia. Collinson hopes John BartramBartram, John (1701-1777).
American. Botanist living in
Pennsylvania and Delaware. Father of
John Bartram the Younger and William
Bartram. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
will send more plants this year, and he suggests that Linnaeus names a new species Bartramia after him.

From North America, Collinson reports that Linnaeus’s Systema naturae is in high esteem [Collinson might refer to the the first edition, Systema naturaeLinnaeus, Carl Systema
naturae, sive regna tria naturae
systematice proposita per classes,
ordines, genera & species

(Leiden 1735). Soulsby no. 39.
]. He mentions John ClaytonClayton, John (1685-1773).
British/American. Physician and
botanist. Born i England, moved to
Virginia in North America in 1715. His
herbarium collected in Virginia was
published by Johan Frederik Gronovius
and Linnaeus in Flora Virginica
(1739, 1743). Correspondent of Linnaeus.
and Cadwallader ColdenColden, Cadwallader
(1688-1776). American. Physician of
Scottish origin, botanist, physicist,
politician. Lieutenant governor of New
York. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
as professors in Albany and John MitchellMitchell, John (1711-1768).
British/American. Physician and
botanist. Born in Virginia. After
studies in medicine at the University of
Edinburgh he returned to Virginia as a
physician, but left America for London
in 1746. Famous for his map of eastern
North-America, known as the Mitchell
Map, first published in 1755.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
at Urbanna in Virginia. The latter is a very prominent botanist, whom Collinson will contact to know why he had named a species of wild oats Elymus. Collinson has finished the first part of an edition of Mitchell’s botanical essays in Latin but is waiting for material to make a second part before going on to printing the work [Collinson refers to a list of Virginian plants, sent to him by Mitchell, and which Collinson forwarded to Christopher Jacob TrewTrew, Christopher Jacob
(1695-1769). German. Botanist,
physician and counsellor of the margrave
of Ansbach.
, who published it as ”D.D. Jo. Mitchell Dissertatio brevis de principiis botanicorum et zoologorum”Mitchell, John ”D.D. Jo.
Mitchell Dissertatio brevis de
principiis botanicorum et zoologorum
deque novo stabiliendo naturae rerum
congruo, cum appendice aliquot generum
plantarum recens conditorum”, in
"Appendix", in Acta
Physico-Medica Academiae Caesare
Leopoldino-Franciscanae naturae
curiosorum exhibentia Ephemerides
, 8
(1748), 187-224.
; a second edition of Mitchell’s work was published in 1769, D. Johannis Mitchell dissertatio brevis de principiis botanicorumMitchell, John D. Johannis
Mitchell dissertatio brevis de
principiis botanicorum et zoologorum
deque novo stabiliendo naturae rerum
congruo cum appendice aliquot generum
plantarum recens conditorum et in
Virginia observatorum
, 2nd ed.
(Nürnberg, 1769).
] .

Lord Petre [Collinson refers to Robert James PetrePetre, Robert James
(1713-1742). British. 8th Lord Petre.
is dead, a real loss to botany and gardening in Great Britain. He was a diligent collector and eager to preserve his plants and seeds. He had large greenhouses with heating, thirty feet high and with ample length and width. Collinson mentions the following plants found there: Hernandia, 10 feet high and five inches round the stem; Guajava, 13 feet high, 7 inches round the stem and 9 feet wide; male Papaw, 17 feet high, 2 feet 3 inches around the stem and bringing plenty of fruit every year; Anotto, a Ketmie species, 14 feet high, 11 inches around; Plantain or Musa, 24 feet high, with leaves 12 feet long and 3,5 feet wide, 3 feet 2 inches around the stem and bringing much fruit; a large palm, 14 feet high, 4 feet around the stem; Cerus, 24 feet high, 1 foot 4 inches around; female Papaw 20 feet high, 3 feet 9 inches around, with branches 7,5 feet long; Rosa Chinensis, 25 feet high; sago palm (Toddapanna), 8 feet high, 2 feet around the stem. There were several other plants too, but Collinson does not want to give a longer list.

Collinson describes the interior of the greenhouse with trellises to support the plants, among which were Flos passionis, Clematis species of all kinds, a creeping Cerus and other species that covered the whole of the walls. It was very beautiful and surprising. There was also a bamboo cane, 25 feet high.

Petre had also more greenhouses, lower than this one. He had a special greenhouse for pineapple, 60 feet long and 20 feet wide. The total number of plants, mostly exotic, was in Collinson’s estimate 219,925 at the time of Petre’s death.

Collinson thought it acceptable to Linnaeus to get some idea of Petre’s work and skill. He was a genius in the architecture, planning and design of his parks and gardens.

Spring is wonderful in England, and Collinson’s windows are full of pots that his gardener has sent him from his estate. He mentions a dozen of species, among which are Helleborus, Crocus, Leucoium. They all come naturally, without any culture, but some years they have come earlier than this year.

Collinson has forwarded Linnaeus’s complaints to Linnaeus’s friends in England, and they promise amendment, in particular Isaac LawsonLawson, Isaac (?-1747).
British. Scottish botanist and
physician. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
. Linnaeus should have heard from Lawson before he receives this letter.

Collinson has a repository for all sorts of gifts from distant friends, and he is eager to acquire all that furthers the knowledge of natural history. From Linnaeus, he asks for Pulsatilla, if Linnaeus has it available, and also a copy of Systema naturae in octavo or quarto format, since the large folio sheets are inconvenient for common use.

In postscripts, Collinson sends his regards to Peter FileniusFilenius, Peter (1704-1780).
Swedish. Bishop of Linköping.
Studied in England, professor of
Oriental languages at Lund.
and Celsus [presumably Olof CelsiusCelsius, Olof (1670-1756).
Swedish. Orientalist and theologian,
professor at Uppsala. Botanist and plant
collector, benefactor of Linnaeus.
Correspondent of Linnaeus.
]. He also encloses greetings and a specimen from Cadwallader ColdenColden, Cadwallader
(1688-1776). American. Physician of
Scottish origin, botanist, physicist,
politician. Lieutenant governor of New
York. Correspondent of Linnaeus.
, which Linnaeus should examine and see why he should make the Actea and Christophoriana different genera. He also encloses a box of cranberries or Oxycoccus, which may grow in mossy bogs. They come from Pennsylvania, for the English ones are small, only the size of red currants.


a. original holograph (LS, XVII, 6-8). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]


1. A selection (1821), vol. 1, p. 8-12   p.8  p.9  p.10  p.11  p.12.
2. “Forget not Mee & My Garden ...” (2002), p. 111-113 .