Letter L0467
Letter written by Abraham Bšck
Letter addressed to Carl Linnaeus
 
Date 11 October 1742

Summary

Abraham Bäck[+] wrote a letter to Linnaeus from London on August 16 [this letter has not come down to us], but he does not know if it has disappeared on the way. To show his gratitude, Bäck writes to Linnaeus as often as he writes to his mother [Margareta Bäck-Hedenberg[+]]. He hopes Linnaeus will continue to help him and to defend him against his enemies.

Bäck has been almost two months in England. He had been in Oxford for a week, where Johann Jacob Dillenius[+] had congratulated Linnaeus for his new position, which would help him to make use of his great talents in botany. Dillenius had wished Linnaeus could help him, for he did not seem well, and he was rather tired of Oxford. Since then, Bäck has been in Chelsea for a month to practice drawing with Georg Dionysius Ehret[+] an old friend of Linnaeusís, and to visit the botanical garden [The Chelsea Physic Garden] and Hans Sloaneís[+] museum. Philip Miller[+] has been kind to Bäck and let him take the specimens he wanted. He has got Linnaeusís letter [this letter has not come down to us], and he promises to send seeds. If Bäck gets these while he is still in London, he will arrange to send them to Linnaeus through the merchants Clason & Spalding[+]. Bäck has also been well received by Peter Collinson[+] and Mark Catesby[+], and now he is living in the same house as Isaac Lawson[+]. Linnaeus is fully aware of the state of botany in England. Plants are collected and transferred to England from all of Virginia and Carolina. If Linnaeus could be in England for a year, there would be many new characters of such species. Bäck has seen Linnaeusís friend John Martyn[+], who mentions Linnaeus honourably in his Virgilís[+] Georgica [Bäck refers to the Pub. Virgilii Maronis Georgicorum libri quatuor[+], edited and translated into English by Martyn] and quotes a long passage from Flora Lapponica[+]. He will go on with his Decades [Bäck refers to the Historia plantarum rariorum[+]; no more volumes of this work was published after 1737] next summer. Dillenius is said to have a collection of rare plants as large as Hortus Elthamensis[+], and he will publish it when he gets subscriptions. Bäck was pleased to hear from Dillenius, after many preambles, that Linnaeusís method was the best one for putting names to dry specimens. Bäck had answered that it should be equally good for living plants, to which Dillenius has not answered anything. Bäck has examined many American plants and used Genera plantarum[+], which he would not be without for anything. Linnaeusís name system is superior, and Bäck wishes that Philosophia botanica[+] was published or that there was some explication for beginners of terms available like that found in Fundamenta botanica[+].

Bäck had happened to get a fresh flower of a bush that had recently arrived from John Clayton[+] to Catesby. It is no doubt a Hamamelis, described by Johan Frederik Gronovius[+]. Bäck gives a full description of it.

He comments on some details that must have been missing in the specimen used by Gronovius, and he is confident that he will see who is right, when the flowering continues.

Bäck has also seen Hura flower. He comments on some details of its petals and stamens, but he hopes to be able to observe it better later on.

There is nothing new this time from Virginia except a specimen of Magnoliae affinis. Bäck has not been able to examine it thoroughly, but he gives a description.

Bäck sends his regards to the two Celsiusís [Anders Celsius[+] and Olof Celsius[+]] , Magnus Olai Beronius[+] and other patrons and friends.

P.S. Bäck asks Linnaeus to forward an enclosure immediately.

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