|| Linnaeus considers the
conception of Flora as a kind of femininity to be adored and loved with
the utmost passion. To indulge in Flora's study is therefore a matter
solely for men, something else is not in his thoughts. However, an
exception would be Lady Anne Monson (see below!), who possessed an
extraordinary knowledge of Botany. She was also far more well-travelled
(her husband was Brigadier General in the East Indies!) than Linnaeus
himself and stood in rank comparable to the most brilliant of his
disciples. Linnaeus’ disciple Thunberg met with the
Lady Monson on his way to Japan.
Starting from the plant kingdom Linnaeus tried to comprehend all the
links in the ecological chain. He even included minerals and elements.
Linnaeus is obviously fond of the rare gems. Is it the beauty of nature
that enthral him? On the other hand, his interest does not seem to go
beyond our planet, if we exclude things that can be attributed to his
purely religious beliefs: Linnaeus was deeply religious and
always prayed whether he experienced a crisis or not. On the
return journey from Gotland, the ship came into a storm: "... the waves
were furious ... The ship was thrown among the roaring waves. Gotland
disappeared. The comrades were seasick. Tackle began to run. Despair
captured our hearts, and we commanded ourselves into God’s
hands." When they at last caught sight of land at
safely arrived in port, Linnaeus exclaimed: "... we praise God who
saved us from the midst of danger." It was not rarely that
Linnaeus went to church. On some of these occasions he had his dog with
him, something that apparently was not appreciated by all. In
beliefs Linnaeus believed in the Nemesis divina, meaning that a
punishment by God affected those who committed immoral acts. Perhaps
these thoughts arose within him when he was working as a physician,
when he the often had to deal with several so-called
sicknesses” (venereal diseases).
Linnaeus’ activities are described by himself as
creavit, Linnaeus disposuit” (God created, Linnaeus
What human beings had created Linnaeus ignored almost completely, may
it concern art, music, painting, or anything derived by human talent,
ability or expertise. Only in exceptional circumstances did Linnaeus
involve himself in matters of human interest. One such exception was
Linnaeus' interest in carvings of stones. He carefully copied the runes
on every stone he met. But in visits to ancient castles and fortresses
he was looking mostly for lichens, fungi and mosses on stones or plants
in the immediate vicinity.
According to Linnaeus' own
words, he was the
one who turned up and down the Celsius temperature scale. In a letter
to a French friend Linnaeus argues: "It was I who invented our
thermometer ...". Anders Celsius wanted the boiling-point of
water to be zero degrees and the freezing point to be one hundred.
Linnaeus said he wanted an opposite scale and we can clearly see whose
idea won the discussion. Celsius changed his idea according to
Linnaeus’ advice and set the water freezing point at zero and
boiling point at 100 degrees. (C is sometimes seen as Latin Centum =
Linnaeus experimented with
artificial pearls - by inserting grains of sand - in freshwater
mussels. Initially his experiments in this business
The roots of naming and structure
The one who came
influence the perception of the natural sciences, from Antiquity
through the Middle Ages and up until the 1600s, was Aristotle.
Aristotle is probably the most famous scientist of all time. He was
born in 384 BC in Stagira on the north coast of the Aegean Sea. He was
the son of a rich man, who was also a physician. At the age of
seventeen, Aristotle came to Athens, where he studied at Plato's
Academy. Around 340 BC, he became a teacher of Alexander the Great.
Alexander supported Aristotle economically and also sent him unusual
plants and animals from his wide campaigns. Aristotle founded a
philosophical school in Athens called the Lyceum. Aristotle was
teaching all the sciences, except mathematics. He was without
comparison the most learned man of Antiquity. Of his 170 publications
are, however, only 47 remain. We can find traces of Aristotle in the
later household system of Martin Luther, that man would take a
prominent place in the social system. ("When everyone takes his proper
place, everything will go well"). Man would do research and investigate
things to move forward in life; fate was not steering man. Aristotle
emphasized patriarchy in terms of who should govern. Concerning
universe he was occupied by a geocentric position: that is, the earth
is the center of the universe around which everything revolves.
Aristotle's theories later became so strong that they had a character
of a law, which could not be questioned; it could even, in some cases
lead to death punishment (when talking about freedom of opinion and
expression! see Forsskål). When Alexander the Great
Babylon in 323 BC, Aristotle was forced to flee from Athens. He was
accused of a lack of reverence towards the gods. Aristotle knew what
had happened to Socrates and feared the same fate. Aristotle died after
a stomach sickness, one year after the escape, 62 years old, on 7 March
Aristotle's view of science can be briefly described as follows: he
divides the animals into two main groups, animals with blood and
animals without blood.
|ANIMALS WITH BLOOD
Four-footed animals giving birth to live offspring
3 .Egg-laying four-footed animals.
2. Soft-skinned animals (higher crustaceans).
3. Insects (insects, spiders, centipedes, worms).
4. Hard-skinned animals (sea urchins, snails, clams, sea
Between Aristotle and Linnaeus
Aristotle's great mistake was that he assumed the red color of blood
fluid. Now it appears that almost all animals have blood fluid, but
some without red paint and Aristotle's classification is therefore is
incorrect. In Ancient times it was believed that lower organisms and
species arose spontaneously out of lifeless material, the damp soil,
"Mother Earth", known as the theory of spontaneous generation.
had happened in Botany and Natural Science during the past two
millennia, which lies between Aristotle's and 1700's? Here is a summary
around 350 BC Parts of the
animals with blood / without blood as described above.
about 300 BC described
around 500 known plant species.
about 50 AD Greek physician
and botanist from Anatolia,
field doctor during the emperors Claudius and Nero. In Dioscorides Peri
Hyles iatrices (Engl. on medical materials), he describes 600 medicinal
plants. This publication was used for nearly 1500 years as a manual for
Senior (or the Older) (died in the Pompeii
eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD) wrote down all the known ancient
botanical information in his Historia Naturalis, a most comprehensive
encyclopedia consisting of 37 books.
al-Baita 1200s, probably the greatest botanist of the
started with Spain, explored then large parts of the Middle East.
1200s, made numerous
botanici: Otto Brunfels, Leonhard Fuchs, Jerome Bock.
Gesner 1500s, Swiss Natural Scientist, a professor at
and Zurich, edites the opuses of History animalum in five volumes and
History plantarum. He was the first person to introduce a certain
system of plants.
Lobelius (1538-1616), grouped the plants by leaf shape.
Cesalpino 1500s Italian botanist, professor at Pisa,
physician, author of The plantis (On the plants) in which he grouped
plants for fruits and seeds in nature.
Bauhin 1600s, Swiss botanist, professor in Basel in
Botany, Anatomy and Medicine, made a clear distinction between family
and species and created a binary taxonomy, author of Pinax theatri
botanici (on the growing process, foliage, a botanical drama) numbering
over 6,000 plants.
Rivinius 1600s introduced his own system for plants.
Bromelius 1600s, physician, botanist. Author of Chloris
Catalogus Stirpium circa Gothoburg, nascentium, Sweden's first
provincial flora ever.
Ray (1628-1705) was the first in the modern sense
term of a species. He made his own plant systematics based on the
cotyledons. Presented the great work Historia Plantarum Nova 1-3. Seen
as one of the most important predecessors of Linnaeus. Ray (Rajus) was
still working according to Aristotle's basic principles.
Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), set up a system based on
During the 1600s and 1700s during the early decades there are also a
number of other names of scientists, specialists of plant anatomy,
plant physiology and plant geography, which shows significant
activities in Botany and that much was afoot at the time of Linnaeus'
Aristotle unfortunately supported that view, which now can only be
considered of curiosity value.
The scientific situation in the early 1700s.
Sweden's position as a major political power came to an end with
Charles XII's death in 1718. We could say that the fight for Sweden was
now in other areas, especially that of Science. Many countries wanted
to have influence over the new developments: England, Spain, Germany,
France, Holland and even Denmark. The large white spots on the world
shrank and hitherto inaccessible and unexplored areas was
surveyed. Linnaeus' posting of the Apostles may be seen as a
in the scientific fight. New species of flora and fauna - in their
hundreds and thousands - were now known to Science.
How to bring order to this chaos? It was complicated by what was
already known. As Linnaeus was part of Botany, his
point became this area because that was what he knew best. Linnaeus
realized a necessity for simplification of a species description, and
the introduction of an entirely new classification of plants based on
plant sexual characters.
Already with Dr. Rothman (from Vaillant, his thesis entitled
Sermo de Structura Florum was published in 1718) he had obtained the
idea of stamen and pistil functions. Here was the seed (!) for the
doctrine of the sexual system. Concerning the animals, he
his species identification on the teeth instead of feet , which Ray
used as basic elements. Now it is not just about plants and Linnaeus
extends his activity to the whole realm of Science.
Linnaeus' breakthrough must be said to be the 1753 edition of Species
Plantarum, in which the binomial nomenclature is presented. A gigantic
work is now mega-important in terms of structure, terminology,
nomenclature. Louis Gerard now predicted that Linnaeus will be greater
than Newton himself.
Instead of using long descriptions for a species, Linnaeus simplifies
the description to only two words (see Gaspard Bauhin above!). One of
the genus (or family) and one for the specific species. Family names
are capitalized and the species name are lower case. As a physician and
scholar with clerical background Linnaeus uses his Latin education, as
far as it goes. But for large divisions and even individual species,
not least in the entomological section, he retrieved names from Greek
mythology. To honour various persons Linnaeus used their names for the
new described species, yet not named by his system of species.
Linnaeus’ system attracted international acceptance and
contemporary nomenclature is still based on his system, with the
modification of adding another name to describe subspecies and in some
cases, a fourth name for a special form. The first published
description of a species is the only scientifically relevant one (a
rule that is not always followed). The discoverer’s name is
to the species name, irrefutable glory for the researcher in question.
This was established with a priority rule that would cover the entire
animal kingdom effective from January 1, 1758. Of interest to
entomology is that, for instance, when dealing with the Rhopalocera
(day-flying butterflies), Linnaeus classified them according to the
ancient hierarchy of the five main groups: "Trojan and Greek knights,
Heliconians, Parnassians, Danaids, Nymphs and Plebeians". The machaon
swallowtail (now Old world swallowtail) was transferred to the Greek
group of Knights. Makaon was namely a Greek soldier, hero of the Trojan
War and was hit by Paris’ arrow. Makaon’s brother
Podalirius had become the scientific name of the nearest relative on
the continent, the Sailing butterfly. The above – mentioned
and Paris, Helen, Agamemnon, Thoas, Memnon, Hector, Priamus with
several others from ancient mythology gave their names to
Knight butterflies, when they came to Linnaeus' hand. Linnaeus spoke
mostly not in Swedish when he was treated insects, but when he did so
he called them "dizzy-fans" or simply "creatures". In the Systema
Naturae of 1735 there are 50 species of butterflies and 125 species of
The great illustrator Georg Diony Ehrer (1708-1770) put his
talents and skills in service to spread Linnaeus' works –
others in Systema Naturae - worldwide. Ehrer and Linnaeus had met
during Linnaeus’ his visit to the Netherlands.
The battle of the revolutionary new nomenclature design came in part to
stand in battle against the German botanist
(see below under Criticism!).
where did Linnaeus pick the names?
Linnaeus was not a
innovator, he took what he could of common names - if they were simple,
he took them, plain and simple. For example Leo, Tigris, Pardus, Orca,
Pardalis, and Catus. Lynx already existed and did not need to
repeated. But sometimes the name was previously known, and long and
complicated. The primary objective was then simplified. Linnaeus took
what he could use, created a family name and a common name with the
reservation that if the previous name was not well-sounding enough. He
introduced the researcher's name in one species, as many had done
before him, for instance Plumier, and he complied with this tradition.
Regarding the language itself, Linnaeus created his own Latin, the
so-called botanical Latin. It should not be primarily poetic, but
accurate. But Latin has its synonyms and homonyms, perhaps more than
many other languages. So accuracy is not always undisputed, but must
sometimes be given broad interpretations. Blunt argued that the words
of Linnaeus are sometimes " very far from the original sense?." Greek
expression breaks into name here and there, but the Latin verb pattern
is used most of the time. As an aside, the medical Latin was, for the
most part, made up of Greek roots which were often latinized. The
linguist Heller looked at Linnaeus' language, and noted that Linnaeus's
work provides the "best evidence of his negligence "..." he worked,
here as always, with great haste." Where did all the words come from
that Linnaeus used in his classification? Many were derived
the literature, since Linnaeus had spent time with: Homer's Iliad,
Virgil and Ovid's writings, and others. Linnaeus especially invokes
Pliny the Elder (see above under the heading “Between
and Linnaeus”), who Linnaeus evidently regards as a great
authority in the sciences. While at school Linnaeus had little interest
in old literature; however, Linnaeus went back to to study it and
collect up roots for his naming of the various species. A bit
contradictory, perhaps. That Linnaeus also covers "most obscure
characters" in his classification (Blunt) worries him not at all. Is
the name sounded good enough, then this was fine as far as Linnaeus was
Some basic principles of naming that must be mentioned is, in the case
of plants, appearance, leaves, stems, flowers, etc.. In animals, it is
the external, visible characters that were described.
Birds and insects may have more colour in their descriptions and
especially in the case of insects Linnaeus often referred to the
immediate habitat or actual food plant in his search for names. In the
case of man himself, he would find a name with a deeper psychological
meaning, Homo sapiens, the wise, knowing and thinking man.
The basis for Linnaeus' outlook
life was in the Old Testament creation story. In Systema Naturae, he
writes that "Since no new species appear, then as always breed the
true, then the uniform similarity within each species is a condition
for the context. It is necessary for us to expect this from
tribal nature itself. The derived unit is an Almighty, and
omniscient being, namely God, whose works are called creation ...."
(Note: Old Testament Hebrew text has two basic words for creation.
1) a verb in Hebrew transkribed BARA = just create out of
2) a verb in Hebrrew transkribed ASAH = create from pre-existing
The first option is valid exclusively for God)
From a Linnaeus speech held in 1743 may be quoted as follows:
"That God created a single human couple, a man and a woman, we believe
because of the divine revelation. That these were placed in the Garden
of Eden we believe, and that Adam gave names to the animals brought
forth to him by God. This ensures us that God inspired Moses."
To make this possible for Adam to bring names to all animals, Linnaeus
supposed that only a small piece of land was above the water level at
"... otherwise it would be difficult, even impossible, for Adam to face
all the animals existing on the earth."
The elevation of land, he assumed, increased slowly and during this,
the animals spread to the new continents.
In his Curiositas Naturalis, he sees man's greatest task to be the same
as it once was in the Garden of Eden, that "as in the most perfect
Natural History collection, admire the works of the Creator."
Atheism, which flourished in the 1700s, Linnaeus dismissed as a folly.
Often Linnaeus compared himself with King David and agreed when David
exclaims: "The fool hath said in his heart:" There is no God '" (Psalms
At different occasions Linnaeus found mutations in the plant kingdom.
Thus he found in the area of lake Mälaren a toadflax species,
which usually have four stamens and one pistil. Isolated groups of the
plant were found with five stamens and a pistil as well as a completely
closed flower that effectively prevented pollination. Linnaeus called
this monster flower Pelosi. Many have searched for the mutated
specimens in the area described, but no one has found it so far. The
mutation could not survive because it obviously was a "dead end" for
the specimen. But this flower caused many headaches and ponderings of
Linnaeus, who thought a lot about its origins.
There were many contemporary scientists who responded to Linnaeus'
thoughts and conclusions. Some argued that Linnaeus' knowledge of
zoology, for example, was extremely limited. The fact he was a great
botanist did not automatically imply that he was an expert in all
Natural Science areas. Linnaeus himself recognizes at some points that
he has limitations in individual areas. His superior was, for example
Artedi, who was far superior in ichthylogy (see Peter Artedi!). Much of
the criticism was that he did not pay enough attention to his
predecessors, and that he was considered too powerful.
German scientists had comments on the botany of Linnaeus. The professor
of botany in Leipzig, Christian Gottlieb Ludwig, used a classification
drawn up by August Quirinius Rivinus. Rivinius’ system was
on the form of the petals and leaves. This classification was against
Linnaeus's own but went to a showdown.
The most severe criticism Linnaeus faced was expressed by the German
Johann Georg Siegesbeck who attacked his system from a purely religious
aspect. In 1737 this man more or less accused Linnaeus of being
biological filth. Twenty stamens and a pistil, or twenty men and a
woman, was simply not morally acceptable. Linnaeus was so upset that he
was ready to give up in the year of 1738. But in 1741 things turned in
his favour. Linnaeus suddenly achieved a strong platform by
obtaining a medical professorship in Uppsala. He now also got strong
support from Holland, and from the American Cadwallader Colden.
For animal kingdom matters, criticism was evolved as follows:
The Swiss, Albert von Haller, a genius, oracle and contemporary
authority in many scientific fields considered that Linnaeus had
considered himself as a second Adam, who gave names to all the animals
in accordance with their distinctive features without ever stopping to
think about its predecessors. "Many furrowed their eyebrows when
Linnaeus placed humans (Homo sapiens) as an animal among the monkeys.
The joint family, which he called primates, signifying ruling animals.
To distinguish between monkeys and humans Linnaeus introduced the
concept bimana = two-handed (humans) and quadromana = four-handed
(monkeys). (From Public School's birth in 1842 and far ahead into the
1860s Linnaeus theses were taught and disciples would learn to
distinguish between these two-handed and four-handed creatures. Alfred
Brehm writes of Linnaeus’ primate family that it "was by no
a happy grip". The four-handed theory Brehm quickly dismissed and he
thought it was very bad that it was still (it must apply to the
1860's?) read in Swedish textbooks. Primate concepts can be retained
for practical reasons, he says, but that does not mean there would be
no particular order of the grouping. Brehm then came to the following
conclusion: "Although man by his physique has his place in the animal
kingdom, it seems, however, that the knowledge of mankind and the human
species is outside the bounds of zoology." (Few people in the
1800s would be more versed in the earth's animal life than Alfred
Brehm; the breadth and depth of his knowledge was enormous and beyond
all understanding. Moreover, he had also been confronted with Darwin's
theories and explained them in detail in the preamble of the first
volume [my note].)
to the human species according to Linnaeus on this page!
Linnaeus and the
development of the concept of man
The later race biologists /
race hygienists had much to learn from Linnaeus’ theories,
that is quite clear. The step to Professor
Ernst Haeckel’s ideas (1834-1919) is not far.
(Haeckel embraced Darwin's theories from 1859 and developed them in his
so-called family tree of races in
the early 1900s. Here you could find higher respectively lower evolved
human beings. At the top there were Indo-germans
and Japanese (!).
(Fitted primely to Hitler’s theories of "das
the superman. That the weaker varieties simply disappeared belonged
entirely to nature's own order.
Any theory of a struggle in life for the benefit of a stronger species,
the more developed, can not be found with Linnaeus. It would take
another hundred years before such a theory was launched. But we can
legitimately assert that Linnaeus - unconsciously, of course - made a
bridge from the ancient temper theorists to the race
in the 1800 and 1900's.
Greek Galen (lived during the second century AD) had divided the human
temperament, with the help of various body fluids, into four groups as
1) SANGUINE, the blood itself dominates, you become cheerful and happy.
2) CHOLERIC, yellow (from the bile) bile dominates and gives a violent
3) MELANCHOLIC, black bile (from the spleen) dominates, resulting in
4) PHLEGMATIC, caused by mucus (from brain) and causes slowness.
How did Africans acquire their
skin color? The usual explanation in Linnaeus' time, was that this
condition was due to the dominance of black bile. We can see how the
Galen system still dominated contemporary thought. Linnaeus
thought much about whether a white person would become black after a
period of time in Africa, or vice versa. However, there were Africans
in Europe who had been staying here a long time without fading.
Linnaeus continued to ponder these facts. Linneaus was much confused
when considering where in his system he will place the angels (!).
When we discuss the animal kingdom, there are some imaginations of
Linnaeus, which are as difficult for us nowadays to grasp as when he
argued that swallows hibernated on lake bottoms. However, it is quite
wrong that Linnaeus would have been the originator of the myth. In
Scandinavia, it is almost certainly the humanist, ethnologist,
folklorist, historian and Catholic Archbishop Olaus Magnus (1490 -
1557), which first launched the idea which later became a general
delusion, namely that the swallows would dwell in the argillaceous mud
of lakes bottoms . The Magnus effect "History of the Northern Peoples"
of the year 1555 he let his opinion become public domain. Linnaeus, for
his part did not have enough on his feet to refute the allegation, but
it was alive and unchallenged during his time. There is evidence that
although Linnaeus included the current perception of the swallows
wintering he had other ideas.
But already in 1757 Linnaeus had published migration Avium (bird
migration). He was aware of migratory birds streaking across the
Mediterranean and he laid the foundations of the Swedish comprehensive
migratory bird research which has since gained momentum.
Of the microbial world - bacteria, viruses etc - Linnaeus had no
knowledge of course - he was a child of his time, with all the
limitations that this meant.
A breakthrough for Linnaeus' system arose when the French King Louis XV
urged that the new Linnaean taxonomy was introduced in France. All
naturalists? Medics? did not like it but needed now to line up and
establish themselves in the ranks. What happened next in Europe
generally follow the so-called domino theory laws.
The man Linnaeus
Linnaeus expert TM Fries provides a portrait of the man Linnaeus as
"Linnaeus was the combination of medium length, rather short than long,
not skinny or fat, with fairly muscular limbs and large veins from
childhood, a large head, back of his head elevated with a transverse
deflections along the lambda-seam. His forehead was moderately high, in
old age wrinkled. His hair was neither straight or curly, in childhood
whitish, then brown and at the temples florid, finally greying.
Eyebrows brown. Face colour pale. The eyes brown, very sharp, lively,
cheerful, vision excellent, even for the smallest objects. Nose
straight. A small wart on the right nostril and another (slightly
larger) on the right cheek. Bad teeth, worm-eaten by severe toothache
from adolescence until 50th year of life, quite toothless in the 60th .
No ear for music. In 1834 body weight 91 - 2 Copper Lpd or Stockholm
Weight. His step was very easy, quick and lively. "
Description of Linnaeus' behaviour, temper and character:
"He was quick in his emotions - to anger, to joy, to sadness.
his temper was always happiness, his walking was easy, his mind frank,
conciliatory, even in cases of quarrels and conflict. He left the
attacks on himself and his writings unanswered. He proved to those that
most offended him, even though he disliked them he named the ssp after
them. He was ambitious, he was vain, even more than what one would
expect of such a reputable man, but he was not proud: vain as a child,
not as a woman." He "did not live in luxury, living as second
moderate." All the household chores were handed over to his wife so
that he could devote himself entirely to Nature's creations. He was
described as neither rich nor poor, but was afraid of getting into
debt. He "slept in winter from 9 pm - 7 am , but in the summer 10 pm -3
am. His dress was always simple and consisted in daily life of a short
jacket, in addition to which in later years, his head usually covered
by a cap, but on ceremonial occasions by a curly, long wig."
Linnaeus drank hardly any alcohol or drank with great moderation.
However, he was an inveterate smoker, and writes in a letter to his
friend Brook in 1772: "The tobacco I have smoked a lot and maybe too
much. “I was forced to smoke tobacco for my toothache as I
had such from the womb.” Thus Linnaeus blames
his poor dental state, for which at that time the only effective
treatment was extraction (by a blacksmith!!). Linnaeus had as earlier
mentioned good language skills in ancient Latin and was familiar with
Greek literature, especially Homer's Iliad. Facing French, however, he
would like to have it translated. The inauguration speech for medical
professorship in Uppsala, October 27, 1741 was conventionally held in
Latin. A gap in his language skills was, for instance, English, a
language he did not understand much of. In order not to get distracted
in the midst of London during a visit there in 1736, he had an address
label in his pocket stating where he lived, if needed. He corresponded
in Latin with his acquaintances in England and the continent. Linnaeus
only spoke two languages fluently - Swedish, and Latin! Yet his message
reached far. Orally on the continent Linnaeus conversed in Latin but
this had its limitations. He could just converse internationally with
the so-called learned. Spoken Latin itself sounds different, depending
on the phonetic context. An Englishman's Latin accent did not sound the
same as when spoken by a Swede, etc. The written communication offered
fewer problems, if any. Many of Linnaeus' disciples were great language
geniuses. Forsskål quickly learned Arabic dialects and
managed to learn Japanese even though it was forbidden to even enter
the country. (See Forsskål and Thunberg!) Linnaeus was
charmed as a prisoner of nature's mysteries and marvels. He managed to
transfer that attitude to his disciples and students. Linnaeus stands
for, despite recurring depression, a positive, infectious and joyous
way of life. It is said that his tours in the surroundings of Uppsala
shaped themselves even to small parties and it is said that when the
excursion was dissolved in the evening, echoed with those Latin verses
outside the Professor’s residence:" Vivat Scientia!
Linnaeus!" (Long live science! Long live Linnaeus!)
Research travels were accomplished in Sweden to Lapland in 1732,
in 1743, to Öland in 1741 (traverses at the Öland and
travel the landscapes of Östergötland and
makes here also important observations), to Gotland in 1741,
to Västergötland in 1746 and to Skåne in
1749. All the
journeys were well documented and published. The trips were not
Linnaeus' own invention, he was sent away by the rulers –
i.e. the Realm Estates - of the country. The idea was that
Linnaeus hopefully would find some resources to improve the state
economy. Plants that could be used in the handicraft would be
documented, as well as minerals and new medicinal plants. It is not
known that Linnaeus ever protested against the arrangements and the
intention to the travels. One have also imagined that Linnaeus and his
entourage during the trips pulled forward slowly, but they travelled
mostly in fast-paced and not entirely without stress.
Linnaeus was knighted by King Gustav III in 1757 from
Carolus Linnaeus to Carolus von Linnaeus. A Dutch botanist named a
plant from the deep woods, the Linnea, Linnea borealis (=
borealis means from North coming), after Linnaeus. A kind of exaltation
and respect for a great person. Linnaeus makes the Linnea a part of his
Coat of Arms. First he makes his own raw copy but this sketch was
refused by the Heralds of state, who made the Coat of Arms according to
their own (better) design. Linnaeus was apparently not a great artist.
Linnaeus' disciples or so-called apostles were sent
into the world. See this link! Many of Linnaeus' disciples died and
Linnaeus was deeply upse after receiving these messages.
Linnaeus’ recurrent depressions and melancholy might be
because of this.
Linnaeus resides outside of
from where his gigantic work is led. For several years, he now can
enjoy the fruits of his work. He gets that much honors from various
quarters, that he thinks it's getting tedious and he is even tired of
them. Intercourse with his wife can hardly be called confidential.
She's banished to the kitchen regions. Linnaeus was also against his
daughters' higher education, they would take care of household chores,
nothing more. The schooling was specifically for men, educated women
were mostly like "fashion dolls". Confidentially Linnaeus socialized
instead with his friend Abraham Bäck. Often they wrote letters
each other or met-on-one. When the women's team went to bed at night,
Bäck and Linnaeus smoked their pipes and there were long and
detailed discussions going on. Scholar Blunt considers that
“every man who is married to a Linnaea,(Linnaeus’
should have a Mister Bäck.” That there were problems
marriage is clear. Linnaeus sometimes dream about an English lady, Lady
Ann Monson, and he is writing her a letter but it is uncertain if he
gets some answers, or even if any correspondence is started.
Something must be said about what took place on the political scene.
Queen Lovisa Ulrika thought that her husband was too powerless. She
forced him to refuse to sign the documents presented to him. The
ministers responded to that by introducing a King's name stamp. Lovisa
Ulrika thought the Army would support the Royal family, but her coup
failed and was revealed. Many heads rolled, but Bäck
Linnaeus escaped luckily from it. The reason was they were not
politically engaged, but Linnaeus was of course close to the Royal
family close and could be in jeopardy. Actually he was a hat, a
political fraction, but he seemed to lie low in politics. Adolf
Frederick was to remain as King, but had to accept that his power was
further curtailed. Adolf Fredrik and Lovisa Ulrika now had more time to
devote themselves to their interests, their collections after the
Linnaeus's last years were bleak. Pretty soon he had suffered from gout
with accompanying pain. As medicine, he used wild strawberries, which
were much relieving. In winter, the pain became worse, as no wild
strawberries were available. In 1776 Linnaeus health status was
worsening and Linnaeus now desired to withdraw. He also suffered from
lack of sleep and in 1773 he was suffering from angina pectoris. Later
in the year he was affected by severe sciatica "from hip to knee" and
the pain did not disappear. By summoning all his power he went to
Stockholm to attend the Bible commission revising the new Bible
translation. He took in at his friend Bäck, and Linnaeus told
friend that this trip to Stockholm was even more troublesome than the
arduous travel to Lapland.
In 1774 Linnaeus - the middle of a lecture – was hit by a
that made him half paralyzed. "My teeth are gone and I can hardly
speak" Linnaeus answers after an impossible travel invitation. In
winter of 1776-1777 Linnaeus was hit by another stroke – the
bloodletting was apparently ineffective - and he is now described as
"more dead than alive," and could not recognize either flowers or
plants, not even his own books. In summer of 1777 he was some better
out there at Hammarby, could even take a smoke with his pipe. Maybe he
could survive another winter? But, no. On December 30, he suffered a
heart attack and dies at 6 am on January 10, 1778. For his funeral, he
had predetermined the following:
“Place me in the coffin unshaven, unwashed, undressed,
a sheet, close immediately the coffin, so that no one can watch my
wretchedness. Ring easily the big church bell, but not in the other
bells at Farmer Church or Hospital Church, but you can preferably let
the bells sound in Denmark Church ( Denmark is a parish with a church
not far from Uppsala). Perform, please thanksgiving both in the Big
Church and in Denmark Church to God, who have given me so many years of
blessings. Let my compatriots carry me to the grave and bring them a
piece of the small medal that is engraved with my image. Do not feast
upon my funeral and do not accept any condolences.”
Gustav III was very tied to Linnaeus, not least because of personal
friendship. "King Gustav III considered Linnaeus's death was a national
event, about which he himself spoke in the Swedish Parliament and a
medal was made immortalizing Linnaeus in the annals" (from Reading for
the People, a popular reading from the 1800's first half).
Son Carl (1741-1783), (See also Carl von Linné jr!),
child and only son of Linnaeus, he was an item of joy. But by time when
he grew up he became a reckless man, and finally a problem child for
Linnaeus. Carl was early taught by Linnaeus disciples Rolander,
Löfling and Falck. But knowledge obviously not went in, he was
more interested in women than in flowers. Despite of this Carl was
elevated and being praised and received an honorary doctorate at
Uppsala in 1765. Linnaeus 1763 appoints his son to his successor, but
stayed there still in charge himself - on King Gustav III's own request
– until 1776, when illness made it impossible for Linnaeus to
continue. Officially Carl was taking over his father’s
and duties in 1776, but he will only get a demonstrator’s
and he will soon become indebted. Carl has obvious much lack of
knowledge and interest in Botany - despite two Professorships in
Medicine and Botany (!) - and he is not qualified and far from taking
up his father's fallen mantle. This situation raises a strong and
justified criticism from various quarters. Carl is also disadvantaged
in Linnaeus' own will, and will due to this, start a fight with his
mother. Despite a diversity of escapades with the opposite sex Carl
remains unmarried. He dies, only a few years over forty, after
returning from a trip in Europe, on November 1, 1783, five years after
Linnaeus's own demise. A quite tragic life story is ended.
Carl, born 1741, was the oldest of the siblings. Daughter Lisa Stina
born in 1743 and another daughter born in 1744 died both at tender age.
In 1749 a third daughter was born, named Louisa, and in 1751 the
fourth, Sara Christina. In 1754 a second son sis born, John, who,
however, died in 1757. That year, is born the last child, a
After Linnaeus' death there was a bruising battle over his estate, not
least within his own family.
A contributing factor to the family battle was the documents and will
from March 2, 1776 which reads as follows:
out from my grave to my dear Wife.
My herbariums, the two biggest works of my lifetime in the
Museum…don’t let the mice or moths destroy them.
don’t let anybody steal a single specimen. When they are
displayed, watch them carefully. The value of the plants might be low
now but in time the price will increase and they will get much
demanded, desired and wanted. Those herbariums are the most extensive
the world ever has seen.
sell them for less than 1000 Ducats. Min Son will inherit nothing from
them, he has never helped me and besides he has showed no interest in
Botany, but wait some, maybe I will have a son in law, who is
Botanicus, who knows?.
The shell cabinet will be worth at least 12000 Dalers.
The insect cabinet will be hard to protect from moths.
The mineral cabinet has plenty substantial.
Library across Museum with all my Works. The price is at least 3000
Dalers. In no onw want to buy it, domate it to Upsala Biblioteque. But
my Biblioteque in Upsala should my Sohn get as payoff.
Although his son Carl was discredited, it was he who fought for
Linnaeus' posthumous inheritance: the natural history collections and
the books. He managed to negotiate a solution where he surrendered his
share of the property of Hubby - a small farm Linnaeus had received as
a gift from the University - to Linnaeus' estate and a substantial
amount of money. He rejected any shameful bid coming from England and
he himself started to restore the collections, which were now
transferred from Hammarby to Uppsala. Not least, insect collections
were in urgent need of emergency treatment when Linnaeus already last
year found that the collections were damaged by "Moths".
An eagerness to work which was not
before, seized for a short time Carl, who at the time of going to bed
now to find that he for the very first time in his life now was "tired
as a working man." Linnaeus' wife Sara Elisabeth and her daughter
applied for and were granted a pension by the King Gustav III.
Carl's restoration work to a halt when he suddenly dies by a stroke in
1783. Everything will now move into his mother's and his
hands. Old Banks suddenly now appears conveys a message from a certain
young English naturalist named James Edward Smith. Smith offered one
thousand guineas for the collections unseen, he just wanted an
inventory of the contents. Several other speculators got in, including
the Empress Catherine II. King Gustav III was temporarily in Italy, and
before he could get home the deal with Smith already was
the brig Appearance the Linnaean treasures were transferred to in
England. When it became known in academic circles a great indignation
arose. Sweden had suffered a huge national loss.
Someone else who was happy, was Mr Smith in England. When he packed up
the big containers, it was appeared that the content exceeded his
Thus he found 19,000 sheets of pressed plants, 3,200 insects, 1,500
shells, 700-800 pieces of coral, 2,500 mineral samples, 2500 books,
Linnaeus's entire correspondence consisting of 3,000 letters, plus a
large amount of handwritten manuscripts of Linnaeus himself, his son
and other contemporary famous scientists.
Smith founded the Linnean Society in London in
intention focused primarily in the Society to promote the "UK and Irish
National History" and differs from the Swedish Linnaeus Society that
more care about Linnaeus' traditions. Smith's widow scattered the
mineral collections and zoological collections by selling them. She got
for these parts far more than her husband paid for the entire Linnaeus
During World War II the remaining Linnaeus items were temporarily moved
out from London to Bedfordshire in the English countryside to avoid
(During the time of Linnaeus it was not the least among the nobility
and the higher society much popular to acquire and maintain collections
of various kinds. Tessin collected art objects, paintings by famous
artists. King Adolf Fredrik started as a young man to collect natural
history specimens, and when he came to power his economic potentials
became larger, and he was able to purchase a considerable quantity of
objects, animals, birds, insects, etc., so that the collection was
considered among the largest of its kind at this time ... "et
incomparable magnificent Cabinet of all sorts of animals in Spiritu
vini stored, an infinite multitude of stuffed Birds, an incredible
amount of Insects on pins and Conchylies in boxes. "Queen Lovisa Ulrika
wanted to outdo her husband. She had a big passion especially for
shells and butterflies. The King’s and the Queen's
were stored in the beginning, in the castles of Ulriksdal and
Drottningholm. To classify and determine the material was called upon a
certain Linnaeus. Queen Lovisa Ulrika speaks in positive terms about
Linnaeus's presence in the palace: "... a great connoisseur and doctor,
a very shrewd man, even if he does not like one by appearance. He had
every evening a walk with the King, and not a day passes without he
manages to make us all happy. "The Queen's collection with Linnaeus'
own hand long hand notes are now stored in Uppsala. (In November 2006 I
had the great the opportunity and privilege to inspect a part of this
collection in Uppsala.)
signature written by himself
the middle of Linnaeus' texts I found this exclaimation:
quote is some
different in different Bible/Vulgata versions but we find it in Psalm
92-6-7 in Swedish Translation of the Bible from 1917....
I found it in Latin Vulgata Psalm
91:6-7 in another version as follows:
quam magnificata sunt opera tua Domine satis profundae factae sunt
vir insipiens non cognoscet et stultus non intelleget istud
(Vulgate, the first Bible translation into Latin in about 400 AD,
the Bible verse division was made later in the 1200s)
IN NIV THESE VERSES ARE FOUND IN PSALM 92:6-7
5 How great are your works, LORD,
profound your thoughts!
6 Senseless people do not know,
do not understand,
|Some literary works by Linnaeus:
also this excellent ling on the internet
Naturae was published totally total in 16 editions,
11 pages to 3000)
resa och Gotländska resa 1745
De Necessitate Peregrinationum Intra
Musei Rerum Naturalium 1753
Historiae Naturalis in Vita Communi 1766
of 2nd edition
Linnaeus researcher Johan Erik Ewald Ährling (born 1837) published some of Linnaeus unpublished works:
Flora Dalecarlia (1873), Swedish Selected Works, Volumes I and II and Youth Scriptures, in two series (1888 to 1889).
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