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LINN ÆUS, THE SWEDISH BOTANIST.
He was very
1. The next noteworthy event in the life of this great man is his attempt to become a lecturer in the university. Knowing something of the art of assaying metals he began to lecture on mineralogy. The jealousy of a Dr. Rosen was excited, and he declared that there was a law to prevent anyone who had not taken his degree from lecturing. By his influence with the authorities the lectures of Linnæus were stopped, and he was thus deprived of his only means of subsistence. angry with Dr. Rosen, and for a time nourished very revengeful feelings against him, but in after years they became firm friends, and very useful to each other. Linnæus, with some pupils, departed on a scientific excursion into the province of Dalecarlia. At Fahlun, the capital, he gave a course of lectures. He was now advised to take his doctor's degree, in order to pursue the practice of physic. He set out to find a cheap university, having only fifteen pounds in his pockets. In his travels he arrived at Hamburg, and there exposed a deception which was being practised in the exhibition of a made-up animal as a real creature; but the indignation excited against him for his honesty in exposing the imposture was so great, that he had to leave the city secretly. He went to Harderwyk, in Holland, and there was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine.
2. Linnæus eventually settled at Amsterdam, being engaged by Mr. Cliffort, a rich magistrate, to live with him as his physician and botanist. Holland, though a flat and uninteresting country, has for ages been famous for the beauty of the flowers cultivated in its gardens Mr. Cliffort had beautiful pleasure-grounds, and Linnæus greatly enjoyed them. He visited England, Mr. Cliffort paying his
expenses, that he might see the nurseries near London, into which North American plants had lately been introduced. It is said he was so much delighted with the golden bloom of the furze growing on Putney Heath, that he fell on his knees in rapture at the sight. He always admired it, and tried in vain to preserve it through a Swedish winter in his greenhouse.
3. In the year 1741 Linnæus became a professor of the University of Upsal, the place which he had formerly entered in such poverty. He found that the botanic garden, once so celebrated, had fallen into sad neglect, and he used all possible exertion to re-establish and improve it. A house was built for him close to the garden, which was now enriched with presents from every collection in Europe, and Linnæus was delighted to procure all the plants of Sweden and Norway. “Formerly,” said he, writing to a friend, “I had plants and no money, and now I should not enjoy my money if I had not plants.” He was now much employed as a teacher, lecturing in all departments of natural history and on medicine. Students flocked to hear him from all parts of Europe, and sometimes even from America.
4. In the summer he sometimes made country excursions at the head of two hundred pupils; many foreigners and other persons of distinction often joined him. They set out in small parties to explore the country, and whenever any rare plant or natural curiosity was discovered, a horn was blown and the whole party assembled round their chief to hear his explanation and remarks. There was a rule in Sweden at that time that all young clergymen should learn something of botany and medicine, in order that they might be of service in cases of sickness among the country people, and this regulation increased the number of his pupils.
5. Linnæus loved his garden better than any other place; he was continually making some fresh discovery among his flowers. The seed of a kind of bird's foot trefoil had been sent to him from the south of France, and he had watched two flowers on a plant raised from this seed. Going one evening into the garden he looked for these flowers in vain. The next morning they were there as before, and the gardener thought they must be fresh flowers, as they had not been discovered in the evening. Linnæus went again in the dark hour, and searching more diligently than before, he at last found these flowers closely folded up, and their leaves contracted over them. Linnæus might now be seen going about his gardens and hothouses with a lantern in his hand, and from finding so many flowers concealed amidst their leaves, he took the idea of the sleep of plants. He formed a kind of dial, on which the hours of the day were marked, by the different times at which certain flowers were found to open or close their blossoms; and he formed a rural calendar, marking the
times for the different labours of husbandry by the appearance of the blossoms of plants. Mrs. Hemans has said in one of
“'Twas a lovely thought to mark the hours
As they floated in light away,
That laugh to the summer's day.” 6. Linnæus held his professorship thirty-seven years, and about the close of this period he published his great book, containing a description of all known plants, arranged on the sexual system, for which he became so famous. The same year in which this work appeared, he was created a Knight of the Polar Star, an honour never before bestowed on a man of science or letters; and about seven years afterwards, he was elevated to the rank of nobility. He lived in easy affluence and in the enjoyment of his dignities, till January, 1778, when he was removed by an attack of apoplexy.
7. His remains were deposited in a vault near the west end of the Cathedral at Upsal, where a monument of Swedish porphyry was erected by his pupils. He was honoured with a public funeral, at which were present the members of the university, the pall being supported by sixteen doctors of physic, all of whom had been his pupils. A general mourning took place on the occasion at Upsal, and King Gustavus III. not only caused a medal to be struck expressive of the public loss, but introduced the subject in a speech from the throne, regarding the death of Linnæus as a national calamity.
8. Linnæus had been hasty and impetuous in his youth, but in advanced life he became mild and temperate, and was always ready to do justice to the merits of others. He frequently declared that the works of nature best teach the existence of a God, and often spoke in glowing words of the greatness and omnipotence of the Almighty.
assaying, proving the purity of
metals. mineralogy, the science which
treats of the properties of
mineral substances. nurseries, gardens where plants
are grown for sale.
calendar, an almanac. husbandry, farming operations. porphyry, a very hard stone par
taking of the nature of granite
and susceptible of a fine polish. impetuous, rash. omnipotence, having all power.
How did Linnæus now attempt to earn a livelihood ? Describe his travels on leaving Upsal. What situation did he obtain at Amsterdam? Mention some particulars of his journey to England. What was his chief work on settling again at Upsal? Describe one of his summer excursions. How did he discover that plants went to sleep? What honours were conferred upon him?
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