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Bridges to Scandinavia

 | 
Andrea Meregalli
, 
Camilla Storskog

Scandinavian Scientific Learning in Eighteenth- Century British Writing: Linnaeus and the European outlook on nature

Elisabetta Lonati

Résumé

In the eighteenth century, a widely investigated – and even fashionable – field of knowledge is natural history, a macro-domain including a vast number of disciplines and sub-disciplines. Most of these are emerging disciplines not because they are completely new, but because the research perspective adopted (i.e., the way they are investigated and discussed) is extremely innovative. On the one hand, cognate disciplines such as materia medica, diaetetica, agriculture, gardening, botany, etc. – considered as ‘part of’ and ‘dependent on’ the more prestigious and encompassing domains of medicine and natural history – establish themselves as autonomous disciplines with their own epistemological principles and values. On the other hand, new disciplinary communities originate and consolidate in an ideal ‘commonwealth of learning’. One of the branches which best represents the ‘commonwealth of learning’ and its civil and utilitarian issues is botany. On botanical knowledge are based most of the eighteenth-century commercial interests and principles regulating global and colonial trade; moreover, it is considered the main source of individual wealth, national welfare and cultural renown. As a consequence, botany acts as a bridge towards other disciplines, other settings, other peoples, other countries, other traditions and, ultimately, other knowledge(s). In the present study, the focus is on the contribution made by such Swedish scholars as Carl Linnaeus and Fredrik Hasselquist to the elaboration of modern botany, both at a theoretical and at a practical level.

Texte intégral

1. Introduction

  • 1   Some relevant studies concerning continental and Scandinavian mercantilism deserve a mention here (...)

1In the eighteenth century, a much investigated – and even fashionable – field of knowledge is natural history, a macro-domain including a vast number of disciplines and sub-disciplines. Most of them are emerging ones, not in the sense that they are completely new, but that the research perspective, the way they are investigated and discussed, is extremely innovative. On the one hand, cognate disciplines such as materia medica, diaetetica, agriculture, gardening, botany, etc. – considered as ‘part of’ and ‘dependent on’ the more prestigious and encompassing domains of medicine and natural history – establish themselves as autonomous, individual disciplines, with their own epistemological principles and values. On the other hand, new disciplinary communities originate and consolidate in an ideal ‘commonwealth of learning’ (cf. Cook 2012, 232). Renowned scholars and their assistants cooperate across nations to establish a solid scientific network throughout Europe (cf. Jönsson 2011), and communal correspondence, that is to say the practice of exchanging specialised information by letter, becomes the widespread method to propagate new ideas and discoveries, experimental results, and disciplinary research (cf. Gotti 2006a; 2006b and 2014). In this perspective, research alone – and especially its practical usefulness – can ensure human progress as well as national and Eurocentric welfare: a lively economic debate takes place in Europe on the applicability of scientific research in everyday life and mercantilism is the principal economic approach as well as socio-political model adopted across nations. In general terms, governments support domestic manufactures and export activities, adopting protective regulatory measures to restrain imported goods.1

2If natural history represents a vast and clustered domain of sub-disciplines with a high degree of commitment among eighteenth-century scholars, one of the branches which best represents the ‘commonwealth of learning’ and its civil and utilitarian issues is botany (cf. Müller-Wille 2007; Lonati 2013).

3On botany, or botanical knowledge, are based most of the eighteenth-century commercial interests and principles regulating global and colonial trade; moreover, it is considered the main source of individual wealth, national welfare and cultural renown. According to Schiebinger and Swan (2005b, 3),

  • 2   On the relevance of botany in European and colonial economies, cf. Brockway 1979; Schiebinger 200 (...)

[a] resilient and long-standing narrative in the history of botany has characterized its rise as coincident with and dependent on the development of taxonomy, standardized nomenclature, and ‘pure’ systems of classification. Indeed, the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries witnessed key developments in the systematisation of many fields. But to isolate the science of botany is to overlook the dynamic relationships among plants, peoples, states, and economies in the period. […] [E]arly modern science and especially natural history, of which botany was a subfield, remained strategically important in global struggles among emerging nation-states for land and resources.2

4As a consequence, botany acts as a bridge towards other disciplines, other settings, other peoples, other countries, other traditions and, ultimately, other knowledge(s).

5The contribution of Scandinavian scholars – particularly Swedish – to the elaboration of modern botany is extremely relevant, both at a theoretical and at a practical level. Two of these scholars, together with their works and their thought, are under scrutiny here: Carl Linnaeus (1701-78) and Fredrik Hasselquist (1722-52).

6Linnaeus is the father of modern botanical taxonomy and nomenclature, physician and naturalist, professor of medicine and botany at the University of Uppsala. He revived the university ‘physic’ garden where he practised his activity as botaniste de cabinet, after having travelled extensively in Sweden and particularly in Lapland (less frequently in Europe and never beyond Europe). Botanical gardens

  • 3   As for botanical gardens and their relevance in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scientific re (...)

were founded in the sixteenth century primarily as ‘physic’ gardens (gardens of medicinal plants) attached to universities and hospitals to cultivate ‘simples’ for medicines and to teach medical botany to physicians and apothecaries. By the eighteenth century, these gardens were networked with experimental colonial gardens […]. Naturalists’ specimens not only enriched botanical gardens and European science but also served as a medium of exchange among naturalists. […] Linnaeus, without money and noteworthy social standing, flourished in botanical networks, receiving much sought-after botanical specimens from correspondents all over the world in exchange for access to his international contacts. More important he offered adherents the sense of contributing to a higher cause – his universal system of classification – and […] Linnaeus’s system of scientific botanical nomenclature (Schiebinger 2004, 57-59).3

  • 4   The Linnean Correspondence Collection may be browsed at linnean-online.org/correspondence.html an (...)

7Linnaeus established an international network of scientific correspondence throughout his whole life, both with other scholars across Europe, and with his disciples around the world: from the beginning of his career to the 1750s, his effort to make his new ideas accepted in Europe was the focus of his international relationships, whereas from the 1750s on his epistolary writing highlighted that his revolution was definitively accomplished and “that it was spread by a constantly increasing number of followers. Among them were Linnaeus’s own disciples from abroad whom he had taught in Uppsala” (Jönsson 2011, 182).4

8Hasselquist, Linnaeus’s student and assistant, is one of the many botanistes voyageurs of “a generation of students [who travelled] as botanists aboard the ships sent out by Dutch, English, and Swedish East and West India companies and scientific academies […] often sent with specific instructions to supply particular observations, seeds, or plants”, since this “allowed the naturalists at home in Europe to ‘see’ at a distance” (Schiebinger 2004, 57).

  • 5   In particular, on the language policy of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, and (...)
  • 6   His major works are Systema Naturae, sive Regna Tria Naturae Systematice Proposita per Classes, O (...)

9In the eighteenth century botany was a very young science, the interest of which was deeply felt and rapidly spreading among experts and non-experts in Great Britain. This emerging discipline “had received great impetus […] from the expanding colonial activity […] and the voyages of exploration” (Brockway 1979, 65); as a result, many original works in English, along with many translations and adaptations of foreign works and discoveries, were frequently published. A long and established tradition of contacts and exchange between the most important academic institutions and scientific societies both in Great Britain and in Sweden reinforced such interest. Intellectual connections and epistolary exchanges between the two countries were so frequent and long-established that many Swedish scholars – such as astronomers, chemists, naturalists, physicians, etc. – sent their contributions to the Royal Society of London for oral delivery, and some of them were later published in the Philosophical Transactions. Some researchers were members of both Swedish science academies (Uppsala and Stockholm) and the Royal Society as well. Linnaeus himself founded the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm in 1739, inspired by the values of the Royal Society of London (established in 1662, First Royal Charter by King Charles II). The main issues of these two non-academic institutions were the promotion of science and scientific research with practical aims, the spreading of knowledge among specialists and non-specialists alike, and the vernacularisation5 of knowledge in civil society, though Latin was the lingua franca of science at the highest level of scholarly interaction (Linnaeus wrote his scientific works in Latin and only later were they translated into English and other European languages).6

10In this context, the aim of the present study is at least threefold: firstly, to investigate the impact of Linnaeus’s system and research experience on British culture; secondly, to investigate some of Hasselquist’s passages in his letters to Linnaeus, to highlight the usefulness of first-hand accounts and the great relevance of correspondence for the construction of natural scientific knowledge; thirdly, to highlight how the Scandinavian – precisely Swedish – approach to the natural world may be representative of the European culture as a whole, as emerging from British writing of the period. The works under scrutiny here were written or translated by European scholars, published in Europe, and addressed to a European readership.

1.1. Source works

11It is in the 1760s that Linnaeus’s revolutionary system is firmly established in England, particularly through his correspondents and followers (Jönsson 2011, 183-84). The two works analysed in the present study represent his strong influence on British culture and writing in this period. They also exemplify the vernacularisation and popularisation processes so necessary to the spread of new ideas among amateurs, and the complex research network used by Linnaeus and his disciples to classify new species, gather new specimen, and communicate scientific discoveries. The first work is the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768-71; henceforth EB), the second Fredrik Hasselquist’s Voyages and Travels in the Levant in the Years 1749, 50, 51, 52 (1766; henceforth VTs). The EB’s principal aim is to systematise knowledge, to establish principles and to give order to many multifaceted topics, for the benefit of mankind. The approach to botany is essentially theoretical, the treatise mirrors the activity of the botaniste de cabinet (armchair botanist), who hypothesises and experiments in his ‘laboratory’-botanical garden, and then draws conclusions. The approach of VTs, instead, clearly represents the experience of the botaniste voyageur (voyaging botanist), as he travels, observes, collects first-hand material, documents and describes such experience in personal writing and communal correspondence (cf. Gotti 2014).

 

  • 7   It is no accident that the EB includes a treatise on botany, since many educated men and scholars (...)

12Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768-71). It represents the climax of British encyclopaedic experience and it is the first encyclopaedic work “to use a national allusion” (Yeo 2001, 177), though it originated in Scotland. Published in Edinburgh and strictly connected to the Scottish intellectual context, it emphasises its innovative plan including treatises devoted to individual disciplines, such as botany.7 The EB is the outcome of contemporary society and, since its “high scientific content […] with its large treatises […] catered to the interest of both gentlemen and literati […] the Britannica can be viewed as an expression of the Scottish Enlightenment” (Yeo 2001, 172). Moreover, the “‘diffusion of knowledge’ and the emergence of ‘public opinion’ were crucial – not just because more minds were engaged in intellectual inquiry, but because this degree of participation guaranteed critical debate” (Yeo 2001, 173) and social interaction.

13The treatise “Botany” is completely devoted to the exposition of Linnaeus’s thought. The editor of the EB neither translates nor adapts any of Linnaeus’s works (many had already been translated and adapted into English) but summarises instead his complex system, intuitions and key points as discussed in his major works: Systema Naturae (1735), Genera Plantarum (1737), and Species Plantarum (1753). In the EB, “Botany” definitely popularises Linnaeus’s innovative taxonomy, binomial nomenclature and sexual system of plants.

14Voyages and Travels in the Levant in the Years 1749, 50, 51, 52 (1766). The text is a translation of an original Swedish work, based on Hasselquist’s “observations in Natural History, Physick, Agriculture, and Commerce” (VTs, title page) in the Eastern countries as well as on the correspondence with his master Linnaeus. These observations and letters were originally published by Linnaeus himself in Swedish in the year 1757 (Hasselquist died in Smyrna in 1752), and were only later translated into English as

[a]n Opportunity of furnishing the Learned of this Country [Great Britain] with so curious a Work, was not displeasing to One, who had been well acquainted with the Merits and Abilities of the Author, being himself a Pupil of the celebrated Dr. Linnaeus (VTs, Advertisement).

15The work is organised in two main sections: the first reports his travels in the Eastern countries; the second includes many descriptions and personal considerations on the natural world – “Natural curiosities” (VTs, Contents) – directly derived from his exploring experience. Among these sub-sections are those on “Plants”, “Stones”, “Natural History of Palestine”, “Materia Medica”, “Observations on Commerce”, etc. The work ends with “The Author’s Letters to Dr. Linnaeus”.

2. linnaeus’s botanical system: the scandinavian outlook on nature in the Eb

16The influence of Linnaeus and his approach to nature were profound in the British Isles throughout the eighteenth century. This fact was certainly due to his scholarly connections and his direct correspondence with British naturalists and plant collectors such as Hans Sloane (1660-1753), John Ellis (1710-76), and Joseph Banks (1743-1820). Moreover, the translation and adaptation in English of his works helped extend his repute among amateurs. In 1736, he also travelled to the botanical gardens of Chelsea and Oxford to collect plants for his own garden in Sweden (Gläser 2011, 193). Another important event in the promotion of the Linnean system is the presence in London of Daniel Solander (1735-82), one of his many students and disciples, who moved there in the 1760s and was appointed to catalogue the natural history collection of the British Museum. Solander also travelled to Australia with Joseph Banks – later president of the Royal Society of London – in the first expedition of James Cook in 1768 (Gläser 2011, 194).

17Linnaeus had also many connections with Scottish academic circles, and his renown was so well established in Edinburgh that

he was acknowledged as an authority in the first Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1771. The breakthrough of the Linnean classification system for plants and animals and the nomenclature for their denomination came with the decision of the editors and authors of this nationwide reference work to prefer Linnaeus’s system to similar attempts by competing contemporaries. This decision […] further disseminated his work in western Europe (Gläser 2011, 193, 198).

18In 1773, Linnaeus also became an honorary member of the Medical Society in Edinburgh, after having been appointed as a member of the Royal Society of London in 1762 (Gläser 2011, 195-96).

19The treatise “Botany” (EB, 627-53) is organised in three sections with three different functions and aims. The first, titled “SECT. I. Uses of Botany”, opens the discussion and introduces “what useful and ornamental purposes may be expected from the cultivation of it” for the benefit of mankind (EB, under “Botany”, 627). “I. Food”, “2. Medicine” and the “3. Arts” are the sub-sections in which such “useful and ornamental purposes” are exemplified, whereas the two remaining sections of “Botany” are completely devoted to the exposition and examination of Linnaeus’s system: they are “SECT. II. Of the Method of reducing Plants to Classes, Orders, Genera, and Species; and of investigating their generic and specific names by certain marks or characters” (EB, under “Botany”, 635), and “SECT. III. Of the SEXES of PLANTS” (EB, under “Botany”, 643).

20Linnaeus’s approach to nature is introduced in the first section of the treatise, and the Scandinavian world is described as the background for more general issues on economic development. This means that, besides introducing the northern flora, what counts here is the emphasis on “an expanding interest in taking stock of the natural resources within the borders of a particular country” (Knoespel 2011, 207) both to describe “the land in which [Swedish] people live” (Knoespel 2011, 209) and to face a widespread and troublesome experience in contemporary Sweden: that is, scarcity and starvation. In particular, when discussing the benefit of botanical research on esculent plants and the way they can be used, a series of examples are directly taken from the Scandinavian flora. The Nordic world is thus embedded in a British work primarily conceived for the British readership:

Extract 1: Esculent plants

Convallaria polygonatum, or sweet-smelling Solomon’s seal, grows in the cliffs of rocks. The roots are made into bread, and eat by the inhabitants of Lapland, when corn is scarce.

Polygonum viviparum, small bistort, or snake-weed, grows upon high grounds. The roots may be prepared into bread. In Lapland and the northern parts of Europe, it is principally eat along with the flesh of stags and other wild animals.

Spergula arvensis, or corn-spurrey, grows in cornfields, especially in sandy soils. In Norway, they collect the seeds of this plant, and make them into bread.

Crataegus aria, or the white bean-tree, grows in woods. The berries are eat by the peasants; and in Sweden they are prepared and used as bread when there is a scarcity of corn.

Ranunculus sicaria, pile-wort, or lesser celadine, grows in pasture-grounds, &c. The Norwegians collect the leaves in the spring, and use them in broth.

Hipocraesis maculata, or spotted hawkweed, grows on high pasture-grounds. The peasants of Norway use the leaves as cabbage.

Pinus sylvestris, or Scots fir. The Norwegians and others make bread of this tree in the following manner: They select such trunks as are most smooth and have least resin; they take off the bark, then dry it in the shade, and afterwards toast it over a fire, and grind it into meal. They generally mix with it a little oat-meal or barley. This bread, made of fir bark, is not only used in a scarcity of provisions, but is eat all times by the poorer sort.

Lichen islandicus, or eryngo-leaved liver-wort, grows among heath and upon high grounds. The inhabitants of Iceland have long used this plant, both boiled, and in the form of bread.

(EB, under “Botany”, 628-30 passim)

21Most of the plants listed and commented on are grown in Lapland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland: they are frequently used as food to meet the needs of northern peasants when corn is scarce. According to Schiebinger (2004, 7) “Linnaeus’s goal was […] to overcome Sweden’s devastating famines by finding new indigenous plants – fir bark, seaweed, burdock, bog myrtle, or Icelandic moss (lichen), for example – that could feed hungry peasants”. Endemic famines repeatedly starved the nation, though they were not exclusively confined to Sweden, since they periodically affected eighteenth-century Great Britain and Europe as well.

  • 8   On cameralism, cf. Tribe 1984; Reinert 2005; Liedman and Persson 1992. In particular, cameralism (...)

22Linnaeus was very sensitive to the problem of poverty and “taught that the purpose of natural history [its exact study] was to render service to the state” and aggrandise national wealth (Schiebinger 2004, 7): he was inspired by and promoted cameralist principles and values aiming at “a national productive structure that would lead to […] material welfare” (Reinert 2005, 280).8 Linnaeus’s ultimate goal was the creation of a dynamic system of classification “that could keep pace with the growing number of ‘new’ objects as yet unknown to Europeans in the course of early modern nation building and colonial expansion” (Müller-Wille 2007, 542): botanical exploration was economic in nature, and such perspective was strongly emphasised and popularised by the European nations as a whole (on economic botany cf. Wickens 1990). In this perspective, Linnaeus considered “economics as his subject, a field closely related to the natural sciences and with a heavy emphasis on its agricultural and thereby botanical aspect” (Liedman and Persson 1992, S262; italics in the original).

23Domestic exploration was fundamental to scientific inquiry, Linnaeus travelled extensively within the boundaries of Sweden, and Sweden itself, alongside the botanical garden in Uppsala, represented his cabinet, his laboratory where to collect, examine and classify both indigenous and exotic plants. He was one of those naturalists who never left Europe, but also one whose activity closely depended on “colonial networks” and “colonial enterprises” (Schiebinger 2004, 57). Colonial exploration was necessary to support “a research enterprise whose main aim was the discovery of ‘new’ species and genera” (Müller-Wille 2007, 542): this led to a specific independent discipline known as colonial botany, concerning “the study, naming, cultivation, and marketing of plants in colonial contexts” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 2). Linnaeus’s system of classification is significantly based on global interconnections and “[b]y the end of his career, in fact, Linnaeus sat at the centre of a vast scientific empire where, in the comfort of his home and gardens in Uppsala, he received specimens and news of new discoveries from some 570 Swedish and foreign correspondents” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 2; cf. also Brockway 1979, 6).

24The second section of “Botany” summarises and explains Linnaeus’s complex system of classification and denomination “which is perhaps the only one now taught in Europe” (EB, under “Botany”, 635). There were many systems being devised at the time, particularly in France and in Great Britain, but according to the editor of the EB “[i]t would be foolish to distract the attention of the reader by an explanation of all these methods” (635). The key point in Linnaeus’s approach is that by “means of the classical and generic marks [scholars are able] to discover the name of any plant, from whatever quarter of the globe it may be brought” (648). Just as botanical exploration is supported by colonial expansion (and may be considered itself as a tool of such an expansion), botanical denomination is part of what Schiebinger (2004, 19-20) calls “[l]inguistic imperialism” or “the politics of botanical nomenclature”. Linnaeus’s system standardised naming, particularly binomial nomenclature; and Latin – the language of learning in Europe – became itself a means to celebrate “the story of élite European botany” (Schiebinger 2004, 20) within his naming system. Even though Latin was used as a lingua franca, it was not “value-neutral” (Schiebinger 2004, 200); it was the medium of ancient Europe, whereas the languages of ancient Eastern countries were considered “barbarous” (Schiebinger 2004, 200), not adequate to express modern science. Latin and the European languages are then the most powerful consolidating tools for European science: if the Europeans are the producers of knowledge (cf. Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 10-11), this same knowledge may only be established by

a uniquely European system of nomenclature […] that swallowed into itself the diverse geographic and cultural identities of the world’s flora. […] “[M]odern science originated outside the tropics and […] it is a reasonable assumption that it could not have originated within them.” (Schiebinger 2004, 224-25, quoting Stearn 1988, 777).

  • 9   Müller-Wille (2007, 546): “Classification according to this system starts from the assumption tha (...)

25The third and last section is completely devoted to the exposition of the sexual system of plants and to “a pretty full historical view of the controversy” which ensued (EB, under “Botany”, 648). The focus shifts here from the scientific level – or the description of the sexual system of plants9 – to the socio-cultural one (cf. George 2005) – or the effects of such system on contemporary society. Most of the third section may be considered as a socio-cultural disclaimer:

Extract 2: Sexual theory

Having thus given a pretty full historical view of the controversy concerning the sexes of plants, we shall now lay before our readers a few observations that have occurred from the perusal of it.

It may be observed in general, that the facts and arguments adduced by the sexualists are by far too few to admit of any general induction. Nay, most of them are merely accidental, many of them not being uniform even in the same species; and the final causes of the whole are unnatural, and tortured so as best to answer the purposes of a theory, which […] merits no higher appellation than that of a whimsical conjecture. […]

Strange, that a man of Linnaeus’s capacity, or indeed of any capacity at all, should seriously employ an argument pregnant with every degree of absurdity! – Stranger still that he should take up near twenty pages in illustrating and drawing conclusions from such an argument! […]

Men or philosophers can smile at the nonsense and absurdity of such obscene gibberish; but it is easy to guess what effects it may have upon the young and thoughtless.

But the bad tendency upon morals is not the only evil produced by the sexual theory. It has loaded the best system of botany that has hitherto been invented, with a profusion of foolish and often unintelligible terms, which throw an obscurity upon the science, obstruct the progress of the learner, and deter many from ever entering upon the study.

Upon the whole, we must conclude, that the distinction of sexes among vegetables has no foundation in nature or, at least, that the facts and arguments employed in support of this doctrine, when examined with any degree of philosophical accuracy, are totally insufficient to establish it.

(EB, under “Botany”, 648, 653)

26It is at this point in the treatise that the Presbyterian background of the Edinburgh milieu emerges (cf. Yeo 2001, 173-74). Disciplinary research and Linnaeus himself are assessed from a non-disciplinary and non-scientific perspective: the Swedish contribution to British learning is appropriate and reliable if – and only if – the pruderie of British society is not threatened. According to the EB, the sexual theory thus obscures science and obstructs progress.

3. Hasselquist’s Voyages: from scandinavian to eurocentric perspective

27The perspective of Hasselquist’s VTs discussed here is completely different from the one characterising the EB. Not only VTs is originally written in Swedish, by a Swedish scholar, for a Swedish readership, but its approach to nature – particularly exotic nature – is mostly pragmatic, factual, experimental, in progress. Fredrik Hasselquist is one of those “[v]oyaging botanical assistants” (Schiebinger 2004, 46) collecting plants, seeds and data abroad. One of those scholars whose activity helped discover new items and verify cabinet hypotheses:

During this time [voyage in the Eastern countries] he corresponded diligently with his friends in Sweden, and filled his letters with curious Experiments and Observations, which were inserted in the papers printed twice a week in Stockholm under the title of Literary News, and all who read them, were prepossessed in favour of this attentive traveller (VTs, Account, iv, by Linnaeus).

28Hasselquist’s activity helped transform ‘local exotic knowledge’ into ‘global European science’, which ultimately means establishing “dominant European paradigms for understanding and organizing the natural world” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 6). It is in this work that the Scandinavian perspective becomes European, and that botanical research helps modify and interpret the outer world, since

Europe’s naturalists not only collected the stuff of nature but lay their own peculiar grid of reason over nature so that nomenclature and taxonomies […] often also served as ‘tools of empire’. The botanical sciences served the colonial enterprise and were, in turn, structured by it. Global networks of botanical gardens, the laboratories of colonial botany, followed the contours of empire, and gardens often served its needs. […] [They were] experimental stations for agriculture and way station for plant acclimatization for domestic and global trade, rare medicaments, and cash crops (Schiebinger 2004, 11).

29Plants may actually serve as new food and new medicine, that is “for meat, drink, and physic” (VTs, 256) or, in other words, “[e]very new plant was being scrutinised for its use as food, fiber, timber, dye, or medicine” (Brockway 1979, 74) to satisfy “the mercantilist and national spirit of the times” (Brockway 1979, 75): many small botanical gardens were rapidly established in the colonies to support (European) research and (European) economy.

30Hasselquist’s VTs reflects the orientation of European explorers and collectors, since personal and practical experience abroad is strictly bound to institutional and theoretical experience at home:

Extracts 3 and 4: Practical knowledge vs. theoretical system

(3) 10. Cicuta virosai. Water Hemlock.

This grows in plenty on the banks of the Nile, and on the coasts of the islands. […]

I must in this place refer to the Dissertation de Viribus Plantar. In the first volume of Linn. Amoen. Acad. where I treated on the Marsh Hemlock and Water Hemlock.

The above circumstance confirms what I there asserted, and proves, that nature acts always consistently with her own designs.

i Lin. Syst. Nat. P. 336. I.

(VTs, 244)

31Observation requires factual confirmation and evidence, and ultimately ‘acclimatisation’ to the European theoretical framework. Sometimes, this mechanism fails to uncover the gaps between the system archetype and first-hand experience:

(4) Smyrna, January 29, 1750.

I was this moment informed of a vessel’s going to Europe, and therefore must not omit the opportunity of writing to you. […]

I have botanized here several times this winter, and never lost my labour. I shall without delay have the honour to transmit my whole collection of plants and descriptions; in the mean time, I send one inclosed, which I imagine to be new; at least, I cannot range it under any genus in Syngenesia, Monogamia, though it belongs to the order. […]

(VTs, 408-10)

32In the early modern period and later, the academic study of plants in Europe undergoes dramatic changes: a clear divergence between scholarly approaches and practice-based tradition(s) emerges, since the natural world is constantly shaped and organised according to more and more standardising methods. Botanists are on their way to professionalisation and botany itself becomes more and more “text-based” and “learned” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 10).

33Through botany, the Europeans lay their hands on immense wealth: their assumptions are supported by national governments and institutions; there is a “volatile nexus of botanical science, commerce, and state politics […] from the earliest voyages of discovery, naturalists sought profitable plants for king and country, personal and corporate profit” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 2). Botanical gardens are the shrines where roots, seeds, and specimens are preserved and the laboratories where they are examined and classified. Plants migrate from the (sub)tropical biosphere to European botanical gardens to be adapted to new soils, be cultivated and transformed into food and medicines, and ultimately generate national benefit and welfare:

Extracts 5, 6 and 7: Botanical gardens and botanical exploration as national enterprises

(5) 2. Cornucopiae cucullatumb. The Horn of Plenty Grass.

I found this plant the 22d of March, in the neighbourhood of Smyrna […] this is one of those which I was very desirous of seeing. It is a grass, in appearance quite different from all of its tribe. I was the more rejoiced to find it, as it has been seen and described by very few botanists in its natural state. It is to be found in the vales round Smyrna, and has not been met with growing wild in any other place; nor has it ever entered any botanical garden.

I have described it well, gathered the roots of it, and used all my endeavours to have it sent to the botanical garden at Upsal, as Professor Linnaeus had thought proper to charge me with this in particular.

[Lin. Syst. Nat.] b P. 79. N. I.

(VTs, 242)

(6) Smyrna, April 6.

I still continue in the place, from which I have several times had the honour of writing to you. […] Each day brings to my knowledge new things in Botany […]. Some time ago, I made a journey in Natolia to the town of Magnesia, eight leagues from hence, I botanized there on the mount Sypilus of the ancients […]. I have got a quantity of Cornucopiae, the rare grass, which you were pleased to recommend so much to me, to search for round Smyrna; I have likewise described it; and inclosed, send you some specimens. I shall gather the seeds when they are ripe, and send them to the Academical Garden, which I hope will be the first that gets this fine plant.

This short account how I have employed my time, is all I can have the honour to impart to you at present. I shall not omit to give you a larger collection of my observations before my departure hence.

(VTs, 411-13)

34Botanical research abroad and information sharing with the mother country are thus fundamental to ensure “honour and benefit”, national prestige, praise and wealth to the nation:

(7) Smyrna, April 28.

[…] May the Supreme Being let us see the time, when our country may acquire honour and benefit from those things, which foreigners have passed over on their travels, in which, as well as in almost everything else, we have been the last; but God be praised, we hope not the worst in the world.

(VTs, 415)

35Science is thus created in Europe on the basis of experimental activity abroad. It is created for the Europeans who embed “treasures [once] unknown” to them (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 2) in their own culture, and go on to ingest and absorb the knowledge systems of other peoples, before transforming “a great part of the riches of [a] country” into their own:

Extract 8: Knowledge systems of other peoples

Alexandria, May 18, 1750.

I have now the honour to write to you, from a different part of the world, than I have hitherto done. […]

In the few days I have been in Egypt, even in the most barren places that I have seen, I find that this fine country can afford an infinity of curious subjects in Natural History […].

The first thing I did after my arrival was, to see the Date-tree, the ornament and a great part of the riches of this country. It had already blossomed, but I had, nevertheless, the pleasure of seeing how the Arabs assist its fecundation, and by that means secure to themselves a plentiful harvest of a vegetable, which was so important to them, and known to them, many centuries before any Botanist dreamed of the difference of sexes in vegetables. The Gardner informed me of this, before I had the time to enquire, and would shew me, as a very curious thing, the male and female of the Date or Palm-trees; nor could he conceive how I, a Frank, lately arrived, could know it before; for, says he, all who have yet come from Europe to see this country, have regarded his relation either as a fable or a miracle. The Arab, seeing me inclined to be further informed, accompanied me and my French interpreter to a Palm-tree, which was very full of young fruit, and had been wedded or fecundated with the male, when both were in blossom. […] Thus much have I learned of this wonderful work of Nature, in a country, where it may be seen every year. I shall have the honour to give a relation to the use, and divers other qualities of the Date-tree, at some other opportunity.

(VTs, 416-18)

36Hasselquist, observing the fecundation of the date palm almost in amazement, declares to have learned a great deal from this practice known to the Arabs long before any theoretical explanation on the sexual system of plants were invented. The Eastern gardener himself, whose knowledge is practice-based, cannot conceive how a European (Frank) “could know it before”, without direct experience. The two knowledge systems seem to run parallel to each other between mutual admiration, wonder and perplexity. However, the relationship is not balanced and bidirectional: the Europeans have ‘invented’ the system and use it to assimilate and categorise practical knowledge, whereas the reverse does not happen. In this context, natural knowledge almost always moves from the non-European practical experience of nature to the European taxonomic classification of plants and their possible uses.

37Traditional non-European knowledge, whether strictly ‘botanical’ or more obviously ‘cultural’, opens to alternative issues: culture-bound habits concerning the use of plants may be both superstitious – “a kind of symbolick plant […]” – and ‘scientifically’ recommended at the same time – “distil a water from this plant, […] sold in the apothecaries shops”:

Extract 9: Superstition, tradition, science

13. Aloe perfoliata veram. Mitre-shaped Aloe.

This is a kind of symbolick plant to the Mahometans, especially in Egypt, and in some measure dedicated to religion; for who- ever returns from a Pilgrimage to Mecca, hangs this plant over his street door, as a token of his having performed this holy journey. The superstitious Egyptians believe, that this plant hinders evil spirits and apparitions from entering the house […]. I scarcely remember to have seen this custom any where but in Cairo. […]

The Egyptians distil a water from this plant, which is sold in the apothecaries shops at Cairo, and is recommended in coughs. It is likewise given with good success in hysterics and asthmas. […] This is a remedy unknown to our apothecaries, but it certainly merits their attention; nor is it difficult to obtain it, as the plant might easily be raised in the Southern parts of Europe. The Arabians call it Sabbara.

[Lin. Syst. Nat.] m P. 458.

(VTs, 245-46)

38The boundaries between superstition, tradition and scientific knowledge are not clear-cut, and confidence in accepting a new perspective is not spontaneous; rather, it always implies the European extra-scientific evaluation and socio-cultural bias. If traditional knowledge – or “the riches of [a] country” (cf. extract 8) – may be transformed into revenue for the nation, as well as into riches and commodities for its people, then it is worth assimilating it, regardless of any superstition connected with customs, “a kind of symbolick plant to the Mahomethans”.

39The strategy of appropriation is recursive: Western scholars rout their cultural (and linguistic) opponents; it was “a time when European science was establishing its power vis-à-vis other knowledge traditions” (Schiebinger 2004, 203) in the “consolidation of Western hegemony” (Schiebinger 2004, 198). Western-European apothecaries themselves should thus learn to produce this “unknown remedy […]. [I]t certainly merits their attention […] as the plant might easily be raised in the Southern parts of Europe”.

40Botanical exploration led towards a ‘cultural history of plants’, where the term ‘culturalʼ actually refers to Western European culture, scientific reference systems and language.

4. Concluding remarks

41Unquestionably, Scandinavian learning hugely influences British and European culture in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Sweden, in particular, is extremely dynamic during the Age of Liberty (1718-72), which sees the elaboration of Linnaeus’s system of classification and denomination, the publication of his major works, and their vernacularisation in contemporary European languages. Indeed, scientific research and socio-cultural interest in natural history, and especially botany, is significantly expanding across nations within and beyond Europe. Even though only two works have been investigated and exemplified, and the discussion is a partial overview of European scientific research, Linnaeus (botaniste de cabinet) and his pupil Hasselquist (botaniste voyageur) may well represent the extraordinary botanical activity of the period at a theoretical and practical level. The two scholars also highlight how sharing first-hand experience and transferring essential information by communal correspondence over long distances acts as a strategic device to corroborate preliminary assumptions and working hypotheses.

42Botany also becomes the bridge towards other branches of knowledge. Its applicability in solving practical issues (in agriculture, diaetetica, pharmacology, commerce, etc.) is rapidly converted into relevant and almost independent sub-disciplines, such as colonial botany and economic botany. In general terms, applied botany embodies eighteenth-century mercantilist principles and cameralist values across nations: the European “grid of reason” (Schiebinger 2004, 11), in addition to national needs and national ambitions of “honour and benefit” (extract 7), is used to give order to the outer ‘extra’-European world and aggrandise ‘intra’-European wealth.

43Botany is more than a discipline restricted to specialists: its socio-cultural issues emerge both in the EB and in VTs. In the EB, Scandinavian learning and practical knowledge migrate to Great Britain and are embedded in a British work. In the treatise, botany embodies and popularises Linnaeus’s thought and exemplifies Scandinavian/Swedish habits, customs and needs; whereas the British ‘cultural bias’ manipulate the scientific nature of Linnaeus’s sexual system of plants and describes it as a “whimsical conjecture” and “obscene gibberish” (extract 2).

44In VTs, the Scandinavian/Swedish perspective becomes Eurocentric: here botany is above all applied botany and the key principle is its economic usefulness, since plants are not only an object of intellectual interest but also “moneymakers” (Schiebinger 2004, 6). Plants, collected and observed abroad, are framed according to the European taxonomic and linguistic system.

45Botany therefore emerges as “big science and big business […]. Across Europe, eighteenth-century political economists […] taught that the exact knowledge of nature was key to amassing national wealth, and hence power” (Schiebinger and Swan 2005b, 5). In conclusion, botany is exploited by the Europeans as a source of ‘interʼ-national wealth and of ‘interʼ-national power, both economically and politically.

Websites

Bibliographie

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Brockway, Lucile H. 1979. Science and Colonial Expansion. The Role of British Botanic Gardens. New York / London: Academic Press.

Cook, William J. 2012. “The Correspondence of Thomas Dale (1700-1750). Botany in the Transatlantic Republic of Letters.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43: 232-43.

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George, Sam. 2005. “Linnaeus in Letters and the Cultivation of the Female Mind: ‘Botany in an English Dress’.” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 28 (1): 1-18.

Gläser, Rosemarie. 2011. “The Influence of Carl Linnaeus on the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1771.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 193-206. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Gotti, Maurizio. 2006a. “Communal Correspondence in Early Modern English: The Philosophical Transactions Network.” In Business and Official Correspondence: Historical Investigations, eds. Marina Dossena and Susan M. Fitzmaurice, 17-46. Bern et al.: Lang.

—. 2006b. “Disseminating Early Modern Science: Specialized News Discourse in the Philosophical Transactions.” In News Discourse in Early Modern Britain. Selected Papers of CHINED 2004, ed. Nicholas Brownlees, 41-70. Bern et al.: Lang.

—. 2014. “Scientific Interaction Within Henry Oldenburg’s Letter Network.” Journal of Early Modern Studies 3: 151-71. http://www.fupress.net/index.php/bsfm-jems. Accessed June 23, 2014.

Hasselquist, Frederick. 1766. Voyages and Travels in the Levant, in the Years 1749, 50, 51, 52. Containing Observations in Natural History, Physick, Agriculture, and Commerce […]. Published by Order of […] the Queen of Sweden, by Charles Linnaeus, Physician to the King of Sweden, Professor of Botany at Upsal, and Member of the Learned Societies in Europe. London: Davis and Retmers.

Jönsson, Ann-Mari. 2011. “Linnaeus’s International Correspondence. The Spread of a Revolution.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 171-91. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Knoespel, Kenneth J. 2011. “Linnaeus and the Siberian Expeditions: Translating Political Empire into a Kingdom of Knowledge.” In Languages of Science in the Eigh- teenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 207-26. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Liedman, Sven-Eric, and Mats Persson. 1992. “The Visible Hand – Anders Berch and the University of Uppsala Chair in Economics.” In Proceedings of a Symposium on Productivity Concepts and Measurement Problems: Welfare, Quality and Productivity in the Service Industries, Uppsala, May 1991, ed. Robert M. Solow, S259-69. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell (Scandinavian Journal of Economics 94, Supplement).

Lonati, Elisabetta. 2013. “Plants from Abroad: Botanical Terminology in 18th-Century British Encyclopaedias.” Altre Modernità/ Otras Modernidades/ Autres Modernités/ Other Modernities 10: 20-38. http://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/AMonline/article/view/3305/3481. Accessed January 7, 2014.

Magnusson, Lars. 1987. “Mercantilism and ‘Reform’ Mercantilism: The Rise of Economic Discourse in Sweden during the Eighteenth Century.” History of Political Economy 19: 415-33.

Müller-Wille, Staffan. 2007. “Collection and Collation: Theory and Practice of Linnean Botany.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38: 541-62. http://www.sciencedirect.com.pros.lib.unimi.it/science/article/pii/S1369848607000428. Accessed January 7, 2014.

Ralph, Bo. 2011. “Linnaeus as a Connecting Link in Swedish Language History.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 247-61. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Reinert, Sophus A. 2005. “Cameralism and Commercial Rivalry: Nationbuilding through Economic Autarky in Seckendorff’s 1665 Additiones.” European Journal of Law and Economics 19: 271-86.

Schiebinger, Londa. 2004. Plants and Empire. Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press.

Schiebinger, Londa, and Claudia Swan, eds. 2005a. Colonial Botany. Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

—. 2005b. Introduction to Schiebinger and Swan 2005a, 1-16.

Stearn, William Thomas. 1988. “Carl Linnaeus’s Acquaintance with Tropical Plants.” Taxon 37: 776-81.

Teleman, Ulf. 2011. “The Swedish Academy of Sciences: Language Policy and Language Practice.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 63-87. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Tribe, Keith. 1984. “Cameralism and the Science of Government.” The Journal of Modern History 56: 263-84.

Wickens, Gerald E. 1990. “What is Economic Botany?” Economic Botany 44: 12-28.

Yeo, Richard. 2001. Encyclopaedic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Anna Helga Hannesdóttir. 2011. “From Vernacular to National Language: Language Planning and the Discourse of Science in Eighteenth-Century Sweden.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 107-22. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Brockway, Lucile H. 1979. Science and Colonial Expansion. The Role of British Botanic Gardens. New York / London: Academic Press.

Cook, William J. 2012. “The Correspondence of Thomas Dale (1700-1750). Botany in the Transatlantic Republic of Letters.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43: 232-43.

Encyclopaedia Britannica; or, a Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, compiled upon a new plan. In which the different Sciences and Arts are digested into distinct Treatises or Systems; and the various Technical Terms, &c. are explained as they occur in the order of the Alphabet […]. By a Society of Gentlemen in Scotland. 3 vols. Edinburgh, 1768-71.

George, Sam. 2005. “Linnaeus in Letters and the Cultivation of the Female Mind: ‘Botany in an English Dress’.” British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 28 (1): 1-18.

Gläser, Rosemarie. 2011. “The Influence of Carl Linnaeus on the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1771.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 193-206. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Gotti, Maurizio. 2006a. “Communal Correspondence in Early Modern English: The Philosophical Transactions Network.” In Business and Official Correspondence: Historical Investigations, eds. Marina Dossena and Susan M. Fitzmaurice, 17-46. Bern et al.: Lang.

—. 2006b. “Disseminating Early Modern Science: Specialized News Discourse in the Philosophical Transactions.” In News Discourse in Early Modern Britain. Selected Papers of CHINED 2004, ed. Nicholas Brownlees, 41-70. Bern et al.: Lang.

—. 2014. “Scientific Interaction Within Henry Oldenburg’s Letter Network.” Journal of Early Modern Studies 3: 151-71. http://www.fupress.net/index.php/bsfm-jems. Accessed June 23, 2014.

Hasselquist, Frederick. 1766. Voyages and Travels in the Levant, in the Years 1749, 50, 51, 52. Containing Observations in Natural History, Physick, Agriculture, and Commerce […]. Published by Order of […] the Queen of Sweden, by Charles Linnaeus, Physician to the King of Sweden, Professor of Botany at Upsal, and Member of the Learned Societies in Europe. London: Davis and Retmers.

Jönsson, Ann-Mari. 2011. “Linnaeus’s International Correspondence. The Spread of a Revolution.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 171-91. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Knoespel, Kenneth J. 2011. “Linnaeus and the Siberian Expeditions: Translating Political Empire into a Kingdom of Knowledge.” In Languages of Science in the Eigh- teenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 207-26. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Liedman, Sven-Eric, and Mats Persson. 1992. “The Visible Hand – Anders Berch and the University of Uppsala Chair in Economics.” In Proceedings of a Symposium on Productivity Concepts and Measurement Problems: Welfare, Quality and Productivity in the Service Industries, Uppsala, May 1991, ed. Robert M. Solow, S259-69. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell (Scandinavian Journal of Economics 94, Supplement).

Lonati, Elisabetta. 2013. “Plants from Abroad: Botanical Terminology in 18th-Century British Encyclopaedias.” Altre Modernità/ Otras Modernidades/ Autres Modernités/ Other Modernities 10: 20-38. http://riviste.unimi.it/index.php/AMonline/article/view/3305/3481. Accessed January 7, 2014.

Magnusson, Lars. 1987. “Mercantilism and ‘Reform’ Mercantilism: The Rise of Economic Discourse in Sweden during the Eighteenth Century.” History of Political Economy 19: 415-33.

Müller-Wille, Staffan. 2007. “Collection and Collation: Theory and Practice of Linnean Botany.” Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 38: 541-62. http://www.sciencedirect.com.pros.lib.unimi.it/science/article/pii/S1369848607000428. Accessed January 7, 2014.

Ralph, Bo. 2011. “Linnaeus as a Connecting Link in Swedish Language History.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 247-61. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Reinert, Sophus A. 2005. “Cameralism and Commercial Rivalry: Nationbuilding through Economic Autarky in Seckendorff’s 1665 Additiones.” European Journal of Law and Economics 19: 271-86.

Schiebinger, Londa. 2004. Plants and Empire. Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World. Cambridge, MA / London: Harvard University Press.

Schiebinger, Londa, and Claudia Swan, eds. 2005a. Colonial Botany. Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

—. 2005b. Introduction to Schiebinger and Swan 2005a, 1-16.

Stearn, William Thomas. 1988. “Carl Linnaeus’s Acquaintance with Tropical Plants.” Taxon 37: 776-81.

Teleman, Ulf. 2011. “The Swedish Academy of Sciences: Language Policy and Language Practice.” In Languages of Science in the Eighteenth-Century, ed. Britt-Louise Gunnarsson, 63-87. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Tribe, Keith. 1984. “Cameralism and the Science of Government.” The Journal of Modern History 56: 263-84.

Wickens, Gerald E. 1990. “What is Economic Botany?” Economic Botany 44: 12-28.

Yeo, Richard. 2001. Encyclopaedic Visions: Scientific Dictionaries and Enlightenment Culture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The Royal Society of London. http://royalsociety.org/. Accessed January 7, 2015.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. www.kva.se/en/. Accessed January 7, 2015.

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Notes

1   Some relevant studies concerning continental and Scandinavian mercantilism deserve a mention here, in particular Tribe 1984; Magnusson 1987; Liedman and Persson 1992; Reinert 2005.

2   On the relevance of botany in European and colonial economies, cf. Brockway 1979; Schiebinger 2004; Schiebinger and Swan 2005a; Lonati 2013.

3   As for botanical gardens and their relevance in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scientific research, colonial exploration and the construction of national identity, cf. also Brockway 1979 and Schiebinger and Swan 2005a.

4   The Linnean Correspondence Collection may be browsed at linnean-online.org/correspondence.html and linnean-online.org/view/correspondence/ (The Linnean Society of London).

5   In particular, on the language policy of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, and the promotion of the study of sciences, cf. Anna Helga Hannesdóttir 2011; Teleman 2011, 63-87; Ralph 2011, 247-61.

6   His major works are Systema Naturae, sive Regna Tria Naturae Systematice Proposita per Classes, Ordines, Genera & Species (1735), Genera Plantarum eorumque Characteres Naturales secundum Numerum, Figuram, Situm & Proportionem (1737), and Species Plantarum, exhibentes Plantas Rite Cognitas, ad Genera Relatas, cum Differentiis Specificis, Nominibus Trivialibus, Synonymis Selectis, Locis Natalibus, secundum Systema Sexuale Digestas (1753).

7   It is no accident that the EB includes a treatise on botany, since many educated men and scholars in Scotland, and particularly in Edinburgh, were keenly interested in such a multifaceted and relatively ‘new’ domain. According to Brockway (1979, 66): “Scotland produced more gardeners, many of whom were employed on the great estates in England, and more botanists, both amateur and professional, than its population would lead one to expect. […] Scotland was provincial, with all the political, social, and economic disadvantages of a province vis-à-vis the metropolis, but Lowland Scotland was also the seat of high culture centered in the Presbyterian Church, with a high rate of literacy throughout the population, and a distinguished university in Edinburgh”.

8   On cameralism, cf. Tribe 1984; Reinert 2005; Liedman and Persson 1992. In particular, cameralism promotes “good order and happiness within the state” and “can be delineated as a set of discourses related to the maintenance of land and people which, when it considers trade, necessarily evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of relations with other states” (Tribe 1984, 266, 273). According to Magnusson (1987, 415), mercantilism in Sweden promoted economic growth and modernisation during the Age of Liberty (1718-72), and was influenced by “[c]ontinental mercantilist thinkers, especially German cameralists”. Magnusson (1987, 418) states that the principal aim, according to “books, pamphlets, and articles” of the time, was “to re-establish Sweden as a great power […]. […] [C]ountries like England and Holland had risen to power through commercialization and trade. […] [A] kingdom economically weak, with a poverty-stricken population of peasants still chained to natural economy of barter, could not compete with the other European nation states. This aim also became the official policy. […] At the same time the natural sciences flourished – the great Linnaeus was just one of the voices in this debate”.

9   Müller-Wille (2007, 546): “Classification according to this system starts from the assumption that all plants possess ‘sex’ or male and female organs, the stamens and pistils contained in the flowers, and that these can therefore serve as fundamentum divisionis. […] Thus, a division of the plant realm can be effected in two successive steps: first a division into ‘classes’ […] according to the number of stamens, and second, a division into ‘orders’ according to the number of pistils. The divisions are logically exclusive […].”

Auteur

Università degli Studi di Milano – (MA, PhD) is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Milan, where she teaches English and English linguistics. Her research mainly focuses on early modern and modern English lexicology and lexicography. She is currently undertaking studies on the origin, elaboration and classification of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century English technical/scientific vocabulary in encyclopaedic works, monolingual and bilingual dictionaries, in addition to defining their social, historical, political, and cultural role in shaping British national identity. She is also interested in the relationship between norm and usage in lexicography. The elaboration of scientific writing – particularly concerning medicine, materia medica, and botany – in essays, observations, records, treatises and journals of the period is another key aspect of her research, as well as the increased circulation of Italian scientific treatises in English in (early) modern Britain.

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