A Brill Calendar: April 10
The Death of a Patron
Few cities equal Leyden in the 18th century as catalyst and meeting place of scholars hailing from a wealth of Western nations; with all kinds of back-ground.
A fine example of this role is the Swedish botanist Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), who showed - when still a young man - a work in manuscript to a Dutchman sharing his interest, Jan Frederik Gronovius. Gronovius was a grandson of the Johannes Fredericus Gronovius (Hamburg, 1611 – Leyden, 1671), who died as Librarian to the University, and the son of Jacob Gronovius (Deventer, 1645 – Leyden, 1716), Professor of History and Greek.
Gronovius III was so impressed by what he saw, that he decided to get the material printed at his personal expense. In a city steeped in the books, a suitable printer was readily found: in 1735 Dirk Haak delivered the first print-run of a book entitled ‘Systema naturae, sive, regna tria naturae systematice proposita per classes, ordines, genera, & species’. It became Linnaeus’s launch into fame; two years later, in 1737, both his ‘Flora Lapponica’ and the ‘Genera Plantarum’ saw also print in Holland.
It is seldom that riches assembled during the Republic were employed as fruitfully in scholarship as in the first half of the 18th century. In Holland, Linnaeus found a rich sponsor in Gerard George Clifford (Amsterdam, January 7, 1685 – Heemstede, April 10, 1760), banker, Director of the United East-Indian Company VOC, and Burgomaster of Amsterdam.
Clifford’s palatial ‘place in the country’ near Heemstede, nearby Amsterdam - called ‘De Hartecamp’ - sported a museum devoted to natural history next to two large gardens, one zoological, the other botanical; where tests were undertaken in promulgating exotic plants from all over the globe. Clifford appointed the coming young Swede as supervisor, who classified what he saw in a third 1737 classic, the ‘Hortus Cliffortianus’.
When Linnaeus started teaching botany at Uppsala University in 1742 his Europe-wide reputation had been built in Leyden and environs; receiving his patent as Swedish nobleman only in 1761; antedated 1757, perhaps to compensate for bureaucratic procrastination & sloth.
2013, May 17
2013, April 11
2013, April 11