Youth's Magazine,  9 (1836), 193–204.

Linnæus and his Lapland Tour




Publications reviewed:

Smith 1811

Relevant illustrations:

wdct. [3]


Exploration, Naturalists, Observation, Education, Endeavour, Botany, Piety, Reading, Natural Theology, Feeling, Design, Natural History, Nomenclature, Biblical Authority

    Introduces the posthumously published journal of Carl Linnaeus's 1732 journey into Lapland, sponsored by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, with the hope that it will 'allure' readers into 'those habits of observation and reasoning, out of which so much information and delight frequently arise' (193). Hopes particularly to encourage readers to compile 'just such another record of their own observations', and discusses at some length the value of such writing in education. In its straightforwardness and lack of affectation, Linnaeus's journal is a 'good model for young persons'. (194) Gives an example of a botanical description, and urges the importance of minute observation. Illustrates how such minutiae should prompt wider reflections, especially on pious themes. Considers that 'many young persons, not unfrequently misunderstand the real use of books, and fancy that they have only to endure them till they reach the end, without carrying their enquiries, in a single instance, beyond the paper or print which lies before them, or connecting the world of letters or of art with those of nature, providence, or grace'. Urges the importance of these associations: 'The bookless man has less pleasure, "when he walks abroad into the varied field of nature", than one who has no eyes at all, if his mind has been made the store-house of holy associations'. Associations can also affix to 'the whole of the scenery and circumstances amongst which we may have found an object that has held some importance in our enquiries'. (199) Gives an example from Linnaeus's journal. Observes: 'We hear much of "looking through nature up to nature's God"; and as fashion requires that we should give the world credit for doing so, we will for once allow it to be a possible case. But nature never did teach, and never can, the whole of God's doings and purposes with regard to us; and, for this reason, the world of books, comprising as it does the records of redeeming grace, has infinitely the advantage' (200–01). Reflects that, of the thoughts and feelings evoked by nature, the most important is '"My Father made them all!"'. Rhetorically enquires: 'how many minds are there that scarcely appear susceptible of any impressions of the kind'? (201) Relates that Linnaeus was not insusceptible in this way, and describes some of his associations. Corrects the common misapprehension that natural history 'requires an intimate acquaintance with the learned languages; and, indeed, that it consists in little else' (204). Concludes by pointing to the gospel as being alone found in revelation.

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