February 2014: Linnaeus in love
Linnaeus in Love: the Almanach På Åhretefter Iesu Christi nåderika Födelse 1735
In the year 1735, Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778) used a small printed almanac as a diary.
This velvet covered volume, entitled Almanach På Åhretefter Iesu Christi nåderika Födelse 1735, is kept in the Linnaean Manuscripts collection.
On the blank interleaves and opposite the printed date of the almanac, Linnaeus recorded the day’s events.
This is one of the few genuine autobiographies we have from Linnaeus – all the other ones he carefully crafted and reworked with a view to publishing them.
The 1735 almanac, by contrast, is delightfully unaffected and candid.
In the early days of the year, Linnaeus faithfully recorded the courting and wooing of his future wife, Sara Elisabeth (Sara Lisa) Moraea, the eighteen-year-old daughter of Falun’s town physician, Dr Johan Moraeus.
As described by Wilfrid Blunt from the diary “on 2 January he waited on her, dressed to kill in his famous Lapland costume, and the following day he took advantage of the absence of her parents to call again. Other visits followed, besides meetings at the houses of mutual friends. On 16 January, he spent the whole day with her, proposed and was accepted.
Dr Moraeus, after his own experiences as a medical man, was not at first pleased with the idea of his daughter marrying a doctor; nor was her mother, who had probably hoped that she would make what the world would consider a better match.
In the end, however, they capitulated, on the understanding that the marriage should not take place for three years and that Linnaeus should abide by his plan to go abroad. So rings were exchanged and the customary Vow of Fidelity was written by Linnaeus, after which a month was spent in visits to friends and future relations and in the preoccupations of young lovers.” (Blunt, 2001: 80).
Linnaeus left Falun on 20 February 1735, and journeyed south. On 15 April he took leave of his family and days later sailed for the Continent where he spent the next three years. He came back to Sweden in June 1738, and became formally engaged to Sara Lisa. They were married a year later, in June 1739.
Happy St Valentine’s Day!
In 1848, Dr Wallich published a translation of the almanac in the . Here are Linnaeus’s entries concerning his courtship, efficiently conducted between 2 January and 19 February:
O! Ensentium miserere mei!
1. Christmas dinner with alderman Dan. Moraeus.
2. called on Sara Lisain a Lapland dress.
3. the same, absentibus parentibus.
10. called on S. L. M. and had a little fun.
13. called on S. L. M., and at Kougagården, and on my assessor Moraeus.
15. Christmas party at the provost’s at Fahlun with S. L. M.
16. dinner at secretary Neuman’s.
N.B. a day of immortal commemoration, of final settling with S. L. M.
19. Lars Petter dined at a party at engineer (Konstmäster) Trygg’s. Betted two tankards of rhenish wine that there will be a christening (barnsöl) in 4 years.
20. wrote to J. Moraeus, S. S. about S. L. M. Explicitly solicited (her hand).
21. wrote to S. L. M.
22. called on [S. L. M.]gave annulum.
23. reciprocation by mother-in-law.
27. received from J. Mor responsio concerning 3 [years] secundum abitum. Seven temptations!
29. called on S. L. M. concluded Floram Dalekarlicam.
8. in the evening (with) S. L. M.
9. in the afternoon at a frolic at Morbygden.
10. in the evening (with) S. L. M.
11. with S. L. M. until X o’clock in the evening.
18. took leave of father-in-law.
19. took leave of S. L. M., who wrote the oath.
Blunt, W., The Compleat Naturalist. A Life of Linnaeus (London, 2001).