Kalm, Peter

, a very celebrated naturalist, was a native of Finland, and was born in 1715. Having imbibed a taste for the study of natural history, it appears that he pursued his inclination with much zeal and industry. His first researches were rewarded by the discovery of many new plants in Sweden, of which he gave some account to | the botanical world between the years 1742 and 1746. He was particularly anxious to explore the virtues of plants, both with respect to their uses in medicine, and in the useful arts, so that planting and agriculture occupied some portion of his attention. His reputation as a naturalist caused him to be appointed professor at Abo; and in October 1747, he set out upon his travels, sailing from Gottenburg for America; but, on account of a violent hurricane, was obliged to take shelter in a port of Norway, whence he could not depart till the ensuing February, when he proceeded immediately for London. From hence he went to North America; and having spent two or three years in exploring whatever was worthy of observation in that country, he returned to his professorship at Abo in 1751. The expences of this undertaking appear to have exceeded what was allowed him by the Academy of Sciences, so that our author was obliged to live rather penuriously upon his return; yet he found means to cultivate, in a small garden of his own, several hundred plants, for the use of the university, as there was no public botanical garden at Abo His discoveries in botany very materially enriched the “Species Plantarum” of his great master, and the LinntEan Herbarium abounds with specimens brought home by him, distinguished by the letter K. Haller enumerates a long list of tracts published by Kalm; and his inaugural dissertation appeared in the “Amcenitates Academicae” of Linnæus. He was originally intended for the ecclesiastical profession, but was drawn aside from this pursuit by attending the lectures of Linnæus on natural history, given in the university of Upsal. Indeed, it was through the recommendation of Linnæus that professor Kalm was fixed upon to undertake the voyage to North America, and the account of his voyage was published in English by Forster in 1771. He afterwards made, at his own expence, a very extensive tour into Russia, the history of which never appeared in print, but which is supposed to have furnished considerable matter for the work of a Swedish writer, who published a book of travels in that kingdom. Kalm was a member of the royal Swedish academy of sciences, and died in 1779. His collection of dried plants, made in his various journeys, and doubtless valuable for the purposes of botanical information, is said to remain in the hands of his family in a state of neglect. 1


Stoever’s Life of Linnæus.—Haller Bibl. Bot.—Rees’s Cyclopædia.