Artedi, Peter

, a Swedish physician and naturalist, the friend and contemporary of Linnoeus, was born in | 1705, in the province of Angermania, of poor parents, who intended him at first for the church but inclination led him to the pursuit of natural history. He began his studies at Upsal, where, in 1728, he first became acquainted with Linnæus, who informs us that at that time the name of Artedi was heard everywhere and that the remarks Artedi made, and the knowledge he displayed, struck him with astonishment. A higher character cannot well be supposed and here their friendship and amicable rivalship commenced. Even the dissimilitude of their tempers turned out to advantage. Artedi excelled Linnaeus in chemistry, and Linnæus out-did him in the knowledge of birds and insects, and in botany. Artedi finally restricted his botanical ‘studies to the umbelliferous plants, in which he pointed out a new method of classification, which was afterwards published by Linnæus. But the chief object of his pursuits, and which transmitted his fame to posterity, was Ichthyology and Linnæus found himself so far excelled in point of abilities, that he relinquished to him this province, on which Artedi afterwards bestowed all his juvenile labours. In the course of his investigations, he projected a new classification in Ichthyology, which encouraged Linnoeus in his similar design in botany. In 1734 Artedi left Sweden, and went to England for the purpose of making greater improvements in the knowledge of fishes and from England he proceeded to Holland, where he wished to have taken his doctor’s degree but was prevented by the want of money. On this occasion Linnæus recommended him to the celebrated apothecary Seba, of Amsterdam, a lover of natural history, and who had formed a very extensive museum. Seba received Artedi as his assistant, and the latter would probably have been enabled to pursue his studies with advantage, had he not lost his life by falling into one of the canals in a dark night, Sept. 25, 1735. “No sooner,” says Linnæus, “had I finished my * Fundamenta Botanica,‘ than I hastened to communicate them to Artedi he shewed me on his part the work which had been the result of several years study, his ’ Philosophia Ichthyologia,’ and other manuscripts. I was delighted with his familiar conversation but, being overwhelmed with business, I grew iuipatient at his detaining me so long. Alas had I known that this was the last visit, the last words of my | friend, how fain would I have tarried to prolong his existence

When Artedi and Linnæus were at Upsal, they reciprocally constituted themselves heirs to each other’s books and manuscripts. Linnæus was now ready to assert his right, that he might rescue at least the fame of his deceased friend from oblivion. But the landlord of Artedi, at whose house his situation had compelled him to contract some small debts, would not deliver up his effects, which he threatened to sell by public auction. Through the generous liberality, however, of Dr. Cliffort, a princely patron of natural history, the wish of Linnæus was accomplished. Cliffort purchased the manuscripts, and made him a present of them. The principal one was the general work on fishes, which Linnæus published under the title “Petri Artedi, Sueci medici, Ichthyologia, sive opera omnia de Piscibus,Leyden, 1738, 4to with the life of the author. But a more valuable edition was published by Dr. Walbaum of Lubeck, 3 vols. 4to, 1788, 1789, 1792; including not only all the modern discoveries and improvements; but a history of the science of ichthyology, from the earliest accounts to the present times. Schneider also published a new edition of a part of this work, under the title “Petri Artedi Synonymia Piscium,” Leipsic, 1789, 4to. 1


Biog. Universelle. —Moreri. Stoever’s Life of Linnæus, Sect. 11. and Sect. IV.