Hasselquist, Frederick

, one of the favourite pupils of Linnæus, and eminently distinguished by hisillus“trations of the natural history and medicine of the Levant, was born at Toernvalla, in East Gothland, Jan. 3d, 1722. He was the son of a poor curate, who died at an early age, and whose widow, on account of mental and corporeal infirmities, was obliged to be placed in the hospital at Vadstena. Her brother, a worthy clergyman of the name of Pontin, educated young Hasselquist with his own children, at the school of Linkoeping; but he was soon deprived of this benefactor, and was obliged to become the tutor of young children till he was old enough to go to the university; and by a similar plan he was enabled to support himself after he entered at Upsal, in 1741. Here he soon took a decided turn for physic and natural history, and had some talents for poetry; and such was his diligence, that his superiors procured him, in 1746, a royal stipend or scholarship. In June 1747, he published his thesis, entitled” Vires Plantarum," setting forth the erroneous and often foolish principles on which plants had formerly been employed in medicine, and suggesting a truly philosophical one iii their natural botanical affinities.

In one of his botanical lectures in 1747, Linnæus happening to speak of Palestine, one of the most important and interesting countries to the philosopher as well as the divine, but of whose productions we had less knowledge than of those of India, the zeal of young Hasselquist became instantly excited. In vain did his preceptor, secretly delighted with his enthusiasm, represent to him the difficulties of the undertaking, the distance, the dangers, the expence, and above all the weak state of his own health, particularly of his lungs. Hasselquist’s first step was to solicit assistance to defray the expences of his journey, but the whole he obtained is represented as far inadequate to his | undertaking. He began, however, to learn the oriental tongues, at the same time that he was completing his academical studies, reading lectures, and obtaining the degree of licentiate in physic. The faculty, considering his merit and circumstances, Would not aliow him to he at any expence on this occasion, any more than for his attendance on the lectures of the professors. The degree of doctor of physic was afterwards conferred on him during his absence at Cairo, March 8th, 75!, with the same honourable and delicate attention to his peculiar situation. In the spring of 1749 he went to Stockholm, read lectures on botany there during the summer, and so far recommended himself to public notice, that the company of merchants trailing to the Levant, offered him a free passage to Smyrna in one of their ships, in which he set sail August 7th, arriving at Smyrna on the 27th of November, 1749. He kept a regular journal f his voyage. Touching at Gottenburgh, he there met Toreen, just returned from China with abundance of treasures for his master Linnæus, in whose works they have at various times been communicated to the public.

At Smyrna Hasselquist nret with the kindest reception from his relation, Mr. Rydelius, the Swedish consul, as well as from the French consul, M. Peysonel, one of the first who suspected the animal nature of corals. He spent the winter in noticing every thing he could meet with respecting the main objects of his pursuit, in this place and its neighbourhood, as well as the religious ceremonies and manners of the people. He visited the house and garden, once occupied by the famous Sherard, at Sedekio, near Smyrna, but found no traces of any great care having been taken to adorn the garden, or to store it with exotic plants. He made an excursion to Magnesia, his quality of physician causing him to be received every where with respect. As the spring advanced he became desirous of extending his inquiries and early in May set sail for Alexandria, where he arrived on the 13th. Here the palm-trees, which now first presented themselves to his notice, excited him to inquire into and to verify the celebrated history of their artificial impregnation, of whicii he wrote a full account to Linnæus. Having spent two months in seeing all he could at Alexandria, Rosetta, and Cairo, he visited the Egyptian pyramids in July, brought from thence Chondrilla juncea, the only plant he could find, which is. now in the | herbarium of his preceptor, was hospitably entertained by the Arabs, and returned safe to Cairo, where he had afterwards an opportunity of seeing the caravan depart for Mecca, of which he has given an ample and interesting description, as well as of many other festivals and exhibitions. He visited the catacombs, and examined many mummies of the ancient Ibis, by the size of which he was induced to take this famous bird to be a species of Ardea, common and almost peculiar to Egypt, different from the Tantalus Ibis of Linnæus. The learned Cuvier, however, has recently shewn that naturalists have been widely mistaken on this subject, and Bruce alone has indicated the real Ibis.

Hasselqnist proceeded, in March 1751, to 'Damiata, whence he sailed for Jaffa, or Joppa, and arrived there after a voyage of four days. He had now reached the great theatre of his inquiries, the Holy Land; and he entered upon the examination of its productions, and their sacred as well as medical history, with all the zeal which had at first prompted him to the journey, and which was crowned with eminent success. Having spent near two months in this celebrated country, he sailed from Seide the 23d of May, for Cyprus, from whence he proceeded to Rhodes, and to Stanchio, the ancient Cos, finally returning to Smyrna in the end of July.

From time to time, in the course of his travels, he had written to LinnaBtis, and had sent home various natural curiosities, as well as several dissertations, which were printed in the Transactions of the Upsal and Stockholm academies. His letters to various friends were occasionally printed, in a periodical publication called Literary News, at Stockholm; and in return for the entertainment and information he gave his countrymen, they contributed some necessary supplies towards his expensive undertakings. Unfortunately he had, in the meanwhile, sacrificed, instead of restoring his health. He flattered himself, as all in his condition do, and thought that a winter’s repose at Smyrna might restore him. He tried the country air and a milk diet, but he wasted away daily, like a lamp whose oil is spent, and departed this life, Feb. 9, 1752, at six in the evening, to the inexpressible grief o f all who knew him, in the 31st year of his age.

In the course of his expensive journeys and his illness, this unfortunate young man had unavoidably incurred debts | beyond what his casual supplies from home could liquidate; and the collections and manuscript notes, which still remained at Smyrna, were seized by his creditors, for a sum amounting to 14,000 dollars of copper-money, or about 350l. sterling. This circumstance was no sooner made known, through Linnæus and his friend Bteck, to the accomplished queen of Sweden, Louisa Ulrica, the worthy sister of the great Frederick of Prussia, than she immediately redeemed these treasures out of her own purse, gave Linnæus all the duplicates, and commissioned him to arrange and publish the manuscript journal and remarks of his deceased pupil; a task which he undertook with alacrity, and executed with care and judgment. These papers were given to the public in 1757, in Swedish, except several Latin descriptions, under the title of “Iter Palaestinum,” or a Journey to the Holy Land, in one volume, 8vo, with a biographical preface by Linnseus, who subjoined to the work the very interesting letters of Hasselquist to himself. This book has been translated into several languages, and appeared in English, at London, in 1766; but this translation is in many parts defective, especially with regard to the natural history and the scientific names. In 1758 the above-mentioned Dr. Baeck, physician to the queen, published, at Stockholm, an oration in praise of Hasselquist, in 8vo.

Hasselquist must ever rank high as an original and faithful observer, not only in his own immediate line of study, out in whatever came before him. His illustrations of the natural history of Scripture are above all things valuable and correct. Far less prone to go learnedly and ingeniously astray than his distinguished countryman Olaus Celsius, in the “Hierobotanicon,” he has, by accurate observation and plain sense, cleared up many difficulties, which commentators, without the former, and disdaining the latter, have often embroiled. 1

1 Rws’s Cyclopædia, by tle President of the Linnsean Society.