Rudbeck, Olaus

, one of the earliest cultivators of natural science in Sweden, was the son of John Rudbeck, bishop of Vesteras, a considerable patron of letters, and by whose exertions the Swedish Bible was published in 1618. He was born in 1630, and educated at Upsal. Anatomy was his early study, and he prosecuted it with such success, that at the age of nineteen or twenty he made the important discovery of the lymphatic vessels in the liver, and soon afterwards, of those of other parts of the body. In Bartholine he had a rival in this discovery, which indeed both appear to have made independent of each other; but Haller gives the priority, in point of time, to Rudbeck. Rudbeck, having also made botany a part of his pursuits, contributed, out of his own means, to the advancement of that science, by founding a garden, which he afterwards gave to the university of Upsal. After a visit to Holland in 1653, he devoted himself to medicine, and to the instruction of his pupils in anatomy. In 1658 he was appointed professor of medicine, and was fixed at Upsal for the remainder of his life. Besides the attention which he gave to the above-mentioned pursuits, he very early addicted himself to the study of languages, history, antiquities, architecture, and music, as well as the practical art of drawing, and was so much regarded as a man of taste, that the public festivals and decorations, at the coronation of the young king Charles XL in 1660, were put entirely under his direction.

The first botanical publication of Rudbeck seems to have been his “Catalogus plantarum horti Upsaliensis,” printed at Upsal in 1658, the year after the establishment of that collection. To this little volume a preface in Latin and Swedish is prefixed, treating of practical horticulture, and recommending botany for its agreeableness and utility. The list is of course not very ample, but contains several exotic species and varieties. An appendix to this catalogue was printed in 1666, the garden having been, by that time, considerably enriched. The same year, 1666, another similar work appeared, “Deliciae Vallis Jacobaeae;” a catalogue, alphabetical like the former, of a garden at | Jacob’s Dahl, near Stockholm. This, which was anonymous, is a little book of extreme rarity, insomuch that Haller speaks of it by report only. A Latin poem is prefixed to the work, describing the beauty of this villa, its orangery, aviary, plantations, and fountains.

It is uncertain at what period of his life Rudbeck first conceived the vast project of his “Campi Elysii,” in which all the plants in the world, as far as they had been discovered, were to be represented by wooden cuts, in twelve folio volumes, disposed according to Bauhin’s “Pinax.” For this stupendous work he is said to have prepared ten or eleven thousand figures, and the first and second volumes were already printed, when a dreadful fire reduced almost the whole town of Upsal to ashes, in 1702. Three copies only of the first volume escaped the fire, two of which remain in Sweden, and the third is preserved in the Sherardian library at Oxford. A few leaves, wanting in this last copy, are supplied in manuscript. A number of the blocks of this very volume, which consists of grasses and their allies, came into England with the Linncean collection; and having been compared with the Oxford copy, an impression of them was given to the public in 1789, by sir James Edward Smith, president of the Linntean society, under the title of “Reliquiae Rudbeckiancc,” the appropriate letterpress of each figure, and the Linnaean names, being subjoined. An historical preface is prefixed to this edition, as well as a dedication to Dr. John Gustavus Acrel, professor of medicine at Upsal, who was entrusted with the sale of the l.innaean museum and library.

The second volume of the “Campi Elysii” came from the press a little before the former; so that several copies having got abroad, escaped the destruction of the rest. Even this, however, is a very rare book, the price of which can hardly be estimated. A copy was bought by professor Jacquin in Germany, many years ago, for about 30 guineas. This volume is in the Linnrcan, Banksian, and Sherardian libraries. Containing liliaceous plants, and the Orchis tribe, it is much more splendid than the first. The figures are copied from all quarters, though several are original, and amount to about 600 in all, many of them executed with great correctness and elegance. The preface attributes the anticipated publication of this volume to the greater popularity and attraction of its contents; and speaks of many of the intended figures of the whole work, | as to be executed from drawings made by the author liinn* self, after original specimens, either preserved in Burser’s fine Swiss herbarium, or obtained from other quarters. The author speaks of his son and nephew, each of the same name with himself, as his coadjutors, and the destined continuators of this laborious undertaking. The destruction of his materials is extremely to be regretted; for such a repository of the botanical knowledge of the time would have been highly valuable to succeeding writers; particularly as illustrating the plants of Bauhin, so many of which are to be determined from Burser’s herbarium only.

The author’s other work, as scarce as the preceding, having shared the same fate, is entitled “Atlantica, sive Manheim vera Japheti posterorum sedes ac patria, &c.” l6L>8-^1702j 4 vols. folio. This work was written in the Swedish language, but is accompanied by a Latin translation. The fourth volume was put to press in 1702, and the printer was in the second alphabet, when the fire above mentioned took place, and consumed this volume as well as the others, with all the author’s copy, except two or three sets of the printed sheets, which have, if we mistake not, been supplied by manuscript in the few copies extant The president of the Linnaean society has one of the preceding volumes, composed of wooden cuts; but the whole work, which Brunet has accurately described, has copperplate frontispieces and other finished engravings, maps, &c. The aim of this singular performance was to prove that Sweden had been the terrestrial paradise of our first parents, the Atlantis of Plato, the place whence the Germans, French, English, Danes, Greeks, and Romans, and a,li nations came, and the source of all learning, ancient mythology, arts and sciences; but all that the author has realty proved is, how much profound learning may be brought to bear upon a wild and untenable hypothesis.

Rudbeck died a few months after the destruction of his works) Sept. 2, 1702, in the seventy-second year of his age-, 1 having nine years before resigned the professorships of botany and anatomy to his son. He is said to have beena man of a mild and amiable character, and as much esteemed for his personal qualities as for his learning. 1


I^-efcN Cyf‘opsedia, by Sir J. E. Smi^b.-r-Stoever 1 * Life of Linnæus, p. 23.’ —Saxii Onomasticon.-~-Brunet’s Manuel dii Libraire. —Eloy, —Dict. Hist. de Medicine.