Solander, Daniel Charles

, a celebrated naturalist, the pupil of Linnæus, and the friend of sir Joseph Banks, was a native of the province of Nordland in Sweden, where his father was minister. He was born Feb. 28, 1736, and studied at Upsal, where he appears to have taken his degree of doctor in inedicine. Linnseus, who during his residence in England, had formed an intimacy with Mr. Peter Collinson, advised his pupil to visit England, and probably recommended him to that gentleman. Dr. Solander arrived in England in 1760, and in October 1762, was strongly recommended by Mr. Collinson to the trustees of the British Museum, as a person who had made natural history the study of his life, and was particularly qualified to draw up a catalogue of that part of their collection. Three years after, he obtained a closer connection with that institution, being appointed one of the assistants in the department of natural history. In 1764 he became a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1766, he drew up for Mr. Brander, the scientific descriptions of his Hampshire fossils, then published in a thin volume, 4to, entitled “Fossilia Hantoniensia, collecta, et in Musseo Britanmco deposita, a Gustavo Brander, R. S. et S. A. S. Mus. Brit. Cur.” Of his obligations to Dr. Solander, this gentleman thus speaks in | his preface: “And now I think I have nothing more to do, than to acknowledge myself indebted for the scientific description of them to the learned and ingenious Dr. Solander, one of the officers of the British Museum, who is at this time employed by the trustees to compose a systematical catalogue of the natural productions of that entire collection.” It does not appear that this catalogue was ever completed.

In 1768, Dr. Solander was prevailed upon by his friend Mr. (afterwards sir Joseph) Banks, to undertake the voyage round the world, in pursuit of discoveries in natural history: and permission was obtained for him from the trustees of the British Museum, still to hold his appointment during his absence. The circumstance of going is thus mentioned, in the introduction to captain Cook’s first voyage, in speaking of Mr. Banks: “As he was determined to spare no expence in the execution of his plan, he engaged Dr. Solander to accompany him in the voyage. This gentleman, by bi th a Swede, was educated under the celebrated Linnæus, from whom he brought letters of recommendation into England and his merit being soon known, he obtained an appointment in the British Museum, a public institution which was then just established*. Such a companion Mr. Banks considered as an acquisition of no small importance, and to his great satisfaction, the event abundantly proved that he was not mistaken.” One of the most remarkable circumstances which attended these heroes of natural history in this expedition, was the difficulty they experienced in attempting to ascend a mountain in Terra del Fuego, in search of Alpine plants. In the danger they here encountered, Dr. Solander undoubtedly preserved the lives of the party by the advice he gave; and what is more remarkable, was himself preserved by their attention to his directions. The matter is thus related in the voyage.

Dr. Solander, who had more than once crossed the mountains which divide Sweden from Norway, well knew that extreme cold, especially when juined with fatigue, produces a torpor and sleepiness that are almost irresistible: he therefore conjured the company to keep moving, whatever pain it might cost them, and whatever relief they might be promised by an inclination to rest. Whoever sits down, says he, will sleep; and whoever sleeps will wake no more.


Here Dr. Haukesworth, the writer of the introduction, is evidently mistaken; the institution was established about ten years before.

| Thus, at once admonished and alarmed, they set forward but while they were still upon the naked rock, and before they had got among the bushes, the cold became suddenly so intense, as to produce the effects that had been dreaded. Dr. Solander himself was the first who found the inclination, against which he had warned others, irresistible; and insisted upon being suffered to lie down. Mr. Banks intreated and remonstrated in vain; down he lay upon the ground, though it was covered with snow; and it was with great difficulty that his friend prevented him from sleeping. Richmond also, one of the black servants, began to linger, having suffered from the cold in the same manner as the doctor. Mr. Banks, therefore, sent five of the company, among whom was Mr. Buchan, forward to get a fire read)‘, at the first convenient place they could find; and himself, with four others, remained with the doctor and Richmond, whom, partly by persuasion and intreaty, and partly by force, they brought on; but when they had got through the greatest part of the birch and swamp, they both declared they could go no farther. Mr. Banks had recourse again to entreaty and expostulation, but they produced no effect; when Richmond was told that if he did not go on he would in a short time be frozen to death; he answered, that he desired nothing but to lie down and die. The doctor did not so explicitly renounce his life; he said, he was willing to go on, but that he must first take some sleep, though he had bet >re told the company that to sleep was to perish. Mr. Banks and the rest found it impossible to carry them, and there being no remedy, they were both suffered to sit down, being partly supported by the bushes, and in a few minutes they fell into a profound sleep: soon after, some of the people who had been sent forward returned, with the welcome news that a fire was kindled about a quarter of a mile further on the way. Mr. Banks then endeavoured to wake Dr. Solander, and happily succeeded; but, though he had not slept five minutes, he had almost lost the use of liis limbs, and the muscles were so shrunk, that the shoes fell from his feet; he consented to go forward with such assistance as could be given him; but no attempts to relieve poor Richmond were successful. Mr. Banks, with much difficulty, at length got the doctor to the fire.” Richmond and a seaman finally perished from the cold; the remainder of the party, to the number of ten, happily regained the ship, alter the utmost difficulties and hazards. | The “Dictionnaire Historique” affirms, that Dr. Solan. tier had a salary of 400l. sterling a year, during this voyage. “Whatever he had must have been t’ri>tn the munificence of Mr. Banks, as he had no public appointment. There can be no doubt that the zeal and generosity of that friend rewarded him very amply, both for the time employed in the voyage, and for that which he afterwards spent in arranging and describing the vast collection of plants which they had made. In 1773, Dr. Solander was advanced from the office of assistant to be one of the under-librarians in the British Museum. He died in consequence of a stroke of apoplexy, onMay Ui, 178 1. Dr. Pulteney, in his” Sket> of the progress of Botany in England,“regards the arrival of Dr. Solander in this country as an acra of importance in that history.” At this juncture,“he says,” it is material, among those circumstances which accelerated the progress of the new system, to mention the arrival of the late muchlamented Dr. Solander, who came into England on the 1st of July, 1760. His name, and the connection he was known to bear, as the favourite pupil of his great master, had of themselves some share in exciting a curiosity which led to information; while his perfect acquaintance with the whole scheme enabled him to explain its minutest parts, and elucidate all those obscurities with which, on a superficial view, it was thought to be enveloped. I add to this that the urbanity of his manners, and his readiness to afford every assistance in his power, joined to that clearness and energy with which he effected it, not only brought conviction of its excellence in those who were inclined to receive it, but conciliated the minds, and dispelled the prejudices, of many who had been averse to it.“It is testified of him by others, who knew him intimately, that to a very extensive knowledge he added a mode of communication, not only remarkable for its readiness, but for so peculiar a modesty, that he contrived almost to appear to receive instruction when he was bestowing it in the most ample manner. There are said to be some papers by him scattered in the various memoirs of philosophical societies; but in the transactions of the Royal Society of London, there is only one letter, which is in vol. LI I. p. 654, and is entitled,” Account of the Gardenia (Jasminoides), in a Letter to Philip Carteret Webb, esq. F. R. S. from Daniel C. Solander, M. D." Nor, though his time was always usefully employed, do we know of any other production of which | he was the author. He was a short, fair man, rather fat with small eyes, and a good-humoured expression of countenance. 1

Preceding edition of this Dictionary.