To the curator of a museum. “For next year, Mr. Curator will kindly have his entry on the roles of doors and windows crossed out; I cannot have the trouble…twice while the work is paid nothing. He will also kindly send me…the wildflower herbarium….” Signed, “De Candolle.”.
De Candolle, born in Switzerland, moved to Paris in 1796. Rene Louiche Desfontaines, the French botanist and member (and later president) of the French Academy of Sciences (1783) and Academie Nationale de Medecine, launched de Candolle’s botanical career [see “Scientific Papers of Asa Gray… 1889” by Gray & Sargeant, pages 292-3] by recommending him at the herbarium of Charles Louis l’Heritier de Brutelle in 1798. Within a few years de Candolle had already established a new genus and proceeded to create a new natural plant classification system. His first major publication, “Plantarum historia succulentarum” was published in sections from 1799 to 1802. It was not until 1816 that he returned to Geneva and became Chair of Natural History at the Geneva Academy. Desfontaines was also director of the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle. This letter could possibly be to Desfontaines or to Charles Louis l’Heritier de Brutelle whose herbarium de Candolle was working in. Heritier de Brutelle was a French botanist and magistrate with connections to the French Royal Court and this connection enabled de Candolle to become the Superintendent of Parisian Waters and Forests. Further according Frans A. Stafleu’s, “L’Héritier de Brutelle: the man and his work,” Sertum Anglicum, facs. ed. xiii-xliii. Hunt Botanical Library, Pittsburgh, 1963, L’Heritier was elected to full membership in the Academy of Sciences which, in 1795, became the National Institute of Sciences and Arts. During this time, he “had his library and herbarium, which he allowed free use to young botanists such as de Candolle.” In 1800 L’Heritier was murdered. It is likely that at this time, de Candolle was no longer able to work in his herbarium. This letter, then, might possibly have been written between 1798 and 1800.