Ignaz von Born to Sir Joseph Banks [1]


              The departure of M. Maerter for London provides me with the opportunity of recalling to you the memory of a man who admires you and holds you in infinite regard; I hope you will allow me to reinforce this memory by taking the liberty of offering you my portrait, engraved here in Vienna. Mr. Maerter will deliver it to you and will affirm in the same terms that no one can be as devoted to you as much as I am. 

              After much careful research I have finally found the Bohemian translation of Dioscoride which, as Mr. Vaj tells me, you wished to have. It is missing the title-page, which I shall copy from the complete version in the Library of Prague. I shall have the honor to send you this book soon. 

              It will not have escaped your notice that the Court of Spain has sent an expedition of two frigates to seek discoveries in the South Seas. I succeeded in having included on this expedition a young botanist—named Haenke—some of whose essays you will find in the Miscellany of M. Jaquin; he has travelled by land from Buenos Aires across the Andean Cordillera all the way to Chile, and, since he has always enjoyed the study of alpine plants, he writes to me that he has stayed longer than any previous mortal in these immense mountains. The collection of plants that he made there is immense and on his return he wishes to publish it, being persuaded that everything known of this kind up to now is nothing in comparison with the treasures that he has collected; The letter is dated June 5, 1790, from Lima, where he will be staying for some time. The frigates, which in the meantime were rounding Cape Horn, will go next to Mexico, from there to the South Sea islands, and to the Philippines. The Court of Spain has given him permission to keep all the duplicate specimens he brings back, and to publish a description of this voyage on his own account. He ate at the table of the Captain, named Malaspina, of the vessel Descubierta, and has 30000 Reales per year [2], with the rank of Ship's Lieutenant; how much natural history will benefit from the return of this young scientist, who speaks six different languages, knows how to draw and to paint well, and is also trained in medicine and surgery, and in all other areas of natural history! What's more, he enjoys robust health, and is liked by everyone for his agreeable character and for his talents in music.

                    Pardon, Sir, my mention of all these 
details. I believe that they will interest you, since I know the interest that you take in the progress of knowledge, above all in natural history.
                            I am with the most perfect consideration, Sir,
                                          Your very humble and obedient Servant, 

Ign. Ed. v. Born 

[Ignaz Edler von Born]

Vienna, this February 8th, 1791

Updated: December 28, 2005