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Vitae ratio, 1756

Peter Forsskål gives his educational history and requests exemption from a formal examination for the award of a doctorate

A draft of Forsskål's application to be awarded a doctorate without examination as he prepares to leave the University of Göttingen in 1756 after two and a half years' study. He presumably submitted a copy of the Dubia de principiis philosophiae recentioris as an alternative to a formal examination.


Spectabilis Decane,
Viri summe reverendi, excellentissimi, amplissimi

Honorable Dean,
Most reverend, excellent and distinguished gentlemen,

Gratissimam mihi bonarum literarum sedem Göttingam, Vestrasque, Viri celeberrimi, scholas, in quibus duo annos et dimidium consumsi, brevi relicturus, ne quid musis Vestris non debeam, quod debere potuissem, honores Philosophicos, si me non indignum illis judicaveritis, qua par est submissione expeto. Vitæ igitur rationem, quoniam vel haec tenuia Vos non adspernari edoctus sum, paucis exponam. Natus sum Helsingforsiæ 1732. 11. Jan. patre Johanne Forsskål D. qui Holmiæ nunc Consistorii Adsessoris et Pastoris ad Ecclesiam Mariæ Magdalenæ officio fungit[ur]. Parentis in domo primum ipsius institutione, post[ea] doctore usus Jacobo Haartman avunculo matern[o] [Abo]ensis Academiæ nunc Vice-Bibliothecario, primas [...] didici; hujusque auspiciis civis Academiæ Upsaliensis, et [q...] nationis Üplandicæ, 1742 cooptatus sum. Undecimo [p...] anno 1753. Guthermuthiano ornatum stipendio, [...]bus testamenti ad exteras musas abire jussum, Vestra [A]cademiæ fama Göttingam arcessevit, Celeberrimoque Web[er] eo tempore Prorectori, nomen dedi. Hic quamdiu com[mo]ratus sum, Philosophiæ liberioris et Philologiæ ori[entalis] studium, quod et Upsaliæ feceram, cum Theologico con[j...] ideoque ex Vestro amplissimo ordine Celeb. S. C. Hollma[nn] et Celeb. J. D. Michaelem potissimos doctores ha[bui.] Quid in his rebus profecerim, certe proficere volueri[m] [be]nigno Vestro examini jam committo, illique negotio [vt] constituere placeat, atque, si hoc ferre tenues vires posse [...]eritis, ut speciminis alicujus literarii sine præside dep[onen?]di potestatem faciatis, submisse rogo. Ero dum vixero

On the point of departing from Göttingen, a seat of learning which has been most pleasing to me, and from the classes of you famous men, where I have spent two and a half years,  lest I should fail to acknowledge what I should to your teaching, I desire to be awarded a degree in Philosophy by the appropriate method of submission, if you would judge me not unworthy of this. I shall therefore set out some elements of my curriculum vitae, since I am instructed that you will not despise even these trifles.

I was born in Helsinki on 11 January 1732. My father is Dr Johan Forsskål who now occupies the office of Consistory Assessor at Stockholm and Pastor of the church of Mary Magdalen. I was first of all educated at home by my father; afterwards I learned my basics with my maternal uncle Dr Jacob Hartmann who is now the Sub-Librarian of Åbo Academy. Under his guidance I enrolled at Uppsala University and joined the Uplands nation in 1742.

In 1753, my eleventh year there, I was awarded the Guthermuth travel bursary, set up in his will to support those seeking to study abroad. The fame of your university attracted me to Göttingen and I submitted my name to the most famous professor Weber, at that time the Pro-Rector. While I have been here, I have studied modern philosophy and oriental languages, which I also did at Uppsala, and also theology, under the principal teachers in your distinguished faculty S. C. Hollmann and J. D. Michaelis.

I now submit what I have achieved in these subjects, indeed what I would like to have achieved, for your kind examination by such a process as it may please you to establish; and I humbly ask that, if you should be able to accept this product of my modest abilities, you should create a power to submit it without a supervisor as a published piece.

So long as I shall live,

Celeberrimorum Nominum Vestrorum


cultor observantissimu[s]
Petrus Forsskål Sue[cus]

Göttingæ. 9. Maji.

I shall be the most devoted follower
of your most celebrated names,

Peter Forsskål from Sweden.

Göttingen, 9 May, 1756.

Index nominum

Guthermuth (early 18th century?) Fredrik Coelestin Guthermuth??

Jacob Haartman (1717-1788):

Andreas Weber (1718-1781):

Samuel Christian Hollmann (1696-1787):

Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791):

Transcription and translation

Several characters are illegible at the end of each line on the verso of the document because of the tight binding. It has been possible to deduce the reading for a number of these gaps; these are indicated with square brackets [  ] together with omissions which cannot be deduced.
The translation is necessarily impressionistic at some of these points.

Suggestions for emendations to the transcription and the translation should be sent to David Shaw.