“What you enjoy doing, you will do well”

His mother was concerned that Carl ”had changed his religion.” His father was more tolerant and began to give in to his son’s interests. Carl himself was convinced: “wanted to be medicus and botanicus and nothing else.” On one occasion, it is told, when the family had company, Carl heard his father say: “… yes, it’s always the case – what you enjoy doing, you will do well!”Carl asked his father later “if it is true what dear Father said when our company was here?” His father asked him cheerfully what it was that he had said. Carl repeated what his father had uttered. His father responded that it was indeed true, “… as long as this enjoyment involves something good,” he added, to be on the safe side. Carl answered: “Then, dear Father, never ask me to become a priest, because I have no inclination to be one.” His father replied, “You know that your parents have limited means and that the studies you wish to pursue are very costly.” But Carl would not give up. “If my Father’s words are true, as he says, then God will provide. If I succeed to the extent of my enjoyment, I shall not want for opportunities.” His father answered with tears in his eyes and in distress: “May God help you prosper! I would not force you to do what you do not enjoy.” So the decision had been made. On August 14, 1727, Carl was off to Lund to study medicine.

It is probable that Carl did not have any real aversion to a clerical career or to any religious beliefs but simply had an early aptitude for down-to-earth things and an intense curiosity about natural science.

Last modified: 2022-02-16