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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/711

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SKETCH OF PIERRE BELON.

tinople; then visited Lemnos, Mount Athos, Thrace, and the Grecian islands; thence went to Egypt, where he made observations that have become famous at Alexandria and Cairo; traveled through Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor, to Constantinople; and returned to France, by way of Rome, during the year 1549. To his friend Ronsard this journey had all the adventure and importance of a general exploration of the globe, and he celebrated it appropriately in verse, glorifying Belon as if he had been one of the greatest of navigators.

The accounts of his observations during this great tour were published in the remarkable book known as "The Singularities," the full title of which is, "Les observations de plusieurs singularités et choses mémorables trouvées en Grèce, Asie, Judée, Egypte, Arable, etc., et autres pays estranges" ("Observations of many Singularities and Memorable Things found in Greece, Asia, Judea, Egypt, Arabia, and other Foreign Countries"), Paris, 1553. It was illustrated with numerous figures of animals and birds, etc., engraved on wood. This book abounds in novel observations on the natural history and geography of the countries visited, with descriptions of their monuments or ruins, and of the manners and customs of their people. One of the most interesting parts of it, according to M. Louis Crié,[1] is the story of his travels in Egypt, in which we read with pleasure the pages which he has devoted to the geography, ethnography, medicine, the fauna and flora of that strange country. Very curious details are found in his book respecting Alexandria, the manners of the Alexandrians, the city of Rosetta, the fishes of the Nile, the houses and gardens of Cairo, the pyramids, "the mummy," the plants that grow around Suez, etc. The same work contains a plan of the city of Alexandria and views of the island of Lemnos, Mount Athos, and Mount Sinai. Although the geometry of these cuts is elementary, they give evidence of careful observation. Belon drew after nature, and for the first time, such animals as the ichneumon, the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the chameleon, the hawk, the black ibis, and several fishes. His 'Singularities,' replete with local originalities, is remarkable for the amplitude of the information it affords. We notice in it rigorous good faith attentive to the discovery of the significance of facts without dissimulating in anything. "A queer description is given of the giraffe," whose fore-feet, when it runs, go together. It lies with its belly against the ground, and has callosities on the chest and thighs like the camel. It can not feed on the ground standing without spreading its fore-legs away out, and that is very hard. Hence it is easy to believe that it does not live in the fields, but upon the branches of trees, having a neck so long that it can extend its head to the

  1. "Les Voyages de Pierre Belon." "Revue scientifique," 1883, No. 7.