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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/266

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However, at last De Laet, who was a man of much learning and ability, completed his task[1] in spite of two additional heavy handicaps. The first was that he was not skilled in natural science, the second that Marcgrave's notes were arranged in no order whatever, those on each animal occupying a separate sheet. The greatest trouble, however, was had with the notes on plants, since Marcgrave had not been able to describe at one time and on one sheet the plant in leaf, in flower and in fruit. These notes, it must be understood, Marcgrave had written in the field and in Mauritia, and it is plain that he intended to edit them to make a homogeneous whole after his return to Holland.

How well De Laet did this work those know who are acquainted with the "Historia Naturalis Brasiliæ" published at Leyden and Amsterdam in 1648 with the following dedication to Count Maurice:

The Natural History of Brasil, prepared under the supervision and by the kindness of the illustrious Johann Moritz, Count of Nassau, supreme commander of the province and of the high seas; in which not only plants and animals but also the diseases of the country, the character and customs are described and illustrated with more than 500 pictures.

The first section of the volume is composed of Piso's "De Medicina Brasiliensi" comprising four books: I. on Air, Water and Places; II. on Endemic Diseases; III. on Poisons and Their Antidotes; IV. on the Use of Simples (herbs as remedies). This, which is dedicated to William of Auriacum, covers in all 132 folio pages and is illustrated with 104 figures limited to books III. and IY. Of these, three illustrate mandioea and sugar-making, nine are of animals (five snakes, one scolopendra, one sea cucumber, one toad-fish, one frog) and 92 are of plants.

The second section, Marcgrave's "Historiæ Rerum Naturalium Brasiliæ," is dedicated to the Count in the following eloquent terms.

To Johann Maurice, Count of Nassau, great chief of the lands and seas of Brazil, George Marcgrave of Liebstadt, a German of Saxony, dedicates these things, which during his travels through Brazil, he with indefatigable zeal inquired into, described accurately, and made figures of from life, sought out their names among the natives, and so far as he was able when opportunity offered, investigated their uses, and in this history has arranged them for the use of all students and admirers of natural science, in due acknowledgment and as a sign of gratitude for the greatest kindnesses received from him.[2]

This work comprised 303 folio pages, consisting of eight books and an appendix, and is illustrated by 429 figures. It is divided as follows: Book I., in which are described 149 herbs with 86 figures; Book II. contains descriptions of 48 shrubs and fruit-bearing plants with 39 il-

  1. It should be noted in passing that De Laet adds more than one hundred annotations to Marcgrave's descriptions of plants and animals. These largely consist of data drawn from Ximenes 's accounts of the plants and animals of New Spain.
  2. This dedication was written in Mauritia (Manget), and seemingly in anticipation of the untimely result of his journey to Africa.