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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/271

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GEORGE MARCGRAVE

almost all of the plants and animals in his natural history of Brazil were new to science, yet his figures and descriptions are so accurate that the student of to-day can recognize them at a glance. The following incident will show the care with which he made his observations. In his descriptions of the spotted sting ray quoted above, he gave the number of teeth as 14 for the upper jaw and 17 for the lower. By an interesting coincidence the numbers were the same in the first specimen of this ray ever taken by the present writer.

That Piso took much part in editing the "Natural History of Brazil" (1648) seems from various indications very doubtful, and indeed Lichtenstein declares that in Piso's absence De Laet attended to the editing of the whole work. Whether he had any part in it or not, Piso became very dissatisfied and accused De Laet of doing his work hurriedly and superficially. Ten years later (1658) he published a great folio under the title "De Indiæ Utriusque Re Naturale et Medica" in the endeavor to improve on the previous work. The first part of this folio, which he dedicated to the Elector of Brandenburg, bears title as follows: "Historiæ Naturalis et Medicæ Indiæ Occidentalis" and consists of Marcgrave's Natural History of Brazil and Piso's Medicinal Plants of Brazil interwoven to form five books: I. on Climate; II. on Diseases; III. on Animals; TV. on Plants, and V. on Poisons and Antidotes. It covers 327 pages. Next comes Marcgrave's "Tractatus Topographicus," etc., as previously noted, 39 pages in length. Next he incorporates Jacob Bont's "Historiæ Naturales et Medicæ Indiæ Orientalis," 160 pages, and concludes with his own "Mantissa Aromatica," 66 pages.

Not only is this not an improvement on the preceding work, but in many respects it is distinctly inferior. Marcgrave's work on the plants of Brazil suffers abbreviation and loses its identity in becoming interwoven with Piso's data from the medical side. The animal section, however, suffers most for Piso was even less a zoologist than a botanist. It seems that he no longer had access to the original drawings (to be described presently) from which the illustrations were prepared for the first edition, so his figures were copied from the 1648 edition, or made up from the descriptions, or wrongly placed in the text, or omitted altogether (Lichtenstein). On the whole this edition adds little or nothing to Piso's reputation.

It is now necessary to speak of the fourth division of the scientific memorabilia of the expedition of Count Maurice to Brazil. In 1786, Schneider made known to the world the presence of these priceless treasures in the following; words.

I have so often heard of a collection of original paintings of Brazilian animals, which Prince Johann Moritz of Nassau, formerly governor of the one

    the animals were kept, and fish ponds full both of salt and fresh water fishes. (Nieuhoff.)