Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 47.djvu/57

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57
AN OLD NATURALIST—CONRAD GESNER.
AN OLD NATURALIST — CONRAD GESNER (1516-1565).

By W. K. BROOKS,

PROFESSOR OF ZOÖLOGY IN THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY.

Illustrated by Photo-engravings reduced from the Original Woodcuts.

SO many lives have been devoted to the earnest study of Nature that disinterested zeal and untiring industry are no peculiar claims to our interest, however inspiring and instructive they may be.

Conrad Gesner was not only a faithful student and a great educational influence, but a hero who took life in his hand for the service of man, and calmly facing horrors more awful than a battlefield, laid it down, like so many forgotten physicians, at his post of duty.

His great work on natural history, which was published in Zurich (1551-1587), is one of the chief sources of that interest in

PSM V47 D057 Gesner fox.jpg

Fig. 1.

the living world which has grown stronger and stronger from his time to the present day.

There were other men who merit the title of naturalist in Gesner's day. We find the spirit of original research in Rondolet, and in Belon, whose intense love of Nature led him on in his wanderings from his home in France, over the mountains and valleys of Greece and along the shores of the Archipelago, through Asia Minor far into Egypt.

Aldrovandi also made formal calls on Nature, visits of state to her haunts, taking notes on her ways, for he says: "I often wandered through the vineyards and fields, over the marshes and mountains, accompanied by my draughtsman, carrying his pencil, to draw whatever I pointed out; and by my amanuenses, with