Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/256

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
250
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

GEORGE MARCGRAVE, THE FIRST STUDENT OF AMERICAN NATURAL HISTORY
By Dr. E. W. GUDGER
STATE NORMAL COLLEGE, GREENSBORO, N. C.

"GEORGE MARCGRAVE[1] was born at Liebstadt in Saxony in 1610, went as physician with the expedition of Count Maurice of Nassau-Siegen to Brazil in 1638, wrote 'Historia Rerum Naturalium Brasiliæ' and died on the coast of Guinea in 1644." Such are the accounts, when divested of errors, given of Marcgrave in our biographical dictionaries.

However, the present writer, having had occasion to trace back to Marcgrave, as the original describer and figurer of the species or genus, three American fishes on whose life histories he has worked, has become somewhat acquainted with his career. Finding this of much interest, he has endeavored to collect the scattering data and has worked it into this sketch, hoping that other present-day students of natural history may also find it of interest to know something of this man who first of all essayed to make known to the old world the real natural history of the new. If in this sketch the present writer has helped to make Marcgrave's excellent work known, and to give him the recognition he justly deserves, he will feel abundantly repaid.

As the sequel will show, the material for a sketch of Marcgrave's life is scanty, widely scattered and hidden in little-known sources. Considerable time and effort have been spent during the past year in getting it together, but the amount of data would have been comparatively limited save for the help and cooperation of a number of librarians.[2]

  1. Also spelled Markgrave, Marggrave, Margrave, Markgraf, Marggraf, Marcgraf, but written by himself Marcgrave.
  2. The majority of the works cited have been consulted through the kind offices of Mr. Herbert Putnam, librarian, and Mr. W. W. Bishop, superintendent of the reading room of the Library of Congress. To Mr. Harry Clemons, reference librarian of the Princeton University Library, and to Mr. H. H. B. Meyer, chief bibliographer of the Library of Congress, the writer is indebted for many courtesies in matters of bibliography. To Mr. H. M. Lydenberg, reference librarian of the New York Public Library, his debt is great. Mr. Lydenberg has taken a personal interest in this work and has supplied data and references of which the writer, would never have heard but for his kindness. He is likewise under especial obligations to Dr. Perlbach, of the Royal Library of Berlin, for photographs of the original drawings of Brazilian objects (hereinafterwards reproduced), for references and for copies of articles not procurable in America. For help in translating the large number of Latin references used, the writer is under obligation to Misses Boddie and Dameron, of the Latin department of this