Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/562

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his work. For every fisherman in Havana knows "Don Felipe," and looks upon him as a personal friend. Each one regards the fame which Don Felipe's studies of the fishes is vaguely understood to have brought him in that little-known world outside of Havana as in some sort reflected on himself. The writer was told, by a dealer in the Pescadería Grande, that for twenty years Don Felipe Poey was there in the markets every day, when at noon the fishes came in from the boats, and that he knew more about the fishes of Cuba than even the fishermen themselves. And, now that Don Felipe no longer visits the markets, he is not forgotten there, and many a rare specimen still finds its way from the Pescadería to Don Felipe's study in the Calle San Nicolas.

Felipe Poey y Aloy was born in Havana, May 26, 1799. His father was French, his mother Spanish, but Poey early renounced his French citizenship for that of Cuba. His education was received in Havana, and after studying law he became, in 1823, an advocate in that city. But his tastes lay in the direction of natural history, and for this he gradually abandoned his practice as a lawyer. Very early he had made discoveries of mollusks, insects, and especially of fishes, which were new to science. In 1826 he sailed for Paris, taking with him eighty-five drawings of Cuban fishes and a collection of thirty-five species, preserved in a barrel of brandy. These drawings and specimens he placed at the service of Cuvier and Valenciennes, who were then beginning the publication of their work on the "Natural History of the Fishes." The notes and drawings of Poey proved of much service to the great ichthyologists. A few new species were based on them, and Poey had the satisfaction of finding his own name and observations cited by Cuvier and Valenciennes even more frequently than those of his famous predecessor, Don Antonio Parra,[1] who had published, in 1787, the first account of the "Fishes of Cuba." A set of duplicates of these notes and drawings is still retained by Professor Poey. While in Paris, Poey was one of the original members who founded the Entomological Society of France.

On returning to Havana in 1833, Poey gave himself still more fully to the study of natural history, and greater practice gave to his drawings and notes more exactness and value. With the appearance of the successive volumes of the "Histoire Naturelle des Poissons," he attempted to identify the fishes of his market, as well as to study their osteology and general anatomy. Animals other than fishes he also tried to study, but in most groups he found the literature in so scattered and unsatisfactory a condition that he rarely ventured to publish the results of his observations. Among the fishes, however, thanks to the general work of Cuvier and Valenciennes, and later to that of Dr. Günther, he felt himself on comparatively firm ground, and ventured to name as new those which he could not identify. Among the land-

  1. "Y tuve el honor de ser citado por él (Cuvier) y por su colaborador Valenciennee, más frecuentemente que D. Antonio Parra."—Poey.