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A Voyage to Senegal, the Isle of Goree, and the River Gambia
Printed for J Nourse and W Johnston, London 1759 - xiii+337 pages with folding map. Octavo (8 1/4" x 5 1/2")issued in full leather with gilt edges to covers and red label with gilt lettering to spine, raised spine bands. Translated from the French with notes by an English Gentleman, who resided some time in that country. From the library of William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme. 1st English edition. French botanist, Michel Adanson was the son of the equerry to the Archbishop of Aix-en Provence. His family moved to Paris in 1730 when his father’s employer assumed responsibility for the archdiocese. He was destined from an early age for the priesthood and, through his connections to the Church, was provided with a canonry from Champeaux en Brie, which paid the cost of his education. At college, however, he demonstrated an extraordinary aptitude and passion for the natural sciences and afterwards went on to study and work under the direction of Réaumur and Bernard de Jussieu. While he was cataloging the plants that had been grown in the Jardin du Roi since 1740, he began to play with the idea of a classification system capable of describing all living plants. He was determined to travel to some little-known region where he could discover new plants, and used his connections to secure a position at the trading post in St Louis, Senegal. Before leaving, he gave up his stipend, forfeiting his ecclesiastical career, and acquired the various skills he would need to collect data on the country’s flora and fauna, resources, population, and geography. For five years (December 1748 to February 1754), he charted maps, collected artifacts, made astronomical and meteorological observations, and wrote grammars and dictionaries of some of the languages. Mostly, however, he collected specimens. He brought back to Paris some 30,000 plant specimens and a large collection of mollusks and fish. In addition to studying the natural history of St Louis and its surroundings, he made several journeys to the interior, including trips to Gorée Island, Podor, and the Gambia River. He collected on Tenerife on the voyage out, and on Fayal, on the voyage back. While still living in Senegal, he sent shipments of several hundred plants to Bernard de Jussieu, which were worked on by A.L. de Jussieu, for his Genera Plantarum, and by many later botanists. He presented Linneaus with a number of plants from his collection before the break in relations over their competing systems of classification. Only the first volume of his planned Histoire Naturelle du Sénégale (Paris, 1757) was ever published. It contains an account of his travels, followed by a description of shells, but few mentions of plants, because he was reserving his botanical discoveries for future volumes. Although the publication represented only a fraction of the work for which he collected notes, it made his reputation and led to his election into the French Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society of London. In spite of his celebrity he lived a solitary existence, without students and almost without friends; and apart from some rare trips to the sea or mountains, and occasional presentations to the Academy (such as the first description of a baobab tree, in 1761), he confined himself to his study, busily analyzing, determining, and classifying the thousands of specimens of plants, fish, and molluscs he had brought back from Senegal, and preoccupied with his idea for a universal method of classification. For his descriptions of Senegalese molluscs he applied an entirely new method of classification that was based on the anatomy of the living animals inside the shells rather than on the shells alone. Many of his genera are still in use today. In 1759, while working with the Jussieus on a manuscript plan for the gardens at Versailles, he completed his outline for the plant classification system that he had originally conceived as a student in the Jardin du Roi. Familles Naturelles des Plantes, published in 1763, owed much to the classification of pl [Attributes: First Edition; Hard Cover]
      [Bookseller: The Book Collector, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2014-09-26           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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