Hernandez, Francis

, a naturalist and physician, was sent out by Philip II. king of Spain, to make obseryations on, and to describe, the natural productions of Spanish America. His pecuniary allowance for this purpose appears to have been ample, and he spared no expence to make himself acquainted with such objects as he was in search of. He wrote an account of their nature *nd properties, but it does not appear that he lived to superintend the publication of his labours, for in 1651 the result of his inquiries was edited at Rome under the care of the Lyncaean academy, established in that city; tht papers of Hernandez having been purchased by Frederic Cesi, a young nobleman, who founded and was perpetual president of the Lyncaei. This work had originally been published in the Spanish language at Mexico, under the name and care of Francis Ximenes; but the Roman edition, in small folio, came out in Latin, having the following title, “Nova Plantarum, Animalium, et Mineralium Mexicanorum Historia, a Francisco Hernandez, Medico, in Indiis praestantissimo primum compilata. Dein a Nardo Antonio Reecho in volumen digesta, a Johanno Terentio, Johanno Fabro, ct Fabio Columna, Lyncseis, notis et adtlitionibus longe doctissimis illustrata.” The original drawings of this work were procured by Hernandez, who paid the immense sum of sixty thousand ducats for them; they had been drawn at the time when Joseph a Costa was in America, but the numerous wooden cuts which accompany this volume are by no means equal to what might have been expected from the account we have of the drawings, and the work did not answer the trouble and expence which had been bestowed upon it. What became of him is not recorded, but his drawings were consumed by a fire in the Escurial. Some of liis representations are so extraordinary, that their truth has been doubted, but his accuracy has lately been verified. Hernandez does not appear to have published any other works on natural history, but this will entitle him to our gratitude for’ having first unfolded to European botanists the treasures of that then little known quarter of the world. A history | of the church at Mexico has been ascribed to our author, but without certainty. 1

1

Rees’s Cyclopædia. Hallet, Bibl. Bot. Stoever’s Linnæus, p. 58, 430. Clement, Bibl. Curieuse,