Lobel

, or L'Obel (Matthias de), a botanist, was born in 1538, at Lisle, in Flanders, where his father practised in the law. He bad an early taste for plants, and had good opportunities of advancing his knowledge at Montpelier, where he studied physic under the learned Rondeletius, as well as by making some botanical excursions over the south of France. At Narbonne he became acquainted with Pena, afterwards his fellow^labourer in the “Adversaria,” the first edition of which was published, at London, in 1570, small folio, and dedicated to queen Elizabeth. The few cuts dispersed through this volume are mostly original, but inferior in style and accuracy, as well as in size, to those of Clusius, with whom he was contemporary. Before the publication of the “Adversaria,” our author had extended his travels to Switzerland, the | Tyrol, some parts of Germany, and Italy; had settled as a physician -at Antwerp, afterwards at Delft; and had been appointed physician to the illustrious William prince of Orange, and to the States of Holland. Dr. Pulteney has not been able to ascertain the time of Lobel’s removal to England, but justly concludes it to have been before 1570, or most probably some years earlier. The aim of the authors of the “Adversaria” was to investigate the botany and materia medica of the ancients, and especially of Dioscorides. It was reprinted at Antwerp in 1576, the dedication being, of course, there suppressed, and new titlepages were printed to help the sale of the original in 1571 and 1572. Some copies of the Antwerp impression appear to have been made up into a new edition at London in 1605, with an ample Pharmacopeia, and an appendix. This volume is dedicated to Edward lord Zouch, whom Lobel had attended on his embassy to Denmark in 1592, and he calls himself, in the title, botanist to king James I. Dr. Pulteney observes, after Haller, that this work exhibits some traces of a natural distribution of plants, but without any remarks, and with little precision. His work is much more valuable for the accounts of new plants discovered by himself in England or elsewhere, although Ray accuses him of having made several mistakes, from having trusted too much to his memory.

The “Stirpium Historia” of this author, a volume in small folio similar to his “Adversaria,” which was published at Antwerp in 1576, is much less copious in matter, the pages being mostly occupied with wooden cuts, which are those of Clusius, borrowed for the present occasion by the printer, Plantin. An impression of these cuts, of an oblong shape, was struck off, with names’ only, in 1581, and another in 1591. Linnæus possessed both. This publication is in very general use, and well known by the title of Lobel’s “Icones.” It is, when complete, accompanied by an index in seven languages. Lobel seems to have had a very large work in contemplation, which he intended to call “Stirpium Illustratio.nes.A fragment of it was published in quarto, without plates, by Dr. W. How, in 1655, making 170 pages, besides a caustic preface of the author, aimed chiefly at Gerarde, as the notes by Dr. How are against Parkinson; but Dr. Pulteney blames Lobel for this gross abuse of Gerarde after his death, though he had formerly on every occasion extolled him. In other respects | the botanical contents of this fragment are very honourable to Lobel. He laboured to an advanced age in the pursuit of his favourite study, and procured from his correspondents abroad many new plants for the gardens of his friends. He had the superintendance of a garden at Hackney, cultivated at the expence of lord Zouch; and appears to have resided, in the decline of life, at Highgate, where he had a daughter, married to a Mr. James Coel. His wife is recorded as having assisted him in his botanical researches. He died in 1616, aged seventy-eight. 1

1

Pulteney’s -Sketches. Rees’s Cyclopædia.