Mutis, Joseph Celestine

, a learned Spanish physician, divine, and botanist, was born at Cadiz in 1734. He studied medicine at his native place and at Seville, and having obtained much reputation, was appointed professor of anatomy at Madrid, where he signalized himself by his physiological knowledge. In 1760 the marquis della Vega, being appointed viceroy of New Granada, solicited Mutis to accompany him as his physician. On his arrival at Santa Fe de Bogota, the capital of New Granada, Mutis, by permission of the viceroy, undertook to introduce the mathematics as a branch of study in the university, and his lectures on that subject were heard with attention and admiration, and he was at length, by the authority of the Spanish government, established professor of philosophy, mathematics, and natural history, at Santa Fe. While enjoying this post, some unfortunate speculations in the mines, which exhausted his pecuniary resources, occasioned his taking orders in the church, and his clerical duties now shared a considerable portion of his time. Part of it likewise was employed in botanical researches, and he corresponded with Linnæus, to whom he sent numerous specimens [of his own discover) 7 particularly the Mutisia, so named in honour of him by Linnæus. In 1776 he settled at Sapo, in the government of Mariquita, where he had many enviable opportunities of discovering and collecting singular plants and flowers. In 1778 don Antonio Caballeroy Gorgora, the new archbishop, on his arrival at Santa Fe, discovered the superior merits of Mutis, and | determined to extricate him from his difficulties, and procure him a pension, with the appointment of botanist and astronomer to the king. Accordingly, under the patronage of this liberal prelate, he became the superintendant of a botanical school for investigating the plants of America. In 1783, attended by some of his pupils, and several draughtsmen, he made a tour through the kingdom of New Granada; and by his diligence much new light was thrown upon the history of the Peruvian bark, and its various species. He also taught his countrymen the culture and the value of indigo. His health having suffered from the climate of Mariquita, he was directed to repair to Santa F, and to fix on some of his pupils, whose y; uth and constitutions might be more adequate to such labours. In 1797 he had an opportunity to visit Paris, to consult with Jussieu, and the other eminent botanists of that capital, concerning the composition of a “Flora Bogotensis,” and to make himself master of all the new improvements and discoveries. He remained at Paris till 1801, when he went back to Madrid. Whether he subsequently returned to his native country, we know not, but in 1804 he was appointed to the professorship of Botany, and superintendance of the royal garden at Madrid. Although his advancing age made repose now in some measure necessary, he continued to be serviceable to the government of his native country, and to the prosperity of that in which he had so long been naturalized. He lived to an advanced age, but of the precise date of his death we are not informed. 1


Sims and Konig’s Aunals of Botany. Rees’s Cyclopædia by sir E. J. Smith.