Rivinus, Augustus Qurinus

, an eminent botanist and physician, was the son of a learned physician and critic, Andrew Bachmann, whose name in Latin became Rivinus. He was born at Leipsic in 1652. After a successful course of study he became professor of physiology and botany in his native university. He was also a member of various learned societies, and died in 1723 r aged seventyone.

The botanical system of Rivinus is founded on the roost elegant and attractive, if not the most solid and important, parts of plants. His classes are marked by the number, the regularity, or irregularity, of the petals. He could not proceed far in this path without perceiving that he made most unnatural, and, as Haller justly terms them, paradoxical, combinations. He therefore asserted, and doubtless believed, the inutility and impracticability of 4 really natural classification. This principle brought him to one right conclusion, which even the philosophical Ray did not attain, or was afraid to admit, that the old primary distribution of vegetables into trees, shrubs^ and herbs, is unscientific and erroneous.

Rivinus published, at his own expence, in 1690, his splendid illustration of the first class of his system, comprising such plants as have a monopetabus irregular 6ower. This part consists of one hundred and twenty-five plates; bub the catalogue of species is imperfect, A learned “Introductio generalis in rem hdtfbariam” is prefixed and this introductory part was, at different times, republished in a smaller form. The second part of this sumptuous work came forth in 1691, and consists of two hundred and twentyone plates, of plants with four irregular petals; into which class, by means of some contrivance, and many grains of allowance, are admitted all the papilionaceous tribe, the cruciform genus Iberis, the Euphorbia, and a few things besides. In 1699 the third part, containing flowers with | five irregular petals, was given to the world. Even more liberty is taken in the assemblage of genera here than in the former class. It consists of one hundred and thirtynine plates. A fourth part, the hexapetalse irregulares, consisting of the Orchideae, was finished, but not published, before the author’s death; nor indeed have any more than a very few copies of this ever got abroad into the world, so that it constitutes one of the greatest bibliothecal rarities. With respect to utility or beauty, those who are possessed of the transcendant engravings of this favourite tribe in Haller’s History of Swiss Plants, may dispense with the figures of Rivinus. The author had prepared several supplementary plates to his work, which never came forth, and of which perhaps the only specimens are to be seen in sir Joseph Banks’s fine copy of the whole work, except two duplicate plates presented by the learned baronet to the president of the Linnaean society. There is every reason to believe that the copy in question belonged to the author himself, or to his son, as may be gathered from its manuscript additions and corrections. A complete copy, of even the three first parts of Rivinus’s book is, indeed, difficult to be met with; for several of the plates having from time to time received additions of seed-vessels, or of entire plants; the earlier impressions of such plates are consequently imperfect. The best copies are required, by fastidious collectors, to have every plate with and without the additions.

As a medical writer, Rivinus has the merit of faithful observation and description, in his treatise “de Peste Lipsiensi,” published in 1680. He wrote also on dyspepsia, on intermittent fevers, and various other subjects. He did not scruple to attack whatever practice or opinion he found established on the basis of prejudice and ignorance. In this respect his “Censura Medicamentorum officinalium” ranks very high. His commendable aim, in this work, was to clear the materiamedica of its various disgraceful incumbrances; so many of which originated in error, imposition, or superstition. His attempts have been followed up by various men of ability and authority; and it is to the united labour and good sense of such that the world is indebted for the purified and improved state of our modern pharmacopeias.

Though not a great practical anatomist, or dissector, Rivinus is said to have discovered a new salivary duct. He | Jeft a son, John Augustus Rivinus, who succeeded him as professor, and under whose presidency was published a dissertation, in 1723, on “Medicinal Earths.” This gentleman died in 1725, aged thirty-three, having survived his father but two years. His premature death seems to have prevented the publication of the fourth part of his father’s great botanical work, at least for some time. Haller says, Ludwig afterwards edited the plates of the Orchidece, without any letter-press; but this publication has never come under our inspection. 1


From the account drawn up by the president of the Linnaean society for Rees’s Cyclopædia.