Catesby, Mark

, one of those men whom a passion for natural history very early allured from the interesting pursuits of domestic life to cross the Atlantic, was born about the latter end of 1679, or the beginning of 1680; He | acquaints us himself that he had very early a propensity to the study of nature, and that his wish for higher gratifications in this way first led him to London, and afterwards to distant parts of the globe. The residence of some relations in Virginia favouring this latter design, he went thither in 1712, and staid seven years, admiring and collecting the various productions of the country, without having laid any direct plan for the work which he afterwards accomplished. On his return to England in 1719, he was encouraged by the assistance of several of the nobility, of sir Hans Sloane, Dr. Sherard, and other naturalists, whose names he has recorded, to return to America, with the professed design of describing, delineating, and painting the most curious objects of nature. Carolina was fixed on, as the place of his residence, where he arrived in May 1722. He first examined the lower parts of the country, making excursions from Charles Town; and afterwards sojourned, for some time, among the Indians in the mountainous regions at and about Fort Moore, He then extended his researches through Georgia and Florida; and having spent nearly three years on the continent, he visited the Bahama islands, taking his residence in the Isle of Providence; carrying on his plan, and particularly making collections of fishes and submarine productions.

On his return to England in 1726, his labours having met with the approbation of his patrons, Mr. Catesby made himself master of the art of etching; and, retiring to Hoxton, employed himself in carrying on his great work, which he published in numbers of twenty plants each. The first appeared in the latter end of the year 1730; and the first Tolume, consisting of an hundred plates, was finished in 173i; the second in 1743; and the Appendix of twenty plates, in 1748: the whole under the title “The Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands, &c.” folio. In this splendid performance, the curious are gratified with the figures of many of the most beautiful trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, that adorn the gardens of the present time. Many also of the most useful in the arts, and conveniencies of life, and several of those used in medicine, are here for the first time exhibited in the true proportion and natural colours. It is only to be regretted, that in this work, a separate exhibition of the flower in all its parts should be wanting; in defect of which, several curious articles have not been ascertained. As, | however, Mr. Catesby etched all the figures himself, from his own paintings, and the coloured copies were at first done under his own inspection, and wherever it was possible, every subject in its natural size; this work was the most splendid of its kind that England ever produced. Mr. Catesby was also author of a paper in the Phil. Trans, vol. XLIV. “on birds of passage,” in which, in opposition to the opinion that birds lie torpid in caverns, and at the bottom of waters, he produces a variety of reasons, and several facts, which his residence in America afforded, in support of their migration in search of proper food.

Mr. Catesby was elected a fellow of the royal society soon after his second return from America, and lived in acquaintance and friendship with many of the most respectable members of that body, being " greatly esteemed for his modesty, ingenuity, and upright behaviour.' 7 Before his death he removed from Hoxton to Fulham, and afterwards to London, and died at his house in Old-street, behind St. Luke’s church, Dec. 23, 1749, aged seventy, leaving a wiclow and two children. Dr. Gronovius gave his name to a thorny shrub of the tetrandrous class, Catcsbea. Mr. Catesby’s work was republished in 1754 and 1771, and to the last edition a Linnaean index, but not sufficiently copious, was annexed. 1

1 Pulteney’s Sketches of Botany.