Kolben, Peter

, a celebrated traveller, was born in 1674, at Dorflas, in the principality of Baireuth, of which | place his father was a judge, and afterwards a receiver of taxes. His early years were passed in poverty, until, in 1696, he was received into the* house of Eimart, an astronomer, under whose directions he made considerable progress in the sciences. He entered the university of Halle in 1700, and afterwards gave a course of lectures in mathematics and philosophy. He was introduced to baron von Krosie, privy counsellor to his Prussian majesty, to whom he became secretary, and whom he accompanied in his travels; and a proposal being made to him to go to the Cape of Good Hope, he gladly embraced the opportunity. Here he remained ten years, making observations on the country and the people, till he was afflicted with blindness, from which, however, on his return to Europe, he so far recovered as to be able to read with the assistance of glasses. In 1716 he inserted in the Acta Eruditorum a treatise “De aquis Capitis Bonse Spei.” This work introduced him into farther notice, and he was appointed rector of the school of Neustadt, where he died in 1726. His chief publication was “A Description of the Cape of Good Hope,” in folio, with twenty-four plates. This work was translated into Dutch in 1727; and at London, into English, in 1731, by Mr. Medley, who lopped o.‘Fsome of its redundancies. It was afterwards abridged, and published in French in three vols. 12mo. The first attack on the veracity of tliis work was made by the abbe“de la Caille, who, in his Journal of the voyage to the Cape, said that he took Kolben’s description with him, but found it full of inaccuracies and falsehoods, and more resembling a series of fables than an authentic narrative. It has been also said that Kolben having passed the whole of his time with his bottle and his pipe, was perplexed to find that he had nothing to show in Europe, as the first fruits of his supposed labours, and therefore engaged some inhabitants of the Cape to draw up for him that description of the colony which he imposed upon the public as his own. Forstcr, on the other hand, in his” Voyage round the World," ascribes to La Caille certain interested motives in thus decrying Kolben’ s work, and says it would be easy to refute almost every criticism which the abbe* has passed on that intelligent and entertaining voyager. These different opinions might perplex us, if more recent travellers had not rendered us independent both of Kolben and La Cailie. 1


Rees’s Cyclopædia. Month. Rev. vol. LV and LVX.