Tournefort, Joseph Pitton De

, a famous botanist of France, was born of a good family, at Aix in Provence, June 5, 1656. He had a taste for observing and collecting plants from his childhood; and, when he was at school, used frequently to play truant, though he was frequently punished for it, in order to traverse the fields in quest of new discoveries. The same passion continued when he was more grown up, and after he began to study philosophy and divinity; and, though all endeavours were used by his father, who designed him for the church, to cure him of it, his favourite study prevailed, and plants continued his object. In pursuit of them he was ready to traverse the globe, as he did a great part of it afterwards; but, for the present, was obliged to content himself with what the neighbourhood of Aix and the gardens of the curious afforded. Becoming his own master by the death, of his father in 1677, he quitted theology, which indeed he had never relished, and gave himself up entirely to physic, natural philosophy, and botany, at the instigation of an uncle, who was a very ingenious and reputable physician. In 1678, he ran over the mountains of Dauphine and Savoy, and thence enriched his collection with a great number of curious specimens. In 1679 he went to Montpelier, to study medicine and anatomy. In this town was a garden of plants, which had been established by Henry IV. but this did not satisfy his curiosity: he travelled over the country round about Montpelier, and brought back with him plants which were before unknown to the botanists of that place. His curiosity becoming more ardent, he formed a scheme of passing over into Spain, and set out for Barcelona in April 1681. He spent some time in the mountains of Catalonia, whither he was accompanied by the young physicians of the country, and the students in physic, to whom he pointed out and explained the various sorts of plants; but was often exposed to dangers, and was once stripped naked by the miquelets, a kind of banditti, who, however, so far took pity on him as to return him his waistcoat, in the lining of which, by good luck, he happened to have some silver tied up in a | handkerchief. After other risks, he arrived safe at Montpelier in 1681, and continued his studies in medicine, and his operations in chymistry and anatomy. He was afterwards received doctor of physic at Orange, and thence went to Aix, where his passion for plants, which was as high as ever, did not suffer him to continue long. He now visited the Alps, and he brought back with him new treasures, which he had acquired with great fatigue and danger.

His merit as a botanist now began to be known at Paris, whither he went in 1683, and was introduced to M. Fagon, first physician to the queen, who was so struck with the ingenuity and vast knowledge of Tournefort, that he procured him to be made botanic professor in the king’s garden. Tournefort immediately set himself to furnish it every thing that was curious and valuable; and, by order of the king, travelled into Spain and Portugal, and afterwards into Holland and England, where he made a prodigious collection of plants. His name was become celebrated abroad as well as at home; and he had the botanic professorship at Leyden offered him, which he did not think proper to accept, though his present salary was but small. He had, however, the profits of his profession, and of a great number of pupils in botany, which, with his own private fortune, supported him very handsomely. In 1692 he was admitted a member of the academy of sciences: he was afterwards made doctor in physic of the faculty of Paris, and maintained a thesis for it, which he dedicated to his friend and patron M. Fagon.

In 1700 he received an order from the king to travel to Greece, Asia, and Africa, not only to take cognizance of the plants which the ancients have mentioned, or even of those which escaped their observation, but to make also observations upon natural history at large, upon ancient and modern geography, and upon the religion, manners, and commerce, of different nations and people. The king ordered farther A. Gundelsheimer, a native of Anspach, and physician to the king of Prussia, to attend him as a draughtsman, who might draw plants, animals, orany thing curious, that fell in his way. Almost three years were employed in this learned voyage; and, as botany was M. Tournefort’s favourite object, he herborized over all the isles of the Archipelago, upon the coasts of the Black Sea, in Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia, Armenia, and Georgia. At his return he took a different route, in hopes | of new subjects of observation, and came tbrough Galatia, Mysia, Lyiiia, and Ionia. The plague being then in Egypt hindered him from proceeding to Africa; yet he brought home 1356 species of plants, entirely new.

He now resumed the business of his profession, which his travels had interrupted, and was soon after made professor of physic in the college-royal. He had also the offices of his botanic professorship in the king’s garden, and the usual functions of the academy of sciences required of every member, to attend, together with the work of preparing an account of his travels, which was now to be expected from him. This being more than his constitution could bear, gradually impaired his health, but it was an unforeseen accident that cost him his life: as he was going to the academy his breast was violently pressed by the axle of a carriage, which brought on a spitting of blood, to which he did not pay a proper regard; and this ending in a dropsy of the breast, carried him off, after languishing some months, December 28, 1708. He was the greatest botanist of his time; and it was by his skill and care that the king of France’s gardens, almost quite neglected and abandoned before, were afterwards holden in honour, and thought worth the attention of all the virtuosi in Europe. Yet he was not so particularly attached to botany as to neglect every thing else; for he had made a most valuable collection of all kinds of natural curiosities, which he left by will to the king.

His writings are as follow “Elemens de Botanique: ou, Methode pour connoitre les plantes, avec figures, Paris, 1G94,” 3 tomes in 8vo. He afterwards enlarged this work considerably, and translated it into Latin for the benefit of foreigners, with this title, “Institutiones rei herbarise: sive, Elementa botanices,Paris, 1700, 3 vols. 4to. The first volume contains the names of the plants, distributed according to his method; the two other the figures of them, very well engraven. This is his great work, and long made him be considered as the oracle of botany. In his system he divided the plants into twenty-two classes, whiqh he determined by the different formation of the flower, and their orders he ascertained by the fruit. He divided all the plants which were known to him from the quality of the flower (corolla) into classes, which his predecessors had limited by the fruit, and these classes he subdivided into orders. He arranged the genera by solid, distinctive marks, | which he borrowed of the fruit gave them fixed generic names, and placed the species, with their manifold variations, under the genera. This classification is by no means difficult, and were it not for the imperfect characters of a few of the classes, might certainly be followed; but it yielded at length to the Linnaean method, with which it certainly will not bear a comparison. His next -work was “Histoire des Plantes qui naissent aux environs de Paris, avec leur usage dans la me’decine,1698, in 12mo, enlarged by another hand, into 2 vols. 12mo, in an edition of Paris, “l 725. This was translated by Dr. Marty n in 1732, 2 vols. 8vo.” De optima methodo in instituenda re herbaria,“in 1697, 8vo. This is an epistle to our Mr. Ray, who had dissented from Tournefort’s method of classing plants, and ranging them into their several genuses.” Corollarium institutionum rei herbarire, in quo plantse 1356 munificentia Ludovici magni in Orientalibus regionibus observatae recensentur, et ad genera sua revocantur, Paris, 1603,“in 4to. This work is printed in the third volume of Ray’s” Historia Plantarum, 1740,“in folio.” Relation d‘un voyage du Levant, contenant l’histoire ancienne et moderne de plusieurs isles d’Archipel, de Constantinople," &c. Paris, 1717, 2 vols. in 4to, and 3 in 8vo, with figures; reprinted at Amsterdam, 1718, in 2 vols. 4to. This work comprises not only discoveries in botany, but other curious particulars relating to history, geography, and natural philosophy. Besides these larger works, there are several pieces of Tournefort printed in the History of the Academy of Sciences. 1

1 Eloge, by Fontenelle. Life prefixed to his Voyage. Stcever’s Life of Liripjcus.