Vahl, Martin

, a learned Danish botanist, was born at Bergen in Norway, Oct. 10, 1749. He was educated first at Bergen, and afterwards at the university of Copenhagen, where he passed a year in attending the lectures of Zoega, on the plants of the botanical garden. After applying to the same study in Norway for three years, he went in 1769 to Upsal, where he became acquainted with Linnæus. In 1774 he returned to Copenhagen, and continued to pursue his favourite study of natural history until 1779, when he was appointed lecturer in the botanical garden. In 1783, by the king’s order he commenced his travels through various parts of Europe, and visited England, where he formed an acquaintance and attracted the esteem of sir Joseph Banks, Mr. Dryander, &c. On his return in 1785, he was honoured with the title of professor, and appointed to prepare a “Flora Danica,” for which purpose he went to Norway, and investigated every spot where materials for this work could be found.

In 1789 he was, by the Copenhagen society of natural history, appointed its first professor, and in 1799-1800 he made, at the expence of government, another journey to Paris and Holland, where he was received with the highest marks of esteem. On his return he was made professor of botany at the botanical garden, the plants of which were classed under his snperintendance, and a catalogue of them was printed. In 1804 he published his “Enumeratio Plantariwu,” a part of which only he lived to see printed, as he died in December of the same year at Copenhagen, in the fifty-fourth year of his age. Though botany was his chief pursuit, he did not neglect the other branches of natural history. His lectures, his different treatises on that subject, and his instructive collections, prove his knowledge of zoology to have been very extensive. Part of “Zoologia Danica,” still in ms, is by him and of the continuation of“Ascani Icones” he also supplied a part. Cuvier received from him many contributions to the natural history of quadrupeds, and Fabricius to that of insects.

By herborising himself from the extremity of Norway to | Portugal, in several islands of the Mediterranean, and io Barbary, he had already collected a considerable herbarium, which was greatly augmented by the liberality of his friends. He also collected an uncommonly complete botanical library.

His writings are, besides the “Flora Danica,” 6 vols. and a great many tracts in the memoirs of the Society of Natural History, “Symbolse Botanicae,” 3 vols. “Ecloga; Americanae,” 2 vols. “Decades Iconum,” 3 vols. and last of all, “Enumeratio Plantarum vel ab ipso vel ab aliis observatarum,” Hafniee, 1804 1S07, 2 vols. 8vo. Shortly before his death, Mr. Vahl received a letter from the governors of the fund “Ad Usos Publicos,” stating in very flattering expressions, that the king, in consideration of his persevering and honourable efforts towards the improvement of botany, had been pleased most graciously to grant him, out of that fund, a gratification of 500 rix-dollars, as an encouragement to the continuation of his “Enumeratio Plantarum.” His great herbarium and botanical library, comprising nearly 3000 volumes, and his manuscripts, have been purchased by the Danish government, for 3000 rixdollars, and an annuity of 400 rix-dollars to his widow, and 100 rix-dollars to each of his six surviving children, for life. 1