Wednesday, May 24, 2017

José de Acosta

José de Acosta (1539 or 1540, Medina del Campo, Spain – February 15, 1600, Salamanca, Spain) was a sixteenth-century Spanish Jesuit missionary and naturalist in Latin America.

José de Acosta was born at Medina del Campo in Spain, where his parents lived in this city of the plain, about twenty-four miles from Valladolid, in Old Castile, on the left bank of the swampy river Zapardiel, and overlooked by the old castle of La Mota. He was of converso background,[2] His parents had five sons, Gerónimo, Christóval, José, Diego, and Bernardo. The Acosta brothers were fellow townsmen of the old soldier Bernal Diaz, who told the story of the conquest of Mexico, but they were many years younger than him. In 1553, at the age of thirteen, Acosta became a novice in the Society of Jesus in Medina del Campo. Four Acosta brothers joined this order. Before leaving Spain, José was lecturer in theology at Ocana, and in April 1569, was to be sent to Lima, Peru, where the Jesuits had been established in the proceeding year. According to one scholar, Acosta was "a heavy man of uncertain, melancholic temper."

At age 32, Acosta left Spain with several other Jesuits in 1570, landing at Cartagena de Indias, and finally at Nombre de Dios, then journeyed through 18 leagues of tropical forest. He was impressed by the scenery, the novel sights at every turn, and was interested, at Capira, in the clever antics of troops of monkeys. From Panama he embarked for Peru to pursue missionary work. He expected to experience unbearably intense heat in crossing the equator, but found it to be so cool in March, that he laughed at Aristotle and his philosophy.

On his arrival at Lima, he was ordered to cross the Andes, apparently to join the Viceroy of Peru in the interior. He took the route, with fourteen or fifteen companions, across the mountainous province of Huarochiri, and by the lofty pass of Pariacaca [over 14,000 ft.], where the whole party suffered severely from the effects of the rarefied atmosphere. Acosta describes these sufferings, which were to be repeated on the three other occasions of crossing the cordillera. Acosta was one of the earliest people to give a detailed description of altitude sickness, a variety of which is referred to as Acosta's disease. He also mentions an attack of snow blindness and the way in which an Indian woman cured him.

Acosta had arrived in Peru two years after Don Francisco de Toledo had come out as Viceroy in 1568. Following Toledo's beheading of the Inca Túpac Amaru, the Viceroy devoted five years to a tour through every part of the Viceroyalty of Peru, and to settlement of the country, in which he was aided by Acosta, the Licentiate Polo de Ondegardo, and the Judge Matienza. Acosta also accompanied the Viceroy to Charcas, and was with him during his unsuccessful expedition against the fierce Chirihuana Indians.

The principal seat of the Jesuits was at that time in the little town of Juli, near the western shores of Lake Titicaca. Here a college was formed, the languages of the natives were studied, and eventually a printing press was established. Acosta probably resided at Juli during much of his stay in Peru. It was here, in all likelihood, that he observed the famous comet of 1577, from November 1 to December 8, which extended like a fiery plume from the horizon nearly to the zenith. Here, too, he devoted much of his time to the preparation of several learned works, which he later took back to Spain in manuscript, including the first two books of the Natural History of the Indies. At Juli, Father Acosta received information respecting the Amazon river from a brother who had formerly been in the famous piratical cruise of Lope de Aguirre.

Towards the close of the viceroyalty of Toledo, Father Acosta appears to have moved from the interior of Peru to Lima. Here he mentions superintending the casting of a great bell, for which there was difficulty in getting fuel for the furnace, making it necessary to fell great trees in the Rímac River valley. Viceroy Toledo was practically the founder of the University of St. Mark at Lima, where Acosta was to occupy the chair of theology. Here he was again able to display his abilities as a famed orator.

In 1571 José went to Cuzco as a visitor of the recently founded college of the Jesuits. He returned to Lima three years later to again fill the chair of theology, and was elected provincial in 1576.

In 1579 Sir Francis Drake was on the coast, and the Viceroy dispatched a fleet under Don Pedro Sarmiento, partly to chase the English pirate, and partly to explore and survey the Strait of Magellan. Acosta had conversations with the pilot of Sarmiento's fleet, and was allowed to inspect his chart, thus obtaining much hydrographic information, and particulars respecting the tides in the straits. He also conversed with the new Viceroy Don Martín Henríquez on the same subject.

Acosta founded a number of colleges, among them those of Arequipa, Potosí, Chuquisaca, Panama and La Paz, but met with considerable opposition from the Viceroy Toledo. His official duties obliged him to investigate personally a very extensive range of territory, so that he acquired a practical knowledge of the vast province, and of its aboriginal inhabitants. At the 1582 session of the Third Council of Lima, Father Acosta played a very important part and was its historian. He delivered an eloquent and learned oration at its last sitting on October 18, 1583.

Shortly after the Third Council of Lima, he embarked with all his manuscripts, the literary labors of fifteen years, and commenced his voyage to Mexico. During the passage he was a shrewd observer of nature and knowledge seeker. He learned from an expert Portuguese pilot that there were four points of no variation on the earth, and that one of them was Corvo Island in the Azores. Acosta landed at the port of Guatulco, at the western end of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, in the Oaxaca province, then journeyed by land to Mexico City, where he resided in 1586. He had opportunities of which he diligently availed himself for collecting information touching the civilization, religion and of the Aztecs and natural products of this country. His chief informant respecting the rites and festivals of the Mexicans was brother and Prebendary, Juan de Tobar.

Return to Spain
Acosta had been called to Spain by the King in 1585, prior to being detained in Mexico. He sailed home to Spain in the fleet of 1587, which contained a precious cargo, including twelve chests of gold each weighing 100 lbs., 11,000,000 pieces of silver, and two chests of emeralds each weighing 100 lbs., in addition to loads of ginger, sarsparilla, Brazil wood and animal hides. In Spain he filled the chair of theology at the Roman college in 1594, head of the Jesuits College at Valladolid, as well as other important positions. At the time of his death in his 60th year, he was rector of the college at Salamanca.


Aside from his publication of the proceedings of the provincial councils of 1567 and 1583, and several works of exclusively theological import, Acosta is best known as the writer of De Natura Novi Orbis, De promulgatione Evangelii apud Barbaros, sive De Procuranda Indorum salute and above all, the Historia natural y moral de las Indias. The first two appeared at Salamanca in 1588, the last at Seville in 1590, and was soon after its publication translated into various languages. It is chiefly the Historia natural y moral that has established the reputation of Acosta, as this was one of the very first detailed and realistic descriptions of the New World. In a form more concise than that employed by his predecessors, Francisco Lopez de Gómara and Oviedo, he treated the natural and philosophic history of the New World from a broader point of view. In it, more than a century before other Europeans learned of the Bering Strait, Acosta hypothesized that Latin America's indigenous peoples had migrated from Asia. He also divided them into three barbarian categories. The Historia also described Inca and Aztec customs and history, as well as other information such as winds and tides, lakes, rivers, plants, animals, and mineral resources in the New World.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

George Lemaître

Belgian Catholic priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven. He proposed the theory of the expansion of the universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble. He was the first to derive what is now known as Hubble’s law and made the first estimation of what is now called the Hubble constant, which he published in 1927, two years before Hubble’s article. Lemaître also proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, which he called his “hypothesis of the primeval atom” or the “Cosmic Egg”.

Lemaître began studying civil engineering at the Catholic University of Leuven at the age of 17. In 1914, he interrupted his studies to serve as a Belgian artillery officer in WW I, receiving the Belgian War Cross with palms.

After the war, he studied physics and mathematics, and began to prepare for diocesan priesthood. He obtained his doctorate in 1920 with a thesis entitled l’Approximation des fonctions de plusieurs variables réelles (Approximation of functions of several real variables), written under the direction of Charles de la Vallée-Poussin. He was ordained a priest in 1923 and  became a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Cambridge, spending a year at St Edmund’s House (now St Edmund’s College, Cambridge). Arthur Eddington taught him modern cosmology, stellar astronomy, and numerical analysis. He spent the next year at Harvard College Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with Harlow Shapley, who had just gained renown for his work on nebulae, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he registered for the doctoral program in sciences.

In 1925, on his return to Belgium, he became a part-time lecturer at the Catholic University of Leuven. In 1927, he published an article in the little-known journal, Annales de la Société Scientifique de Bruxelles, under the title “Un Univers homogène de masse constante et de rayon croissant rendant compte de la vitesse radiale des nébuleuses extragalactiques” (“A homogeneous Universe of constant mass and growing radius accounting for the radial velocity of extragalactic nebulae”). In this report, he presented his a family of solutions to Einstein’s field equations that described an expanding universe, derived from General Relativity and later known as Hubble’s law, and provided the first observational estimation of the Hubble constant. While the article was not widely noticed, Arthur Eddington reportedly helped translate it into English in 1931, unfortunately omitting the article’s estimation of the “Hubble constant”. Lemaître returned to MIT to present his doctoral thesis. Upon obtaining what was now his second Ph.D., he was named ordinary professor at the Catholic University of Leuven.

In 1930, Eddington published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society a long commentary on Lemaître’s 1927 article, in which he described the latter as a “brilliant solution” to the outstanding problems of cosmology. The original paper was published in an abbreviated English translation in 1931, along with a sequel by Lemaître responding to Eddington’s comments. Lemaître was then invited to London to participate in a meeting of the British Association on the relation between the physical universe and spirituality. There he proposed that the universe expanded from an initial point, which he called the “Primeval Atom”. He developed this idea in a report published in Nature. Lemaître himself also described his theory as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of the creation”; it became better known as the “Big Bang theory,” a pejorative term coined during a 1949 BBC radio broadcast by the astronomer and atheist Fred Hoyle, who was then still a proponent of the steady state universe and remained so until his death in 2001. Hoyle would later convert to theism as a result of his own astrophysical work.

In 1931, Lemaitre was the first scientist to propose the expansion of the universe was actually accelerating which was confirmed observationally in the 1990s through observations of very distant Type IA supernova with the Hubble Space Telescope. In 1933, Lemaître found an important inhomogeneous solution of Einstein’s field equations describing a spherical dust cloud, the Lemaître–Tolman metric. Lemaître was also an early adopter of computers for cosmological calculations. He introduced the first computer to his university (a Burroughs E101) in 1958 and was one of the inventors of the Fast Fourier transform algorithm.  Among his many awards for outstanding science, he was given the inaugural Eddington Medal awarded by the Royal Astronomical Society. He died on 20 June 1966, shortly after having learned of the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, which provided further evidence for his proposal about the birth of the universe. The fifth Automated Transfer Vehicle to the International Space Station was named Georges Lemaitre in his honor. He is the Father of Cosmology.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bernabé Cobo

Born at Lopera in Spain, 1582; died at Lima, Peru, 9 October, 1657. He went to America in 1596, visiting the Antilles and Venezuela and landing at Lima in 1599. Entering the Society of Jesus, 14 October, 1601, he was sent by his superiors in 1615 to the mission of Juli, where, and at Potosí, Cochabamba, Oruro, and La Paz, he laboured until 1618. He was rector of the college of Arequipa from 1618 until 1621, afterwards at Pisco, and finally at Callao in the same capacity, as late as 1630. He was then sent to Mexico, and remained there until 1650, when he returned to Peru. Such in brief was the life of a man whom the past centuries have treated with unparalleled, and certainly most ungrateful, neglect.

Father Cobo was beyond all doubt the ablest and most thorough student of nature and man in Spanish America during the seventeenth century. Yet, the first, and almost only, acknowledgement of his worth dates from the fourth year of the nineteenth century. The distinguished Spanish botanist Cavanilles not only paid a handsome tribute of respect to the memory of Father Cobo in an addressed delivered at the Royal Botanical Gardens of Madrid, in 1804, but he gave the name of Cobæa to a genus of plants belonging to the Bignoniaceæ of Mexico, Cobæa scandens being its most striking representative.

Cobo's long residence in both Americas (sixty-one years), his position as a priest and, several times, as a missionary, and the consequently close relations in which he stood to the Indians, as well as to Creoles and half-breeds, gave him unusual opportunities for obtaining reliable information, and he made the fullest use of these. We have from his pen, two works, one of which (and the most important) is, unfortunately, incomplete. It is also stated that he wrote a work on botany in ten volumes, which, it seems, is lost, or at least its whereabouts is unknown today. Of his main work, to which biographers give the title "Historia general de las Indias", and which he finished in 1653, only the first half is known and has appeared in print (four volumes, at Seville, 1890 and years succeeding). The remainder, in which he treats, or claims to have treated, of every geographical and political subdivision in detail, has either never been finished, or is lost. His other book appeared in print in 1882, and forms part of the "History of the New World" mentioned, but he made a separate manuscript of its in 1639, and so it became published as "Historia de la fundaciónde Lima", a few years before the publication of the principal manuscript.

"The History of the New World" places Cobo, as a chronicler and didactic writer, on a plane higher than that occupied by his contemporaries not to speak of his predecessors. It is not a dry and dreary catalogue of events; man appears in it on a stage, and that stage is a conscientious picture of the nature in which man has moved and moves. The value of this work for several branches of science (not only history) is much greater than is believed. The book, only recently published, is very little known and appreciated. The "History of the New World" may, in American literature, be compared with one work only, the "General and Natural history of the Indies" by Oviedo. But Oviedo wrote a full century earlier than Cobo, hence the resemblance is limited to the fact that both authors seek to include all Spanish America — its natural features as well as its inhabitants. The same may be said of Gomara and Acosta. Cobo enjoyed superior advantages and made good use of them. A century more of knowledge and experience was at his command. Hence we find in his book a wealth of information which no other author of his time imparts or can impart. And that knowledge is systematized and in a measure co-ordinated. On the animals and plants of the new continent, neither Nieremberg, nor Hernçndez, nor Monardes can compare in wealth of information with Cobo. In regard to man, his pre-Columbian past and vestiges, Cobo is, for the South American west coast, a source of primary importance. We are astonished at his many and close observations of customs and manners. His description of some of the principal ruins of South America are usually very correct. In a word it is evident from these two works of Cobo that he was an investigator of great perspicacity, and, for his time, a scientist of unusual merit.

Charles Plumier

A French botanist, born at Marseilles, 20 April, 1646; died at Puerto de Sta Maria near Cadiz, 20 November, 1704. At the age of sixteen he entered the order of the Minims. He devoted himself to the study of mathematics and physics, made physical instruments, and was an excellent draughtsman, painter, and turner. On being sent to the French monastery of Trinità dei Monti at Rome, Plumier studied botany with great zeal under two members of the order, and especially under the well-known Cistercian botanist, Paolo Boccone. After his return to France he became a pupil of Tournefort, whom he accompanied on botanical excursions. He also explored the coasts of Provence and Languedoc. His work, of permanent value for the science of botany, began in 1689, when, by order of the government, he accompanied Surian to the French Antilles. As this first journey proved very successful, Plumier was appointed royal botanist; in 1693, by command of Louis XIV, he made his second journey, and in 1695 his third journey to the Antilles and Central America. While in the West Indies he was greatly aided in his work by the Dominican Labat. In 1704, when about to start on his fourth journey, intending to visit the home of the true cinchona tree in Peru, he was taken ill with pleurisy and died. He is the most important of the botanical explorers of his time. All natural scientists of the eighteenth century spoke of him with admiration. According to Cuvier he was "perhaps the most industrious investigator of nature", while Haller said, "vir ad incrementum rei herbariæ natus" (a man born to extend the knowledge of botany). Tournefort and Linnæus named in his honour the genus Plumeria, which belongs to the family of the Apocynaceœ and is indigenous in about forty species to Central America; it is now called Plumiera with the name of Plumieroideœ for its first sub-family. Plumier accomplished all that he did in fifteen years (1689-1704); his labours resulted in collections, descriptions, and drawings.

His first work was, "Description des plantes de l'Amérique" (Paris, 1693); it contained 108 plates, half of which represented ferns. This was followed by "Nova plantarum americanarum genera" (Paris, 1703-04), with 40 plates; in this work about one hundred genera, with about seven hundred species, were redescribed. At a later date Linnæus adopted in his system, almost without change, these and other newly described genera arranged by Plumier. Plumier left a work in French and Latin ready to be printed entitled "Traité des fougères de l'Amérique" (Paris, 1705), which contained 172 excellent plates. The publication "Filicetum Americanum" (Paris, 1703), with 222 plates, was compiled from those already mentioned. Plumier also wrote another book of an entirely different character on turning, "L'Art de tourner" (Lyons, 1701; Paris, 1749); this was translated into Russian by Peter the Great; the manuscript of the translation is at St. Petersburg. At his death Plumier left thirty-one manuscript volumes containing descriptions, and about 6000 drawings, 4000 of which were of plants, while the remainder reproduced American animals of nearly all classes, especially birds and fish. The botanist Boerhave had 508 of these drawings copied at Paris; these were published later by Burmann, Professor of Botany at Amsterdam, under the title: "Plantarum americanarum, quas olim Carolus Plumierus detexit", fasc. I-X (Amsterdam, 1755-60), containing 262 plates. Plumier also wrote treatises for the "Journal des Savants" and for the "Mémoires de Trévoux". By his observations in Martinique, Plumier proved that the cochineal belongs to the animal kingdom and should be classed among the insects.

Marin Mersenne

French theologian, philosopher, and mathematician; b. 8 September, 1588, near Oizé (now Department of Sarthe); d. 1 September, 1648 at Paris. He studied at Le Mans and at the Jesuit College of La Flèche, where a lifelong friendship with Descartes, his fellow student, originated. Mersenne entered the novitiate of the Minims at Nigeon near Paris (1611), was sent to Nevers as professor of philosophy (1614-1620), and returned to Paris. His first publications were theological and polemical studies against Atheism and Scepticism, but later, Mersenne devoted his time almost exclusively to science, making personal experimental researches, and publishing a number of works on mathematical sciences. 

His chief merit, however, is rather the encouragement which he gave to scientists of his time, the interest he took in their work, and the stimulating influence of his suggestions and questions. Gassendi and Galileo were among his friends; but, above all, Mersenne is known today as Descartes's friend and adviser. In fact, when Descartes began to lead a free and dissipated life, it was Mersenne who brought him back to more serious pursuits and directed him toward philosophy. In Paris, Mersenne was Descartes's assiduous correspondent, auxiliary, and representative, as well as his constant defender. The numerous and vehement attacks against the "Meditations" seem, for a moment, to have aroused Mersenne's suspicions; but Descartes's answers to his critics gave him full satisfaction as to his friend's orthodoxy and sincere Christian spirit.

Mersenne asked that, after his death, an autopsy be made on his body, so as to serve to the last the interests of science.

Mersenne's works are: "Quæstiones celeberrimæ in Genesim" (Paris, 1623), against Atheists and Deists; a part only has been published, the rest being still in manuscript, as also a "Commentary on St. Matthew's Gospel"; "L'impiété des déistes et des plus subtils libertins découverte et réfutée par raisons de théologie et de philosophie" (Paris, 1624); "La vérité des sciences contre les sceptiques et les pyrrhoniens" (Paris, 1625); "Questions theólogiques, physiques, morales et mathématiques" (Paris, 1634); "Questions inouïes, ou récréations des savants" (Paris, 1634); Les mécaniques de Galilée" (Paris, 1634), a translation from the Italian; "Harmonie universelle, contenant la théorie et la pratique de la musique" (Paris, 1936-7); "Nouvelles découvertes de Galilée", and "Nouvelles pensées de Galilée sur les mécaniques" (Paris, 1639), both translations; "Cogitata physico-mathematica" (Paris, 1644); "Euclidis elementorum libri, Apollonii Pergæ conica, Sereni de sectione coni, etc." (Paris, 1626), selections and translations of ancient mathematicians, published again later with notes and additions under the title, "Universæ geometriæ mixtæque mathematicæ synopsis" (Paris, 1644).

Julian Edmund Tenison Woods

Priest and scientist, b. at Southwark, London, 15 Nov., 1832; d. at Sydney, New South Wales, 7 Oct., 1889, sixth son of James Dominick Woods, a lawyer, and Henrietta Mary St. Eloy (a convert), second daughter of Rev. Joseph Tenison, Rector of Donoughmore, Wicklow, Ireland. He was baptized in the Belgian Chapel, Southwark, and was confirmed by Bishop (later Cardinal) Wiseman; he was educated in a Catholic school at Hammersmith, and later at Newington Grammar School, Surrey. For a time he was employed on the staff of the "Times", and became interested in the work of the Catholic schools. In his eighteenth year he entered the Passionist novitiate, but, owing to ill-health, soon left. Going to the South of France he taught in Mont-Bel college for naval cadets at Toulon, where he developed a taste for geology and natural science.

In France he met Bishop Willson of Hobart Town, Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania), whom he accompanied thither in 1854 as assistant in the Catholic schools. Later he went to Adelaide, and became sub-editor of the "Adelaide Times". Meanwhile he studied with the Austrian Jesuits at Sevenhill and was ordained priest at St. Patrick's, Adelaide, on 4 January, 1857. A large tract of country in the south-eastern district, having Penola for a centre and extending over 22,000 square miles, was entrusted to his charge. To provide for the Catholic education of the children in his extensive parish he founded at Penola in 1866 the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, placing a Miss Mary MacKillop in charge of the first school. From this humble beginning the Sisters under Mother Mary (MacKillop) of the Cross have grown into the present flourishing congregation with numerous houses spread over Australia and New Zealand.

In 1866 Bishop Sheil of Adelaide appointed Father Woods his private secretary, chaplain and director-general of schools. In 1867 Sister Mary, later mother-general, advisedly opened the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Joseph at Kensington near Norwood, Adelaide. She spent the whole of her religious life in Australia. In 1869 Father Woods founded the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, putting Brother Camillus (Terence Woods) at their head, for the work of boys' schools. At Father Woods's suggestion Bishop Sheil invited (1869) the Sevenhill Jesuits to establish themselves at Norwood. A gifted missionary, Father Woods, was invited (1870) by Bishop Quinn of Bathurst to give missions in his diocese; and for eleven years he laboured with great success in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania. During his absence, however, difficulties arose; by episcopal authority the Brothers were disbanded and the Sisters for a time dispersed. Their manner of observing poverty and their freedom from diocesan control were objected to. In a short time the storm subsided. Father Tappeiner, S.J., of Norwood, took Father Woods's place as director and friend. Mother Mary was sent to Rome by Bishop Reynolds, then (1873) administrator of the Diocese of Adelaide. Pius IX, 20 April, 1874, approved of the rule of the Sisters after it had been revised and reported on by Father Anderledy, later General of the Jesuits. The Sisters were allowed to live under central government, possess property, and accept fees for tuition. This was affirmed anew when Leo XIII erected the institute into a congregation, 25 July, 1888. During his apostolic labours Father Woods found opportunity for scientific pursuits.

His "Geological Observations in South Australia" (London, 1862) won him the friendship of Sir Charles Lyell. In 1883 he accepted the invitation of Sir Frederick Weld to visit Singapore. He then explored Malacca for minerals, traversed Java, and spent some time in Siam. That same year he received a gold medal from the King of Holland in recognition of his scientific labours. The British Admiralty requested him to report on the coal resources of the East, as he was probably then the leading authority on this subject. His discoveries were of great benefit to the British navy, and he was munificently recompensed by the Admiralty, which placed his reports in its archives. After visiting China and Japan his health became impaired, and on his homeward journey in H.M.S. "Flying Fish", before landing at Port Darwin, he visited several islands previously unknown. At the request of the government resident at Port Darwin, he thoroughly explored the mineral districts of the Northern Territory of South Australia.

After a short visit to Queensland he returned to Sydney, where he gradually became paralysed. Some of his best work was done as an invalid. He received the Passionist habit on his death-bed, and was buried in Waverley Cemetery, Sydney. Father Woods was a fellow of the Geological Society of London (1859), and was elected president of the Linnean Society of New South Wales in 1880. In addition to the works mentioned above, he wrote: "Not quite as old as the hills" (Melbourne, 1864); "History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia" (London, 1865); "Fish and Fisheries of New South Wales" (Sydney, 1882); "Australian Essays"; "Australian Bibliography"; "On Natural History in New South Wales" (Sydney, 1882); "On the Volcano of Taal Philippines" (Sydney, 1887); "North Australia and its Physical Geography" (Adelaide, 1887); "Fisheries in Oriental Regions" (Sydney, 1888); "Anatomy and Life History of Mollusca" (Sydney, 1888), a prize essay which won the W.B. Clarke medal; "Desert Sand Stone of Australia" (Sydney, 1889); "On Vegetation in Malaysia" (Sydney, 1889); and "Geographical Notes in Malaysia and Asia" (Sydney, 18888). The catalogue of the Public Library, Adelaide, contains the names of seventy-nine books, pamphlets, and articles written by Father Woods; the articles, which treat chiefly of geology, conchology, and zoology, were mainly contributed to the journals of the various Australasian scientific societies.

Jean-Baptiste Labat

Dominican missionary, born at Paris, 1664; died there, 1738. He entered the Order of Preachers in his native city at the age of twenty years and was professed on 11 April 1685. After the completion of his philosophical and theological studies he was ordained and for several years taught philosophy publicly to the secular students of Nancy. Abandoning this work he devoted himself to missionary activity and for many years preached in the various churches of France. The missionary fields of America were proving a strong attraction to the zealous clergy of his day, and Labat became filled with a burning desire to assist in the evangelization of the Indians. Accordingly, in 1693, he obtained permission from the general of the order to depart for those colonies of the West Indies which were then under French domination, and laboured among the Indians for thirteen years, until 1706, when he sailed for Italy in the interests of his mission. After attending a meeting of the order at Bologna, and presenting to the general a report of his work, he prepared to return to American, but was denied permission and detained in Rome for several years.

During this period he commenced a long contemplated history of the West Indies. The work was finally published in six volumes at Paris, in 1722, with copious illustrations made by himself ("Nouveau Voyage aux isles Françoises de l'Amérique", Paris, 1722). Labat had a wide reputation as a mathematician and won recognition both as a naturalist and as a scientist. He embodied in the history his scientific observations and treated comprehensively and accurately of the soil, trees, plants, fruits, and herbs of the islands. He also explained the manufactures then in existence and pointed out means for the development of commercial relations. He published similar works on other countries, drawing information from the notes of other missionaries. His two works on Africa have become well known: "Nouvelle relation de l'Afrique occidentale", Paris, 1728 and "Relation historique de l'Ethiopie occidentale" (Congo, Angola, Matamba, after the Italian of Father Cavazzi, Cap. (Paris, 1732). The latter treatise is supplemented with notes and statistics drawn from Portuguese sources.