ADANSON

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ADANSON, Michel, a botanist, born at Aix, 1727, made natural history his favorite study, and chose Reaumur and Bernard de Jussieu for his guides. His emulation was roused by the brilliant success of the system of Linnaeus. He abandoned the study of divinity, and, in the prosecution of his favorite pursuits, made several journeys to regions never yet visited by man. In 1748, at the age of 21, he wrent to the river Senegal, in the belief that the unhealthiness of the climate would, for a long time, prevent naturalists from visiting this country. He collected, with all the zeal of an enthusiast, invaluable treasures in the three kingdoms of nature; and, perceiving the defects in the established classification of plants, endeavored to substitute another more comprehensive. He also prepared exact maps of the countries through which he travelled, and compiled dictionaries of the languages of the different tribes, with wiiose manners and customs he had become acquainted. After a residence of 5 years in an unhealthy climate, he returned to his countiy, in the possession of very valuable collections, and published, in 1757, Histoire JVaturelle du Senegal. Some masterly essays of his were printed in the memoirs of the French academy, and procured him the honor of being chosen a member of the institute. These essays were only preludes to his learned and comprehensive botanical work, Families des Plantes, 2 vols., 1763. The work, however, did not effect the object for which it was written,the establishment of a new system of botany, in opposition to that of Linnaeus. He was preparing a new edition, with numerous alterations and important additions, when he formed the plan of publishing a complete encyclopaedia. In hopes of receiving support from Louis XV, he began to collect materials, which, in a short time, increased to an immense mass; and in 1775, he laid before the academy a prospectus of a work, on so large a scale as to excite general astonishment. It was carefully examined, but the result did not answer the expectations of the author. A.'s plan was good, but he was wrong in insisting upon the immediate publication of the whole. This obstinacy is the reason that the work has never been printed. He continued, however, to increase his materials with unwearied diligence. Some valuable essays, printed in the memoirs of the academy, are all of his writings that subsequently came before the public. The idea of executing his great work continually occupied his mind, and he employed all his means for this purpose. But the revolution reduced him to extreme poverty, and when the national institute chose him one of its members, he declined the invitation because he had no shoes. A pension was then conferred upon him, which he enjoyed till his death, in 1806, continually employed in preparing his great work. The number of his printed books is small, in comparison with the mass of manuscripts which he has left. A good selection of these would be v^ery acceptable to the literary public.