Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MARGGRAF, George (marg-graf), German traveller, born in Liebstaedt, Saxony, in 1610: died on the coast of Guinea in 1644. He studied mathematics, and in 1636 accompanied to Brazil Dr. William Pison, the newly appointed governor of the Dutch possessions in that country. He afterward entered the service of Count Maurice, of Nagsau, whose liberality supplied him with the means of exploring a considerable part of Brazil. He spent six years in travelling through the countries between Rio Grande and Pernambuco rivers, during which he collected a great number of facts in geography, natural history, and astronomy. With a view to increasing his knowledge, he went to the coast of Guinea, where he fell a victim to the climate. Fearing that through some accident another might appropriate his materials, he wrote his manuscripts on natural history in cipher. These were deciphered by Jan Laet (q. v.), who published the observations of Pison and Marggraf, with notes, under the title "G. Pisonis, de medicina Brasiliensi libri quatuor; Georgii Marggravii historive rerum naturalium Brasiliae libri otto " (Amsterdam, 1648). The work contains an immense number of new plants, to which he gave the names that wore current among the natives of Brazil. Most of them have since been discovered again, and the descriptions of Marggraf have been recognized by naturalists as generally correct. Pison published a work in 1658 which combined the observations of himself and Marggraf, in which there is inserted a treatise of the latter entitled "Tractatus topographicus et meteorologicus Brasiliae, cure eclipsi solari; quibus additi suntillius et aliorum Corn mentarii de Brasiliensium et Chilensimn indole et lingua" Marggraf's premature death prevented him from completing a great work, the title of which, as given by Laet, was "Progymnastica mathematiea Americana tribus sectionibus comprehensa." It was intended to contain everything relating to the astronomy, geography, and geodesy of Brazil. A creeping-plant of the Antilles, belonging to the guttiferous family, has been named Marggravia in honor of its discoverer.
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