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GUMILLA, Jose, Spanish missionary, born in Barcelona, Spain, in 1690; died in Madrid in 1758. He entered the Jesuit order in 1708, and in 1714 was sent as a missionary to South America. He was sent into different provinces successively, and while performing the duties of his ministry was a close observer of the manners of the inhabitants. He gave all the time his missionary labors allowed him to the study of natural history, and during his journeys collected plants unknown in Europe, formed collections of insects, and dissected the animals that the Indians brought him after hunting or fishing. Having been appointed superior of the missions on the Orinoco in 1728, he sailed up this river and visited all the settlements, Indian as well as Spanish, that were situated in this province. He was appointed rector of the College of Carthagena in 1734, and of that in Madrid in 1738. He published "El Orinoco ilustrado y defendido: historia natural, civil y geografica de las naciones situadas en las riberas de esto gran rio" (enlarged ed., 2 vols., with plates, Madrid, 1745). The history of the Orinoco has been often reprinted. The best edition is probably the one published at Barcelona (2 vols., 1791). It was translated into French by Eidous (3 vols., Paris, 1758). Unlike that of most Spanish writers, Gumilla's style is remarkable for its simplicity. The Abbe Raynal, in his "Histoire du commerce des Europeens dans les deux Indies" has borrowed some of his most effective passages from the work of Gumilla.
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