Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MOLINA, Juan Ignacio, Chilian author, born near Talca, Chili, 24 June, 1740; died in Bologna, Italy, 12 September, 1829. He became a member of the Society of Jesus at an early age, and at twenty was made librarian of his order in Santiago. After the suppression of the Jesuits in the Spanish possessions he went to Imola, where he was ordained priest, and in 1774 to Bologna, Italy, where he devoted himself to the education of youth. He inherited a large fortune in 1815, by the death of a nephew, most of which he employed in founding a college and library in his native city. He wrote "Saggio sulla storia naturale del Chile" (Bologna, 1782: German translation, Leipsic, 1786; French translation, with the title "Essai sur l'histoire naturelle du Chili," with notes, Paris, 1788). In this work he made observations on natural history that were the cause of much discussion, His "Saggiodella storia del Chile" (Bologna, 1787; 2d ed., enlarged, 1810; translated into Spanish by Domingo Jose de Argintello de Mendoza, 2 vols., Madrid, 1788; into German, 1791 ; into English, 2 vols., London, 1809) relates the invasion of that country by the Spaniards, the wars of the latter against the Araucanians, and its general condition until 1787. His pictures of the manners and customs of the Araucanians are of great interest. The narrative is based on documents, printed and in manuscript, and on an unpublished "History of Chili," by the Abblivares, the first part of which Molina took with him to Italy. The second part he left in Peru, and for a time despaired of bringing the work to a conclusion. But, having met several of his countrymen, who were also living in exile in Italy, he was enabled, with their help, to accomplish his undertaking. In a supplement he gives a sketch of the peculiarities of the Chilian language, followed by a bibliography of the works of which he had made use, which is curious, as it gives the names of works little known outside of South America. Bologna has erected a statue and Santiago de Chile a monument in his honor.
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