Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GILLI, Philip Sauveur, clergyman, born in the Papal States ; died there after 1764. He was a member of the Jesuit order, and went as missionary to South America about 1740. He traveled during seventeen years through the country watered by the Orinoco and lived for seven years in Santa Fe de Bogota He returned to Europe when his order was suppressed. He wrote in Italian "Essay on the History of America, or Natural, Civil, and Sacred History of the Spanish Kingdoms and Provinces of Terra Firma in South America" (Rome, 4 vols., 1780-'4). The work of Gilli is still considered valuable for the information it gives on the vast regions watered by the Orinoco. It was for a long time the only one to be consulted on the subject, and many writers have drawn from it without acknowledgment. Gilli refutes the inaccurate views that then prevailed regarding the source of the River, and tries to demonstrate its communication with the Amazon. Unfortunately, his ignorance of natural history and his credulity prevented him from reaping all the advantages due to his zeal. He gives vocabularies of most of the languages spoken by the natives, and attempts to compare them, but the value of his comparison is lessened by his lack of the critical faculty. A part of Gilli's work was translated into German by Sprengel (Hamburg, 1785). The whole of the 3d book of vol. iii., which comprises his observations on the languages of the tribes of the Orinoco, was translated into German with notes by Father Xavier Veigl, an ex-Jesuit, who had traveled in the same regions. This part of the work is contained in the collection of the travels of missionaries of the Society of Jesus in America, published by Von Murr (Nuremberg, 1785).
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