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Charles Plumier (1646-1704) and His Drawings of French and Caribbean Fishes

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Theodore Wells Pietsch

Charles Plumier (1646-1704)

Texte intégral

Father Charles Plumier
Engraving by J. Blanchouise. After Urban 1920.

Biography

1Charles Plumier was born in Marseilles on 20 April 1646, the son of Jean Plumier, a wood turner, and Madeleine Roussel (Niceron 1736: 398; Burmann 1755: [3]; Achard 1787: 95, Ferrari 1982: 47). He acquired the bases of primary education from the Saint-Martin Parish priest in Marseilles (Ferrari 1982: 47). In 1662, at the age of 16, he entered the Order of Minims, a Catholic monastic order founded in Italy in 1453 by the Italian mendicant friar Francesco di Paola (1416-1507) who was later canonized as Saint François de Paule. As intended by its founder, the Order of Minims was generally considered to be the most austere of the orders, medieval in its rules and ideals. In addition to the traditional vows (poverty, chastity, and obedience), a Minim had to commit to a life of perpetual Lent, on a daily basis eating no meat and no meat products, milk, cheese, or eggs (Whitmore 1967: 3-5; Malabirande 2013: 44-60), dietary restrictions, which, as we shall see, almost ended Plumier’s life when he became shipwrecked many years later. According to one of his biographers (Achard 1787: 95-96), “the year of his probation was for him only a happy apprenticeship in all the religious virtues. He was so perfectly successful in it that people admired henceforth a consummate wisdom in his conduct. This period once over, he consecrated himself to God in the solemn profession that he made at Marseilles on 22 December 1663.”

  • 1 For a biographical sketch of Maignan, see Whitmore (1967: 163-186).

2Plumier’s early years were devoted to the study of the physical sciences, to mathematics, and to drawing; he developed a keen interest in the construction of scientific instruments and learned to use the lathe, acquiring much of his technical skill from his father (Achard 1787: 96; Duvau 1823: 94; Cuvier 1843: 75). Shortly after his consecration in December 1663, and at his own request, he was sent to Minim Convent in Toulouse to study mathematics under Father Emanuel Maignan (1601-1676), the “great Minim mathematician and expert turner” (Connors 1990: 224).1 Here he had further opportunities to study perspective, painting, and engraving, the art of making spectacles, microscopes, and burning mirrors, as well as turning on the lathe (Niceron1736: 398; Achard 1787: 96). As Plumier himself explained (1701: [x]), “I attached myself to those people whom I found to be the most skillful, among whom our Reverend Father Emanuel Maignan, Minim like myself, in the Province of Toulouse, known throughout Europe for his rare knowledge and his happy and excellent nature, was the one who first added to the knowledge that I had received from my father, who took pleasure in this occupation, everything he knew of interest about the lathe” (see also Whitmore 1967: 187; and Connors 1990: 224).

  • 2 On this conversion, see Vignaud 2005.
  • 3 Philippe Sergeant, skilled in botany and medicine, who for many years lived in Rome. He establishe (...)
  • 4 For Francisco de Onuphriis, see Plumier (1693: [1]), Journal des Sçavans (20 July 1693, 21(28): 48 (...)

3Sometime thereafter, probably following the death of Father Maignan in 1676, Plumier went to pursue his studies to Rome, to the convent of Santa Trinità dei Monti, located at the city limits on the Pincian Hill, where he was introduced to botany2 under the tutelage of Father Philippe Sergeant (dates unknown), a native of Calais,3 and Francisco de Onuphriis (dates unknown), a Roman physician.4 Influenced greatly by their instruction, he took on the study of botany with great enthusiasm: “I owe my first inclination to study plants to the curious demonstrations that the Reverend Father Philippe Sergeant, a clever chemist and priest of our order in the Province of France, and Monsieur François de Onuphriis, Roman physician, gave in our Royal Convent of the Trinité du Mont at Rome. From that time, I gradually left the study of mathematics, which, up until that time, had been my principal occupation, in order to apply myself to botany” (Plumier 1693: [1]).

  • 5 Paolo Boccone, sometimes called Sylvius Boccone, was honored by Plumier (1703a: 35) with the patro (...)

4Plumier completed this botany training with Italian naturalist Paolo (Sylvius) Boccone (1633-1704)5, who was in Rome from the end of the 1670s until he entered the Cistercian Order in 1682: “He attempted to acquire greater knowledge (in botany) under the illustrious Paolo Boccone, who was the first to provide him with greater knowledge that he could have had in his convent; this, however, our author did not mention in his foreword, although he admitted it to me” (Garidel 1715: xxxiii).

  • 6 Tournefort’s (1700: 659) original designation of Plumeria was later retained by Linnaeus (1753, 1: (...)

5Plumier’s botanical studies in Rome were cut short, however, by a chronic illness apparently brought on by too much work. According to Achard (1787: 95-96), “strength of mind yielded to the decline of the body; and he found himself obliged to return to France and breathe his native air in order to restore his health. It was recovered at the Convent of Bormes near Hyères, a pleasant place where the salubrious air and the tranquility gave him back his original vigor.” This stay at the Convent of Bormes occurred in 1678 (Coste 1957: 47). It was during this period that he met the famous French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708), who will become a professor of botany at the Jardin du Roi, and Pierre-Joseph Garidel (1658-1737) who was then professor of botany at the University of Aix-en-Provence. Tournefort and Garidel invited Plumier to come with them during their plant collection expeditions in Provence: “He came from Italy into this Provence, where he was family in the Aix Convent. Having been informed that I was greatly interested in botany, he asked me to take him in the field, to show him the rarest plants, which I did quite often. At the same time, I introduced him to Mr. De Tournefort, who was on this occasion in the city, back from a trip in the Alps” (Garidel 1715: xxxiii). Afterwards (1700), Tournefort rightly honored Plumier with the name Plumeria, a genus of shrubs and small trees from Central America.6

6In 1679, he went back to Italy, which he permanently left at the beginning of 1681. He then requested and obtained permission from his superiors to undertake an extensive botanical excursion along the coasts of Languedoc and Provence, in the French Alps, and on the islands of Hyères (Plumier 1693: [1]; Garidel 1715: xxxiii; Cuvier 1841: 498, 1843: 75). Here he gathered a great quantity of plants and made sketches of most of them, with the intention of publishing a standard work on the plants of the region (Plumier 1693: [1]; Duvau 1823: 94; see also Fournier 1932a: 53).

7Word of Plumier’s botanical expertise, as well as his extraordinary talents as an illustrator and engraver, began to spread and the course of his life changed when Michel Bégon (1638-1710), then superintendent of ships (Intendant de la Marine) at Marseilles and a former governor of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti), was ordered by King Louis XIV to find a naturalist willing to visit the French possessions in the Antilles for the purpose of collecting objects of natural history. The position was offered by Bégon to Joseph-Donat Surian (died 1691), physician and apothecary (médecin-chymiste) at Marseilles, who, in turn, asked Plumier to accompany him as his assistant.

  • 7 In further recognition, Plumier (1701: [iii-v]) dedicated his monograph on the lathe to Bégon: “Si (...)

8According to Whitmore (1967: 188), it was Bégon who argued for, and later received Royal consent to conduct, a full botanical survey of the Antilles. In appreciation of Bégon’s patronage, Plumier honored him with the name Begonia (Begoniaceae), later maintained by Linnaeus in Species plantarum (1753, 2: 1056).7 While pointing out that some ancient Greek names for plants commemorate people, Stearn (1996: 11, 244) wrote that Plumier was the first to revive this custom (see also Fournier 1932a: 56; Whitmore 1967: 196; and Hollsten 2012: 38). Before his patronyms in recent times, there is only Nicotiana Linnaeus (1753, 1: 180), the tobacco plant (Solanaceae), originally named by Casper Bauhin (1623: 169) for Jean Nicot, sieur de Villemain (1530-1600), the French Ambassador to Portugal, who sent samples to Catherine de Médicis (Whitmore 1967: 196). Among the more than 50 other plant patronyms introduced by Plumier (Stearn 1996: 11; Mottran 2002: 85), probably the best known are Fuchsia Linnaeus (Onagraceae), after Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566), German physician, herbalist, and professor at Tübingen; Gesneria Linnaeus (Gesneriaceae), after Conrad Gessner (1516-1565) of Zurich, the most celebrated naturalist of his day; Lobelia Linnaeus (Campanulaceae), after Matthias de Lobel (1538-1616), Flemish botanist, physician to James I of England, and curator of the Botanic Garden at Oxford; Magnolia Linnaeus (Magnoliaceae), after Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), professor of botany and director of the botanical garden at Montpellier; and Pittonia, after Joseph Pitton de Tournefort (1656-1708). The later genus was not used by Linnaeus who in its place coined Tournefortia: a genus of Boraginaceae, containing some 150 species of shrubs native to the tropics and subtropics.

9With regard to the plans for an expedition to the Antilles, Plumier (1693: i-ii) described the situation as follows: “Monsieur Bégon, so famous among scholars, who finds in the midst of his great occupations moments to give to the study of the sciences, was at that time intendant of ships at Marseilles. To carry out the king’s orders, he wanted to find someone who could make the voyage to our Antilles (where he had been intendant) to conduct research on the rarest and most singular things that Nature produces there. He proposed this to Monsieur Surian, highly capable not only in the knowledge of plants, but also in the secrets of chemistry; and, at the same time, [Bégon] gave [Surian] the commission to find someone who could help him in the execution of this purpose. Monsieur Surian put this proposal to me: I gave my consent to it with pleasure, and we undertook some time later the voyage under His Majesty’s orders.”

  • 8 For documentary evidence, see the archival sources cited by this author.
  • 9 Jean-Baptiste Antoine Colbert marquis of Seignelay (1651-1690)

10Based on the archives, Philippe Hrodej (1997)8, reestablished the dates of Plumier’s three voyages. They occurred in 1687 (instead of 1689), 1689 (and not 1693), and 1694 (and not 1695). Plumier embarked for the Caribbean in 1687. By order of the king on July 22, 1687, Plumier went to “work to discover the properties of plants, seeds, oils, gums, and essences and to draw birds, fishes, and other animals” (Hrodej 1997: 100). Succeeding his father, the great Colbert, as state secretary of the navy 1683, Seignelay9 accepted in July 1687 to release 2 200 livres to cover the travel costs (Hrodel 1997: 100, note 10). He went to Haiti and Martinique, where during a stay of somewhat less than twelve months, he illustrated and prepared elaborate descriptions of plants and animals. While accomplishing an enormous amount of work, the time spent on the islands was apparently not without controversy. Jean-Baptiste Labat (1663-1738), a Dominican missionary who served on Martinique and other islands of the French Antilles from 1694 to 1705 (see Cuvier 1843: 79-80; Urban 1898: 91-92; Fournier 1932b: 63-68; Eaden 1970), had this to say: “the [king’s] court, which funded them, had intended that the Minim [Plumier] make illustrations of the plants, whole and dissected; and the physician-apothecary [Surian] would extract from them oils, salts, waters, and other minutiae that are used today to shorten the life of men under the pretext of conserving their health” (Labat 1722, 4: 20).

  • 10 This affirmation could be only a legend (Hrodej 1997: 101, n. 12).

11Labat (1722, 4: 23-24) went on to describe discord between Plumier and Surian, such that “they were obliged to separate from each other. They returned to France after 18 or 20 months of work, loaded with seeds, leaves, roots, salts, oils, and other trifles, and a quantity of complaints against each other. It appears that the Minim had more reason on his side than the physician, or that he was more listened to, since the latter was dismissed and the Minim was sent back to the Islands to do more work. As regards the physician, I learned while at Marseilles that whilst carrying on his work as botanist, he brought back one day certain samples that had seemed to him perfect for gentle purging; he made a broth of them that killed himself, his wife, his two children, and the serving girl. So ought all confrères when they go to make some experiments.”10

Map of the Caribbean islands
After Manesson-Mallet 1683.

12Labat (1722, 4: 20-22), who was seemingly critical of almost everything, wrote, in the same context, rather disparagingly about Surian: “The physician named Surian was the most perfect copy of avarice ever drawn from nature, or to speak more correctly, he was avarice itself. In order to give some slight idea, it suffices to say that he lived on meal, manioc, and lizards [Anolis] alone. When he left in the morning to collect plants, he carried with him a monastery coffeepot; that is, one of those coffeepots that are heated over wine-spirits. But as this expense would have been too contrary to the strict economy he professed, he fitted his out with the oil of palma christi or of fish-oil. Whatever cost him nothing was always the best.... One frog would last him for two days’meals. When he dined out his avarice disappeared, if it were at someone else’s expense....”

13Despite the apparent conflict between the two, Plumier acknowledged Surian in his Description des plantes de l’Amérique (1693: [2]) and later honored him with the patronym Suriana (see Plumier 1703a: 37), a genus of the family Surianaceae later maintained by Linnaeus (1753) and now containing a single species of shrub found in littoral zones throughout the tropics (see Urban 1898: 160-161, 1902a: 133).

14Upon his return, Plumier drafted a report that Seignelay sent for comment to Fagon, director of the Jardin du Roi. Following the positive opinion of the latter, an order of the king dated May Roi 8, 1689 stipulated that Father Plumier was sent back to the Antilles to “pursue the compilation he started on seeds, plants, and trees of the islands, and to do one on fishes, birds, and animals of this country” (Hrodej 1997: 101).

15Labat (1722, 4: 24), again with characteristic cynicism, explained it this way: “The reason for Father Plumier’s return to the Islands was as singular as it was useless. Here it is. An English physician [Hans Sloane, 1660-1753, who spent some 18 months in the Caribbean, September 1687 to March 1689] had published a Book of Plants of America [A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nièves, S. Christophers and Jamaica, but it did not appear until 1707-1725, well after Plumier’s death; see below, p. 27] in which he had had engraved more than 60 species of ferns. It was believed a matter of French national honor to discover more of them; and since no one knew anyone in the whole Kingdom more able to sustain the weight of this great affair than this Minim, he was given the mission” (see also Sloane 1707-1725, 2: 17; Urban 1920: 4; MacGregor 1995: 86).

  • 11 British Museum, London, Sloane MS 4069: 73.
  • 12 For more on Sloane, see Urban (1898: 154-157), De Beer (1953), and MacGregor (1994).

16Rather than the engravings of ferns that appeared in Sloane’s book (1707-1725), it may have been the ferns themselves that provided the stimulus for Plumier’s voyages. In a letter to the French apothecary and botanist Claude-Joseph Geoffroy (1685-1752), dated 1 August 1742, Sloane wrote: “I have now retired to Chelsea with my entire cabinet, and amuse myself with its rearrangement; and since I desire to dispose of my duplicates in such a manner that they may be of some utility to the public, I should regard it as an honour to see some part of my duplicate plants placed with the collection of M. Tournefort, to whom I sent on my return from Jamaica some [60] surprising ferns from that island which, according to Father Labat, gave to Father Plumier the idea of making his own voyage to those islands.”11 De Beer (1953: 98) wrote that “Sloane’s French friend Tournefort sent his associate Andreas von Gundelsheimer (1668-1715) to England on purpose to see Sloane’s plants, and, as a result, Charles Plumier was sent on his expedition to the Caribbean.”12

  • 13 François d’Usson de Bonrepos (1654-1719), general intendant of the naval armies and the navy (1683 (...)

17This new voyage took a more political turn (state of the society, resources). Plumier’s observations went beyond natural history. As demonstrated by two letters date 1690, one to the marquis de Seignelay, state secretary of the navy, and the other to Usson de Bonrepos, general intendant of the navy13, Plumier clearly expresses his opinion on the state of Saint-Domingue and the necessity to have a French presence on the island (Hrodej 1997). He noted its natural resources: marble, silver, wood, tinctorial and purgative plants, etc.

  • 14 For a contemporary review on Plumier’s book, Description des plantes de l’Amérique, see Journal de (...)

18Upon his return to France, Plumier received the title of King’s Botanist and a pension. Thanks to Seignelay’s and then Louis de Pontchartrain’s support, Plumier published his first study in 1693, at the king’s expense: Description des plantes de l’Amérique, with 108 engravings of plants, almost all new to science14.

19By order of the king on September 24, 1694, Plumier embarked on a third voyage, which would last three years. He only set for Martinique, the Grenadine islands, and Saint-Domingue, etc. at the end of 1694-beginning of 1695. He came back at the end of the year 1697, according to the Ms 26 of the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum. The naturalist expressed a very clear political stance, as mentioned by Hrodej (1997: 105): “This last voyage, the longest, which lasted almost three years, was the culmination of an abundant and precious botanical work. His lyrical accounts of the great deeds of the buccaneers and of their leader, Du Casse, persuaded Versailles to examine Saint-Domingue’s claims with indulgence. [...], Father Plumier continuously dispensed his generosity to his benefactors. Above ingenuousness and grandiloquence, the clergyman had no other concern than glory and the kingdom’s power. The man served his king, the State, the nation, at the same time as God. These duties were inseparable in the 17th century”.

20During these three voyages, Plumier explored and collected at numerous localities on the islands of Martinique and especially Haiti; brief visits were made to other islands: Saint Vincent, Bequia, Guadeloupe, Saint Kitts, Saint Croix, and Saint Thomas, but despite some disagreement among historians, he did not venture onto the American mainland.

21The localities visited by Plumier in the Antilles are provided in detail by Urban (1902b, 1920: 5). Some accounts (e.g., Duvau 1823: 94) indicate that Plumier collected plants on the neighboring continent (i.e., “sur le littoral du Mexique,” Levot 1862: 500), but Urban (1920: 5; see also Fournier 1932a: 54) adamantly denied this possibility: “Das amerikanische Festland ist von Plumier nicht berührt worden. Alle Identifizierungen seiner Tafeln mit Arten, die nur auf dem Kontinente vorkommen, sind deshalb irrig.” In this context, Plumier’s drawing of a Longnose Gar (Lepisosteus osseus, MS 24, folio 73; MS 31, folio 4), a “Poisson armé de la Riviere St. Laurent en Canada,” was almost certainly based on a preserved specimen made available to him in France. A dried and stuffed specimen in the fish collections of the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris (MNHN 5781), of approximately the same size as Plumier’s specimen, and initially thought to be the source of his drawing, was, in fact, collected by French naturalist Ambroise Marie François Joseph Palisot, Baron de Beauvois (1752-1820), during time spent in North America (traveling from the Ohio River Valley in the west to Savannah, Georgia, in the south) in the 1780s and 90s, more than a century after Plumier.

22Often ill and always anxious about the publication of his work, Plumier spent the last years of his life in his cell at the Minim convent at la Place Royale in Paris compiling his notes and drawings and preparing manuscripts for the press (Whitmore 1967: 190, 197). La Place Royale, which later came to be called la Place des Vosges, must not be confused with the present-day Palais Royal just off the rue de Rivoli across from the Musée du Louvre. The convent of the Minims, built in 1611 near la Place Royale, on a street now called rue des Minimes, was shut down by the Revolution in 1790. At No. 12 rue des Minimes, a seventeenth-century façade and a staircase equipped with a handrail of wrought iron are the last vestiges of the convent of the Minims.

  • 15 Plumier was supposed to accompany Don Jose Agustin, marquis of Los Rios, who was just named vicero (...)
  • 16 The Monasterio de Santa María de la Victoria, Cádiz, founded on 2 February 1502 (see González, 200 (...)
  • 17 According to Achard (1787: 97), Plumier died on 16 November 1704, but most other sources cite 20 N (...)

23In 1704, Guy-Crescent Fagon (1638-1718), superintendent of the Jardin Royal des Plantes (1693-1718) and Louis XIV’s principal physician, persuaded Plumier to travel to Peru to discover and document the tree that produces quinine. Plumier agreed to go15, but while during the praparations, at the convent of the Minims at El Puerto de Santa Maria near Cádiz, Spain,16 he suffered a sudden attack of pleurisy and died on 20 November 1704 at the age of 58 (Niceron 1736: 400; Achard 1787: 97; Urban 1898: 127, 1920: 5).17

24From all accounts, and despite his frail constitution, Plumier was indefatigable in the field. Despite hardships of every kind, accepted cheerfully without complaint, he accomplished an enormous amount in the fifteen years between the time of his first expedition to the West Indies and his death in 1704.

  • 18 This must be Jean-Bernard Louis de Saint-Jean baron of Pointis, seigneur of Champigny-Chaussay and (...)
  • 19 For biographical material on Martin Lister, see Stearns (1967) and Dance (1986: 23-25). Lister’s t (...)

25In a conversation with the well-known English naturalist and an expert in mollusks, Martin Lister (1638-1712), which took place in Plumier’s cell at Place Royale in 1698, Lister wrote: “I was not better pleased with any Visit I made, than with that of F. Plumier, whom I found in his Cell in the Convent of the Minimes. He came home in the Sieur Ponti’s Squadron18, and brought with him several Books in Folio, of Designs and Paintings of Plants, Birds, Fishes, and Insects of the West-Indies; all done by himself very accurately. He is a very understanding Man in several parts of Natural History, but especially in Botanique” (Lister 1699: 72).19

26Plumier described for Lister the extent of his “several Years wandring about the Islands” of the West Indies. He told of how “He was more than once Shipwrackt, and lost his Specimens of all things, but preserved his Papers, as having fortunately lodged them in other Vessels”; and how “He had designed and Dissected a Crocodile; one of the Sea Tortoises; a Viper, and well described the Dissections” (Lister 1699: 72-73). Among the drawings shown to him by Plumier, Lister (1699: 73-75) found that: “His Birds also were well understood, and very well painted in their proper colours. I took notice of 3 sorts of Owles, one with Horns, all distinct Species from our European. Several of the Hawk Kind and Falcons of very beautiful Plumage; and one of those, which was Coal Black, as a Raven. Also (which I longed to see) there was one Species of the Swallow Kind, very distinct from the 4 Species we have in Europe.

27“Amongst the Fish there were two new Species of American Trouts, well known by the Fleshy Fin near the Tail.”

28Unless Lister (1699: 73) examined drawings that are no longer associated with the extant Plumier manuscripts, he was wrong to conclude that Plumier discovered “new species of American trouts” –it is nearly impossible to associate any of the five salmonids depicted in MS 24 (folios 34A, 69, 70, 71A, 72) with New World species. Furthermore, salmon, trouts, and their allies (family Salmonidae) have typical Holarctic distributions in cool and cold waters of the north temperate zone; they are absent from the Caribbean.

29Continuing to describe the animals represented in Plumier’s collection, Lister (1699: 73) noted “Amongst the Insects there was a Scolopendra [centipede] of a foot and an half long, and proportionately broad... also the Julus [millipede] very elegantly painted, which I had seen before in Dr. Tournefort’s Collection....”

30“Also a very large Wood-Frog, with the extremity of the Toes webbed.”

  • 20 The name Polypus is usually given to the octopus, a taxon not represented in the extant Plumier ma (...)

31“Also a Blood-red Polypus,20 with very long Legs, two of which I could discern by the Draught were thick acetabulated. This, he told me, was so venemous, that upon the least touch it would cause an insupportable burning pain, which would last several Hours.”

32“There were also some few Species of the Serpent and Lizard Kind.”

  • 21 To say there were “but few shells,” Lister (1699) could not have examined the full extent of Plumi (...)

33“There were but few Shells;21 but amongst them there was a Murex... which dies purple, with the Fish as it exerts it self in the Sea. Also that Land Buccinum... which lay Eggs with hard Shells, and for bigness, and shape, and colour, scarce to be distinguisht from the Sparrow Eggs. And because the Murex and this Buccinum were drawn with the Animals creeping out, I desired a Copy of them, which he freely and in a most obliging manner granted me. He designed the Buccinum Terrestre in the Island of Saint Domingo, where he found it.”

34“Amongst the vast Collection of Plants, I observed the Torch Kind and Ferns were of all others the most numerous; of each of which there were an incredible number of Species. There were 2 or 3 Species of Goosberries and Currans; and some Species of Wild Grapes; all which F. Plumier told me were good to eat.”

  • 22 This “fiery creeper,” called Colocasia montante by Plumier (1693: 38, plates 51-55), was most like (...)

35Always the experimentalist, Plumier developed a habit of tasting any new plant that he encountered, sometimes to great ill effect: “this plant is a harsh caustic and corrosive substance; I wanted to taste it, but scarcely had I bitten the end of the stalk when my mouth became so inflamed it was impossible for me to speak for nearly two hours, so that I had to keep my mouth open and even stick out my tongue as far as possible. The oxycrat [a mixture of vinegar and water used as a refreshing drink and in the treatment of certain inflammatory diseases] I took lowered this inflammation, but for ten days I was unable to taste anything I ate because the corrosiveness of the juice had swollen my tongue and palate. It is for this reason that it is commonly called ‘the fiery creeper.’”22

  • 23 Plumier to Bégon, with a letter to Isaac Baulot enclosed, dated Paris, 6 March 1703; the letter to (...)
  • 24 Not to be confused with his father of the same name (1612-c. 1695), the anonymous author of Mutus (...)

36In later correspondence23 with French naturalist Isaac Baulot (1657-1712),24 Plumier expounded on an extraordinarily diverse range of subjects, writing at length on the question of whether the crocodile moves both upper and lower jaws when feeding and whether it swallows and digests rocks; whether the hummingbird is a true bird or a species between the bird and the flying insect; and whether the plates of the carapace of a sea turtle, if stripped away, are capable of regeneration. In answer to this last question, he did “not doubt that this may be so, because our fingernails are very like turtle plates, growing back when an accident befalls them. It has happened to me a couple of times that the nails on the big toes come off by themselves and are replaced by new ones sometime later. If I ever return to the islands, I shall not fail to notice this circumstance.”

37In this same correspondence with Baulot, Plumier also wrote of the risks he encountered during his research:

I spent about two months fishing for turtles in the Grenadines with some freebooters from Martinique. The fishing was rather good, and we returned with the boat filled with salted meat and with twelve live ones as well. But the weather turned against us as soon as we weighed anchor at Saint Vincent. After running several days through the whirling winds without ever being able to make landfall either at Grenada or at Tobago, nor even on land where the bad weather drove us, we were out of water, and after going nearly five days with scarcely a pint of water for each man, we decided to drink the blood of the one turtle of the twelve that was still alive. The unspeakable thirst I suffered obliged me to do as the others, and I drank my share…
The inexpressible hunger, and even more inexpressible thirst that we suffered drove some of us to eat the raw flesh of that turtle, or at least chew on it in order to keep the mouth cool. When they cut it open, I saw that the lung was extremely swollen and as white as bleached linen. In spite of my great weakness, for I could no longer stand up, curiosity made me want to see the lung and open it up, not ever having seen anything like it in all the turtles we dissected in the Grenadines. I found it filled with water that was very clear but slightly sticky. I squeezed it out as I would a sponge in a bucket, and got two spoonfuls of liquid, which we mixed with two spoonfuls of sea water in order to cook part of this turtle. We each had about four bites from it, and two or three spoonfuls of bouillon were left over. Divine Providence sent us this small relief to give us strength to wait for a greater one, either to discover land or to give us a good rain. We endured yet another three whole days without drinking a drop of water, and as we were on the point of dying, Divine Mercy sent us such an abundant rain that we drank our fill from it and had enough to cook a little salted meat, which rescued us from certain death and a misery that the human tongue cannot express.

38Thus, Plumier, at the point of death, broke his sacred vows as a Minim, to live in perpetual Lent. Later, on return from his third and final voyage to the West Indies, but under less trying circumstances, he resisted such temptation. As recorded by Lister (1699: 134), Plumier, “after his return from the Indies,” was “nothing but Skin and Bone; and yet by the Rules of his Order he could not eat any thing that was wholsom and proper for his Cure; nothing but a little slimy nasty Fish and Herbs… “Tis true, I never heard him complain: But what will not blind Prejudice do against all the Reason of Mankind.”

39Minim convents were major religious and intellectual centers. While there was no institutional structure for education, it was present. “Far from being cloistered in their convents, they made their way into the heart of local scientific circles, into new spaces, academia, journals, salons, and along other clergymen and laity, participated in community networks, which supported them in exchange for their scientific works” (Dubourg, Glatigny & Romano 2005: 32). One can say that Maignan’s, Feuillée’s, and Plumier’s commitment “in the scientific field was a personal choice that their affiliation with the Minim community did not impede” (Dubourg, Glatigny & Romano 2005: 37).

Publications

  • 25 For a full collation of Plumier’s botanical works, see Sabin (1885: 205-206) and Urban (1898: 123- (...)

40Despite Plumier’s extraordinary energy and productivity, and largely due to his premature death, very little of his work was published. In addition to Description des plantes de l’Amérique (1693) mentioned above, Nova plantarum Americanarum genera appeared in 1703, and, shortly after his death in 1705, Traité des fougères de l’Amérique, containing 170 plates drawn and engraved by Plumier himself.25 In addition to Plantarum Americanarum, which appeared posthumously in ten fascicles between 1755 and 1760 under the editorship of Dutch botanist and physician Johannes Burmann (1706-1779; see Urban 1898: 128-130), there are a few articles in various scientific journals. These shorter contributions include a note on cochineal (a red dye extracted from the dried bodies of females of the bright-red cactus-feeding scale insect Dactylopius coccus) in the Journal des Sçavans (1695), and various papers in the Mémoires de Trévoux: on the anatomy of the ear of a marine turtle (1702), more on cochineal (1703b), and on questions concerning the crocodile, a snake, and a turtle (1704).

  • 26 For a contemporary review of Plumier’s L’Art de tourner (1701), see Mémoires de Trévoux, May 1702, (...)

41The only other Plumier contribution to see publication is L’Art de tourner ou de faire en perfection toutes sortes d’ouvrages au tour, the first comprehensive treatise on the lathe (see Valicourt 1896: vi). First published in Lyon in 1701, it was reprinted in Paris in 1706 and 1749; there is also a German (1776) edition as well as a recent facsimile edition (1976). An English translation of the 1749 edition was self-published in a limited edition of two-hundred copies by Paul L. Ferraglio of Brooklyn, New York, in 1975. A number of authors (e.g., Ségur 1829: 502; Whitmore 1967: 195; Ferraglio 1975: 280) mention the existence of a Russian translation (apparently never published), suggesting that Czar Peter I of Russia (1672-1725) thought enough of Plumier’s work that he had it translated into Russian. According to Ségur (1829: 502), “when the labors of government were over for the day, he [Peter] amused himself […] by becoming the most skilful turner in his empire. He himself translated the principles of that trade…” This hypothesis seems evident given the fact that Plumier’s book was, without question, the only source of “principles” of turning at the time, and that a parallel-column Russian-Dutch translation exists in the manuscript collection of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg (Rospis’ knigam Petra I peredannym v biblioteku Akad. Nauk, no. 57).26

  • 27 Plumier to Isaac Baulot, enclosed in a letter to Michel Bégon, Paris, undated but probably 16 Dece (...)

42Plumier’s interest in the art of turning was a life-long passion not dissipated by publication of L’Art de tourner in 1701. Only a year after his monograph appeared he was contemplating another: “For the plan that I told you about, of going on a journey for a second volume on the lathe, I was expecting to make it in time of peace. I know everything that is special here, in Paris. I hope that if I made this journey I should discover many beautiful things on this subject, especially in Germany at Nuremberg, where I hear there are admirable turners. I should like, too, to see the cabinet of the [Italian mechanic] Canon Settala [1600-1680] at Milan; they tell me there are some quite ingenious pieces. I hope that Divine Providence will favor me with Its mercy, I still feel quite well, thank God. I shall work as long as it pleases Him to favor me with His grace.”27

43While the full extent of Plumier’s intended publications is unknown, the material remaining at his death was large and varied. P. J. S. Whitmore (1967: 197), in his extraordinary study of The Order of Minims in seventeenth-century France, remarked that had Plumier “lived to see his voluminous work through the press, he would have been regarded as an earlier Buffon, as an important forerunner of the encyclopaedists.” That only a small part of his work appeared in print, was apparently not for lack of trying: by all accounts he had considerable difficulty getting his manuscripts published: “He had been often at Versailles to get them into the Kings Imprimerie; but as yet unsuccessfully; but hoped e’re long to begin the Printing of them. Note, That the Booksellers at Paris are very unwilling, or not able to print Natural History; but all is done at the King’s Charge, and in his Presses” (Lister 1699: 75).

Manuscripts and drawings

  • 28 Description des plantes de l’Amérique, 1693.
  • 29 His first book, Description des plantes de l’Amérique, avec leurs figures, published in Paris by t (...)

44Charles Plumier left a substantial amount of notes and watercolor drawings, still unpublished today. In 1698, Plumier told Martin Lister that his drawings could fill ten books on plants, similar to the one he already published28, and two others on animals (Lister 1699: 75). The three publications Plumier was able to achieve during his lifetime only present a small portion of his botanical drawings.29 At his death in 1704, while Plumier had finalized the preparation for the publication of some of his volumes, his zoological manuscripts remained unpublished, as well as some of his botanical works.

45During his lifetime, Plumier’s manuscripts were already renowned, both for their writings and their drawings. The fineness of the drawing is allied with the scientific accuracy of field observations, refined by microscopic analysis, using a system of lenses Plumier perfected himself. The remarkable aspect of these drawings was known by his contemporaries, as noted by Martin Lister in 1698 (Lister 1699: 62, 72-75, 134). Considered from the outset as particularly significant, Plumier’s drawings were partially quoted, copied, and studied by major botanists such as Sébastien Vaillant, Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, Bernard then Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu, Carl von Linnaeus.

  • 30 Burman published 262 plates, in ten fascicles, under the title Plantarum Americanarum (…) continen (...)

46Father Plumier’s manuscripts also contributed to the reputation of the Minim library collections. According to Georges Cuvier, the friars of the monastery of Place Royale in Paris, whom he called “ignorant monks”, paid little attention to the manuscripts. This claim was based on Jussieu’s testimony, that “the monks used them as stools to sit by the fire” (Cuvier 1828: 93, 1995: 84, 90). However, the fame of the manuscripts during Plumier’s lifetime, the scientific resonance of his publications, the work on these drawings by the greatest botanists, the partial posthumous edition of the botanical drawings by Johannes Burman30 based on drawings copied in 1733 by the painter Aubriet under the direction of Vaillant (Planchon & Triana 1862: 30), the importance and the influence of the library of the Place Royale monastery (Krakovitch 1982: 57-94), suggest that these manuscripts were not neglected.

  • 31 Catalogue des portefeuilles du père Plumier remis en 1767 au garde des Estampes du roi, 1 manuscrip (...)
  • 32 Letter by comte de Saint-Florentin, Versailles, January 17, 1769, Archives nationales, F17 1096, d (...)
  • 33 Catalogue des portefeuilles du père Plumier remis en 1767 au garde des Estampes du roi, 1 manuscrip (...)

47To complete the royal botanical collections, the portfolios of Charles Plumier’s manuscripts, drawings, and herbaria, “the products of three voyages in America by order of the King”31, were removed from the Minim house at Place Royale, on December 14, 1767, by Hugues-Adrien Joly, guard of the Cabinet des estampes de la Bibliothèque du roi. Both parties recognizing the value of this series, the Minim library received a collection of printed books as compensation (Krakovitch 1982: 60-61, 111-112). Out of the 36 portfolios recorded, 30 volumes included manuscripts and drawings, as noted in the letter by Comte de Saint-Florentin to the Minim Monastery32. In addition, in 1767, eight volumes, in which the drawings “are more complete”33, were still held at the Académie des sciences.

48During the French Revolution, the assets of the clergy, by decrees of December 19 and 21, 1789, then of the emigrant nobles, by decree of February 9, 1792, to which were added, by decree of March 8, 1793, those of schools and colleges of towns, parishes, religious communities, universities, were made available to the Nation. The confiscated collections of books, manuscripts, and drawings were divided between the Bibliothèque nationale, various Parisian institutions and 545 districts where, by decree of January 27, such “literary deposits” were transformed into public libraries.

  • 34 Archives nationales, Paris, AJ15 831.
  • 35 Manuscript Ms 1, titled Filicetum americanum, contains 194 drawings in ink and watercolor compiled (...)
  • 36 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)

49Under the decree of June 10, 1793 establishing the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, the Muséum scholars selected in the literary deposits the manuscripts and publications of scientific interest for their library. Publications by Father Plumier or those belonging to him and confiscated from the Minim Library, as well as eight volumes of his drawings removed from the Académie des sciences, entered the collection of the Muséum at that time34. These eight volumes of American botany drawings35, with the stamp from the library of the Académie des Sciences, are held today at the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum36.

  • 37 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 3078.
  • 38 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 3104.
  • 39 Plumier's signature in folio 2 could be interpreted as an ex-libris or a signature. If the manuscr (...)
  • 40 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 2875.
  • 41 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 2502.

50During the Revolution, Charles Plumier’s manuscripts and drawings from the collections of the former Bibliothèque du roi remained at the Bibliothèque nationale. Four manuscripts belonging to Charles Plumier, confiscated from the Minim Library, were placed in the collections of scientific manuscripts of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal: original drawings of the plates of L’art de tourner37, a compendium of drawings of horse bits and saddles38 by Plumier or belonging to him39. There were also two manuscripts that are useful to understand Plumier’s activity as botanist: one Description des plantes de l’Amérique40, a compendium of plates engraved by Plumier with comments by him on the facing page, from Éléments de botanique41 (Krakovitch 1982: 90-91). Under the title Les Éléments de botanique, are comments by Charles Plumier based on the engraved plates from Pitton de Tournefort’s Éléments de botanique, explanations on the parts of each flower, a dictionary of botanical terms, an anatomy treatise, and an index in French and Latin. Plumier had Tournefort’s plates bound, interleaving them with blank pages, on which he copied comments published by Tournefort in an edition stolen from the Minim library. Charles Plumier used the blank spaces starting from the second plate to write a dictionary of botanical terms, and used the remaining leaves to copy Amé Courdon’s Traité d’anatomie.

Bindings made by the french imperial library for the portfolios of Plumier's drawings.

  • 42 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, A (...)
  • 43 The Birds of America from original drawings by John James Audubon, London, 1827-1830.
  • 44 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 45 Ms 10: Synopsis botanica plantarum, Ms 11-15: Penu botanicum, Ms 16: Area umbelliferarum, Ms 17-18 (...)
  • 46 Ms 24: Poissons, oiseaux, autres dessins par le Père Plumier, Ms 25: Poissons d’Amérique, Ms 26: C (...)

51In 1834, through an exchange with the Bibliothèque nationale, which reverted to royale for a time, the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle considerably enriched its collection on Charles Plumier42. In exchange for an edition of Birds of America by Audubon43 and 32 drawings on vellum painted by Nicolas Robert, Claude Aubriet, Jean Joubert, Madeleine Basseporte, and Redouté, in duplicate in its collections, the Muséum acquired 37 volumes on Plumier and Bégon: 22 volumes of drawings and manuscripts by Plumier44, nine volumes on plants collected by Father Plumier on the coasts of Provence and classified based on Tournefort’s system, as well as four volumes of herbaria from the Cabinet of Bégon, intendant of the Navy. The herbaria joined the herbaria collections of the Muséum, the manuscripts and drawings went with Plumier’s manuscripts and publications kept in the library. The drawings are bound in volumes of red Basane leather, with on the back the initial of Napoléon I. The binding shows that the drawings were assembled in the current order of the Bibliothèque nationale, once the Bibliothèque impériale, at the beginning of the 19th century. Manuscripts numbered Ms 10 to 23 consist of series of botanical drawings45, manuscripts 24 to 31 are series of mostly zoological drawings46. Other manuscripts, travel notes, and preparatory documents for editions were numbered MS 32 to 33.

  • 47 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Estampes, Est JD-18-FOL.

52The Département des Estampes of the Bibliothèque nationale de France has today some drawings compiled in a volume titled Plantes de la Martinique et de la Guadeloupe, avec des plans et des figures de sauvages de ces pays dessinés, coloriés et décrits par le Père Plumier, 168847. This compendium includes drawings of plants from the Antilles, as well as representations of a man, a woman, and a child. We can assume that these drawings were part of the series transferred from the Minim library to the Bibliothèque royale in 1767.

  • 48 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, A (...)
  • 49 For a complete description:http://www.calames.abes.fr/pub/#details?id=PA2010001.
  • 50 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 51 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 52 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 53 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)

53During a dispute regarding this exchange by the Bibliothèque royale in 1835, the Muséum librarian, Jules Desnoyers, noted that the drawings were for the large part duplicates of some the Bibliothèque du Muséum already had48. While Jules Desnoyers certainly referred to drawings kept at the Académie des sciences, which became part of the Muséum collections du Muséum at the Revolution, it should be noted that the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum has several other manuscripts, the origin and acquisition date of which are more uncertain49. One volume, titled De naturalibus Antillarum, contains the account of the second voyage of Father Charles Plumier in the Antilles and Saint-Domingue in 168950. One compendium consists of 26 watercolor drawings of birds, by Father Plumier, and two engravings, one after Poussin, the other in honor of Father Philibert Bressand, in a binding made for the Minim monastery51. One compendium with a manuscript title by Plumier includes 91 engravings from the Description des plantes de l’Amérique, some corrected by Plumier’s hand52. However, we know that a Herbier d’Amérique du Père Plumier with 17 oil paintings on vellum, was acquired by the Muséum during the sale of the Jussieus’library in 185753.

  • 54 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 55 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)
  • 56 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)

54Several manuscripts reflecting the work of Sébastin Vaillant on Father Plumier’s manuscripts can also be found: a Catalogue des plantes que le Père Plumier a observées dans les îles Antilles, classées selon l’ordre alphabétique, based on Manuscripts Ms 2 to 754 and a Catalogue des plantes que le Père Plumier a observées dans les Isles Antilles, selon l’ordre des volumes du Botanicum Americanum, by Sébastien Vaillant55, a compendium of duplicates of original drawings by Plumier of plants, ranked by genus, named by Vaillant who added some notes56.

  • 57 The printed book and the manuscript, acquired by the Direction des bibliothèques in a public sale (...)
  • 58 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, M (...)

55Several of these manuscripts show the Jussieus’interest for Plumier’s drawings. In addition to the manuscript Herbier d’Amérique du Père Plumier in the Jussieus’old library, three documents found today in the collections of the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum carry the mark of a scientific work: one copy of the Nova plantarum americanarum genera by Charles Plumier, published in 1703, annotated by Antoine and Bernard de Jussieu, a manuscript notebook with the concordance table for Plumier’s plates, from the hand of Antoine-Laurent de Jussieu57, as well as a manuscript by Bernard de Jussieu containing the Motifs et plan de l’édition d’un ouvrage manuscript de botanique, du R. P. Plumier, très intéressant pour la perfection de cette science58, a preparatory work for a publication that was never completed.

  • 59 Bibliothèque de l’Institut, Paris, Ms 980-982.
  • 60 Bibliothèque municipale L’Alcazar de Marseille, Ms 913.

56Some manuscripts are also held in other French public collections. Three volumes of drawings (200, 231, and 252 folios) are kept in the Bibliothèque de l’Institut under the title Americanarum plantarum icones. These drawings and duplicates of drawings on American botany, found in the volumes numbered Ms 1-8 and held at the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum, come from the collection bequeathed to the Institut by Benjamin Delessert, who acquired them from the sale of the Jussieus’library in 185759. The Bibliothèque municipale L’Alcazar de Marseille has a Flore américaine, written in Latin, containing 123 drawings with descriptions of trees and plants of America. The authorship of this volume given by the “Father Plumier, Minim, from the Provence province”, as noted a manuscript note in the first folio, is disputed. Another handwritten note reads: “This is not a work by P. Plumier. This botanist scholar took this excerpt from the works of Marcgrave and de Pison when he went to America to collect plants by order of the King”.60

57Some of Plumier’s letters are also kept at the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum and in the municipal libraries of La Rochelle and Marseilles. Copies of manuscripts and manuscript translations are also found at the British Museum, in Germany and in the Netherlands (see Planchon & Triana 1862: 30-31; Fournier 1932: 57).

  • 61 Thanks to the publications during Plumier’s lifetime and after his death, his botanical manuscript (...)

58Out of all of Charles Plumier’s drawings known and studied today61, representing about 6,000 drawings, around 4,300 are of plants, 1,550 of animals, 3 of representatives of the human species discovered by Plumier in the Antilles, demonstrating that the scientific curiosity of the King’s botanist went largely beyond his prime mission.

Zoological drawings

59The zoological drawings show whole specimens and several detailed anatomical perspectives. Among the zoological drawings kept at the Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum in Paris, mollusks (bivalves, gastropods, chitons, and nudibranchs) are the most represented (with 567 drawings), followed by sea and freshwater fishes (the subject of 345 separate plates of whole specimens), not including the numerous drawings of anatomical details. Birds are represented by 215 drawings; amphibians (frogs) and reptiles (snakes, lizards, turtles, and a crocodile) form 360 plates (mostly detailed anatomical sketches). Mammals (including bats, an opossum, an elephant, a dolphin, and a porpoise) are illustrated in 10 drawings. 46 other plates focus on various invertebrate mollusks.

60The drawings are divided as follows:

61MS 24 This volume, titled Poissons, oiseaux, lézards, serpens et insectes, dessinés par le Père Plumier, consists of 144 folios, including 153 drawings of fishes and marine mammals (one dolphin, one porpoise) on 121 folios, 8 drawings of reptiles (one snake, one crocodile, five lizards, and one marine turtle on 5 folios), 26 drawings of birds (17 folios) and 6 drawings of insects (two beetles, one fly, one hymenoptera and two caterpillars on one folio).

62MS 25 This volume, titled Poissons d’Amérique, dessinés par le Père Plumier, consists of 78 folios, including 112 drawings of fishes and marine mammals (in addition to numerous sketches describing osteological and interior anatomy; one dolphin and one porpoise), 12 drawings of arthropods on 4 folios (seven drawings of insects, one drawing of spider, two scorpions and two lobsters), six drawings of snakes on two folios of reptiles, eight drawings of mollusks on one folio (3 drawings of bivalves, 5 of gastropods), 2 drawings of asteroids on one folio and one plate representing a bird. As noted by Theodore Pietsch, despite the volume’s title, the illustrated fishes are species from both France and the Antilles.

63MS 26 This volume, titled Conchilia Americana authore Patre Carolo Plumier Minimo, consists of 40 drawings of mollusks, bivalves (on 73 folios), 348 drawings of gastropods and 7 drawings of chitons, another folio illustrating echinoids (small sand dollar, 4 drawings).

64MS 27 This volume, titled Ornitographia Americana, quadrupedia et volatilia continens Authore R. Patra Carolo Plumier Ordinus Minimorum Provinciae Franciae et Botanico Regio, consists of 107 drawings of birds and three mammals (one drawing of an opossum and eight drawings of two bats) on 96 folios.

65MS 29 This volume, titled Oiseaux, dessinés par le Père Plumier, Minime, consists of 81 drawings of birds (including numerous drawings of anatomical details), 3 drawings of a bat, one drawing of a centipede, and one of millipede.

66MS 30 This volume, titled Tétrapodes, dessinés par le Père Plumier, Minime, consists of 85 folios, a large part of which focus on amphibians and reptiles: 11 drawings describe frogs (two whole specimens, with many anatomical drawings), 10 folios on lizards (two drawings of whole specimens, one drawing of an iguana, one drawing of a basilisk, in addition to more detailed anatomical sketches and descriptions), 18 drawings of snakes (whole animals or anatomical details), 133 drawings of a crocodile (whole animal, with anatomical descriptions and details), 152 drawings of turtles with 3 or 4 species and their internal anatomy, 16 drawings representing marine invertebrates (including decapods and jellyfish), and finally, three small gastropods and a small fish described in folio 27.

67MS 31 This volume, titled Poissons et coquilles, dessinés par le Père Plumier, Minime, consists of 81 drawings of fishes and marine mammals (3 drawings of a porpoise), but also a folio representing an elephant (two drawings), one folio of holothurians (3 drawings) and a polychaete (one drawing), one folio describing a swallowtail butterfly (one drawing) and an amphipod (2 drawings by Plumier using a microscope: “La chique veue avec une microscope”), one folio showing what seems to be fungi (6 drawings) and many drawings of mollusks (144 drawings of gastropods and 17 drawings of bivalves).

Elephant One of the two drawings devoted to an elephant in Plumier MS 31 (folio 5).

68MS 33 Titled Notes diverses du Père Plumier, a bundle of 124 folios comprise several texts and manuscript notes: Idée de l’ouvrage des plantes usuelles du Père Plumier, Observations sur les vipères de la Martinique, or Mémoires pour l’histoire naturelle du crocodile appelé vulgairement cayman, dans l’isle St Domingo (Haïti), descriptions of various plants, descriptions of several fishes and birds, folios of a travel journal in Martinique (1689), a description of the elevation of several islands, probably those visited by Plumier. Are also included 6 drawings of fishes, 3 drawings of beetles, 2 drawings of lizards, one drawing of a stick insect, and one drawing of a turtle.

Notes

1 For a biographical sketch of Maignan, see Whitmore (1967: 163-186).

2 On this conversion, see Vignaud 2005.

3 Philippe Sergeant, skilled in botany and medicine, who for many years lived in Rome. He established an important pharmacy. He was acknowledged by Plumier in Description des plantes de l’Amérique (1693: [1]) and later honored with the patronym Serjania (see Plumier 1703a: 34). Serjania Miller (family Sapindaceae) is a genus of woody vines native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas. See Journal des Sçavans, 20 July 1693, 21(28): 487, 1694.

4 For Francisco de Onuphriis, see Plumier (1693: [1]), Journal des Sçavans (20 July 1693, 21(28): 487, 1694), Niceron (1736: 398), Achard (1787: 96), and Duvau (1823: 94).

5 Paolo Boccone, sometimes called Sylvius Boccone, was honored by Plumier (1703a: 35) with the patronym Bocconia. Bocconia Linnaeus (family Papaveraceae) is a genus of herbs, shrubs, and trees native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas.

6 Tournefort’s (1700: 659) original designation of Plumeria was later retained by Linnaeus (1753, 1: 209-210): Plumeria Linnaeus (family Apocynaceae).

7 In further recognition, Plumier (1701: [iii-v]) dedicated his monograph on the lathe to Bégon: “Since you take so much care to perpetuate the memory of the illustrious men who have contributed to the past century, it is only reasonable that we also perpetuate yours, and make known to posterity a portion of your merit.”

8 For documentary evidence, see the archival sources cited by this author.

9 Jean-Baptiste Antoine Colbert marquis of Seignelay (1651-1690)

10 This affirmation could be only a legend (Hrodej 1997: 101, n. 12).

11 British Museum, London, Sloane MS 4069: 73.

12 For more on Sloane, see Urban (1898: 154-157), De Beer (1953), and MacGregor (1994).

13 François d’Usson de Bonrepos (1654-1719), general intendant of the naval armies and the navy (1683-1690), very close to the Colberts.

14 For a contemporary review on Plumier’s book, Description des plantes de l’Amérique, see Journal des Sçavans, 20 juillet 1693, 21 (28): 486-489, 1694.

15 Plumier was supposed to accompany Don Jose Agustin, marquis of Los Rios, who was just named viceroy of Peru (Ferrari 1982).

16 The Monasterio de Santa María de la Victoria, Cádiz, founded on 2 February 1502 (see González, 2005: 68).

17 According to Achard (1787: 97), Plumier died on 16 November 1704, but most other sources cite 20 November 1704 (see Urban, 1898: 127, 1902a: 102, 1920: 5; Fournier, 1932a: 53).

18 This must be Jean-Bernard Louis de Saint-Jean baron of Pointis, seigneur of Champigny-Chaussay and Sainte-Juliette (1645-1707) who participated with Jean-Baptiste Ducasse in the raid on Cartagena in 1697. His squadron returned to Brest on August 29, 1697. This battle resulted in the Treaty of Ryswick (1697) between Louis XIV and the League of Augsburg.

19 For biographical material on Martin Lister, see Stearns (1967) and Dance (1986: 23-25). Lister’s testimony is very important regarding Plumier’s collections and the number of his observations. He also confirms the year 1697 as the end of Plumier’s third voyage.

20 The name Polypus is usually given to the octopus, a taxon not represented in the extant Plumier manuscripts.

21 To say there were “but few shells,” Lister (1699) could not have examined the full extent of Plumier’s manuscripts as we see them today–shells (bivalves and gastropods) make up the largest single group of animals represented by Plumier, with more than 560 drawings.

22 This “fiery creeper,” called Colocasia montante by Plumier (1693: 38, plates 51-55), was most likely dumb-cane, genus Dieffenbachia (Dan Nicolson, Smithsonian Institution, personal communication, 23 February 1998); see also Journal des Sçavans, 20 July 1693, 21(28): 488-489, 1694; Whitmore, 1967: 195-196; and Hollsten, 2012: 47).

23 Plumier to Bégon, with a letter to Isaac Baulot enclosed, dated Paris, 6 March 1703; the letter to Baulot has survived (Bibliothèque centrale du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Mc 121), other originals lost, early eighteenthcentury copies in the Bibliothèque municipale de La Rochelle, extract from MS 867, ff. 147-152 (see also Plumier, 1702, 1704). The excerpts quoted here were translated from the French by Whitmore (1967: 270-275).

24 Not to be confused with his father of the same name (1612-c. 1695), the anonymous author of Mutus liber, an alchemical text published at La Rochelle in 1677, Isaac Baulot the younger was a physician, a man of letters and a devotee of the sciences, who enjoyed a wide correspondence with numerous scientists of his day; he built a large collection of natural objects and possessed an important library. According to Louis-Etienne Arcère (1757: 422), Plumier, after his return from Santo Domingo, met with Baulot in La Rochelle. Baulot later drafted remarks on Plumier’s L’Art de tourner (1701), which had just published, transmitting his comments to Plumier through Bégon (see also Rainguet, 1851: 69).

25 For a full collation of Plumier’s botanical works, see Sabin (1885: 205-206) and Urban (1898: 123-130).

26 For a contemporary review of Plumier’s L’Art de tourner (1701), see Mémoires de Trévoux, May 1702, 11: 3-16; for more on Plumier’s contributions to the art of the lathe, see Whitmore (1967: 187-198) and especially Connors (1990).

27 Plumier to Isaac Baulot, enclosed in a letter to Michel Bégon, Paris, undated but probably 16 December 1702; original lost, early eighteenth-century copy in the Bibliothèque municipale de La Rochelle, extract from MS 867, ff. 147-152; the version quoted here was translated from the French as published by Whitmore 1967: 278).

28 Description des plantes de l’Amérique, 1693.

29 His first book, Description des plantes de l’Amérique, avec leurs figures, published in Paris by the Imprimerie royale in 1693, and its 108 remarkable plates, highlighted the significance of his works. He then published Filicetum americanum, seu filicum, polypodiorum, adiantorum,…, in America nascentium, in Paris, by the Imprimerie royale in 1703, then Nova plantarum americanarum genera, in Paris, chez Jean Boudot, 1703-1704, including 40 plates in addenda to the Institutiones by Tournefort.

30 Burman published 262 plates, in ten fascicles, under the title Plantarum Americanarum (…) continens plantas quas olim Carolus Plumierius, (…) in insulis Antillis opse depinxit (…) in Amsterdam, between 1755 and 1760.

31 Catalogue des portefeuilles du père Plumier remis en 1767 au garde des Estampes du roi, 1 manuscript volume. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Estampes, RESERVE YE-27-PET FOL.

32 Letter by comte de Saint-Florentin, Versailles, January 17, 1769, Archives nationales, F17 1096, dossier 5, pièce 48, quoted by Krakovitch, 1982: 112.

33 Catalogue des portefeuilles du père Plumier remis en 1767 au garde des Estampes du roi, 1 manuscript volume. Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Estampes, RESERVE YE-27-PET FOL.

34 Archives nationales, Paris, AJ15 831.

35 Manuscript Ms 1, titled Filicetum americanum, contains 194 drawings in ink and watercolor compiled for the edition of Filicetum americanum, seu filicum, polypodiorum, adiantorum,..., in America nascentium, published by the Imprimerie royale in 1703. Manuscripts quoted Ms 2-7 include 893 drawings in ink and watercolor for the Botanicum americanum, seu historia plantarum in americanis insulis nascentium. Manuscript Ms 8 titled Pteridographia, seu tractatus de filicibus cæterisque generibus plantarum flore carentium… has 138 drawings.

36 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 1-8.

37 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 3078.

38 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 3104.

39 Plumier's signature in folio 2 could be interpreted as an ex-libris or a signature. If the manuscript was not from Plumier, it was part of his collection.

40 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 2875.

41 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, Ms 2502.

42 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, AM 612; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Estampes, RES YE-1.

43 The Birds of America from original drawings by John James Audubon, London, 1827-1830.

44 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 10-31.

45 Ms 10: Synopsis botanica plantarum, Ms 11-15: Penu botanicum, Ms 16: Area umbelliferarum, Ms 17-18: Res herbariae etc, hortus botanicus, Ms 19-20: Botanicum medicum, Ms 21: Botanographia americanea, Ms 22: Descriptiones plantarum ex America, Ms 23: Solum, salum, caelum americanum.

46 Ms 24: Poissons, oiseaux, autres dessins par le Père Plumier, Ms 25: Poissons d’Amérique, Ms 26: Conchilia americana, Ms 27: Ornithographia americana, Ms 28: Descriptions des plantes de l’Amérique, Ms 29: Oiseaux par le père Plumier, Ms 30: Tetrapodes, Ms 31: Poisson et coquilles.

47 Bibliothèque nationale de France, Département des Estampes, Est JD-18-FOL.

48 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, AM 612.

49 For a complete description:http://www.calames.abes.fr/pub/#details?id=PA2010001.

50 Museum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 35.

51 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 5031.

52 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 1335, Ms 3355.

53 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 37.

54 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 9.

55 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 34.

56 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 36.

57 The printed book and the manuscript, acquired by the Direction des bibliothèques in a public sale in 1997, are grouped under the same shelf number: Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 3338.

58 Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Direction générale des collections, Bibliothèque centrale, Ms 1176.

59 Bibliothèque de l’Institut, Paris, Ms 980-982.

60 Bibliothèque municipale L’Alcazar de Marseille, Ms 913.

61 Thanks to the publications during Plumier’s lifetime and after his death, his botanical manuscripts are the most well-known and the most frequently studied (see Haller 1772: 12-14; Thiébaut de Berneaud 1823; Planchon & Triana 1860: 335-336; Triana & Planchon 1862: 361-363; Urban 1898: 123-130, 1920: 7-8; Fournier 1932a: 57-59; Cremers & Aupic 2007, 2008; Cremers & Boudrie 2014, Quesada 2016, etc.)

Table des illustrations

Légende Father Charles PlumierEngraving by J. Blanchouise. After Urban 1920.
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/5073/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 846k
Légende Map of the Caribbean islandsAfter Manesson-Mallet 1683.
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/5073/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3M
Légende Bindings made by the french imperial library for the portfolios of Plumier's drawings.
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/5073/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 2,7M
Légende Elephant One of the two drawings devoted to an elephant in Plumier MS 31 (folio 5).
URL http://books.openedition.org/mnhn/docannexe/image/5073/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,8M

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