South America Called Them: Explorations of the Great Naturalists

South America Called Them: Explorations of the Great Naturalists

South America Called Them: Explorations of the Great Naturalists

South America Called Them: Explorations of the Great Naturalists

Excerpt

This is the story of man's conquest of the earth-mansions of South America.

It is the story of men, all inspired by the spirit of creative curiosity and directed enthusiasm, who scrambled over the rock-hard Cordilleras; who fought through the voiceless regions of the South American jungles, reeking under the equatorial sun; who trekked across the colourless anæmic llanos to push back the frontiers of the unknown.

There are neither conquistadores nor pirates, fierce- eyed and blood-stained, in this conquest, no steel-clad knights, no fire-spouting harquebusiers. The most offensive weapons of these men of conquest are vasculums, sextants, and pincers, for its heroes are the naturalists, the scientists who opened South America.

Yet it is not with all the South American naturalist- explorers that this book concerns itself, for such a work would have to be encyclopædic. Most of the naturalists do appear, yet only for a short time. Alfred Wallace is here, as well as his bug-searching companion, Bates. The badly-used Félix de Azara makes a brief appearance; we see Boussingault patiently working with his thermometer, M. d'Orbigny collecting birds; we catch a glimpse of the ill-fated expedition of Count Castlenau descending the Amazon, and of the indefatigable Richard Schomburgk and his brother Robert. They are here, but only in passing. They were not ground-breakers, they were not leaders, they did not initiate or represent epochs in South America's history.

Instead, this book concerns itself with four men: Charles-Marie de la Condamine, Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, and Richard Spruce--four scientific explorers who represent four time-periods, four geographical regions, and four distinct sciences. All are men of vivid personality whose interests leaped over and . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.