Natuurlijke historie van het rundvee in Holland

Johannes Le Francq van Berkhey (1729-1812) was a medical doctor, a natural scientist, a poet, and a pamphleteer. His Natuurlijke historie van Holland, in seven volumes, was published between 1769 and 1778, and led to his appointment as senior lecturer in natural history at Leiden University in 1773. Many years later he wrote a sequel to this work, on Dutch cattle, Natuurlijke historie van het rundvee in Holland, in six volumes, published between 1805 and 1811. In a ‘Necessary notice to the reader’ he explains why it took him so long to have this sequel published: the woes of his country, consisting of war, discord and political dissension had made booksellers chary of publishing large, expensive books. And expensive it certainly was: the volume appearing in 1805 alone cost ten guilders, which was four times as much as the average book of that size. Besides, Berkhey and his publisher Yntema had quarrelled. Finally a subscription organised by A. Loosjes Pz., bookseller in Haarlem, held out such favourable prospects that publication could be started, albeit by the Leiden bookseller, P.H. Trap. The largest and most expensive plate (two guilders, plus eight stivers for colouring) is an illustration of Berkhey's second chapter, ‘Dealing with the miraculous multiplication of cattle with the concomitant calculation of their issue’. This genealogical table illustrates how in ten years time one cow may have an offspring of 143, namely ‘Her own children 10, Grandchildren 36, Great-grandchildren 56, Great-great-grandchildren 35, Great-great-great-grandchildren 6, so 143 head of cattle’. The caption reads: ‘Calculation of the issue, in order to see at a single glance how many cattle can be bred in ten consecutive years from one Mother cow and one Father bull: assuming that each Calf, be it a vealer or bullcalf, in its second year, being a heifer, again produces a calf, or breeds on. For a better understanding each circle represents a Calf, and each smaller one, proportionally represents the descent from the Mother cow to the last Calf: each circle also giving the year of birth while the circles, to differentiate between these ten years, have been given different colours.’

Natuurlijke historie van het rundvee in Holland. Eerste stuk. Met noodige afbeeldingen / Johannes Le Francq van Berkhey. Te Leyden, bij P.H. Trap, 1805. 8º. (= Natuurlijke historie van Holland, door J. Le Francq van Berkhey. Vierde deels tweede stuk). 312

Natuurlijke historie van het rundvee in Holland. Eerste stuk. Met noodige afbeeldingen / Johannes Le Francq van Berkhey. Te Leyden, bij P.H. Trap, 1805. 8º. (= Natuurlijke historie van Holland, door J. Le Francq van Berkhey. Vierde deels tweede stuk). 312 F 9

Literature

R.P.L. Arpots. Vrank en Vry. Johannes Le Francq van Berkheij (1729-1812). Nijmegen 199
J. Landwehr, Studies in Dutch books with coloured plates published 1662-1875. The Hague 1976, no. 15.