Bruxelles: Typogr de Henri Samuel, Nd ca. 1880. Wraps. Scarce pamphlet concerning the symmetrical shapes and relationships of Earth's continents which includes an unusual frontispiece hemispherical map of Mars, as well as content on Australia. Written by a Belgian astronomer who was director of the Belgian Royal Observatory, Jean Charles Houzeau. World Cat locates only one copy of this work.
Houzeau (1820 – 1888) was a peripatetic astronomer and journalist ousted from the Observatory due to his political views; he moved to the United States for a 20 year period just before the Civil War, and became deeply involved in abolitionism and the anti secessionist movement in Texas.
There he worked initially as a surveyor (1858) and led scientific expeditions, then moved to Uvalde County in South Texas where there was an active anti-secessionist movement which he supported. Houzeau also aided notable unionists escape from San Antonio, resulting in his flight to Mexico in the disguise of a Mexican laborer. Houzeau published an account of these events titled "La terreur blanche au Texas et mon evasion", in 1862. (OCLC: 2475023).
Houzeau returned to the South from Mexico with difficulty, around 1864, this time settling in New Orleans where he became the editor of the New Orleans 'Tribune', a pro Union newspaper founded by blacks, for which he wrote articles supporting the black cause in Louisiana. His account of this period is titled "My Passage at the New Orleans Tribune"; here he describes the failure of Reconstruction in Louisiana.
Houzeau moved to Jamaica in 1868, where he lived for 8 years, before being reinstated as Director at the Observatory and returning to Brussels. He returned once more to San Antonio Texas in 1882, to observe the transit of Venus across the Sun.
This is a presentation copy to the "baron de Selys Longchamps, membre de l'Academie de Belgique", the presentation written in ink on the pamphlet wrapper. Longchamps was a Belgian liberal politician and scientist, the founding figure of the study of dragonflies and damselflies.
Small 8vo, 57pp. Original plain wrappers. OCLC: 1040854036 locates only one copy at the Conservatoire et Jardin botaniques de la Ville de Genève, Switzerland. Fine condition. Item #25010