صور الصفحة

he ordered him to come to court, where he was first placed in a very low station; but the quickness of his parts, and the facility with which he acquired several languages, so much distinguished him, that the czar took him to serve about his person. As he grew to maturity he became tall and well-shaped, and was enlisted in Le Fort's company of soldiers. The czar advanced him to the post of groom of his bed-chamber, and thence gradually to the highest employments. From Le Fort he acquired a degree of military knowledge which fitted him for command, and he became one of the most successful generals in the Russian army. He was indefatigable in forwarding the works at the czar's new city of Petersburg, by which he could not fail of ingratiating himself with his master; in consequence, he was made governor of the province of Ingria, with the title of prince and the rank of major-general. When Peter undertook his travels for improvement, he chose Mentchikof for his companion; and in 1706 he was created a prince of the German empire. He frequently was employed, on occasions of ceremony, to personate the czar, who rather chose to appear as a private person in his train. In the war against Charles XII. of Sweden, Mentchikof gained a victory over Meyerfeldt a Swedish general, and was the first Russian commander who obtained that honour. He had a great share in the defeat of lowenhaupt at Lesnau in 1708, and he commanded the left wing of the Russians at the decisive Jattle of Pultowa in the following year. The high degree of favour he possessed enabled hi.a to accumulate great wealth; but in 1715, when Peter instituted a court of inquisition to search into the abuses of the administration, he was one of those who fell under its censure, and he did not escape without a large fine. He was afterwards restored to favour, and was sent to command in the Ukraine in 1719, and appointed ambassador to Poland in 1722. When Peterset out on his expedition to Persia, he placed Mentchikof at the head of the council of regency. He chiefly contributed to the succession of the empress Catharine at the death of Peter in 1725, and in consequence enjoyed unbounded authority under her reign. When her state of health announced a short duration of this power, he took measures to insure the crown to Peter Alexievitch, on the condition that he should espouse his eldest daughter. The event of his accession took place in 1727; Peter was betrothed to his intended bride, and

Mentchikof assumed all the arrogance of uncontroulable sway. But a storm was impending which suddenly overwhelmed him. The family of Dolgorucki, who were masters of the inclina. tions of the young emperor, procured an order for his arrestation, and he was exiled to his estate of Renneburg. He was permitted to carry with him his most valuable effects; and he was imprudent enough to depart from Moscow with a splendid train and all the marks of his former dignity. His enemies made use of the circumstance still further to indispose the emperor against him, and he was overtaken by an order to carry him to Siberia. The place of his confinement was Beresof, on the rude and desolate banks of the Oby. His wife, a lady delicately brought up, wept herself blind, and expired on the road. He found a wooden hut assigned for his residence, with a daily allowance of ten rubles for his support. His mind accommodated itself to his situation. He cultivated a little farm, and saved enough from his pittance to build a wooden church, in the erection of which he assisted with his own hands. The death of one of his daughters of the smallpox, and the great change in his way of life, soon, however, affected his health, and he died of a fit of apoplexy in November 1729, little more than two years from his banishment. His two surviving children, a son and a daughter, were recalled by the empress Anne, and restored to a decent rank in society. Mod. Univers. Hist. Manstein's Memoirs. Moreri...—A. MENTZEL, CHRISTIAN, a learned physician and botanist, was the son of a respectable magistrate of Furstenwald in the MiddleMarch of Brandenburg, where he was born in 1622. He studied at Berlin, Frankfort, and Konigsberg, and in 1648 was engaged at IDantzig in the education of youth. He afterwards visited Holland, and thence made a voyage up the Mediterranean, where he surveyed a variety of countries, and returning through Italy, took the degree of M.D. at Padua in1654. Through the whole of this tour he pursued the botanical researches which he had begun at Dantzig, and made large collections of plants. He engaged in the practice of physic in his native country, and in 1658 he entered into the service of Frederic William elector of Brandenburg, as army physician. When the campaign was ended, he attended the elector in his progresses, and was made his physician and counsellor. He continued for many years, at home and abroad, to attend that prince and his successor, till at length he obtained permission to retire. He employed his latter years in study, particularly of the Chinese language, in which he was thought to have attained a greater proficiency than any other person in Europe. He died in 1701. Mentzel published in 16;o “Centuria Plantarum circae Gedarum sponte nascentium,” quarto. His greatest botanical work was a pimax or table entitled “ Index Nominum Plantarum Multilinguis,” first published at Berlin, 1682, folio, and republished with additions under the title of “Lexicon Plantarum Polyglotton universale,” Berol. 1696 and 1715, folio: it contains the names of plants in a great number of languages, European and Oriental. There was added to it, “Pugillus Plantarum Variarum, tum Hortensium, tum Italicarum et Tyrolensium quas ipse legit ;” with figures. He coomunicated to the academy Naturae Curiosorum, of which he was a member, several papers on subjects of medicine and natural history, which are printed in their “Ephemerides.” His numerous foreign correspondences enabled him to make large collections in natural history, of which he left several volumes in MS. preserved in the royal library of Berlin. Of these there are four volumes folio, relative to the natural productions of Brazil, collected by prince Maurice of Nassau; ten volumes solio, from the Chinese lexicon ; and two volumes of a Flora Japonica, printed by ratives of Japan.—Moreri. Halleri Bibl. Botan. Ely Dict. Hist. AMod–A.

MENZINI, BENEDETTo, an eminent Italian

poet, was born at Florence of indigent parents in 1646. An early proficiency in letters caus. ed him to be taken notice of by the marquis Gianvincenzo Salviati, who received him into his house, and gave him the means of cultivating his talents. He particularly distinguished himself in his youth for a florid eloquence, which he employed in moral and laudatory compositions; and for his support he opened a school of rhetoric, with the hope of obtaining a public professorship at Florence and Prato. The advice of the celebrated Redi, who had seen some of his poetical compositions, induced him to turn his efforts chiefly to Italian poetry ; and in 1674 he published a volume of poems dedicated to the grand-duke Cosmo III., which, however, failed of attracting the notice of that prince. In 1579 he published a treatise entitled “Construzione irregolare della Lingua Toscann,” which displayed his reading in the old Italian writcrs. Having greatly im

proved and made large additions to his juvenilé poems, he published in 178o a volume of lyric poems, by which he obtained great reputation. At length, being frustrated in his expectation of a chair in the university of Pisa, in his indignation he composed twelve bitter satires against his opponents and detractors, which exhibited great powers in that species of composition, but were not likely to improve his prospects in his own country. He, therefore, in 1685, accepted an invitation from queen Christina of Sweden, then resident at Rome, who gave him a very honourable reception, and admitted him into her academy. This situation permitted him to pursue his private studies at his leisure, and it was here that he composed the greatest part of his poems. The death of the queen in 1639 again threw hint upon, the public, and he was obliged for a maintenance to write compositions for other persons, particularly sermons for ecclesiastics. He had an invitation in 169 I from cardinal

Ragotsky, to accompany him into Poland as

his secretary; but not choosing to leave Italy, he found at length a protector, who obtained for him, from pope Innocent XII., a canonicate in the church of St. Angelo in Peschiera. He was likewise nominated in 17o I coadjutor in the chair of eloquence in the college of la Sapienza at Rome He died, according to one account in 17c4, to another, in 1708. There is scarcely any kind of Italian poetry in which Menzini did not exercise his powers. “His Pindaric ( anxoni says i iral oschi) have not the softiness and rapid flow which are admired in those of Chi brera and Filicaia, yet have a warmth and elegance which place them among the best. In Anacreontic songs, in pastoral sooners, elegies, and sacred hymns, he has few equals, and perhaps no superiors. In Italian satir, s none can compare with him.” He made an attempt in the epic, and wrote three books of a poem on “ferrestrial Paradise.” His “ Accademia Tusculana” is an imitation of Sannazalo's Arcadia. He likewise wrote elegantly in Latin, both in prose and verse. All the works of Menzini were published collectively at Florence in four volumes, 1731. Of these, the first volume contains his lyric poems ; the second, his miscellaneous poems; the third, his Italian prose; and the fourth, his Latin compositions. Menzini was a member of the academy Della Crusca, and was extremely desirous to have his verses cited by name as authority in its dictionary. This privilege was first granted to his satires; and

[ocr errors]

in the edition of the dictionary in 1731, all his works are considered as belonging to the golden age of the language. Fabroni. Tiraboschi.-A. MERBES, Bos DE,a French priestandesteemed writer in the seventeenth century, was born at Montdidier in the diocese of Amiens, in the year 1616. He became a member of the congregation of the oratory, where he taught the belles lettres during several years, with great success and reputation. Relinquishing this employment, he applied himself particularly to the study of the sacred Scriptures and of tradition; commenced preacher; and was admitted to the degree of doctor of divinity. He died at the college of Beauvais in Paris, in 1684, about the age of sixty-eight, equally respected for his learning, disinterestedness, and modesty. He was the author of a work of merit, entitled, “Summa Christiana, seu Orthodoxa Morum Disciplina, ex sacris Literis, Sanctorum Patrum Monumentis, Conciliorum Oraculis, summorum denique Pontificum Decretis fideliter Excerpta, &c.” 1683, in two volumes folio. This work is commended for the purity and elegance of its Latinity; but the style is too pompous and rhetorical for a moral treatise. In his principles the author is very far from being a relaxed Casuist. Moreri. Nouv. Dict Hist.—M. MERCATI, Michael, a physician and naturalist, born in 1541 at St. Miniato in Tuscany, was the son of Peter, an eminent physician of that place. He was educated at Pisa, under Cesalpini, from whom he derived his taste for the study of nature. After taking his degrees in that university, he went to Rome, where Pius V. gave him the superintendence of the Vatican botanical garden. He was in focur with the succeeding popes, Gregory XIII, and Sixtus V., the latter of whom conferrea upon him the dignity of apostolical protonotary, and sent him into Poland with the cardinal Hippolito Aldobrandini, that he might enjoy the opportunity of increasing his collections in natural history. Clement VIII. nominated him his first physician,and bestowed upon him many marks of his favour. He was also much esteemed by the emperor, the king of Poland, and Ferdinand grand-duke of Tuscany, from the last of whom he received letters of nobility. He bore an excellent character in private life; and it is a proof of his attachment to religion, that he expired in the arms of his intimate friend St. Philip Neri. This was in 1593, in the fifty-second year of as age. He WOL, WII,

wrote in Italian a work “On the Plague, on the Corruption of the Air, on the Gout and Palsy,” 1576, quarto; and a “Dissertation on the Obelisks of Rome,” 1589, quarto. He is principally remembered for his description of the subjects of natural history, particularly in the mineral kingdom, contained in the Vatican museum, which was formed under the auspices of Gregory XIII. and Sextus V., and was af. terwards totally dispersed. Mercati arranged his description in ten classes, corresponding to the cabinets of the museum, and displayed much research and information in the explanations which he subjoined. His manuscript came into the hands of Carlo Dati in Florence, where it remained till the time of Clement XI., who purchased it, and caused it to be splendidly edited by his first physician Lancisi in 1717, under the title of “Metallotheca, opus Posthumum Authoritate et Munificentia Clementis XI. Pont. Max. e Tenebris in Lucem eductum

&c.” folio. An appendix to it was published in 1719. Tiraboschi. Eloy Dict. Hist. Med. —A.

MERCATOR,MARIUs, an ecclesiastical and controversial writer in the fifth century, who was the friend of St. Augustine, by whom he is spoken of as a man of learning and worth. It is uncertain of what country he was a native; some writers maintaining that he was an Italian, while others, among whom are Cave and the learned father Gerberon, offer weighty reasons to shew that he must have been an African. It seems also most probable that he was not of the clerical order; at least it may be proved that he was a layman at a very advanced period of life. He distinguished himself by his writings against the Pelagians and Nestorians, commencing his polemical careerin the year 418, and continuing it till about 451. His works, however, are not so much original compositions, as they are abridgments and collections from the productions of other writers, particularly from heretical authors. Many of them also are translations from the Greek into

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

[ocr errors]

number of dissertations; and was inserted in the twenty-seventh volume of the “Bibl. Patr.” In the same year father Gerberon, a Benedictine, under the assumed name of Rigberius, published several of Mercator's pieces at Brussels, in 12mo, with short, but learned and useful notes. In 1684, a new and more correct edition of them was given by M. Paluze, with notes, in octavo. Cave's Hist. Lit. vol. I. sub sarc. Nest. Dupin. Moreri.-M. MERCATOR, GERARD, a very eminent Flemish geographer and mathematician in the sixteenth century, was born at Ruremond, in the year 1512. After having been initiated in the rudiments of classical learning, he studied philosophy at Bois-le-Duc; whence he removed to the university of Louvain, where he applied with great diligence to the cultivation of philosophical and polite learning, till he was admitted to the degree of M. A. Afterwards he studied the mathematics for some years, with such delight and intenseness of application, that, as the authors of his life inform us, he often forgot to eat and sleep. When he was about twenty-four years of age he married the daughter of a citizen of Louvain; soon after which he applied himself to learn the art of engraving, under the private instructions of the learned and ingenious Reinier Gemma, a Dutch physician and mathematician. The first production of Mercator's labours was a description and map of the Holy Land, which he published in 1537, when he was about the age of twenty-five. In the year 1541, he acquired high reputation by giving to the public a terrestrial globe; which proved the means of introducing him to the patronage of the emperor Charles V. for whom he made maps, globes, and a collection of other mathematical instruments, all executed with uncommon skill. This collection being afterwards destroyed during the war between the emperor and the confederates of Smalkalde, by the direction of that prince, Mercator was employed in forming a new one, and had an appointment bestowed upon him in the emperor's household. About the same time the duke of Juliers and Cleves made him his cosmographer. In 1551, Mercator produced his celestial globe, which was accompanied with a short treatise on the use of that instrument. Soon after this he removed with his family from Louvain, and settled at Duysburg. Here he published, at different periods, descriptions and maps of the world, Europs, Germany, France,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the British islands, &c., which he afterwards collected together into an atlas, prefixing to them a treatise “On the Creation and Construction of the World.” His method of laying down charts and maps, which is still in use, and goes by his name, is a projection of the surface of the earth in plano. In this projection, the meridians, parallels, and rhumbs, are all straight lines, the degrees of longitude being every where increased so as to be equal to one another, and having the degrees of latitude also increased in the same proportion; namely, at every latitude or point on the globe, the degrees of latitude, and of longitude, or the parallels, are increased in the proportion of radius to the sine of the polar distance, or cosine of the latitude; or, which is the same thing, in the proportion of the secant of the latitude to radius: a proportion which has the effect of making all the parallel circles be represented by parallel and equal right lines, and all the meridians by parallel lines also, but increasing infinitely towards the poles. In 1508, Mercator published his “Chronologia a Mundi Exordio ad An. CIO, Io. LXVIII. ex Eclypsibus, et Observationibus Astronomicis, ac Bibliis &c.” in folio; and in 1589, he published a corrected edition of “The Geographical Tables of Ptolemy.” While he was in the midst of his labours, and projecting new works for the improvement of geographical science, he fell a victim to a paralytic attack in 1594, when in the eighty-third year of his age. Besides the articles already noticed, Mercator was the author of “Ratio scribendarum Literarum Latinarum, quas Italicas cursoriasque vocant 5’ “De Usu Annuli Astronomici,” 1552; “Harmonia Evangelistarum;” “Comment. in Epist. ad Romanos,” “In Ezechielis aliquot Capita,” and “In Apocalypsin,” which his catholic critics accuse of heresy on the subject of original sin, and other points. He had a son, named Bartholomew, who wrote notes on John Sacrobosca's Treatise “De Sphaera Mundi,” when he must have been very young, since he was only eighteen years of age at the time of his death in 1503. Valer. Andreae Bibl. Belg.

Melchior. Adam. Wit. Germ. Phil. Moreri.
Hutton’s Math. Dict.—M.
MERCATOR, Nicholas, an eminent

mathematician and astronomer in the seventeenth century, whose name in high Dutch was Kauffman, was a native of Danish Holstein, and born about the year 1640. Having early discovered that he possessed a genius for mathematical studies, he received a liberal education, suitable to the bent of his mind, by which he was enabled to extend his researches into the mathematical sciences, and to make very considerable improvements. It appears, however, both from his own writings, and from the character given of him by other mathematicians, that his talent rather lay in improving the discoveries made by others, and in adapting them to use, than in invention. His genius for the mathematical sciences was notwithstanding abundantly conspicuous, and introduced him to public regard and esteem in his own country, as well as facilitated his correspondence with such as were eminent in those sciences, in Denmark, Italy, and England. Receiving an invitation from some of his correspondents to visit this country, he some time afterwards accepted of it, and he spent the remainder of his life in England. He had not been long here before he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; and he afforded frequent evidence of his close application to study, as well as of his great abilities in improving some branch or other of the sciences. But he is charged sometimes with having borrowed the inventions of others, and adopted them as his own; and it appeared that, on some occasions, he was not over liberal in his scientific communications. In proof of this it is observed, that about the year 1668 lord Brounker published his quadrature of the hyperbola, &c. which is no other than the series discovered by Newton. Not long afterwards, this quadrature of the hyperbola was demonstrated by Mercator; but by means of the division first made use of by Dr. Wallis, in his “Opus Arithmeticum.” Mercator then, could not have any pretence to the discovery of the quadrature of the hyperbola, since Dr. Wallis had found the division long before, and also the quadrature of every part of the quotient; and this Mercator should have acknowledged when he put those two inventions together. It had also been observed, some time before Mercator announced any thing on the subject, that there was an analogy between a scale of logarithmic tangents and Wright's protraction of the nautical meridian line, which consisted of the sums of the secants; though it does not appear by whom, nor by what accident, this analogy was first discovered. It appears, however, to have been first published, and introduced into the practice of navigation by Henry Bond, who makes mention of this property in an edition of Norwood’s “Epitome of Navigation,” printed

[ocr errors]

about the year 1645; and he again treats of it more fully in an edition of Gunter's works, printed in 1653, where he shews how, from this property, to resolve all the cases of Mercator's sailing by the logarithmic tangents, independently of the table of meridional parts. This analogy had only been found to be nearly true by trials, but not demonstrated to be a mathematical property. Such demonstration seems to have been first made by Mercator ; who, desirous of profiting by this and another concealed improvement of his in navigation, invited the public, by a paper in the “Philosophical Transactions” for June 4, 1666, to enter into a wager with him on his ability to prove the truth or falsehood of the supposed analogy. This mercenery challenge, it seems, was not accepted by any one ; and Mercator reserved his demonstration. It excited, however, the attention of mathematicians to the subject, and demonstrations were not long wanting. But, notwithstanding the instances above related of Mercator's disingenuousness and want of becoming liberality, he distinguished himself by the publication of many valuable pieces on philosophical subjects; the principal of which are enumerated below. He died in 1594, about the age of fifty-four. He at one time made a fruitless attempt to reduce astrology to rational principles. His principal productions are, “Cosmographia, sive Descriptio Caeli et Terrae in Circulos, quá Fundamentum sternitur Sequentibus Ordine Trigonometriae Sphericorum Logarithmicae, Astronomicae, &c.” printed at Dantzic, 1651, 12mo. ; “Rationes Mathematicae Subductae Anno 1653,” printed at Copenhagen, in quarto; “De Emendatione Annua Diatribae dual, quibus exponuntur et demonstrantur Cycli Solis et Lunae, &c.” in quarto; “Hypothesis Astronomica nova, ct Consensus ejus cum Observationibus,” printed at London, in 1664, folio; “Logarithmotechnia, sive Methodus construendi Logarithmos, nova, accurata, et facilis &c. accedit vera Quadratura Hyperbolae, et Inventio Sum

mae Logarithmorum,” &c. printed at London,

in 1668, quarto; “Institutiorum Astronomicarum Libri duo, de motu Astrorum communi et proprio, secundum Hypotheses veterum et Recentiorum Praecipuas,” &c. printed at London, in 1676, octavo ; and he communicated to the Royal Society the following papers, which are inserted in the first, third, and fifth volumes of the “Philosophical Transactions:” a problem on some points of navigation; illustrations of the logarithmotechnia; and consi

« السابقةمتابعة »