Brühl, John Maurice (DNB00)

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BRÜHL, JOHN MAURICE, Count of (1736–1809), diplomatist and astronomer, was the son of F. W. Graf von Brühl of Martinskirchen, who died in 1760, and nephew of Heinrich von Brühl, Saxon prime minister 1748–63. Born at Wiederau in Electoral Saxony on 20 Dec. 1736, he studied at Leipzig, and there formed a close friendship with Christian Gellert, who corresponded with him for some years (see Gellert's Sämmtl. Schriften, ii. 71, viii. 24–115, Leipzig, 1784). At Paris, in 1755, Brühl, then in his nineteenth year, took an active part in Saxon diplomacy; was summoned to Warsaw in 1759; named, through his uncle's influence, chamberlain and commandant in Thuringia, and in 1764 appointed ambassador extraordinary to the court of St. James's. Save for one journey homeward in 1785, he never afterwards left England, but died at his house in Old Burlington Street on 9 June 1809, aged 72. He married, first, in 1767, Alicia Maria, dowager countess of Egremont, who died on 1 June 1794, leaving him a son and daughter; secondly, in 1796, Maria, daughter of General Christopher Chowne, who died in 1835. From 1788 he belonged to the Saxon privy council, and was a knight of the White Eagle.

He loved astronomy with passion, and effectually promoted its interests. Through his influence Von Zach, who entered his family as tutor shortly after his arrival in London in November 1783, became an astronomer. With a Hadley's sextant and a chronometer by Emery, they together determined, in 1785, the latitudes and longitudes of Brussels, Frankfort, Dresden, and Paris. Brühl built (probably in 1787) a small observatory at his villa at Harefield, and set up there, about 1794, a two-foot astronomical circle by Ramsden, one of the first instruments of the kind made in England. He was intimate with Herschel, and diligent in transmitting the news of his and others' discoveries abroad through the medium of Bode's ‘Jahrbuch.’ Perhaps the most signal benefit conferred by him upon science was his zealous advancement of chronometry, and patronage of Mudge and Emery. The realisation of their improvements in watchmaking was largely due to his help (see Mudge's letters to him, 1772–87, included in A Description of the Timekeeper, London, 1799). He devoted, moreover, considerable attention to political economy, and made a tour through the remoter parts of England early in 1783 for the purpose of investigating the state of trade and agriculture. He wrote: 1. ‘Recherches sur divers Objets de l'Économie Politique,’ Dresden, 1781. 2. ‘Three Registers of a Pocket Chronometer,’ London, 1785. 3. ‘Latitudes and Longitudes of several Places ascertained,’ London, 1786. 4. ‘Nouveau Journal du Chronomètre,’ fol., London, 1790. 5. ‘On the Investigation of Astronomical Circles,’ London, 1794, translated, with additions, by Von Zach in Hindenberg's ‘Archiv der reinen und angewandten Mathematik,’ i. 257, Leipzig, 1795. 6. ‘A Register of Mr. Mudge's Timekeepers,’ London, 1794. Contributions by him are to be found in Bode's ‘Astronomisches Jahrbuch’ for 1790–4, 1797–9, and in suppl. vols. i. ii. iii., as well as in Canzler and Meissner's ‘Quartal-Schrift’ (including essays on English finance), Leipzig, 1783–5. Appended to T. Mudge junior's ‘Reply to Dr. Maskelyne’ (1792) there is by him ‘A short Explanation of the most proper Methods of calculating a mean Daily Rate;’ and he furnished Bergasse with a preface for his ‘Betrachtungen über den thierischen Magnetismus,’ Dresden, 1790.

[Ersch und Gruber's Allgem. Encycl. xiii. 204; Von Zach's Allgem. geogr. Ephemeriden, iv. 184, Weimar, 1799; J. G. Meusel's Gelehrtes Teutschland, i. 457 (5te Ausgabe), Lemgo, 1796; Gent. Mag. lxxix. 186; Poggendorff's Biog.-Lit. Handwörterbuch; Lalande's Bibl. Astr. p. 630.]

A. M. C.