Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 35.djvu/116

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Machin
Machin
110


p. 268; Baker's Memorials of a Dissenting Chapel, 1884, pp. 82, 138 i Head's Congleton, 1887, pp.186, 251.]

A. G.

MACHIN, JOHN (d. 1751), astronomer, was elected a fellow of the Royal Society on 30 Nov. 1710, acted as its secretary from 1718 to 1747, and sat on the committees appointed by the same body in 1712 to investigate the dispute between Newton and Leibnitz (Weld, History of the Royal Society, i. 410). On 16 May 1713 he succeeded Dr. Torriano [q.v.] as professor of astronomy in Gresham College, and held the post until his death, which occurred in London on 9 June 1751. Machin enjoyed a high mathematical reputation, but his attempt to rectify Newton's lunar theory in his 'The Laws of the Moon's Motion according to Gravity,' appended to Motte's translation of the 'Principia,' London, 1729, was a poor performance. His ingenious quadrature of the circle was investigated by Hutton (Tracts, i. 266), and be computed in 1706 the value of π by Halley's method to one hundred places of decimals (Jones, Synopsis Palmariorum Matheseos, p. 243). A large work on the lunar theory taken in hand by him in 1717 never saw the light, but a mass of his manuscripts is preserved by the Royal Astronomical Society; and, writing to Jones in 1727, he asserted his claim to the parliamentary reward of 10,000l. for amending the lunar tables (Rigaud, Corresponedence of Scientific Men, i. 280).

Machin contributed to the 'Philosophical Transactions:'

  1. 'Inventio Curvæ quam corpus descendens brevissimo tempore describerat' (xxx. 860).
  2. 'A Case of a Distempered Skin' (xxxvii. 299).
  3. 'The Solution of Kepler's Problem' (xl. 205).

His quadrature was reprinted in Maseres's 'Use of the Negative Sign in Algebra' (p. 289).

[London Mag. xx. 284; Nichols's Illstr. of Lit. iv. 23; Rigaud's Corresp. of Scientific Men, vol. i. passim; Watt's Bibl. Brit.]

A. M. C.

MACHIN or MACHAM, ROBERT (fl. 1344), legendary discoverer of Madeira, is alleged to have been an English squire, who, having conceived a violent passion for Anna d'Arset or Dorset, daughter of a powerful noble high in the favour of Edward III, fell into disgrace. The lovers, however, are said to have escaped from England; stormy weather drove their vessel out into the ocean, and after thirteen days, on 8 March 1344, they sighted a wooded island, and landed at a port which they named Machlco. While Machin and a few companions were on land the ship was once more driven out to sea. In her despair at this disaster Anna, already worn out by the fatigue of the voyage, died; her lover, after erecting a tomb to her memory, escaped with his surviving comrades to Morocco in a boat which they made from the trunk of a tree. The Moors received the castaways kindly, and enabled them to pass over to Spain, whence they returned to England. Another version of the legend makes Robert die of grief in the island. The story of the survivors is said to have encouraged Spanish and Portuguese adventurers to search for the island, which was finally discovered by Gonsolrei Zarco in 1419.

The whole story of Machin must be regarded as a pure legend. Apparently the first published mention of Machin occured in the 'Descobrimentos' of the Portugueso geographer Antouio Galvano (1503-1557), where no meagre version of the above story is given. This work, which was completed ofter 1G55, was printed in 1563, and is now a very rare book. Hakluyt published an English translation in 1601, and this was reprinted with the Portuguese test by the Hakluyt Society in 1862. The fuller version is due to a narrative of the discovery of Madeira attributed to Francisco Alcaforado, one of the squires of Prince Henry the Navigator; in this account the story of the lovers' flight is narrated at considerable length, and Machin's christian name is given as Lionel, while his companion is called Arabella Darcy. This version was first published about 1660 by Francisco Manoel de Mello in his 'Epanaphoras;' a French version appeared in 1671, and from this a translation into English was made and published in 1675, under the title 'An Historical Relation of the first Discovery of Madera;' a later English edition appeared in I750,and another version in 1756 as 'The Affecting Story of Lionel and Arabella.'

As a matter of fact it would appear from a portulano dated 1351, and preserved at Florence, that Madeira had been discovered by Genoese sailors in the Portuguese service long prior to the alleged date of Machin's voyage. At Macbico in Madeira Bowdich soya that he saw an altar-piece 'in memoriam Machin,' together with a piece of a cross wliich had been erected by the fugitives; he also added that an old painting in the government house at Funchal depicted an incident in the story. The legend is introduced into Zargueida's poem, 'Descobrimento da Ilha da Madeira,' Lisbon, 1806.

[Antonio Galvano's Dascobrimentos (Hakluyt Society); An Historical Relation of the first Discovery of Modern, London, 167S; Bowdich's Excursions in Madeira, pp. 72-4, London, 1824; Biographie Universelle; Nouvelle Biographie Générale; Encyclopædia Britannica, 8th ed. s.v. 'Madeira;' Brit. Mus. Cat.]

C. L. K.