Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/424
4 io THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
was arrested in 1544, while residing at Louvain, by order of some one haviDg authority in the prosecution of heretics, and imprisoned, on a charge of being infected with the Lutheran doctrines. Twenty-eight other citizens were taken under the same order, but Mercator, being at Rupelmonde to look after the estate that had been left him by his great-uncle, escaped till he was found. His absence from home was construed into a confession of guilt by flight. His parish priest imme- diately addressed a letter to the authorities, testifying that " Gerard Mercator enjoys a good reputation, lives a religious and honorable life at Louvain, and is in no way infected with heresy " ; and that he was always to be found at home, except when absent on legitimate busi- ness. The conservator of the university demanded that he be tried, if he was to be tried, before the court of that institution, within whose jurisdiction he resided ; and the rector of the university interceded in his behalf. But all these protests were without immediate effect. He was kept in custody for four months, and then discharged, in the absence of evidence against him and, perhaps, by the force of the evidence for him.
Two works of Mercator's remain to be mentioned. They are his edition of Ptolemy's " Geography " (" Tabulae Geographical ad mentem Ptolemsei restitutce et emendatee "), with twenty-seven maps ; and his "De usu annuli astronomici " ("Concerning -the Use of the Astronomi- cal Ring"), an explanation of the horizon, meridian, and other rings of his globes.
Mercator is described as having been small, but well shaped. He regarded material life as a necessity and not as an enjoyment, and was strictly sober in his repasts. But the gravity of his labors did not ex- clude gayety ; and, in whatever festivities, official or private, he par- ticipated, he contributed to the general good cheer with his sprightly humor, and yielded to the tastes of the others such conformity as was consistent with his health and the precepts of religion. He was viva- cious and adroit in discussion, easy and agreeable in conversation, and knew no greater pleasure than to talk familiarly in the society of the learned concerning subjects of knowledge. Observing moderation in good fortune, resigned and patient in adversity, he constantly pre- served the calm that was necessary and favorable to his studies. And he was distinguished for his devotion to the interests of his country.