Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/257

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
251
GEORGE MARCGRAVE

Our knowledge of Marcgrave's early life is especially scanty, our most reliable and almost only authority being Manget or the unknown writer in his "Bibliotheca Scriptorum Medico rum," 1731, whose account the others probably copied.[1]

From him we learn that George Marcgrave was born September 10, 1610, at Liebstadt, a town of Meissen in upper Saxony. He came of a good family which had lived in Liebstadt for two hundred years. His father and his maternal grandfather were men well educated for that time, being "learned in theology and in Latin and Greek."

These men, seeing that Marcgrave was a boy of fine character and great promise, seem to have devoted much time and attention to bis education. They taught him Latin and Greek and saw to it that his talents in music and painting were developed, so that he turned out to be no mean musician and "a painter not to be contemned." These same wise parents seeing that, if Marcgrave would ever do anything in the world, he must get out into the world, exhorted him to travel and study, and he, nothing loth, set out in 1627 in the seventeenth year of his life, and did not return to the paternal roof for eleven years.

During this time he visited and studied mathematics, botany, chemistry and medicine at ten German universities (academiæ). These were Argentorata, Basel, Ingoldstadt, Altdorff, Erfurt, Wittenberg, Leipsic, Griefswald and Rostock, where he dwelt and studied with Simon Paulli, a distinguished botanist. Thence he went to Stettin, where he spent two years studying astronomy with Laurence of Eichstadt, the most celebrated astronomer of his time. Here Marcgrave seems to have become so proficient that he was of material assistance to his teacher in working out certain astronomical ephemerides, and Manget tells us that the latter gave credit to him in the preface of his work published in 1634.

After traveling in the north of Germany and in Denmark, Marcgrave went to Leyden in Holland, where he spent two years, devoting his nights to the study of astronomy from the tower or observatory of the university and his days to botanizing in the gardens and fields. His masters here were Adolphus Vorstius and Jacob Golius, the former a botanist and the latter an astronomer.

Marcgrave was now in his twenty-eighth year, and in the plenitude of his powers both physical and intellectual. His travel and study of


    college. To all who have so kindly helped in making this article cordial thanks are returned.

  1. The authorship of this sketch is an interesting problem, which Mr. Lydenberg has vainly endeavored to solve. He notes that the writer, who makes it clear that he was a personal friend of Marcgrave's and a contemporary of the principals in Count Maurice's expedition to Brasil, could not have been Manget himself, since he was not born until 1652 and Marcgrave died in 1644. With this understanding and to avoid multiplication of words, he will however be hereafter referred to as Manget.