Agnesi, Maria Cajetana

, an Italian lady of great learning, was born at Milan, March 16, 1718. Her inclinations from her earliest youth led her to the study of science, and at an age when young persons of her sex attend only to frivolous pursuits, she had made such | astonishing progress in mathematics, that when in 1750 her father, professor in the university at Bologna, was unable to continue his lectures from infirm health, she obtained permission from the pope, Benedict XIV. to fill his chair. Before this, at the early age of nineteen, she had supported one hundred and ninety-one theses, which were published, in 1738, under the title “Propositiones Philosophicse.” She was also mistress of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, German, and Spanish. At length she gave up her studies, and went into the monastery of the Blue Nuns, at Milan, where she died Jan. 9, 1799. In 1740 she published a discourse tending to prove “that the study of the liberal arts is not incompatible with the understandings of women,” This she had written when scarcely nine years old. Her “Instituzioni analitiche,1748, 2 vols. 4to, were translated in part by Antelmy, with the notes of M. Bossut, under the title of “Traites elementaires du Calcul differentiel et du Calcul integral,1775, 8vo: but more completely into English by that eminent judge of mathematical learning, the late rev. John Colson, M. A. F. R. S. and Lucasian professor of mathematics in the university of Cambridge. This learned and ingenious man, who had translated sir Isaac Newton’s Fluxions> with a comment, in 1736, and was well acquainted with what appeared on the same subject, in the course of fourteen years afterward, in the writings of Emerson, Maclaurin, and Simpson, found, after all, the analytical institutions of Agnesi to be so excellent, that he learned the Italian language, at an advanced age, for the sole purpose of translating that work into English, and at his death left the manuscript nearly prepared for the press. In this state it remained for some years, until Mr. Baron Ma&eres, with his usual liberal and active spirit, resolved to defray the whole expence of printing a handsome edition, 2 vols. 4to, 1801, which was superintended in the press by the rev. John Hellins, B. D. F. R. S. vicar of Potter’s-pury, in Northamptonshire. Her eloge was pronounced by Frisi, and translated into French by Boulard. 1


Biographic Universelle. —Dict. Hist. Saxii Ouomasticon. Colson’s Translation, preface.