Meninski, Franciscus A Mesgnien

, or Menin, a most celebrated German orientalist, was born in Lorraine, then subject to the emperor, in 1623; and for copiousness of learning, elegance of genius, and profound knowledge of languages, particularly those of the East, proved undoubtedly one of the principal ornaments of the age in which he lived. He studied at Rome under Giattino. When he was about thirty, his love of letters induced him to accompany the Polish ambassador to Constantinople, where he studied the Turkish language under Bobovius and Ahmed, two very skilful teachers. So successful was he in this study, that when he had been there only two years, the place of first interpreter to the Polish embassy at the Porte was promised to him. When the place became va* cant, he was accordingly appointed to it, and obtained so much credit by his conduct, that, after a time, he was sent for into Poland, and again sent out with full powers as ambassador to the Porte. For his able execution of this office, he was further honoured, by being naturalized in Poland, on which occasion he added the Polish termination of ski to his family name, which was Menin. Being desirous afterwards to extend his sphere of action, he went to the court of the emperor, as interpreter of oriental languages, in 1661. Here also, as in other instances, his talents and | behaviour obtained the highest approbation; on which account he was not only sent as interpreter to several imperial ambassadors at the Porte, but was entrusted in many important and confidential services, and, in 1669, having paid a visit to the holy sepulchre at Jerusalem, was made one of the knights of that order. After his return to Vienna he was advanced to further honours; being made one of the counsellors of war to the emperor, and first interpreter of oriental languages. He died at Vienna, at the age of seventy-five, in 1698. His great work, 1. The “Thesaurus linguarum orientalium,” was published at Vienna, in 1680, in 4 yols. folio: to which was added, in 1687, another volume, entitled “Complenaentum Thesauri linguarum orientalium, seu onomasticum Latino-Turcico-Arabico-Persicum.”* The former volumes having become extremely scarce, partly on account of the destruction of a great part of the impression in the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, a design was formed some time ago in England of reprinting the work, by a society of learned men, among whom was sir William Jones. But as this undertaking, probably on account of the vast expenee which must have been incurred, did not proceed, the empress queen, Maria Theresa, who had heard of the plan, took it upon herself, and with vast liberality furnished every thing necessary for its completion. In consequence of this, it was begun to be splendidly republished at Vienna in 1780, with this title, “Francisci a Mesgnien Meninski Lexicon Arabico-Persico-Turcicum, adjecta ad singulas voces et phrases interpretatione Latina, ad usitatiores, etiam Italica,” and has been completed in four volume* folio. In this edition, say the editors, the Lexicon of Meninski may be said to be increased, diminished, and Amended. Increased, because many Arabic and Persian words are added, from Wankuli and Ferhengi, the best Arabic and Persic Lexicographers whom the East has produced; and, from Herbelot, are inserted the names of kingdoms, cities, and rivers, as well as phrases in common use among the Turks, &c. diminished, because many useless synonyma are omitted, which rather puzzled than assisted the student; as well as all the French, Polish, and German interpretations, the Latin being considered as sufficient for all men of learning amended, with respex?t to innumerable typographical errors which, from a work of this naturej Ho care can perhaps altogether exclude, Brunei | remarks, however, that this edition does not absolutely supplant the preceding, as the grammar and onomasticon are not reprinted in it. There is a Vienna edition of the grammar, entitled “Institutiones linguae Turcicae,” 17S6, in quarto, two vols. in one; but the onomasticon must still be sought in the original edition. The other works of Meninski were occasioned chiefly by a violent contest between him and J. B. Podesta, in which much acrimony was employed on both sides. These it is hardly worth while to enumerate, but they may all be seen in the account of his life from which this article is taken. It should be observed however, that, in 1674, Podesta published a book entitled “Prodromus novi linguarum Orientalium collegii, jussu Aug. &c. erigendi, in Univ. Viennensi” to which Meninski opposed, 2. “Meninskii Antidotum in Prodromum novi ling*, orient collegii, &c.” 4to. But such was the credit of his antagonist in the university, that soon after there came out a decree, in the name of the rector and consistory, in which that antidote of Meninski’s is proscribed and prohibited, for six specific reasons, as impious and infamous. Meninski was defended against this formidable attack by a friend, in a small tract, entitled “Veritasdefensa, seu justitia causae Dn. F. de M. M. [Meninski] contra infame decretum Universitatis Viennensis, anno 1674, 23 Novernbris, &c. ab Amico luci exposita, anno 1675,” in which this friend exposes, article by article, the falsehood of the decree, and exclaims strongly against the arts of Podesta. This tract is in the British Museum. Podesta was oriental secretary to the emperor, and professor of those languages at Vienna but is described in a very satirical manner by the defender of Meninski “Podesta, natura Semi-Italus, statura nanus, caecutiens, balbus, imo bardus repertus, aliisque vitiis ac stultitiis plenus, adeoque ad discendas linguas Orientales inhabilis.” A list of the works of Podesta, is, however, given by the late editors of Meninski. 1

1 Life of Mentnski prefixed to his Thesaurus.