Nicot, John

, a learned Frenchman, was born at Nismes in the beginning of the sixteenth century. He came to Paris early in life, and acquired the esteem of the learned men of that time. He was also so favourably received at court, that in 1559 he was made master of requests in the lung’s household, and the same year was sent as ambassador to Portugal. Of the nature of his embassy, or his talents in executing its duties, we have no information; but he was the means while in that country of introducing the use of tobacco in Europe. Of this herb, then called Petun, he received some seeds from a Dutchman, who had them from Florida. It then became an object of cultivation or importation in France, and the name Nicotiana was given to it in honour of him. This, it has been observed by Dr. Johnson, is a proper compliment, for a plant is a monument of a more durable nature than a medal or an obelisk; and yet, he adds, “as a proof that even this is not always sufficient to transmit to futurity the name conjoined with them, the Nicotiana is now scarcely known by any other term than that of tobacco.

After his return from Portugal, in 1561, Nicot retired from public, and devoted himself to literary employment. In 1567 he published an edition of the life of Aimon, a Benedictine of the abbey of Fleury, which Dupin has improperly attributed to Pichon. He also improved Aimar de Rangonnet’s French Dictionary, so as to render it almost a new work. It did not appear, however, until after | his death, when it was entitled “Tresor de la langue Fran* gaise tant ancienne que moderne,1606, fol. and was reprinted at least four times. Nicot died at Paris May 5, 1600. He left several Mss. particularly a kind of history or dictionary of navigation. 1

1

Moreri.—Dr. Johnson’s Life of Morin.