Drebel, Cornelius

, philosopher and alchymist, who was born in 1572, at Aicmaer, in Holland, and died at London, in 1634 at the age of sixty-two, possessed a singular aptitude in the invention of machines; although we cannot give credit to all that is related of the sagacity of this philosopher. We are told that he made certain machines which produced rain, hail, and lightning, as naturally as if these effects proceeded from the sky. By other machines he produced a degree of cold equal to that of winter; of which he made an experiment, as it is pretended, in Westminster-hall, at the instance of the king of England; and that the cold was so great as to be insupportable. He constructed a glass, which attracted the light of a candle placed at the other end of the hall, and which gave light sufficient for reading by it with great ease. Drebel has left some philosophical works; the principal of which is entitled: “De natura elementorum,” Hamburgh, 1621, 8vo. It is also pretended that he was the first who invented the art of dying scarlet; the secret of which he imparted to his daughter; and Cuffler, who married her, practised the art at Leyden. Some authors give to Drebel the honour of the invention of the telescope. It is generally thought that he invented the two useful instruments, the microscope and the thermometer, the former of which was for some time only known in Germany. It appeared for the first time in 1621, and Fontana unjustly ascribed to himself the invention about thirty years afterwards. 2