Faccio, Nicolas Of Duilier

, a man of considerable learning, but unfortunately connected with the French prophets, was a native of Switzerland, whither his family, originally Italians, were obliged to take refuge, for religion’s sake, in the beginning of the reformation. He was born Feb. 16, 1664. His father intending him for the study of divinity, he was regularly instructed in Greek and Latin, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy; learned a little of the Hebrew tongue, and began to attend the lectures of the divinity professors of Geneva: but his mother being averse to this, he was left to pursue his own course, and appears to have produced the first fruits of his studies in some letters on subjects of astronomy sent to Cassini, the French king’s astronomer. In 1682 he went to Paris, where Cassini received him very kindly. In the following year he returned to Geneva, where he became particularly acquainted with a count Fenil, who formed the design of seizing, if not assassinating the prince of Orange, afterwards William III. This design Faccio having learned from him communicated it to bishop Burnet about 1686, who of course imparted it to the prince. Bishop Burnet, in the first letter of his Travels, dated September 1685, speaks of him as an incomparable mathematician and philosopher, who, though only twenty-one years old, was already become one of the greatest men of his age, and seemed born to carry learning some sizes beyond what it had hitherto attained. Whilst Dr. Calamy studied at the university of Utrecht, Faccio resided in that city as tutor to two young gentlemen, Mr. Ellys and Mr. Thornton, and conversed freely with the English. At this time he was generally esteemed to be a Spinozist; and his discourse, says Dr. Calamy, very much looked that way. Afterwards, it is probable, that he was professor of mathematics at | Geneva. In 1687 he came into England, and was honoured with the friendship of the most eminent mathematicians of that age. Sir Isaac Newton, in particular, was intimately acquainted with him. Dr. Johnstone of Kidderminster had in his possession a manuscript, written by Faccio, containing commentaries and illustrations of different parts of sir Isaac’s Principia. About 1704 he taught mathematics in Spitafnelds, and obtained about that time a patent fora species of jewel-watches. When he unfortunately attached himself to the new prophets, he became their chief secretary, and committed their warnings to writing, many of which were published. The connexion of such a man with these enthusiasts, and their being supported, likewise, by another person of reputed abilities, Maximilian Misson, a French refugee, occasioned a suspicion, though without reason, that there was some deep contrivance and design in the affair. On the second of December, 1707, Faccio stood in the pillory at Charing-cross, with the following words affixed to his hat: “Nicolas Fatio, convicted for abetting and favouring Elias Marion, in his wicked and counterfeit prophecies, and causing them to be printed and published, to terrify the queen’s people.” Nearly at the same time, alike sentence was executed upon Elias Marion, one of the pretended prophets, and John d’Ande, another of their abettors. This mode of treatment did not convince Faccio of his error; and, indeed, the delusion of a man of such abilities, and simplicity of manners, was rather an object of compassion than of public infamy and punishment. Oppressed with the derision and contempt thrown upon himself and his party, he retired at last into the country, and spent the remainder of a long life in silence and obscurity. He died at Worcester in 1753, about eightynine years old. When he became the dupe of fanaticism, he seems to have given up his philosophical studies and connections. Faccio, besides being deeply versed in all branches of mathematical literature, was a great proficient in the learned and oriental languages. He had read much, also, in books of alchymy. To the last, he continued a firm believer in the reality of the inspiration of the French prophets. Dr. Wall of Worcester, who was well acquainted with him, communicated many of the above particulars to Dr. Johnstone, in whose hands were several of Faccio’s fanatical manuscripts and journals; and one of his letters giving an account of count Fenil’s conspiracy, and some | particulars of the author’s family was communicated to the late Mr. Seward, and published in the second volume of his Anecdotes. In the Republic of Letters, vol. I. we find a Latin poem by Faccio, in honour of sir Isaac Newton; and in vol. XVIII. a communication on the rules of the ancient Hebrew poesy, on which subject he appears to have corresponded with Whiston. There are also many of his original papers and letters in the British Museum; and among them a Latin poem, entitled “N. Facii Duellerii Auriacus Throno-Servatus,” in which he claims to himself the merit of having saved king William from the above-mentioned conspiracy. 1

1 Biog. Brit. vol. III. art. —Calamy. Seward’s Anecdotes. Tatler, itk notes, 1806, vol. IV.