Lambert, John Henry

, an eminent mathematician and astronomer, was born at Muhlhausen, in the Sundgaw, a town in alliance with the Swiss cantons, Aug. 29th, 1728. His father was a poor tradesman, who, intending to bring him up to his own business, sent him to a public school, where he was taught the rudiments of learning, at the expence of the corporation, till he was twelve years old. Here he distinguished himself among his school-fellows, and some attempts were made to provide him with the means of studying theology as a profession, but for want of encouragement, he was under the necessity of learning his father’s trade. In this laborious occupation, however, he continued to devote a considerable part of the night to the prosecution of his studies; and to furnish himself with candles, he sold for half-pence or farthings small drawings which he delineated while employed in rocking his infant sister in a cradle. He met with an old book on the mathematics which gave him inexpressible pleasure, and which proved that he had a genius for scientific pursuits. Seeing the turn which the young man had for knowledge, several learned men afforded him assistance and advice; and they had the pleasure of finding him improve, under their patronage, with a rapidity beyond their most sanguine expectations. He was now taken from the drudgery of the shop-board, and M. Iselin, of Basil, engaged him as his amanuensis, a situation which afforded him an opportunity of making further progress in the belles-lettres, as well as philosophy and mathematics. In 1748, his patron recommended him to baron Salis, president of the Swiss confederacy, to become tutor to his children, in which office he gladly engaged. His talents as a philosopher and | mechanician began to display themselves in his inventions and compositions. After living eight years at Coire, he repaired, in 1756, with his pupils, to the university of Gottingen, where he was nominated a corresponding member of the scientific society in that place, and from thence he removed, in the following year, to Utrecht, where he continued twelve months. In 1758, he went with his pupils to Paris, where he acquired the esteem and friendship of D' Alembert and Messier; and from thence he travelled to Marseilles, and formed the plan of his work “On Perspective,” which he published in the following year at Zurich. In 1760 he published his “Photometry,” a master-piece of sagacity, which contains a vast quantity of information of the most curious and important nature. In the same year he was elected a member of the Electoral Bavarian Scientific Society. Lambert was author of many other pieces besides those which have been already mentioned: among these were his “Letters on the Construction of the Universe,” which were afterwards digested, translated, and published under the title of “The System of the World.” In 1764 he made an excursion to Berlin, and was introduced to Frederic II., who, sensible of his great services to science, gave directions to have him admitted a regular member of the academy; this appointment enabled him to devote himself wholly to the pursuit of his favourite studies. He enriched the transactions of several learned societies with his papers and treatises, some of which he published separately. He died Sept. 25th, 1777, when he was in the 50th year of his age. Most of his mathematical pieces were published in a collective form by himself in three volumes, in which almost every branch of mathematical science has been enriched with additions and improvements. 1

1 Rees’s Cyclopædia, from his Eulogy prefixed to the “System of the World,1800. Philosophical Magazine, a longer account, vol. XVIII,