Magalotti, Laurence

, a celebrated philosopher and mathematician, was born at Rome Octqber 23, 1637. | After studying jurisprudence, in which he made a great and very rapid progress at Pisa, he began to devote his main attention to mathematics and natural philosophy, which he cultivated at Florence, during three years, under the celebrated Vincent Viviani, and was made secretary to the academy del Cimento, the duties of which office he discharged with the utmost assiduity and care. Being directed by the prince to draw up an account of the experiments made there, he published it in 1666, when it was received with universal applause by men of science. While engaged on this work, he obtained leave from Leopold to pay a visit to his father at Rome, and with a view to obtain some ecclesiastical promotion. Having failed in this object, he returned to Florence, and obtained a place at the court of the grand duke Ferdinand II.; and shortly after a pension was given him by pope Alexander VII. About 1666 he drew up and published a small volume relative to the history of China, which was received with great applause; and at the same time he published a small, but elegant compendium of the Moral Doctrine of Confucius. Having considerable poetical talents, he was the first person who published a good translation of the Odes of Anacreon in Italian verse. He was very conversant in many of the modern languages, and could write and speak French, Spanish, and English, with the correctness and ease of the natives of those countries. When in England he became the intimate friend of the illustrious Mr. Robert Boyle, whom he vainly attempted to convert from the errors of the protestant faith. After being employed in several missions to foreign princes, he was in 1674 appointed ambassador to the imperial court, where he acquired the particular favour of the emperor, and formed connections with the men most eminent for science and literature; but, finding a very inconvenient delay of the necessary pecuniary remittances from his court, he determined to return to Florence without waiting the permission of the duke. Shortly after, that prince recalled him, and gave him apartments in his palace, with a considerable pension, but Magalotti preferred retirement, and the quiet prosecution of his studies. In 1684 he composed fifteen Italian odes, in which he has drawn the picture of a woman of noble birth and exquisite beauty, distinguished not only by every personal, but by every mental charm, and yet rendering herself chiefly the object of admiration | and delight by her manners and conduct, whom, with no great gallantry, he entitled “The Imaginary Lady.” His next work consisted of Letters against Atheists, in which his learning and philosophy appear to great advantage. In 169 he was appointed a counsellor of state to the grand duke, who sent him his ambassador into Spain to negotiate a marriage between one of his daughters and king Charles II.; but soon after he had accomplished the object of this mission, he sunk into a temporary melancholy. After recovering in about a year, he resumed his literary labours, and published works upon various subjects, and left others which were given to the world after his decease, which happened in 1712, when he had attained the age of 75. Magalotti was as eminent for his piety as he was for his literary talents; unimpeachable in his morals, liberal, beneficent, friendly, polite, and a lively and cheerful, as well as very instructive companion. His house was the constant resort of men of letters from all countries, whom he treated with elegant hospitality. He was deeply conversant with the writings of the ancient philosophers, and was a follower of the Platonic doctrine in his poems. In his natural and philosophical investigations he discarded all authority, and submitted to no other guide but experiment. Among the moderns he was particularly attached to Galileo. After his death a medal was struck in honour of his memory, with the figure of Apollo raised on the reverse, and the inscription Omnia Lustrat.

His principal works are, 1. “Saggi di natural! esperienze fatte nel academia de Cimento,” &c. 1666, fol. reprinted in 1691. 2. “Lettera proemiale per la traduzione della concordia dei quattro Evangeliste di Giansenio,” &c. 1680, with various other translations, the titles of which may be seen in Fabroni. 3. “Lettere familiare,Venice, 1761, 4to, written against the Atheists. A second volume appeared in 1768. 4. “Lettere scientifiche,Florence, 1721, 4to. 5. “Canzonette Anacreontiche di Lindoro Eleato” (his academical name), Florence, 1723, &c. A long list is given by Fabroni of his unpublished works; but neither these nor his printed works are much known in England or France. 1


Fabroni Vite Ualorum, vol. III. —Niceron, vol. III. —Rees’s Cyclopædia.