Marsigli, Lewis Ferdinand

, an Italian, famous for letters as well as arms, was descended from an ancient and noble family, and born at Bologna in 1658. He was educated with great care, and instructed in all the arts and sciences by the best masters in Italy; learning mathematics of Borelli, anatomy of Malpighi, &c. He went to Constantinople in 167S); and, as he had destined himself for the military profession, he contrived to take a view of the Ottoman forces, and made other observations of a like nature. He examined at the same time, as a philosopher, the Thracian Bosphorus, and its currents. He returned to Italy in 1680; and, the Turks soon after threatening an | irruption into Hungary, he went to Vienna, to offer his service to the emperor Leopold II. which was readily accepted. Discovering great knowledge in fortifications and in the science of war, he had the command of a company conferred on him in 1683; and the same year, after a very sharp action, fell unfortunately into the hands of the Tartars. He was sold by them to two Turks, with whom he suffered great hardships; but at length, conveying intelligence of his situation to his friends, who had believed him dead, he was redeemed, and returned to Bologna towards the latter end of 1684. He went again into Germany, was employed by the emperor in several military expeditions, and made a colonel in 1639. A reverse of fortune afterwards overtook him. In the general war which broke out in 1701, on account of the Spanish, succession, the important fortress of Brisac surrendered to the duke of Burgundy, Sept. 6, 1703, thirteen days after the trenches were open: and it being judged that the place was capable of holding out much longer, the consequence was, that count d‘Arco, who commanded, lost his head; and Marsigli, who was then advanced to be a marshal, was stripped of all his honours and commissions, and had his sword broken over him. This sentence was executed on Feb. 18 following. He afterwards attempted to justify the surrender before the emperor; but, not being able to get admittance, he published a memorial, the purport of which was to shew, that long before the siege of Brisac, it had been represented and proved, that the place could not be defended for any long time. It was in fact the geneEfd opinion that d’Arco and he had been sacrificed, to exculpate the prince of Baden, who had posted a numerous artillery in a bad situation, and with a very weak garrison. When Marsigli went afterwards into France, and appeared at court without a sword, the king presented him with that which he himself wore, and assured him cf his favour.

Released now from public concerns, he returned to his studies; and it was his peculiar good fortune, that amidst the hurry, and noise, and fatigue of war, he had made all the advantages which the most philosophic man ecu i have made, who had travelled pureiy in quest of knowledge; hact determined the situation of places by, astronomical methods, measured the course and swiftness of rivers, | studied the fossils, the vegetables, the animals of each country, made anatomical and chemical experiments, and done, in short, every thing which a man of science could do, and with such a fund of knowledge, knew how to fill up his time in the most agreeable as well as honourable manner. While at Marseilles, he was called by pope Clement XL in 1709, and invested with a military commission. Returning soon after to Bologna, he began to execute a design which he had long been meditating. He had a rich collection of every thing that might contribute to the advancement of natural knowledge: instruments proper for astronomical and chemical experiments, plans for fortifications, models of machines, &c. &c. All these he presented to the senate of Bologna, by an authentic act, dated Jan. 11, 1712; forming, at the same time, a body out of them, which he called “The institute of the arts and sciences at Bologna.” He afterwards founded a printing-house, and furnished it with the best types for Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic. He presented this to the Dominicans at Bologna, in 1728, ‘on condition that ’all the writings of the “Institute, &c.” should be printed there at prime cost. It was called “The printing-house of St. Thomas of Aquinas.

Having executed these munificent designs, he returned to Marseilles in 1728, for the sake of finishing some philosophical observations upon the sea ywhich he had formerly begun there but was interrupted by the stroke of an apoplexy in 1729, which occasioned the physicians to send him back to his native air, where he died Nov. 1, 1730. He was a member of the academy of sciences at Paris, of the royal society at London, and of that of Montpelier. His writings are numerous and valuable, in French, Italian, and Latin, and upon philosophical subjects. The principal are, 1. “Observations concerning the Thracian Bosphorus,Rome, 1681, 4to. 2. “Histoire Physique de la Mer,” Amst. 1725, fol. 3. “Danubius Pannonico-mysicus,” a description of the Danube in its Hungarian and Turkish course, 1726, 6 vols. atlas folio. It commences with geographical and hydrographical observations; from thence it proceeds to the history and antiquities of all the places washed by its stream; to the mineralogy, zoology, and botany of its borders, and concludes with meteorological and physical remarks. He published also “A Dissertation n the Bolognian Phosphorus;” “Memoir concerning the | Flowers of Coral;” “Dissertation on the Generation of Fungi;” “On Trajan’s Bridge.1


Fabroni Vitse Italorum, vol. V. Eloge by Fontenelle. —Moreri. —Niceron, vol. XXVI. Memoirs of Literature, vols. VII. and IX. Republic of Letters, vols. IV. and X.