Morhof, Daniel George

, a very learned German, was born of a good family at Wismar, a town in the duchy of Mecklenburg, Feb. 6, 1639. After some school education at Wismar, he was sent in his sixteenth year to Stetin, where he studied philosophy under John Micraelius, | Hebrew under Joachim Fabricius, and civil law under John Sithrnan; without neglecting, in the mean time, the belles lettres, which he had principally at heart. In 1657, he removed to Rostock, in order to continue the study of the law; but in consequence of his “Lessus in Ciconiam Adrianum, carmen juvenile et ludicrum,” published in quarto, he was chosen professor of poetry in 1660. The same year he made a journey into Holland and England, resided some time in the university of Oxford, and then returned to his employment at Rostock. He published, in 1661, “Dissertatio de enthusiasmo et furore poetico,” 4to; and, at Franeker, where he took his doctor’s degree, he published his thesis “De jure silentii,1661, 4to. At Rostock he remained until 1665, when the duke of Holstein, having founded an university at Kiel, engaged him to accept the professorship of poetry and eloquence. In 1670, he made a second journey into Holland and England, contracting the acquaintance and friendship of learned men in every place as he passed along. He saw Gnevius at Utrecht, J. Frederic Gronovius at Leyden, Nicolas Heinsius at the Hague, &c. In England he conversed much with Isaac Vossius, and with the hon. Robert Boyle. He admired Boyle so much, that he translated one of his philosophical works into Latin, and published it at Hamburgh in 1671. Returning to his own country, he was twice in danger of losing his life. He was near being shipwrecked in his passage over the water; and he had like to have been crushed to death by the fall of a great quantity of books, and paper, while he was amusing himself in Elzevir’s shop at Amsterdam. The first of these dangers was rumoured in his own country, before his arrival; and his being drowned was so firmly believed, that several elegies were made upon his death. He married at Kiel in Ib71; two years after was made professor of history; and, in 16SO, librarian of the university. His extreme ardour for study for some time supported him in composing his numerous works, and discharging his official duties but his constitution at length sunk under so many labours and his illness, being increased by drinking Pyrmont- waters, carried him off July 30, 16.91. His death is also supposed to have been hastened by his excessive grief for the loss of his wife in 1687.

He was the author of several works of a smaller kind; as “Orations,” “Dissertations,” Theses,“and” Poems,“| some of which were of the ludicrous kind, for which he appears always to have had a taste. But his great work is his” Polyhistor, sive de Notitia Auctorum et Rerum Cammentarii;“for such was its title when first published at Lubec in 1688. It has been enlarged, since the death of Morhof, in several successive editions; the last and best of which was published at Lubec, 1747, in 2 vols. quarto, with this title:D. G. Morhofii Polyhistor, literarius, philosophicus, et practicus, cum accessionibus Virorum clarissimorum Joannis Frickii et Joannis Molleri Flensburgensis. Editio quarta. Cui Pruefationem Notitiamque Diariorum literariorum Europae praemisit Joannes Albertus Fabricius, nunc auctam et ad annum 1747 continuatam." This is the most extensive, and perhaps the best history of literature extant; yet it wants a more happy arrangement, and even with the help of an apparently very minute index, cannot be consulted with ease; but with all these defects, the obligations which every man curious in literary history owes to Morhof, are such as entitles his memory to the highest respect.

Among his lesser performances is a work entitled “Princeps Medicus,” Roctock, 1665, 4to, a dissertation on the cure of the king’s evil by the kings of France and England, which he supports as miraculous. He was answered by Zeingrave, a divine of Strasburgh; and we ought not to be very severe on Morhof s credulity in this respect, when we consider that the royal touch was practised by our own sovereigns for more than half a century after the date of his work. We can however less excuse him for his treatise “De transmutationemetallorum,” Hamburgh, 1673, 8vo, although even in this case it may be said that he was not the only man of learning who at that time had not forsaken the absurdities of alchemy. He published afterwards in German a valuable dissertation on “German Poetry;” another on the style of Livy “De Patavinitate Liviana;” and after his death appeared one of his most elegant dissertations, “De pura dictione Latina,” edited by Mosheim, in 1725, 8vo. 1


Niceron, vol. II. —Moreri. Elo^e by Moller, in the edition of the Uie Poiyhisfc. of 1708, omitted by Fabricius. Saxii Oaomast.