Scheuchzer, John James

, an eminent physician and naturalist, was the son of a very learned physician of the same mimes at Zurich, where he was born, August 2, 1672. His father dying in the prime of life, he appears to have been left to the care of his mother, and his maternal grandfather. He was educated at Zurich under the ablest professors, of whom he has left us a list, but Says that he might with great propriety add his own name to the on cber, as he went through the greater part of his studies with no other guide than his own judgment. In 1692 he commenced his travels, and remained some time at \ltdorf, attending the lectures of Wagenseil, Hoffman^ father and son, Sturm, &c. In 1693 he went to Utrecht, where he took his degree of doctor of physic in Jan. 1694, and Pi 1695 returned to Nuremberg and Altdorf to study mathematics under Sturm and Eimmart. To Sturm he addressed a learned letter on the generation of fossil shells, which iie attempted to explain on mathematical principles; but, discovering the fallacy of this, he adopted the theory of our Dr. Woodward, whose work on the subject of the natural history of the earth he translated into Latin, and published at Zurich in 1704. | Returning to Zurich, before this period, he was appoint-, ed first physician of the city, with the reversion of the professorship of mathematics. He now began to write various dissertations on subjects of natural history, particularly that of Swisserland, and wrote a system of natural history in German, which he published in parts in the years 1705, 6, and 7, the whole forming three small 4to volumes. He published afterwards three more in 1716, 1717, and 1718, which complete the natural history of Swisserland, with the exception of the plants, of which he had formed an herbal of eighteen vast volumes in folio. His “Nova litteraria Helvetica” began in 1702, and were continued to 1715. In 1694 he began his tours on the Alps, which he repeated for many years, the result of which was published under the title of “Itinera Alpina,” one volume of which was published at London in 1708, 4to, and four at Leyden in 1713. In the course of these journeys, he improved the geography of his country, by a small map of Toggenbourg, and by his map of Swisserland in four large sheets. Amidst all these pursuits, his official duties, and his extensive literary correspondence, he found leisure to gratify his taste for medallic history, and translated Jobert’s work on that subject, which does not, however, appear to have been printed. In 1712, Leibnitz, being acquainted with his learning and fame, procured him an invitation from the czar, Peter the Great, to become his majesty’s physician, but the council of Zurich induced him to decline the offer, by an additional salary. Some time afterward, he obtained a canonry; but, according to Meister, his colleagues had no very profound respect for him, of which he gives the following ludicrous proof: A favourite crane belonging to Dr. Scheuchzer one day made her escape, and the doctor was obliged to climb the roof of the house to recover her, which he did at no small risk. The canons are said to have declared on this occasion, that they would have given a pension to the crane, if the doctor had broke his neck. It appears that this disrespect was mutual. They considered Scheuchzer as an intruder, and he despised their ignorance in condemning the Copernican system, and the theory of Swammerdam, as profane and pernicious. He appears to have had a considerable hand in the political and ecclesiastical affairs of Zurich, and had at one time a sharp controversy on religion with a Jesuit of Lucerne, whom Meister describes as the Don Quixote of the Romish church. | In 1731 appeared his great work, “Physica sacra,” in 4 vols. folio, which was immediately republished in French at Amsterdam, in both instances enriched with a profusion of fine plates illustrative of the natural history of the Bible. This had been preceded by some lesser works on the same subject, which were now incorporated. He did not long survive this learned publication, dying at Zurich about the end of June 1733. He was a member of many learned societies, of our Royal Society, and of those of Berlin, Vienna, &c. and carried on a most extensive correspondence with the principal literati of Europe. He left a well-chosen and numerous library, a rich museum of natural history, and a collection of medals. Besides the works we have incidentally noticed, he published, 1. “Herbarium Diluvianum,Zurich, 1709, reprinted and enlarged, at Leyden, 1723, folio. 2. “Piscium querelse et vindicise,Zurich, 1708, 4to. 3. “Oratio cle Matheseos su in Theologia,” ibid. 1711, 4to. 4. “Museum Diluvianum,” ibid. 1716, 8vo.5. “Homo diluvii testis,” ibid. 1726, 4to. G. “De Helvetii aeribus, aquis, locis, specimen,” ibid. 1728, 4to. He also wrote in German, a treatise on the mineral waters of Swisserland, Zurich, 1732, 4to. In 1740, Klein published “.Sciagraphia lithologica curiosa, seu lapidum figuratorum nomenclator, olim a Jo. Jac. Scheuchzero conscriptus, auctus et illustratus,” 4to. Of his “Physica Sacra,” we have noticed the first edition published at Augsburgh, 1731—1735, four vols. folio, or rather eight volumes in four, the text of which is in German; this edition is valued on account of its having the first impressions of the plates. The Amsterdam edition, 1732 38, 8 vols. has, however, the advantage of being in French, a language more generally understood, and has the same plates. Scheuchzer had a brother, professor of natural philosophy at Zurich, who died in 1737, and is known to all botanists by his laborious and learned “Agrostographia,” so valuable for its minute descriptions of grasses. He had a son with whom we seem more interested, John Gaspak Scheuchzer, who was born at Zurich in 1702, and after studying at home came over to England, and received the degree of' M. D. at Cambridge, during the royal visit of George I. in 1728, and died at London April 13, 1729, only twenty-seven years old. He had much of the genius and learning of his family, and was a good antiquary, medallist, and natural historian. He translated into English Koempfec’s history of Japan, 1727, 2 vols. folio, and | had begun a translation 1 of Koempfer’s travels in Muscovy, Persia, &c. but did not live to complete it. He wrote also a treatise on inoculation. Some part of the correspondence of this learned family is in the British Museum. 1


Moreri. Meister’s Hommes Illustres deSuisse. —Eloy, —Dict. Hist. de Medecio. Ayscough’s Catalogue of Mss.