WOBO: Search for words and phrases in the texts here...

Enter either the ID of an entry, or one or more words to find. The first match in each paragraph is shown; click on the line of text to see the full paragraph.

Currently only Chalmers’ Biographical Dictionary is indexed, terms are not stemmed, and diacritical marks are retained.

a very celebrated French astronomer, was born at Bourg, in the

, a very celebrated French astronomer, was born at Bourg, in the department of l'Ain, July 11, 1732. His father, who was possessed of property, intended him for the bar, and sent him to Paris to study the law, to which, for some time, he applied with so much assiduity, as to answer the most sanguine expectations of his friends, when the sight of an observatory awakened in him a propensity, which deranged the projects of his parents, and became the ruling passion of his life. He put himself under the instructions of Le Monnier, one of the then most celebrated astronomers of France, and profited so much by the lessons of his able instructor, as to afford him the highest degree of satisfaction, who, on his part, conceived for the young man a truly paternal affection, and was determined to promote his interests. An opportunity soon offered; the great astronomer Lecaille was preparing to set out for the Cape of Good Hope, in order to determine the parallax of the moon, and its distance from the earth. To accomplish this purpose, it was necessary he should be seconded by an observer placed under the same meridian, and at the greatest distance that could be conveniently chosen on the globe. Berlin was fixed on, and Le Monnier signified his intention of undertaking the business himself, but the mo.­ment when he appeared ready to depart, he had the credit to get his pupil appointed in his stead. Frederic, to whom Maupertuis had explained the delicacy and difficulty of the enterprize, could not forbear shewing some astonishment when the youthful astronomer was presented to him; “However,” said he, “the Academy of Sciences has appointed you, and you will justify their choice.” From that moment his age, being only eighteen, was an additional recommendation; he was admitted at court, welcomed by the academy, and became intimate with the most distinguished persons at Berlin. On his return, the account which he gave of his mission procured him free access to the Academy of Sciences, and its transactions were enriched every year by important communications from the young astronomer. The active part which he took in the labours of the academy, was not confined to the astronomical science: we have from his pen, a description of seven arts, as different from each other, as they are remote from the objects of his habitual meditations. He published the French edition of Dr. Halley’s tables, and the history of the comet of 1759, and he furnished Clairault with immense calculations for the theory of that famous comet. Being charged in 1760 with the compilation of the “Connoissance des Temps,” he entirely changed the form of that work, and of this collection he published thirty-two volumes, viz. from 1775 to 1807.