Home >> British Encyclopedia >> Lanius to Longevity >> Leibnitz Goofrey_P1

Leibnitz Goofrey

academy, admitted, aristotle, counsellor, sciences, invented and hanover

Page: 1 2

LEIBNITZ (GOOFREY WAttsst,) an eminent mathematician and philosopher, was born at Leipsic, in Saxony, in 1646. At the age of fifteen, he applied himself to mathematics at Leipsic and Jena ; and in 1663, maintained a thesis de Principiis Individuationis. The year following he was admitted Master of Arts. He read with great attention the Greek philoso phers, and endeavoured to reconcile Pla to with Aristotle, as he afterwards did Aristotle with Des Cartes. But the study of the law was his principal view ; in which faculty he was admitted Bachelor in 1665. The year following be would have taken the degree of Doctor, but was refused it on pretence that he was too young; though, in reality, because he had raised himself many enemies, by re jecting the principles of Aristotle and the schoolmen.

Upon this he repaired to A hoe, where he maintained a thesis de Casibus Per plexis with such applause, that he had the degree of Doctor conferred on him.

In 1672 he went to Paris, to manage some affairs at the French court for the Baron Boinebourg. Here he became acquainted with all the literati, and made further and considerable progress in the study of Mathematics and philosophy ; chiefly, as he says, by the works of Pas cal, Gregory, St. Vincent, and Huygens. In this course, having observed the im perfections of Pascal's arithmetical ma chine, he invented a new one, as he call ed it, which was approved by the mi nister Colbert and the. Academy of Sciences, in which he was offered a seat as a member, but refused the offers made to him, as it would have been ne cessary to have embraced the Catholic religion.

In 1673 he went over to England, where he became acquainted with Mr. Oldenburgh, Secretary to the Royal So ciety, and Mr. John Collins, a distin guished member of that society ; from whom, it seems, he received some hints of the method of fiuxions, whiCh had been invented in 1664, or 1665, by the then Mr. Isaac Newton.

The same year he returned to France, where lie resided till 1676, when he again passed through England and Holland, in his journey to Hanover, where he pro posed to settle. On his arrival there, he applied himself to enrich the Duke's li brary with the best books of all kinds. The Duke dying in 1679, his successor, Ernest Augustus, then bishop of Osna burg, sheaved M. Leibnitz the same fa

vour as his predecessor had done, and engaged him to write the history of the House of Brunswick. To execute this task, he travelled over Germany and Italy to collect materials. While he was in Italy he met with a pleasant adven ture, that might have proved a more se rious affair. Passing in a small bark froM Venice to •essola, a storm arose; during which the pilot, imagining he was not understood by a German, whom, being a heretic, he looked on as the cause of the tempest, proposed to strip him of his clothes and money, and to throw him overboard. Leibnitz, hearing this, with out discovering the least emotion, drew a set of beads from his pocket, and began turning them over with great seeming devotion. The artifice succeeded ; one of the sailors observing to the pilot, that since the Man was no. heretic, he ought not to be drowned.

In 1700 he was admitted a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. The same year the Elector of Branden burg, afterwards King of Prussia, found ed an academy at Berlin by his advice ; and he was appointed perpetual Presi dent, though his affairs would not permit him to reside constantly at that place. He projected an academy of the same kind at Dresden : and this design would have been executed, if it had not been prevented by the confusions in Poland. He was engaged likewise in a scheme for an universal language, and other literary projects. Indeed his writings had made him long before famous all over Europe, and he had many honours and rewards conferred on him. Beside the office of Privy Counsellor of Justice, which the Elector of Hanover had given him, the Emperor appointed him, in 1711, Aulic Counsellor; and the Czar made him Privy Counsellor of Justice, with a pension of 1,000 ducats. Leibnitz undertook, at the same time, to establish an academy of sciences at Vienna ; but the plague pre vented the execution of it. However, the Emperor, as a mark of his favour, settled a pension on him of 2,000 florins, and promised him one of 4,000, if he would come and reside at Vienna; an offer he was inclined to comply with, but was pre, vented by the death of that prince.

Page: 1 2