MERIDIAN CIRCLE, in astronomy, an instrument used in observatories to combine the functions of a transit instrument and of the old mural circle. It has a telescope mounted to turn in a circle, always in the plane of a merid ian. Of course the axis must be accurately laid east and west, and for this purpose solid ma sonry piers are commonly provided. A vertical circle is carried on the axis of the transit in strument and revolves with it, its divisions being read by micrometer microscopes mounted solidly on one of the piers. In this way both co ordinates of the position of a heavenly body, its right ascension and declination, are deter mined at the same meridian passage a great saving of time over the old method with the instruments. See TELESCOPE.
ma-re-ma, Prosper, French author: b. Paris, 28 Sept. 1803; d. Cannes, 23 Sept. 1870. He was educated at the College Henri IV and studied law though he never practised it. Under the pseudonym "Joseph he published in 1825 'Theatre de Clara Gozul, Comedienne an as sumed translation from the Spanish of eight prose comedies, hut in reality his own work. From that time onward he continued to pub lish works at frequent intervals and at the same time had an official career of importance.
Following the revolution of July 1830, he was made secretary to the ministers of commerce and marine, in 1831 was appointed inspector of ancient monuments, in 1844 became a member of the Academy, and senator of France in 1853. He was a commander of the Legion of Honor in 1860. Beside publishing several important works connected with his duties as inspector of ancient monuments he was the author of 'Colomba) (1840), a very popular novel of the Corsican vendetta; 'Carmen) (1847), a ro mance upon which the famous opera 'Carmen) by Bizet is founded; a une Inconnue,) his most famous work (1873); 'Lettres a une autre Inconnue> (1875) •, (Lettres a (1881); 'Une Correspondance Inedite) (1896). The four works last named are Merimee's most characteristic writings revealing him as a most loyal devoted friend. They differ widely from his other works, which though often brilliant are hard and unsympathetic, while these are tender and romantic. As a master of style Merlin& had few equals in his day. (See CAR MEN; COLOMBA). Consult Filon, et ses Amis) (1894) •, Haussonville, Merimee Tourneux, 'Prosper MerinSe, ses Por traits, ses Dessins, (1879).