From Stanislaus Wydra, Historia Matheseos in Bohemia et Moravia Cultae (1778)
MR THADDAEUS NEMICUS HAYECIUS, OR HAYKO AB HAGEK, OR HAYK
Hayecius, a Bohemian of Prague, a distinguished professor of mathematics in the University of Prague from 1557. Subsequently Emperor Maximilian II’s doctor. Born 1525, died Prague, 1 September 1600. Praised in the Almagest of Riccioli. Wrote a treatise on metoposcopy in 1564 which was reissued in German in 1584.
Dialexis on the Appearance of a New and Hitherto Unknown Star of Unusual Brightness and Radiant Light, and on the Determination of that Star’s True Position, together with a Method of Establishing the Parallax of any Phenomenon and its Distance from the Centre of the Earth. Vienna, 1574.
Since the Clementine Library holds this rare book and by good fortune it came into my hands, I thought it would do much to commend our nation if I repeated here what Thaddeus writes to Emperor Maximilian. He says, “I am very excited to return those studies to which I was once devoted as a young man, amongst which Mathematical studies take pride of place: for it was these which I learned in a number of schools and, truth to tell, almost alone, more or less 25 years ago. I kept them up at Your Majesty’s Archgymnasium at Vienna, and I benefited from my study and effort, if only slightly, so that from then on I have continued them without interruption up to this very day. I was the only student at the lectures of the famous Dr Andreas Perlachius for almost an entire year, and the others who were once with me either departed this life or moved on to other studies. But I knew I too must move on elsewhere for the sake of medicine. To prevent mathematical study from falling well nigh silent in that town and the Lycaeum from going deaf, I taught privately in the Bursa of the said Agnus, and I would prepare and encourage the minds of many people, so they would be fitted to hear Perlachius, whose only remaining student in mathematics, as I have said, was me. And that effort of mine did not end so badly for when I went away I left him five attendants at his lectures. Thus as a youth I kept up mathematical studies with whatever effort I could, and in later years I have never avoided them.”
Hayecius first wrote this Dialexis in fifteen chapters and then expanded it with seven more. He sent it to Tycho Brahe for his opinion on it. In the above mentioned work Tycho considers it thoroughly and is tremendously pleased to have Hayecius agree with him. He gladly apologised that the exposition of parallax had not yet been published and inserted it into his own work in the words of Thaddeus. In doing this he cultivated a friendship with our man first begun at Regensburg and later continued by letters, and let it be known that he was a close friend. Tycho returns to even greater praise of Hayecius in the second book of Recent Phenomena in the World of the Ether, p. 320. In Tycho’s words, “Among all who published about the new star seen in 1572, it was easily the learned Thaddeus Hayecius ab Hayk, doctor to the imperial court, who took the prize. For no one wrote more thoroughly or extensively about it,and no one indeed more accurately (meaning no offence to others) described its appearances at proper length.”
In 1578, and now a resident of Prague, he published, at the press of Melantrichus, a description of the comet which appeared in 1577. To this he added a sponge for the leaky and wobbly drinking glasses of Hannibal Raymundus. This book was not made as much of by Tycho as the earlier one, considering that Hayecius was deprived of suitable instruments at Prague and pronounced on the star (which he described) less accurately. Tycho marvels that the ineptitudes of Hannibal Raymundus so moved the stomach of Hayecius, an otherwise mild man, and made it plain he was offended. He turned his own needle on the aggressor, so that it might be said of him: even our man loses blood from the wound.
Claudius Milliet de Chales of the Society of Jesus writes in a treatise on famous mathematicians that some short astrological works in quarto appeared at Louvain in 1584, published by our Thaddeus. Firstly, one by Anonymus. Secondly, the Book of Kings or the Significance of the Planets. Thirdly, 100 Aphorisms of Hermes. Fourthly,Paulus Alexandrus’s Rudiments of Birth Dates in Greek and Latin. Also On the Orthogonal Conic Section, or the Parabola. Lastly, On the Burning Mirror with a preface by Gemma Frisius. At Gorlitz in 1580 Hayecius published his letter to Martinus Mylius in which he examined the opinion,of Michael Moestlin and Heliseus Roeslin on the comet of 1577. To it was appended one on the investigation,of the longitude of the new star in the zodiac, entirely by geometrical deduction from its meridional altitude and observation of the time. To Bartholom. Reisacherus.
But now lastly let us name the Oration which should stand,in first place. I mean the Oration on the praises of geometry, written and read in the Academy of Prague at the beginning of the lecture course on Euclid on 12 February by M Thaddeus Nemicus Hayko ab Hagek. We introduce this oration of 1557 last with the aim of striking at the detractors of mathematics with this punchy sentence: “If anyone thinks meanly of mathematics, or discourages anybody from learning it, rejects it as a soft option, or thinks that human life can dispense with it, he is the soft one, and a hillbilly’s donkey too, and no different from the Cyclops who sat in his cave seeing nothing but his own shoulders, and forgets that men are born for the common good of men and of society.”
The third volume of Eruditorum Bohemiae et Moraviae has more to say about Hayecius and we refer the reader to it.
Since Tycho Brahe, when he lived among the Bohemians, made many friends among them, for instance Leovitius and Hayecius, and ended his days here, he deserves to be mentioned here. I shall write of him in the words of Balbinus, in his Epitome p. 610. Tycho Brahe, born into a noble Danish family, died at Prague on 4 November 1601 in his noteworthy house which still survives in the Royal Gardens. I prefer to omit the praise of this man, since, as Horace says, my weakness would harm his greatness. Read his life by the learned Petrus Cassensus in France and published in German by a certain Dane. The oration at his funeral was given by Jessenius the Rector of the Academy of Prague. Tycho, though a heretic, had a creed worthy of a Christian philosopher, ‘To be not to seem’, which was inscribed on his tomb.
He is reported to have spent over a hundred thousand imperials of his own money on astronomy, not to speak of what he was given by Frederick II King of Denmark and Emperor Rudolph first and foremost. He was the cause of his own death, by insisting on a prudishness unnecessary in these parts, and refused to get up from a banquet to release his bodily waters into a sack, to speak in Lucretian terms, and lost the power of releasing it and ruptured his bladder and died of it. He was buried in the church of the Blessed Virgin of Teyn next to the first column from the high altar, where we see a very elegant marble tablet, carved if I am not mistaken by Jacobus Typotius with a solemn epitaph and one worthy of Tycho. Thus Balbinus.
We reproduce the epitaph because of its elegance.
TO BE NOT TO SEEM
THE FAMOUS AND NOBLE TYCHO BRAHE OF DENMARK
LORD OF KNUDSTROP, FOUNDER OF THE CITADEL OF URANIBORG ON THE ISLE OF HUENNA IN THE DANISH HELLESPONT,
INGENIOUS AND GENEROUS INVENTOR AND CREATOR OF ASTRONOMICAL INSTRUMENTS THE LIKE OF WHICH THE SUN NEVER SAW.
DISTINGUISHED BY ANCIENT NOBILITY WHICH HE HIMSELF AUGMENTED, HE EMBRACED WITH HIS SPIRIT ALL THAT THE
HEAVENS CONTAIN. BY FAR THE PRINCE OF ASTRONOMERS OF ALL AGES, TO THE BENEFIT OF THE WHOLE WORLD AND AT
GREAT EXPENSE HE PRODUCED THE FIRST EXACT OBSERVATIONS TO THE MINUTE AND PARTS OF MINUTES OVER MORE THAN
THIRTY YEARS AND REVISED THE POSITIONS OF THE FIXED STARS WITHIN A MINUTE AND A HALF. FROM THE BEGINNING
OF THE WORLD OR AMONG THE GODS THE OBSERVATIONS OF HIPPARCHUS ALONE WERE ACCURATE TO THE EIGHTH PART OF A
DEGREE AND HE OUTDID HIM. FOR THOSE OTHER WANDERING STARS HE CREATED THE SOLID FOUNDATIONS OF THE RUDOLPHINE
TABLES TO AID THOSE SKILLED IN MATHEMATICS. HE DESTROYED THE ANCIENT DOCTRINE OF ARISTOTLE AND HIS FOLLOWERS
CONCERNING THE SUBLUNARY POSITION OF COMETS AND NEW STARS WITH IRREFUTABLE DEMONSTRATIONS. HE WAS THE AUTHOR
OF NEW HYPOTHESES TO ASTOUND THE STAGYRITES AND THE WHOLE WORLD OF PHILOSOPHY. WHEN CALLED BY THE UNDEFEATED
EMPEROR RUDOLPH II HE SET AN ADMIRABLE EXAMPLE OF LEARNING AND INTEGRITY. LEST HE BE THOUGHT TO HAVE LIVED
IN VAIN HE WON IMMORTALITY FROM THE LASTING PRAISE OF WRITERS EVEN UNTO THE ANTIPODES. IT BEING PLAIN THAT
HE PREFERRED TO BE AND NOT TO SEEM GREAT HE NOW LIVES TO ETERNITY HAVING USED HIS LIFE WELL. IN THIS SACRED
SPOT HIS HEIRS AND CHILDREN PLACED HIS REMAINS AND THOSE OF HIS WIFE DECEASED THREE YEARS BEFORE. HE DIED ON
4 KALENDS NOVEMBER IN THE CHRISTIAN AND DIONYSIAC YEAR 1601 AGED 55. NEITHER THRONES NOR WEALTH ENDURE BUT
ONLY THE SCEPTRES OF ART.
After Tycho’s death the emperor bought back his astronomical equipment from his heirs for the sum of twenty thousand imperials. The sextant of Tycho was brought to the Clementine College of the Society of Jesus, on whose orders I do not know, and is displayed to this day in the mathematical museum, as it is called, of that College with its limb of elegantly drawn out gold all accurately divided with transverse lines and furnished with a dioptric rule as described by Cl. Wolffius in his Astronomical Sphere § 108, and equipped with its mobile, perfected by the hand of Erasmus Habermil artificer of Prague in 1600.
Not a few books also found their way from the library of Tycho to that of the Clementinum: amongst the others the rarest was that which is inscribed The Instruments of Restored Astronomy. In it all the instruments which he used to observe the sky, can be seen, distinguished with suitable colours and captioned. The Academics of Paris did not know that this book had ever seen the light of day and so have still not included the machines, invented by Tycho and selected from the Danish manuscript so that they would not perish, in their history. When the Society of Jesus still existed I frequently had it in my hands.
I was about to end this section when a wild story which is probably known to few reached my ears. I thought it would round off my work to tell it in this collection: it claims that in the Prodromus Gloriae Pragensi by Ioannes Hammerschmidt p. 414 passages to the following effect are found which were taken from the Paradisus Seraphicus of the Capuchin order, part 3. Emperor Rudolph II wanted to expel the bearded Seraphics from Prague because Tycho Brahe had made least progress with his observations (which they believed to be necromantic) at the very time when the Seraphics afflicted themselves with whips as their custom was, and it was planned that they would be ordered to leave the city, had not sudden death taken Tycho from our midst to their great benefit. Suppress your smiles, friends. But this is the penalty of ignorance which all incur if they approach the altar supposing that mathematical studies do not concern them and foolishly leave science to the outside world. They would have learned of this error if, as they very well should, they had read the Epistle of Jerome to theGreat Orator of the Romans.
Joannes Kepler was born at Wiela in the Württemberg region in 1571, two months prematurely. He took up literary studies at Tübingen. Next he was appointed professor of mathematics at Graz. Finally he migrated to Prague to devote himself to the studies of Tycho, by whose patronage he had obtained the title of imperial mathematician. However, to pay his bills he was forced to practice medicine, which had once been his profession. He died at Regensburg in 1631.
His gifts in all of mathematics but particularly in astronomy are so evident to all who are not totally ignorant of mathematics that I should consider myself to be insulting a great man if I thought I could match them with my praise. One thing must be said: that our own Bohemia acquired a great ornament from his embrace of it for so many years, and the presses of Prague brought forth no small part of his outstanding knowledge. It would be a long business to enumerate all the books Kepler wrote. Let him who wishes consult Cl. de Chales’ Treatise on the Progress of Mathematics and Illustrious Mathematicians. Cl. Hanschius republished them in twenty two folio volumes.
Balthasar Conradus, by nationality a Silesian from the Neisse region entered the Society of Jesus in 1615 aged 16. He taught at the universities of Prague, Olmütz and Bratislava for fifteen years, principally on mathematics. He spoke Italian, French, Polish and Czech as well as perfect German and Latin. Indeed he was so good at Greek that when he was still a student of philosophy he would write down in Greek what the teacher was saying in Latin at the same time. He was a very modest man and very close to God. He died at Glatz where he was the rector of the society in 1660.
How much he felt he owed to Caspar Schott S.J. the main light of his age can be guessed from the fact that he wrote to Schott for advice about about publishing a course of mathematics and then wanted the letter to be printed as the frontispiece.
Conradus published Physico-Mathematical Propositions on the Flame of Green Things and On the Origin and Decay of Flames at Olmütz in 1639. Also A New Method of Chronographical Tables edited with a specimen table for each hemisphere in a right rectangular cone with its basis at the equator and the vertex at the pole, Prague, 1650. Physico-Mathematical Propositions on the Nature of Sound, Olmütz, 1641. In this little book Conradus proves himself to be a man of great insight, writing on sound in the midst of Aristotelian darkness so that the most hostile eye accustomed to today’s illumination in philosophy does not find what it rejects.
A year or so before his death he was busy with a mathematical work and showed his humility by sending letters to leading mathematicians all over Europe asking for material. The title was Teledioptrice. But death prevented him from finishing it and a few chapters were missing. What Caspar Schott thought of this project of Conradus is shown plainly by these words at the end of Dioptrice in the Cursus Mathematicus: “I omit countless things which the learned Fr. Balthasar Conradus would have have been expected to give in his dioptric work, long promised to the Republic of Letters, if untimely death had not recently snatched him from us.
Marcus Marci of Kronland, born at Landskrona in Bohemia on 13 June 1595, doctor to Emperor Ferdinand II from 1657, acquired noble rank not from birth but by his manifold learning and virtue. He studied classics at Neuhaus and theology at Olmütz, and vainly sought admission to the Society of Jesus, but he was prevented by the weakness of his eyes and transferred to the study of medicine with brilliant success. He could cure any kind of disease with home grown remedies and successfully treated the plague with sealed earth. At the University of Prague he was appointed doctor of medicine, professor, dean and physician of the realm.
Apart from his native Czech, German and Latin, he had a good knowledge of exotic languages such as Greek, Syriac and Arabic. He was at home in all parts of his mathematics. This made him a dear friend of Caramuel Lobkowitz and Athanasius Kircher of the Society of Jesus, the leading men of their age, for he cultivated their literary commerce, and in it he taught foreigners, principally Mersenne the very acute mathematician at Paris, to test his speculations and experiment with others. The same Kircher found Marci’s Physics immensely learned and he went over it again and again to hold it in his memory properly. Marci shows somewhere what the connection between Medicine and Mathematics is, in as much as there is help for physicians in mathematics. “But what use is squaring the circle to a doctor?” he asked himself, and answered: “What use, I should like to know, are curled hair and tresses to a bride?” Even if mathematics does not confer useful knowledge on every rank of men, it still adds a great deal of decoration.
This man, famous for every branch of science and truly the honour of his century and our country, died at Prague on 10 April 1667. Balbinus once celebrated his praises and constant benevolence and love to him in a poem. Before his death Marci obtained what he had long sought with many prayers: he was admitted to the Society of Jesus by taking vows of religion, and was clothed in the proper robes for it, and buried in the common grave of the Jesuits. A catalogue of the books published by him can be seen in Balbinus’s Bohemia Docta, and in the first part of Eruditorum Bohemiae et Moraviae. I shall mention only those which I have found in the Clementine Library among the mathematicians.
On the proportion of motion, or the rule of the Sphinx, 1639.
On the proportion of the motion of rectangular figures, and the squaring of the circle by motion, Prague, 1648.
Thaumantias, a book on the rainbow, and on the nature and causes of the appearance of the heavens. Prague, 1648.
Labyrinthus, in which a way is opened to squaring the circle by various methods, 1654.
Othosophia, or the philosophy of the universal impulse, Prague, 1682, a posthumous work edited by Dobrzensky.
JOANNES CARAMVEL DE LOBKOWITZ
Caramuel de Lobkowitz was a Spaniard from Madrid, born on 24 May 1606, but came of the Lobkowitz family of Bohemia and also lived among us. Even as a boy he showed so much intelligence that he knew how to demonstrate the theses on the sphere. Then he studied mathematics primarily along with many other disciplines, as is shown by the books he published which you will find designated in the Lexicon of Jocherus. In the Clementine Library are found:
The torture of great minds, now at last deposited by Joannes Caramuel Lobkowitz, establishing the fall ofheavy bodies with the elapse of time, showing its agreement with experiments and geometrical demonstrations,Louvain, 1644.
Mathematics Old and New, a work in two volumes, in folio, Campania, 1670 and 1671.
Caramuel took on the robes of the Cistercians when he was a youth in Spain. Then he was designated Abbot of Monserrat in Prague by his gracious majesty Ferdinand III and elected Vicar General by Cardinal Archbishop Harrach. Eventually he was called to Rome by Pope Alexander VII and obtained the see of Vigevano. He died in 1682 earning this epitaph:
CARAMUEL THE GREAT BISHOP OF VIGEVANO
Theodore Moretus, a Belgian from Antwerp, joined the Society of Jesus in 1618 aged 16. When he had completed the course of studies he was sent as a subsidiary to Bohemia: here he became a master of liberal arts and philosophy and taught mathematics, among other things, for fourteen years. He was a man well versed in all branches of science. He started the famous Bohuslav Balbinus, the Star of Bohemia, on his mathematical education in 1641. But because the fairest things here are the rarest and because many foolishly spit out homely things, he learned Czech so well that he would make preaching tours of the Brzeznice area. He died laden with years and rewards at Bratislava on 6 November 1667.
Mathematical propositions on the swift and the slow in nature and weaponry, Prague, 1663, in quarto.
A mathematical treatise on artificial fountains, Prague, 1641, in quarto.
On the light and the dense and on the optic tube under water, Bratislava, 1660.
On the visual image and on the remarkable three foot metal conic mirror which he constructed, Bratislava, 1661, in quarto.
On the gravitation of weights, ibid., 1663, in quarto.
On the magnitude of sound, ibid., 1664, in quarto.
A treatise on the tides of the sea, Antwerp, 1665, in quarto.
Mathematical propositions on the tides of the sea, Bratislava, 1665, in quarto.
On the Easter moon and the motion of the sun, Bratislava, 1666, in quarto.
Hydrostatic theses on the first calculation of Archimedes on bodies floating in liquid, Prague, 1667, in quarto.
Jacobus Dobrzensky de Nigro Ponte of Prague was an outstanding doctor of medicine and a successful one, a firm friend of Balbinus. He was noted for his writings on mathematics and medicine in Italy and Bohemia, and equally a dear friend of Marcus Marci while he lived. He was living in Parma and prosperously practicing medicine when Marci brought him back to his own country. Balbinus feared to write the praises of Dobrzensky when he was still living for fear of seeming to confer love more on a friend than on the immortal merits of the man and left it to posterity to write of him. But since the painstaking publishers of Eruditorum Bohemiae et Moraviae have lavishly forestalled me I shall not take steps to repeat them but add this only. That Jacobus had a singular devotion to the patron of astronomy, Dionysius the Areopagite and demonstrated it with an elegant statue of that saint which was once preserved in the Mathematical Museum of the Society of Jesus with this epigraph.
TO THE GREAT ASTRONOMER ST DIONYSIUS
JACOBUS DOBRZENSKY DE NIGRO PONTE
THIS MEMORIAL OF PERPETUAL LOVE 1653.
Balbinus is witness that his Revived New and more Pleasant Philosophy of Heron on Fountains
dedicated to his excellency Lord Innocent de Comitibus, Ferrara 1657, was received with
great approval by all teachers.
GODEFRIDUS ALOYSIUS KINNER OF LOEWENTHURN.
Godefridus Kinner was a Silesian from Reichenbach, a doctor of arts and letters, philosophy, law and theology. He so shone in mathematics that he was appointed to teach them to the serene prince Carolus Josephus Archduke of Austria, brother of Emperor Leopold and Grand Master of the Teutonic Order. And this prince earned immortality by learning the whole of mathematics since he had a noble intelligence and one well suited to these sciences, and was instructed by a very great master.
In order to captivate his imperial pupil more and foster his enthusiam, Kinner begged Athanasius Kircher S.J. his close friend for a mathematical organ, that is a box cunningly constructed like a pneumatic organ and equipped with various tables with which he could, with great ease and as if doing something else, learn many mathematical disciplines for the first time by various combinations and mutual application of them, or fix what he had already learned more firmly in his mind.
Caspar Schottus S.J. explains this organ in nine books of great volume. The eighth book is Steganographicus, which considers the steganography of the Greeks, new, short, easy and ingenious, and its author is our Kinner.
He also published on Prague presses in 1633 a learned booklet on the second squaring of the circle discovered by Fr Gregorius a Sancto Vincente. He is praised by the subscribers at the beginning of the book, the famous Caramuel Abbot of Monserrat, Joannes Marcus Marci Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Theodorus Moretus S.T.D. Emeritus Professor of Mathematics and Rector of the Clatovian College of the Society of Jesus, and Josephus del Medico doctor of medicine.
SIGISMUNDUS FERDINANDUS HARTMANN
Sigismundus Ferdinandus Hartmann, a Bohemian Jesuit, was professor of Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Prague, called the Euclid of Bohemia for his singular knowledge of geometrical truths, 1688. He published Catoptrica, illustrated with physico-mathematical propositions on the nature and properties of mirrors, and also on the smallest and largest mirrors. When in 1679 he acted as interpreter of holy scripture he did not give up the study of mathematics but as an exercise for all geometers he proposed the problem of duplicating the isogonal triangle using only the first book of Euclid or if necessary the next three books.
He explained the reason for his advice in the same booklet in which the problem was set out, and various solutions by various mathematicians continually reached Hartmann. I have kept quite a few among old manuscripts: one by David Scheffer, another by Fr Augustinus Thomas a Sancto Josepho of the Poor Scholars at Slana sent to the proposer on 27 January 1680, this being an autograph of a man worth remembrance. A third is by Fr Adamus Kochansky S.J. sometime public professor in the Academies of Mainz, Bamberg, Florence, Olmütz and Bratislava, dedicated to the most excellent Christophorus Leopold Count a Schaffgotsche. The Clementine Library holds a solution to the problem, published at Rome in 1681 by Canon Paulus Jovius Convictor of the Roman Seminary.
In the Legatus Uranicusv of Valentinus Stansel is preserved the observation by Fr Sigismundus Professor of Philosophy and Mathematics in the University of Olmütz of the comet of 1664. I once saw more manuscripts of this volume in the Clementine College.