Fatio De Duillers, Nicolas

Fatio De Duillers, Nicolas a learned mathematician and an eccentric religious enthusiast, was born at Basle, in Switzerland, Feb. 16,1664, and died in the county of Worcester, England, in 1753. He was educated in Geneva, visited and spent some time in Paris and the Hague, but finally chose England for his home. He early showed great ability in the exact sciences, and at the age of eighteen propounded a new theory of the earth and of the rings of Saturn in a letter to Cassini, to whose theory of zodiacal light he in 1685 gave new developments. He made several useful and curious applications of science to practical life, one of which was a new method of determining the speed of a vessel. In the controversy regarding the discovery of the differential calculus he was an earnest supporter of the claims of Newton. Later in life he adopted extravagant views on religious subjects, was an ardent champion of the prophets of the Cevennes, and claimed for himself inspiration and the gift of prophecy and miracles. Neither the ridicule which Shaftesbury, in his letter on enthusiasm, aimed at him, nor his public exposure with two other persons on the pillory in London (Sept. 1707) "for abetting and favoring Elias Marion in his wicked and counterfeit prophecies," had the effect to cure him of his enthusiasm. He even went to Asia in the hope of converting the world, but, not meeting with success, returned to England again, and spent his time in retirement, pursuing his scientific labors, but still cherishing his extravagant religious opinions. Many scientific works from his pen are extant, but his writings in favor of the prophets of the Cevennes are now unknown..-Hoefer, Nouv. Biographie Generale, 17:138.

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