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      * Admiral Smyth
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Home > Mezzofanti > Biography > 1820 to 1823 > Admiral Smyth

Captain (afterwards admiral) Smyth, who accom¬panied Baron von Zach on this occasion, still sur¬vives, after a career of high professional as well as literary and scientific distinction. As a reply to the incredulity to which Von Zach alludes, I may add not only that Admiral Smyth in his " Cycle of Celes¬tial Objects for the Use of Astronomers," adopts the Baron's narrative and reprints it at length, Note 1 but that his present recollections of the interview, which he has been so good as to communicate to me, fully confirm all the Baron's statements. Note 2 The admiral adds that, although Mezzofanti made no claim to the character of a practical astronomer, he understood well and was much interested in the phenomena of the eclipse, and especially in its predicted annularity at Bologna. " It was at Mezzofanti's instance also," he says, " that Caturegli undertook to compute in advance the ele¬ments for an almanac for the use of certain distant convents of the Levant, to aid them in celebrating Easter contemporaneously."Note 3Startling, therefore, as Von Zach's account appeared at the time of its publication, we can no longer hesitate to receive it literally and in its integrity.

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Note 1
Vol. I. p.p. 481-2, London, 1844.

Note 2
In accounting for the appearance of such a narrative in a Journal With a purely scientific title, Admiral Smyth observes, that " it was one of VonZach's axioms that all true friends of science should try to Keep it afloat in society, as fishermen do their nets, by attaching pieces cork to the seine ; and therefore he embodied a good deal of anecdote in his monthly journal of astronomical correspondence, a most delightful and useful periodical."

Note 3
Mezzofanti and his friend presented to the Admiral the first Volume of the " Ephemerides," which contained the coefficients for the principal stars to be observed during five years there were still At that time three years to run ; and expressed a hope that England Would contribute funds towards the cost of the printing. On re turning to England, the admiral gave this copy to the Rev. Dr. William Pearson, then engaged in the publication of his elaborate work on Practical Astronomy. Dr. Pearson, (at p. 495 of the first volume,) describing a table of 520 zodiacal stars, thus acknow¬ ledges his obligations to that work. « The same page also contains the N.E. angle that the star's meridian makes with the ecliptic, and the annual variation of that angle ; the principal columns of which have been taken from the Bononice Ephemerides for 1817-1822, computed by Pietro Caturegli, which computations have greatly; facilitated our labours."

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