Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Line, Francis

LINE, alias Hall, FRANCIS (1595–1675), jesuit and scientific writer, was born in 1595, most probably in London, though two catalogues of members of the Society of Jesus state that he was a native of Buckinghamshire. He entered that society in 1623, was ordained priest in 1628, and was professed of the four vows on 20 Aug. 1640. For many years he was professor of Hebrew and mathematics in the college of the jesuits at Liège. He was sent to the English mission about 1656, and for a short time he served in the Derby district. During 1659 and several succeeding years he was labouring in the London district; and in 1665 he was stationed in the Lancashire district. During the time that he was serving the English mission he constructed the curious dial which was set up in the king's private garden at Whitehall on 24 July 1669. In 1672 he was again at Liège, where he was spiritual father, and where he died on 25 Nov. (N.S.) 1675 (Florus Anglo-Bavaricus, p. 37).

His works are:

  1. ‘Refutation of the attempt to Square the Circle,’ London, 1660, 8vo; written in consequence of the acrimonious obstinacy with which his friend Father Gregory à Vincentio had defended his book ‘De quadraturâ Circuli’ against the unanswerable reply of Huyghens.
  2. ‘Tractatus de Corporum Inseparabilitate,’ London, 1661, 8vo. A reply by Gilbert Clerke was published under the title of ‘Tractatus de Restitutione Corporum in quo experimenta Torricelliana et Boyliana explicantur, et Rarefactio Cartesiana defenditur,’ London, 1662, 8vo. Another reply is entitled ‘A Defence of the Doctrine touching the Spring and Weight of the Air, proposed by [the Hon.] Mr. Robert Boyle, in his new Physico-Mechanical Experiments; against the objections of F. Linus. By the Author of those Experiments,’ London, 1662, 8vo.
  3. ‘An Explication of the Diall sett up in the Kings Garden at London, an. 1669. In which very many sorts of Dyalls are conteined; by which, besides the Houres of all kinds diversly expressed, many things also belonging to Geography, Astrology, and Astronomy are by the Sunnes shadow made visible to the eye. Amongst which, very many Dialls, especially the most curious, are new inventions, hitherto divulged be [sic] None,’ Liège, 1673, 4to, pp. 60 and 18 copperplates. It was also printed in Latin, Liège, 1673, 4to, pp. 74. Pennant says the description of this remarkable dial surpassed his powers (Description of London, p. 110). It stood on a pedestal, and consisted of six parts, rising one above the other, with multitudes of planes cut on each, which were so many dials subservient to the purposes of geography, astrology, and astronomy.
  4. ‘A Letter [dated 6 Oct. 1674] animadverting on Newton's Theory of Light and Colors,’ in ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ ix. 217 (see Brewster, Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton, 1855, i. 79).
  5. ‘Some Optical Assertions concerning the Rain-bow, transmitted from Liege, where they were publicly discussed in August last: Delivered here in the same Language [Latin], wherein they were communicated,’ in ‘Philosophical Transactions,’ 26 Sept. 1675, x. 386
  6. ‘A Treatise on the Barometer.’
  7. ‘Tractatus de Horologiis,’ manuscript, pp. 82, with illustrations, preserved in the library of the university of Liège.

[Bodleian Cat.; De Backer's Bibl. de la Compagnie de Jésus; Florus Anglo-Bavaricus, p. 49; Foley's Records, vi. 417, vii. 461; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 135; Playfair's Works, 1822, ii. 379; Southwell's Bibl. Scriptorum Soc. Jesu, p. 234; Watt's Bibl. Brit. under ‘Linus;’ Wheatley's London, Past and Present, iii. 125; Whewell's Hist. of the Inductive Sciences, 1837, ii. 354, 355.]

T. C.