Open main menu
This page has been validated.
836
MASCARENE ISLANDS—MASHAM, LADY

appearance. Mascara is a town of the French colonial type, few vestiges of the Moorish period remaining. Among the public buildings are two mosques, in one of which Abd-el-Kader preached the jihad. The town also contains the usual establishments attaching to the seat of a sub-prefect and the centre of a military subdivision. The principal industry is the making of wine, the white wines of Mascara being held in high repute. There is also a considerable trade in grains and oil. A branch railway eight miles long connects Mascara with the line from the seaport of Arzeu to Ain Sefra. Access is also gained by this line to Oran, Algiers, &c. Pop. (1906) of the town, 18,989; of the commune, which includes several villages, 22,934; of the arrondissement, comprising eleven communes, 190,154.

Mascara (i.e. “mother of soldiers”) was the capital of a Turkish beylik during the Spanish occupation of Oran from the 16th to the close of the 18th century; but for the most of that period it occupied a site about two miles distant from the present position. On the removal of the bey to Oran its importance rapidly declined; and it was an insignificant place when in 1832 Abd-el-Kader, who was born in the neighbourhood, chose it as the seat of his power. It was laid in ruins by the French under Marshal Clausel and the duke of Orleans in 1835, the amir retreating south. Being reoccupied by Abd-el-Kader in 1838, Mascara was again captured in 1841 by Marshal Bugeaud and General Lamoricière.

MASCARENE ISLANDS (occasionally Mascarenhas), the collective title of a group in the Indian Ocean cast of Madagascar, viz. Mauritius, Réunion and Rodriguez (q.v.). The collective title is derived from the Portuguese navigator Mascarenhas, by whom Réunion, at first called Mascarenhas, was discovered.


MASCARON, JULES (1634–1703), French preacher, was the son of a barrister at Aix. Born at Marseilles in 1634, he early entered the French Oratory, and obtained great reputation as a preacher. Paris confirmed the judgment of the provinces; in 1666 he was asked to preach before the court, and became a great favourite with Louis XIV., who said that his eloquence was one of the few things that never grew old. In 1671 he was appointed bishop of Tulle; eight years later he was transferred to the larger diocese of Agen. He still continued, however, to preach regularly at court, being especially in request for funeral orations. A panegyric on Turenne, delivered in 1675, is considered his masterpiece. His style is strongly tinged with préciosité; and his chief surviving interest is as a glaring example of the evils from which Bossuet delivered the French pulpit. During his later years he devoted himself entirely to his pastoral duties at Agen, where he died in 1703.

Six of his most famous sermons were edited, with a biographical sketch of their author, by the Oratorian Borde in 1704.

MASCHERONI, LORENZO (1750–1800), Italian geometer, was professor of mathematics at the university of Pavia, and published a variety of mathematical works, the best known of which is his Geometria del compasso (Pavia, 1797), a collection of geometrical constructions in which the use of the circle alone is postulated. Many of the solutions are most ingenious, and some of the constructions of considerable practical importance.

There is a French translation by A. M. Carette (Paris, 1798), who also wrote a biography of Mascheroni. See Poggendorff, Biog. Lit. Handwörterbuch.


MASCOT (Fr. slang: perhaps from Port. mascotto, “witchcraft”), the term for any person, animal, or thing supposed to bring luck. The word was first popularized by Edmond Audran through his comic opera La Mascotte (1880), but it had been common in France long before among gamblers. It has been traced back to a dialectic use in Provence and Gascony, where it meant something which brought luck to a household. The suggestion that it is from masqué (masked or concealed), the provincial French for a child born with a caul, in allusion to the lucky destiny of such children, is improbable.


MASDEU, JUAN FRANCISCO (1744–1817), Spanish historian, was born at Palermo on the 4th of October 1744. He joined the Company of Jesus on the 19th of December 1759, and became professor in the Jesuit seminaries at Ferrara and Ascoli. He visited Spain in 1799, was exiled, and returned in 1815, dying at Valencia on the 11th of April 1817. His Storia critica di Spagna e della cultura spagnuola in ogni genere (2 vols., 1781–1784) was finally expanded into the Historia critica de España y de la cultura española (1783–1805), which, though it consists of twenty volumes, was left unfinished; had it been continued on the same scale, the work would have consisted of fifty volumes. Masdeu wrote in a critical spirit and with a regard for accuracy rare in his time; but he is more concerned with small details than with the philosophy of history. Still, his narrative is lucid, and later researches have not yet rendered his work obsolete.


MASERU, the capital of Basutoland, British South Africa. It is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Caledon river, 90 m. by rail E. by S. of Bloemfontein, and 40 m. N.E. of Wepener. It is in the centre of a fertile grain-growing district. Pop. (1904), 862, of whom 99 were Europeans. The principal buildings are Government House, the church of the Paris Evangelical Missionary Society, the hospital, and the railway station. (See Basutoland.)


MASHAM, ABIGAIL, Lady (d. 1734), favourite of Anne, queen of England, was the daughter of Francis Hill, a London merchant, her mother being an aunt of Sarah Jennings, duchess of Marlborough. The family being reduced to poor circumstances through Hill’s speculations, Lady Churchill (as she then was), lady of the bedchamber to the Princess Anne, befriended her cousin Abigail, whom she took into her own household at St Albans, and for whom after the accession of the princess to the throne she procured an appointment in the queen’s household about the year 1704. It was not long before Abigail Hill began to supplant her powerful and imperious kinswoman in the favour of Queen Anne. Whether she was guilty of the deliberate ingratitude charged against her by the duchess of Marlborough is uncertain. It is not unlikely that, in the first instance at all events, Abigail’s influence over the queen was not so much due to subtle scheming on her part as to the pleasing contrast between her gentle and genial character and the dictatorial temper of the duchess, which after many years of undisputed sway had at last become intolerable to Anne. The first intimation of her protégé’s growing favour with the queen came to the duchess in the summer of 1707, when she learned that Abigail Hill had been privately married to a gentleman of the queen’s household named Samuel Masham, and that the queen herself had been present at the marriage. Inquiry then elicited the information that Abigail had for some time enjoyed considerable intimacy with her royal mistress, no hint of which had previously reached the duchess. Abigail was said to be a cousin of Robert Harley, earl of Oxford, and after the latter’s dismissal from office in February 1708 she assisted him in maintaining confidential relations with the queen. The completeness of her ascendancy was seen in 1710 when the queen compelled Marlborough, much against his will, to give an important command to Colonel John Hill, Abigail’s brother; and when Sunderland, Godolphin, and the other Whig ministers were dismissed from office, largely owing to her influence, to make way for Oxford and Bolingbroke. In the following year the duchess of Marlborough was also dismissed from her appointment at court, Mrs Masham taking her place as keeper of the privy purse. In 1711 the ministers, intent on bringing about the disgrace of Marlborough and arranging the Peace of Utrecht, found it necessary to secure their position in the House of Lords by creating twelve new peers; one of these was Samuel Masham, the favourite’s husband, though Anne showed some reluctance to raise her bedchamber woman to a position in which she might show herself less ready to give her personal services to the queen. Lady Masham soon quarrelled with Oxford, and set herself to foster by all the means in her power the queen’s growing personal distaste for her minister. Oxford’s vacillation between the Jacobites and the adherents of the Hanoverian succession to the Crown probably strengthened the opposition of Lady Masham, who now warmly favoured the Jacobite party led by Bolingbroke and Atterbury. Altercations took place in the queen’s presence between Lady Masham and the minister; and finally, on the 27th of July 1714, Anne dismissed Oxford from his office of lord high treasurer, and three days later gave the staff to the duke of Shrewsbury. Anne died