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MAYENNE—MAYER, J. R.


so many horses found within the same area; the breed, that of Craon, is famed for its strength. Craon has also given its name to the most prized breed of pigs in western France. Mayenne produces excellent butter and poultry and a large quantity of honey. The cultivation of the vine is very limited, and the most common beverage is cider. Wheat, oats, barley and buckwheat, in the order named, are the most important crops, and a large quantity of flax and hemp is produced. Game is abundant. The timber grown is chiefly beech, oak, birch, elm and chestnut. The department produces antimony, auriferous quartz and coal. Marble, slate and other stone are quarried. There are several chalybeate springs. The industries include flour-milling, brick and tile making, brewing, cotton and wool spinning, and the production of various textile fabrics (especially ticking) for which Laval and Château-Gontier are the centres, agricultural implement making, wood and marble sawing, tanning and dyeing. The exports include agricultural produce, live-stock, stone and textiles; the chief imports are coal, brandy, wine, furniture and clothing. The department is served by the Western railway. It forms part of the circumscriptions of the IV. army corps, the académie (educational division) of Rennes, and the court of appeal of Angers. It comprises three arrondissements (Laval, Château-Gontier and Mayenne), with 27 cantons and 276 communes. Laval, the capital, is the seat of a bishopric of the province of Tours. The other principal towns are Château-Gontier and Mayenne, which are treated under separate headings. The following places are also of interest: Evron, which has a church of the 12th and 13th centuries; Jublains, with a Roman fort and other Roman remains; Lassay, with a fine château of the 14th and 16th centuries; and Ste Suzanne, which has remains of medieval ramparts and a fortress with a keep of the Romanesque period.


MAYENNE, a town of north-western France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Mayenne, 19 m. N.N.E. of Laval by rail. Pop., town 7003, commune 10,020. Mayenne is an old feudal town, irregularly built on hills on both sides of the river Mayenne. Of the old castle overlooking the river several towers remain, one of which has retained its conical roof; the vaulted chambers and chapel are ornamented in the style of the 13th century; the building is now used as a prison. The church of Notre-Dame, beside which there is a statue of Joan of Arc, dates partly from the 12th century; the choir was rebuilt in the 19th century. In the Place de Cheverus is a statue, by David of Angers, to Cardinal Jean de Cheverus (1768–1836), who was born in Mayenne. Mayenne has a subprefecture, tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a chamber of arts and manufactures, and a board of trade arbitration. There is a school of agriculture in the vicinity. The chief industry of the place is the manufacture of tickings, linen, handkerchiefs and calicoes.

Mayenne had its origin in the castle built here by Juhel, baron of Mayenne, the son of Geoffrey of Maine, in the beginning of the 11th century. It was taken by the English in 1424, and several times suffered capture by the opposing parties in the wars of religion and the Vendée. At the beginning of the 16th century the territory passed to the family of Guise, and in 1573 was made a duchy in favour of Charles of Mayenne, leader of the League.


MAYER, JOHANN TOBIAS (1723–1762), German astronomer, was born at Marbach, in Würtemberg, on the 17th of February 1723, and brought up at Esslingen in poor circumstances. A self-taught mathematician, he had already published two original geometrical works when, in 1746, he entered J. B. Homann's cartographic establishment at Nuremberg. Here he introduced many improvements in map-making, and gained a scientific reputation which led (in 1751) to his election to the chair of economy and mathematics in the university of Göttingen. In 1754 he became superintendent of the observatory, where he laboured with great zeal and success until his death, on the 20th of February 1762. His first important astronomical work was a careful investigation of the libration of the moon (Kosmographische Nachrichten, Nuremberg, 1750), and his chart of the full moon (published in 1775) was unsurpassed for half a century. But his fame rests chiefly on his lunar tables, communicated in 1752, with new solar tables, to the Royal Society of Göttingen, and published in their Transactions (vol. ii.). In 1755 he submitted to the English government an amended body of MS. tables, which James Bradley compared with the Greenwich observations, and found to be sufficiently accurate to determine the moon's place to 75″, and consequently the longitude at sea to about half a degree. An improved set was afterwards published in London (1770), as also the theory (Theoria lunae juxta systema Newtonianum, 1767) upon which the tables are based. His widow, by whom they were sent to England, received in consideration from the British government a grant of £3000. Appended to the London edition of the solar and lunar tables are two short tracts—the one on determining longitude by lunar distances, together with a description of the repeating circle (invented by Mayer in 1752), the other on a formula for atmospheric refraction, which applies a remarkably accurate correction for temperature.

Mayer left behind him a considerable quantity of manuscript, part of which was collected by G. C. Lichtenberg and published in one volume (Opera inedita, Göttingen, 1775). It contains an easy and accurate method for calculating eclipses; an essay on colour, in which three primary colours are recognized; a catalogue of 998 zodiacal stars; and a memoir, the earliest of any real value, on the proper motion of eighty stars, originally communicated to the Göttingen Royal Society in 1760. The manuscript residue includes papers on atmospheric refraction (dated 1755), on the motion of Mars as affected by the perturbations of Jupiter and the Earth (1756), and on terrestrial magnetism (1760 and 1762). In these last Mayer sought to explain the magnetic action of the earth by a modification of Euler's hypothesis, and made the first really definite attempt to establish a mathematical theory of magnetic action (C. Hansteen, Magnetismus der Erde, i. 283). E. Klinkerfuss published in 1881 photo-lithographic reproductions of Mayer's local charts and general map of the moon; and his star-catalogue was re-edited by F. Baily in 1830 (Memoirs Roy. Astr. Soc. iv. 391) and by G. F. J. A. Auvers in 1894.

Authorities.—A. G. Kästner, Elogium Tobiae Mayeri (Göttingen, 1762); Connaissance des temps, 1767, p. 187 (J. Lalande); Monatliche Correspondenz viii. 257, ix. 45, 415, 487, xi. 462; Allg. Geographische Ephemeriden iii. 116, 1799 (portrait); Berliner Astr. Jahrbuch, Suppl. Bd. iii. 209, 1797 (A. G. Kästner); J. B. J. Delambre, Hist. de l'Astr. au XVIIIe siècle, p. 429; R. Grant, Hist. of Phys. Astr. pp. 46, 488, 555; A. Berry, Short Hist. of Astr. p. 282; J. S. Pütter, Geschichte von der Universität zu Göttingen, i. 68; J. Gehler, Physik. Wörterbuch neu bearbeitet, vi. 746, 1039; Allg. Deutsche Biographie (S. Günther).

 (A. M. C.) 


MAYER, JULIUS ROBERT (1814–1878), German physicist, was born at Heilbronn on the 25th of November 1814, studied medicine at Tübingen, Munich and Paris, and after a journey to Java in 1840 as surgeon of a Dutch vessel obtained a medical post in his native town. He claims recognition as an independent a priori propounder of the “First Law of Thermodynamics,” but more especially as having early and ably applied that law to the explanation of many remarkable phenomena, both cosmical and terrestrial. His first little paper on the subject, “Bemerkungen über die Kräfte der unbelebten Natur,” appeared in 1842 in Liebig’s Annalen, five years after the republication, in the same journal, of an extract from K. F. Mohr’s paper on the nature of heat, and three years later he published Die organische Bewegung in ihren Zusammenhange mit dem Stoffwechsel.

It has been repeatedly claimed for Mayer that he calculated the value of the dynamical equivalent of heat, indirectly, no doubt, but in a manner altogether free from error, and with a result according almost exactly with that obtained by J. P. Joule after years of patient labour in direct experimenting. This claim on Mayer’s behalf was first shown to be baseless by W. Thomson (Lord Kelvin) and P. G. Tait in an article on “Energy,” published in Good Words in 1862, which gave rise to a long but lively discussion. A calm and judicial annihilation of the claim is to be found in a brief article by Sir G. G. Stokes, Proc. Roy. Soc., 1871, p. 54. See also Maxwell’s Theory of Heat, chap. xiii. Mayer entirely ignored the grand fundamental principle laid down by Sadi Carnot—that nothing can be concluded as to the relation between heat and work from an experiment in which the working substance is left at the end of an operation in a different physical state from that in which it was at the commencement. Mayer has also been styled the discoverer of the fact that heat consists in (the energy of) motion, a matter settled at the very end of the 18th century by Count Rumford and Sir H. Davy; but in the teeth of this statement we have Mayer’s own words, “We might much rather assume the contrary—that in order to become heat motion must cease to be motion.”