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Home > Mezzofanti > Eminent linguists > Linguists of the Teutonic race > Gesner

The celebrated naturalist, Conrad Gesner, though perhaps not so solidly versed as Bibliander, in any one language, appears to have possessed a certain acquaintance with a greater number. His Mi-thridates ; de Differ- entiis Lin guarum resembles in plan as well as in name, the great work of Adelung. The number and variety of the languages which it comprises is extraordinary for the period. It contains the Pater Noster in twenty-two of these; and, although the observations on many of the specimens are exceedingly brief and unsatisfactory, yet they often exhibit much curious learning, and no mean familiarity with the language to which they belong." Gesner's success as a linguist is the more remarkable, inasmuch as that study by no means formed his principal pursuit. Botany and Natural History might much better be called the real business of his literary life. Accordingly, Beza says of him, that he united in his person the very opposite genius of Yarro and Pliny ; and, although he died at the comparatively early age of forty-nine, his works on Natural History fill nearly a dozen folio volumes. Both Gesner and Bibliander fell victims, one in 1564, the other in 1565, to the great plague of the sixteenth century. Jerome Megiser, who, towards the close of the same century compiled the more extensive polyglot collection of Pater Nosters already referred to, need scarcely be noticed. He is described by Adeluug, as a man of various, but trivial and superficial learning.

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